People who plan a trip to Southeast Asia usually don’t think of Malaysia first. Malaysia seems to be a bit of the underdog. Anyone who wants to see impressive nature is drawn to Indonesia. If you are looking for paradisiacal beaches, travel to Thailand. Malaysia is often overshadowed by neighboring countries.
We would say: Malaysia combines a bit of everything. There are beautiful beaches, lush vegetation with jungle and Tea plantations and modern metropolises. Still, Malaysia is nowhere the absolute leader, if you want to put it that way. Maybe that’s why Malaysia is often overlooked as a travel destination.
What makes Malaysia really unique, however, is the coexistence of different cultures. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic state and this is reflected both in the architecture and in the cuisine of the country. Speaking of culinary delights: we are quite taken with Malaysian cuisine. You can taste your way through the most wonderful Indian restaurants there – a dream. But we’ll get to that.
In this blog article we’ll tell you exactly what awaits you on a trip to Malaysia. We have packed all of our tips for planning and preparing your Malaysia trip in this article so that you are perfectly prepared.
1. Malaysia: What awaits you & first travel tips at a glance Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures . Different nationalities live side by side in Malaysia. Next to the Hindu temple is the mosque, you hear the muezzin while you watch a Buddhist temple ceremony and Chinese restaurants line up with Indian ones – in Malaysia this is everyday life. The following three things are what distinguish Malaysia as a travel destination in our eyes:
Culture: Malaysia is a multiethnic country. In hardly any other country in Southeast Asia you will find as much cultural diversity as in Malaysia: About half of the population are Muslim Malays. Islam is thus the most important religion in Malaysia. In addition, however, immigrants from China and India also make up large parts of the population. The many cultures are reflected in the architecture: from the mosque to the Hindu temple, from colonial buildings to the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur. Nature: From the jungle on Borneo to white sandy beaches to the tea plantations in the cool highlands – Malaysia is blessed with really beautiful, very varied nature. Malaysian food: Honestly – one of the Best thing about Malaysia is the delicious, diverse food! It is roughly influenced by three cultures: Malaysia, China and India. If you like good food, you will love Malaysia. The best travel time for Malaysia First of all the most important information: The climate in Malaysia is tropical. This means that you have to be prepared for rain, high temperatures and high humidity all year round. The only exceptions to this are some mountainous regions such as the Cameron Highlands.
In general, there are two seasons in Malaysia (as in other tropical travel destinations): Dry season and rainy season. Depending on the region, the dry and rainy seasons fall in different months. Important: Rain showers are also common in the dry season.
Travel time depending on the region in Malaysia Malay Peninsula West Coast: The rainy season is not that pronounced here, so you can visit the west coast of the Malay Peninsula Actually travel to the peninsula all year round. A small rain peak can be expected in April and October.
East Coast of the Malaysia Peninsula: Unlike along the west coast, the rainy season is more pronounced in the east. It takes place between October and February. We therefore recommend a trip in the dry season between March and September. The European summer holidays are ideal in terms of climate, although of course there is a little more going on then.
Borneo (“East Malaysia”): Borneo ( i.e. more precisely the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo) is generally rainier than the Malaysian peninsula. December and January tend to be the months with the most precipitation. In the European summer it is usually the driest on Borneo.
Our personal experience of the best travel time for Malaysia We ourselves were in June and July in Malaysia and can highly recommend this travel period. We had little rain and lots of sunshine. Although July is considered the peak travel season, we didn’t necessarily have the feeling that there was a lot going on. For example, we were able to spontaneously book many of the accommodations we wanted without any problems.
Entering Malaysia: Do I need a visa? Good news: If you have an Austrian, German or Swiss passport, entering Malaysia is very easy. You can enter Malaysia free of charge and without a visa and may travel up to 90 days to stay in the country. All you have to do is give your fingerprint and your passport will be stamped – that’s it! It couldn’t be easier.
Officially, you also have to be able to show a onward flight ticket for entry, but we weren’t asked for it personally. It is important that your passport is still valid for at least six months.
Travel guide for Malaysia: Our tip We used the Stefan Loose Travel Guide Malaysia for our trip to Malaysia, which we can highly recommend. Stefan Loose travel guides are always our first choice for Asia. They are well researched and just right in terms of scope. They are also primarily aimed at individual travelers.
You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Travel Guide Malaysia
2. Highlights in Malaysia: Our tips Let’s come to one of the most important questions: What can I see and experience everything in Malaysia? The list of travel destinations in Malaysia is long.
Malaysia is divided into two regions: 1. The very developed West Malaysia (= the Malay Peninsula south of Thailand) with the capital Kuala Lumpur. And 2. The more original East Malaysia on the island of Borneo, which is about a two-hour flight away. If you have limited time (less than two weeks), then we recommend that you focus on just one part of the country.
Famous Destinations in Malaysia Kuala Lumpur: Many start ( or end) their journey in the capital of the country, called “KL” for short by those in the know. Kuala Lumpur is a surprisingly modern metropolis. The skyline is characterized, among other things, by the famous twin towers, the Petronas Towers. The juxtaposition of the most diverse cultures is exciting: from Little India to China Town, from the Hindu temple to the mosques of the city – that is Kuala Lumpur!
Cameron Highlands: Tea plantations as far as the eye can see! For many, the cool highlands of Malaysia are one of the highlights of their trip. The vast landscape covered by tea fields is breathtakingly beautiful.
Georgetown: The colonial town on the island of Penang, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge is definitely one of the most beautiful in Malaysia. In the midst of the pretty colonial buildings, the Chinese temples and the wonderful street food, we felt comfortable from the first moment.
Islands/beaches: Beach vacation is of course also possible in Malaysia. The islands of Tioman and Langkawi are among the best-known beach destinations in Malaysia.
Borneo: If you fancy jungle, then off you go to Borneo. Borneo is huge, so you could spend several weeks here alone – especially if you also explore the Indonesian part. On Borneo you can see some of the last free-roaming orangutans in the world.
Further tips: Our route through Malaysia 3. Travel Tips for Getting Around Malaysia Personally, we found it very easy to get from A to B in Malaysia . The infrastructure is very well developed, especially on the Malay Peninsula. In addition, the distances are usually manageable, so you usually don’t have to be on the road for a long time.
For the booking of tickets, we can recommend the provider 12 recommend go.asia. There you can search for buses, trains, ferries as well as taxis or even flights and book the corresponding ticket right away. Especially in a country like Malaysia, the possibilities can be quite overwhelming.
You can book tickets for the transport here: 12go.asia
Taking a bus in Malaysia Malaysia has a very well developed bus network. The bus service is well organized and you can probably get to almost every city in West Malaysia by bus to reach. Some bus stations in Malaysia are so modern that we were really surprised. The buses are also usually very modern and comparatively cheap.
In tourist areas there are also the minibuses, which are hotly debated among backpackers. Yes, we are not a big fan of it, but did, for example, make our way to the Perhentian Islands by minibus. The advantage: Minibuses usually take you from door to door (or port in our case). The disadvantage: They are more expensive than ordinary long-distance buses. In addition, the driving style of some minibus drivers often puts us in a state of anxiety.
Train travel in Malaysia Some routes in Malaysia are ideal for traveling by train. However, the train network is rather manageable. Roughly speaking, there are two lines on the Malay Peninsula: One along the west coast and one along the east coast.
The most well-known and most frequented route runs along the west coast from Padang Besar in the north (the border town with Thailand) to Gemas in the south. Here you will pass Kuala Lumpur, among other places. Butterworth (that place on the outskirts of the island of Penang) is also on the line, but is not served by all trains. The train ends in the otherwise rather inconspicuous town of Gemas, where you can change to the east coast line and continue towards Singapore.
The route on the east coast (aka Jungle Train) runs from Tumpat in the north (near the border with Thailand) to Johor Bahru in the south on the border with Singapore.
Taxi rides in Malaysia Cab rides are often a good idea for short distances – for example to get from the train station to to get to your hotel. You should insist that the taximeter be turned on or alternatively negotiate a reasonable price in advance.
Meanwhile the App Grab is also very popular. Grab is comparable to Uber. You enter your desired destination directly in the app. The price will then be displayed to you. Then you confirm your details and a driver in your area accepts the order. It usually takes less than five minutes for the car to arrive.
Personally, we have occasionally hired a taxi for a longer overland journey in Malaysia. done. There were three of us traveling so we were able to split the cost between three. The advantage, of course, is that such a taxi ride is probably the most comfortable transport option. The disadvantage: You often have to search for a long time for a driver who is willing to ei to drive a mostly quite long distance at a reasonable price. And of course this variant is the most expensive transport option.
Flying in Malaysia Malaysia has a very dense domestic flight network and many cities are connected. There are numerous airlines including Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia, Malindo Air and Firefly. Sometimes you can find very cheap flights. Our tip: Be sure to search directly on the airline’s website. There you will often (not always) find the lowest prices.
4. Travel expenses in Malaysia: How much money do I need? Currency & Payment in Malaysia The currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit, abbreviated RM or MYR. Withdraw money without any problems at the cash dispensers (cash dispensers, ATMs). There are countless banks and ATMs in urban regions. Before traveling to remote islands, however, you should find out what the situation is like there and, if necessary, withdraw enough cash in advance.
If you are from Austria, please contact your bank before you leave to deactivate the GeoControl function. You can usually do this online.
Banks in Malaysia usually do not charge fees for withdrawing money, but your bank does a fee. Our tip: Always select the option “in local currency” when withdrawing, otherwise you will get a very bad exchange rate.
Travel expenses Malaysia : Price level and price examples What does it cost in Malaysia…?
One bus trip from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka: from 11 RM (about 2 Euro) A double room in a nice hotel with private bathroom: approx. 60 until 75 Euro Once Dinner for two incl. drinks in a nice restaurant: 49 RM (Approx. 04 Euro) Admission to the viewing platform on the KL Tower: 49 RM (approx. 11 euros) or 331 RM for Sky Deck (Approx. 12 Euro ) Cameron Highlands to Kuala Lumpur by Taxi: 350 RM (approx. 70 Euro)
5. Eating and drinking in Malaysia Malaysia is a paradise for enjoy your meal! The culinary offer is as diverse as the country’s population. The country’s cuisine is mainly influenced by three nations or cultures: Malaysia, China and India.
We personally were particularly impressed by the Indian influenced restaurants very enthusiastic. You will find these mainly along the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, such as in Penang. The great thing about Indian restaurants is that they usually also offer a large number of vegetarian dishes.
A lot of meat and fish is served in Malay and Chinese cuisine. Typical Malay dishes include Nasi Lemak (rice with coconut milk and other ingredients such as chicken and eggs) or Laksa (a curry coconut Soup).
Our tip: If you are looking for restaurants with meat-free options, then we can use the App Highly recommend HappyCow. We use this app almost every day when we travel to look for restaurants.
Restaurant tips for Malaysia: Our favorite discoveries Restoran Nagasari Curry House (Kuala Lumpur): Extremely delicious and very authentic Indian restaurant. Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur
Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant (Melaka): Very popular Indian restaurant with many seats, many of them on the street. The dishes are excellent.
Jalan Laksmana 4, Melaka
Street Food in Malaysia Malaysia is also known for its excellent street food. The more inconspicuous and smaller the food stall, the more delicious you usually eat. If you don’t dare to go to the street food stalls alone – no problem, we can understand. In this case, we heartily recommend booking a food tour. Accompanied by a guide, you will get to know the specialties of Malaysia’s food stalls – a great experience!
You can book the tour in Kuala Lumpur here: Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
6. Health in Malaysia Before your trip to Malaysia, you should visit a tropical institute for advice – preferably at least four weeks before your trip. In Vienna we can warmly recommend Traveldoc. For years, Traveldoc has been our first point of contact when traveling abroad.
At the Tropical Institute you can also find out which vaccinations you need exactly. The topic is a very individual one: Some only travel with the most necessary vaccinations. Some get vaccinated against everything that is possible (rabies, Japanese encephalitis). We will not make any vaccination recommendations here – that would be dubious. The best thing to do is to find a doctor you trust.
Does Malaysia have malaria or dengue fever? Unfortunately yes! Both tropical diseases are transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes . The bad thing is, there is no vaccination against it. And: The dengue mosquitoes are more active during the day, the malaria mosquitoes more in the twilight or at night.
There are also other tropical diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes (Japanese encephalitis). While some areas of Malaysia are considered malaria-free, there is always a risk of dengue infection. Therefore, the most important tip we can give you: Always make sure you have sufficient mosquito repellent.
Tips for mosquito protection We personally handle it in such a way that we always wear long clothes as possible in Southeast Asia. In risk areas we impregnate the clothing with the Nobite clothing spray. (Mosquitoes can usually bite through the fabric without any problems.)
You should also protect your skin. Here we often use the proven Nobite. This contains 50% Deet – the active ingredient that is supposed to keep mosquitoes away. That’s quite a high proportion, which is why Nobite works well. For less severely affected areas, we often use local products. We will give you more information in the article on our packing list.
Otherwise, we recommend that you sleep under a mosquito net at night. A mosquito net offers fairly reliable protection against bites. If necessary, air conditioning in the bedroom will do. Mosquitoes don’t feel so comfortable then. Many accommodations have mosquito nets on the beds, but by no means all. Therefore, many travel with their own mosquito net. To be honest, we haven’t done this before – if you’re mainly traveling in more remote regions, then it’s probably worth it.
7. Safety: How safe is a trip to Malaysia? As in the rest of Southeast Asia, we have met in Malaysia never felt unsafe. Not even at night and not in more deserted areas. Of course, there is always a risk of pickpocketing – even in Malaysia. You should therefore be particularly careful when there are large crowds.
We noticed the relatively high police presence in Malaysia, especially in large cities such as Kuala Lumpur. One had the feeling that one was a little nervous about attacks.
The situation in northeast Borneo is a little different than in the rest of Malaysia, where there is a slightly increased risk of terrorist kidnappings. We always recommend the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for up to date information: Security Malaysia.
8th. Internet & Apps in Malaysia: Our Tips We personally are always happy to get a local SIM card on site. It doesn’t cost much and makes traveling there a lot easier. For example, you can research certain tips (e.g. restaurants) quickly and conveniently while on the go or, of course, stay in touch with family and friends.
There are four major network providers in Malaysia , whereby Maxis supposedly offers the best network coverage. In general, however, there are not too big differences between the providers. You can easily buy the SIM card in one of the numerous mobile phone shops . Usually you walk past them all the time, but if in doubt you can just ask your accommodation.
Helpful apps for your Malaysia Trip maps.me or CityMaps2Go (download the Malaysia map so you can also use it offline): We use these apps to mark individual sights and restaurants. Happy Cow: With this app you can find vegetarian and vegan restaurants near you. Map app (iPhone) or Google Maps: Great for navigating from A to B. Google Translate: Although you can get by with English pretty much anywhere, we still find this translation app quite useful. It is best to download the Malaysian package so that you can also use it offline. Grab: With this app you can order a private taxi or motorbike taxi. In some regions, this is a great way to get from A to B as comfortably as possible. You usually need a local number (ie a local SIM card) to register.
Transparency: Affiliate Links2020 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Do you have any further questions about de in a trip to Malaysia? Or do you have tips or experiences that you would like to share with us? We look forward to your comment!