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Malaysia Travel Information – Vital Information for the First-Time Visitor

Visas, Currency, Holidays, Weather, What to Wear

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Flag of Malaysia.

Flag of Malaysia.

From CIA World Factbook. Public domain.

Visa and Other Entry Requirements

Before planning your trip, consult our Malaysia Profile page for basic information about the country.

You’ll only be allowed into Malaysia if your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, with enough pages for embarkation stamp upon arrival, and must show proof of onward or return passage.

For a list of visa requirements per nationality see the Malaysian Immigration Department website.

Customs

You may bring these items into Malaysia without paying customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes / 50 cigars / 225g of tobacco.
  • One liter of spirits / wine / malt liquor.
  • Cosmetics, perfume, soaps and toothpaste up to the value of RM200.
  • Gifts and souvenirs not exceeding a total value of RM200 (except for goods from Langkawi and Labuan, which are allowed up to a value of RM500).
  • 100 matches.
  • A total of RM75 for dutiable food preparations.
  • A maximum three pieces of new wearing apparel, and one pair of new footwear.
  • One portable electrical or battery-operated appliance for personal care and hygiene.

You are not allowed to import any goods from Haiti. You are also prohibited from bringing non-prescribed drugs, weapons, any reproduction of any currency note or coin, or pornographic material. Any amount of illegal drugs found on your person will get you the death penalty, so don’t even think about it!

Airport Tax

You will be charged an airport tax of RM40.00 is charged upon departure on any international flight. Passengers of domestic flights will be charged RM5.00.

Health & Immunizations

You’ll only be asked to show health certificates of vaccination against smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever if you’re coming from known infected areas. More information on Malaysia-specific health issues are discussed at the CDC page on Malaysia. and at the MDTravelHealth webpage.

Safety

Malaysia is safer than many other destinations in Asia, although terrorism remains a special concern. Those planning to visit resorts and islands should choose the larger resorts and exercise caution. In urban areas, street crimes like bag snatching and pickpocketing are common.

Malaysian law shares the draconian attitude to drugs common in Southeast Asia. For more information, read: Drug Laws and Penalties in Southeast Asia - by Country.

Money Matters

The Malaysian unit of currency is called the Ringgit (RM), and it is divided into 100 sen. Coins come in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5, and notes in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. Click here to see the ringgit’s exchange rate against the US dollar.

The British Pound Sterling stands as the best currency for exchange in Malaysia, but US Dollars are also widely circulated. All commercial banks are authorized to exchange foreign currency, while major hotels can only buy or accept foreign currency in the form of notes and traveller’s cheques.

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are widely accepted across the country. Travelers’ checks are accepted by all banks, hotels and large department stores. Additional exchange rate charges can be avoided by bringing travelers’ checks in Pounds Sterling, US Dollars or Australian Dollars.

Tipping.
Tipping isn’t standard practice in Malaysia, so you’re not required to tip unless asked. Restaurants often levy a service charge of 10%. If you feel generous, you can leave an extra tip for the wait staff; just leave some change behind after you pay up.

Climate

Malaysia is a tropical country with a warm and humid climate throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 90°F {21°C to 32°C}. Cooler temperatures are more common in the hill resorts.

When/Where to Go. Malaysia has two peak tourist seasons: one in winter and another in summer.

The winter tourist season happens between December and January, encompassing Christmas, New Year's Day, and Chinese New Year.

The summer tourist season happens between June and August, with some overlap into mid-September. Hotels can be hard to book during these times, as this is school holiday season in many countries in the region. Malaysia's school holidays happen for about 1 or 2 weeks each during March, June, and August, repeating from November till December.

Avoid the east coast resort areas between November and March – the monsoon tides make the water too choppy for comfort. For west coast resorts, avoid them from April through May, and again from October through November.

What to Wear. Wear light, cool, and casual clothing on most occasions. On formal occasions, jackets, ties, or long-sleeved batik shirts on men are recommended, while women should wear dresses.

Don’t wear shorts and beachwear outside the beach, especially if you’re planning to call on a mosque or other place of worship.

Women would be wise to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and legs covered. Malaysia is still a conservative country, and modestly-dressed women will get more respect from locals.

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