Please ensure that your passport is valid for six months after your return date. British Nationals and citizens of the Republic of Ireland do not need a visa to enter Malaysia.
A visitor is required to complete the Arrival/Departure Card (Imm.26) upon arrival at the gazetted entry points. This card is obtainable at any entry point. A visitor must present his/her passport together with the duly completed arrival/departure card to the Immigration Officer on duty and he/she must ensure that the passport or travel document is endorsed with the appropriate pass before leaving the immigration counter.
The Federation of Malaysia comprises Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur.
Malays who make up about 57% of the population of Malaysia are the predominant group with Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups making up the rest. In Malaysia Borneo, the population is made up of over 32 ethnic groups with the main ethnic group - the Kadazandusun. Other ethnic group includes Bajau and Murut, The largest non-indigenous group are made up of the Chinese. Other population includes Malay and Indians
Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Ethnic groups also have their own languages and dialects
Islam is the country's official religion, but other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism are widely practised.
With a temperature that fluctuates little throughout the year, travel in Malaysia is a pleasure. Average temperature is between 21 C and 32 C. Humidity is high. Rain tends to occur between November to February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, on western Sarawak, and north-eastern Sabah. On the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia the rainy season is April to May and October to November.
The Malaysian ringgit (RM) consists of 100 sen. Coins in use are one, five, 10, 20 and 50 sen, and RM1; notes come in RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100. The value is approximately USD1 = RM3.50. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and money exchange.
Please note that you are permitted to carry into and out of Malaysia, ringgit notes not exceeding RM 1,000 per person. There is no limit to bring in foreign currency notes and traveller's cheques to Malaysia. A non-resident is permitted to carry out of Malaysia, foreign currency and travellers cheques not exceeding the amount declared when arriving into Malaysia.
Most hotels and establishments accept credit or charge cards such as VISA, American Express, Master card and Diners Club. Travellers cheques may be encashed at major hotels and are accepted by all banks, hotels & major department stores.
Monday - Friday: 9.30 am to 3.30 pm.
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed (Some banks and their branches open on Saturdays).
The country code for Malaysia is 60. Outgoing international code is 00. IDD is available.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Voltage is 240 volts AC 50 Hz. Standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets.
Living in a tropical climate, local people dress very informally (e.g. lightweight linens & cottons, T-shirt, shorts, jeans). For dinners and night spots, smart casual wear is the norm. Topless or completely naked sunbathing is not allowed. When entering mosques and temples, wear long sleeves and loose trousers or long skirts as a sign of respect.
Most prices of retail items can be bargained (except department stores).
Traffic drives on the left and signposting is easy to understand. Taxis are easily available at the airports and at hotels, as well as from many places downtown. Some taxi do not use the meter, therefore it is advisable to fix the fare before getting into the taxi.
Never bring any recreational drugs into Malaysia. Possession and/or trafficking of even minute amounts can lead to a mandatory death sentence.
Crime levels are relatively low in Malaysia, but common sense precautions should be observed. Beware of pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves.
Exercise caution when crossing the streets. Some drivers will not stop at pedestrian/zebra crossings. Use pedestrian bridges if available.
Drink driving is a serious offence and breathalyser tests by the police are common.
Travel documents and valuables are best deposited in a hotel safe or carried safely with you, as there is a potential of theft from hotel rooms while guests are away.
Women travelling alone should be wary of opening their room doors to strangers. In such situations, common sense judgment should prevail.
Credit card fraud can be a problem, so use your card only at large, reputable retailers, and do not let your card out of your sight.
Public demonstrations are almost unheard of in Malaysia - should any occur, they may be treated with heavy-handed tactics, so avoid them at all costs.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Malaysians boil tap water before drinking it. It is recommended for visitors to stick to bottled water.
Ice in drinks might be made from tap water but the cylindrical variety with a hollow tube down the middle are mass-produced at ice factories and are safer to consume.
Avoid buying food or drinks from street vendors if you find the hygiene standard is questionable.
Heat exhaustion is rare, but do consume lots of fluids, use a hat and sunscreen and shower often. Pack clothing suitable for a warm humid climate.
Due to the constant humid climate, mosquitoes tend to be present throughout the year. To repel mosquitoes, ticks and other arthropods, apply an insect repellent. The risk of malaria is extremely small, however, if you are visiting Borneo inland or rural areas Malaria prophylaxis is recommended.
Dengue fever occurs throughout Malaysia in both urban and rural areas, and can only be avoided be preventing mosquito bites. The mosquito that transmits dengue feeds throughout the daytime, and is most active at dawn and dusk. If you experience a sudden fever with aches and lethargy, seek medical attention immediately. Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be used until dengue fever has been ruled out.
Clinics and dispensaries take care of non-major medical treatment while state-run hospitals are available in all major towns. Private hospitals with international standard facilities can be found in Kota Kinabalu City. Private hospitals require a cash deposit or a confirmation of insurance prior to admission and expect immediate payment for services. Be sure to have the appropriate travel health insurance.
Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place. However, they do have their own customs and visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:
Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling.
In Borneo, dressing attitudes are more liberal than other parts of Malaysia. Informal dressing (e.g. lightweight linens & cottons, T-shirt, shorts, jeans) is generally acceptable. For dinners and night spots, smart casual wear is the norm. Topless or completely naked sunbathing is not allowed. Some fine dining establishments requires formal/evening wear.
When entering mosques and temples, wear long sleeves and loose trousers or long skirts as a sign of respect.
Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.
Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
The right hand is always used when eating with one's hand or giving and receiving objects.
The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.
Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors. Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.
Showing of affection in larger cities is tolerated but might invite unnecessary attention from the public. In more rural areas it is frowned upon and is to be avoided.
The list goes on and on, however, practice common sense, and enjoy the holiday.