Malaysia

Buzzing cities, idyllic islands, exotic ports and lush highlands combine to create magical Malaysia. Home to a collision of cultures, you can eat roti for breakfast and feast on fragrant curries for dinner; admire mosques in the morning and temples in the afternoon; and visit remote villages as well as towering skyscrapers – it’s all possible in Malaysia.

Malaysia Tours & Travel

Top deals in Malaysia

Departing Days Price AUD
22 Oct 2014 Wild Sarawak 11 $1881
5 Nov 2014 Wild Sarawak 11 $1881
5 Nov 2014 Best of Borneo 22 $4140
8 Nov 2014 Sabah Adventure 12 $2434
15 Nov 2014 Sabah Adventure 12 $2434

All our Malaysia trips

Summit of Mt Kinabulu

Sabah Adventure

12 days from
USD $2,178.00
CAD $2,209.50
AUD $2,295.00
EUR €1,548.00
GBP £1,372.50
NZD $2,722.50
ZAR R20,884.50
CHF FR1,912.50

This Sabah Adventure tour through the Borneo wilderness will truly capture your imagination. Climb Mt Kinabalu and...

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Gold buddha face, Thailand

Singapore to Bangkok Adventure

13 days from
USD $1,080.00
CAD $1,095.00
AUD $1,135.00
EUR €795.00
GBP £680.00
NZD $1,345.00
ZAR R10,330.00
CHF FR975.00

From Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand, this tour of South-East Asia captures some of the region's best places;...

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Green tuk tuks in Bangkok

Bangkok to Singapore

15 days from
USD $1,513.00
CAD $1,483.25
AUD $1,542.75
EUR €1,062.50
GBP £926.50
NZD $1,823.25
ZAR R14,033.50
CHF FR1,304.75

Take an adventure from Thailand to Singapore, via Malaysia. This tour of South East Asia captures some of the region's...

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Baby monkey, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Classic Borneo

10 days from
USD $2,095.00
CAD $2,140.00
AUD $2,225.00
EUR €1,550.00
GBP £1,330.00
NZD $2,640.00
ZAR R20,265.00
CHF FR1,895.00

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Colourful buildings, Kuching

Wild Sarawak

11 days from
USD $1,786.50
CAD $1,809.00
AUD $1,881.00
EUR €1,332.00
GBP £1,125.00
NZD $2,223.00
ZAR R17,086.50
CHF FR1,642.50

Hop aboard an adventure tour through the wilds of Borneo's Sarawak region. Crawl through the Mulu caves, hike in Bako...

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Thean hou temple, Kuala Lumpur

Best of Malaysia

14 days from
USD $1,895.00
CAD $1,920.00
AUD $1,995.00
EUR €1,390.00
GBP £1,195.00
NZD $2,365.00
ZAR R18,160.00
CHF FR1,695.00

Travel to South-East Asia and see the best of Malaysia on an Intrepid Adventure tour from Kuala Lumpur. Visit ancient...

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Food market, Malaysia

Real Food Adventure - Malaysia

10 days from
USD $1,750.00
CAD $1,775.00
AUD $1,845.00
EUR €1,285.00
GBP £1,095.00
NZD $2,185.00
ZAR R16,795.00
CHF FR1,580.00

Travel to Malaysia to explore the unique cuisine of this South-East Asian country. Indulge in the food of Kuala Lumpur...

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Sepilok Orangutan Reserve

Best of Borneo

22 days from
USD $3,685.50
CAD $3,753.00
AUD $3,897.00
EUR €2,695.50
GBP £2,331.00
NZD $4,621.50
ZAR R35,482.50
CHF FR3,325.50

Travel through the wild, untamed lands of beautiful Borneo. From magnificent Mt Kinabalu to wild Bako park and pristine...

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Fishing at sunrise, Bali

Bangkok to Bali

28 days from
USD $3,470.00
CAD $3,390.00
AUD $3,275.00
EUR €2,595.00
GBP £2,080.00
NZD $4,195.00
ZAR R27,160.00
CHF FR3,195.00

Take an adventure from Thailand to Bali, via Malaysia. This tour of South-East Asia captures some of the region's best...

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Thaipusam festival

Classic Malaysia

10 days from
USD $1,763.75
CAD $1,780.75
AUD $1,857.25
EUR €1,292.00
GBP £1,100.75
NZD $2,201.50
ZAR R16,906.50
CHF FR1,593.75

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Children, Borneo

Classic Malaysia & Borneo

19 days from
USD $4,055.00
CAD $4,110.00
AUD $4,270.00
EUR €2,970.00
GBP £2,555.00
NZD $5,060.00
ZAR R38,865.00
CHF FR3,660.00

Discover a new corner of South-East Asia. From scenic Sabah and Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi and Melaka, Malaysia and...

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malaysia baby orangutan jungle safari wildlife forest thailand

Best of Thailand & Malaysia

22 days from
USD $2,480.00
CAD $2,495.00
AUD $2,470.00
EUR €1,795.00
GBP £1,560.00
NZD $3,095.00
ZAR R20,445.00
CHF FR2,240.00

Travel from Bangkok to Sukhothai and Chiang Mai before visiting Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Discover Thai beaches and...

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Buddhas, Thailand

Classic Malaysia & Thailand

19 days from
USD $3,355.00
CAD $3,395.00
AUD $3,530.00
EUR €2,455.00
GBP £2,110.00
NZD $4,185.00
ZAR R32,130.00
CHF FR3,025.00

Travel to South-East Asia and visit Malaysia and Thailand on an Intrepid Comfort trip. Tour from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka...

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Colourful fish and sea turtles, Pulau Tiga National Park

Borneo Family Adventure

11 days from
USD $1,742.50
CAD $1,746.75
AUD $1,831.75
EUR €1,236.75
GBP £1,096.50
NZD $2,176.00
ZAR R16,694.00
CHF FR1,525.75

Travel to Borneo to visit orangutan sanctuaries and explore Borneo's jungles. See the best of Borneo as you travel on...

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Malaysia trip reviews

Our Malaysia trips score an average of 4.62 out of 5 based on 105 reviews in the last year.

Sabah Adventure, June 2014

Sabah Adventure, June 2014

Articles on Malaysia

5 best things to do in the Perhentian Islands

5 best things to do in the Perhentian Islands

Posted on Mon, 7 Jul 2014 by Amanda Linardon

Before you head to Langkawi, Malaysia has another gem to consider. The Perhentian Islands offer pristine beaches, unspoilt reefs and a laid-back atmosphere!

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A homestay haven in Borneo

A homestay haven in Borneo

Posted on Sun, 11 May 2014 by Jane Crouch

Embarking on a big Borneo adventure, you are likely to have the icons front of mind: orang-utans, turtles, tropical jungle and the magnificent Mt Kinabalu perhaps. But once there and [...]

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Swinging with the orang-utans

Swinging with the orang-utans

Posted on Fri, 27 Dec 2013 by Jane Crouch

What goes swing, swing, shimmy, scramble, thump? That’d be one of our closest genetic relatives leaving one piece of remnant rainforest in search of another. The Bornean orang-utans have lost much [...]

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Malaysia’s beautiful green bowl

Malaysia’s beautiful green bowl

Posted on Tue, 8 Oct 2013 by Sue Elliot

Diverse: it’s a great word to describe Malaysia. A melting-pot of cultures, a land of contrasts and a kaleidoscope of colours. From its urban skyscrapers to welcoming villages, it’s a [...]

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Malaysia, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Malaysia you may find yourself staying in a:

About Malaysia

At a glance

Trips Available: 14
Capital city: Kuala Lumpur (population 1.1 million)
Population: 28.7 million
Language: Bahasa Malaysia
Currency: MYR
Time zone: (GMT+08:00) Kuala Lumpur, Singapore
Electricity: Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
Dialing code: +60

Best time to visit Malaysia

The climate in Malaysia is generally hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures do not fluctuate much and stay in the 30s most of the day, dropping back to the mid to high 20s at night. This makes Malaysia a great place for swimming, snorkelling and relaxing in the sun.

Humidity is higher during the wet season and can be quite oppressive for those not used to it. The wet season changes from coast to coast. From November to April, the wet season hits the east coast of the peninsula and it is dry on the west coast. During May to October it is dry on the east coast and wet on the west.

Some people of Malaysia observe Ramadan. If you are planning to travel during Ramadan, it is important to consider that some restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating on reduced hours during this time.

Kuala Lumpur weather chart

Culture and customs

Festival lanterns
Malaysia truly is a modern melting pot – with Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian and indigenous groups making up the population. With this cultural diversity comes a mix of religions, customs, foods and languages. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism are the main religions practiced, although most of the world’s religions are represented somewhere in Malaysia. The Muslim call to prayer, Hindu Festivals and Buddhist ceremonies all coexist with relative peace, with the South-East Asian concept of ‘saving face’ leading most people to strive for harmony.

Regardless of cultural background, elderly people and those of high rank in society (business people, government officials etc.) are afforded much respect. Food plays an important part in daily life, with religious celebrations and holidays characterised by family gatherings and elaborately prepared feasts. Alcohol isn’t a large part of Malaysian society (probably due to the significant Muslim population), but is widely available for purchase and consumption.

Eating and drinking

Delicious roti

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Malaysia’s melting pot of cultural influences is evident in its cuisine.

Things to try in Malaysia

1. Malay

Delicious roti, chicken rice, spicy sambal eggplant and kopi peng (iced coffee).

2. Baba Nonya/Peranaken Cuisine

Fresh spring rolls, babi chin (stewed pork belly) and Mee Siam (rice noodles).

3. Indian

Aromatic curries, cool lassis, delicious daal and sweet fried coconut balls.

4. Chinese

Hearty noodle broths, Peking duck pancakes and chrysanthemum tea.

Geography and environment

Green highlands
Balmy beaches, fish-filled reefs, wild jungles, verdant highlands, relaxed ports, colourful cities and simple villages – Malaysia has it all. Sharing land borders with Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand, Malaysia’s environment is as diverse as its population. From the urban cityscape of Kuala Lumpur and the colonial charm of Penang, to the old-world streets of Melaka, a journey through Malaysia will reveal changing landscapes and evolving environments.

While the large cities are typically built-up, busy and full of buzz, Malaysia’s provincial towns and remote highlands remain delightfully relaxed, with people living simple lives based on agriculture, animal husbandry or other small enterprises. With such a rich range of environments, Malaysia offers beaches and islands for swimming, snorkelling and diving; jungles and highlands for trekking and adventuring; and villages and cities for exploration and relaxation.

History and government

Malaysian culture

Early History

The first recorded historical mentions of Malaysia date back to 7th and 8th-century Sanskrit and Chinese texts. During the following centuries, Malaysia came under the influence and control of Indonesia, Thailand and India – with the accompanying religions, cuisines and languages spreading in the region. In the 16th century, Malaysia came under the influence of Portuguese and Dutch settlers, who increasingly expanded their reach throughout the region to create the Dutch East Indies. Under this influence, Malaysia did well in trade, and flourished as a result of the economic gains of being located on one of the most important trade routes of the time.

Recent History

During the 19th century, the British took control of the Malaysian Peninsula, with the Federated Malay States being officially formed in 1865. Malaysia remained under British rule until Japan invaded during World War II – but once Japan was defeated in 1945, British rule returned and the Federation of Malay was born in 1948. In 1963, the Federation of Malaya formed with Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah to create Malaysia. Only two years after, Singapore became an independent state, leaving Malaysia in its current form. In the 1970s, Malaysia’s economy grew rapidly until the late 1990s, when the Asian Financial Crisis slowed economic growth in the region. The economy soon recovered, and Malaysia enjoyed the international exposure that came with hosting the 1998 Commonwealth Games (held in Kuala Lumpur). Currently, Malaysian standards of living continue to rise, and Kuala Lumpur has emerged as one of Asia’s premier cities.

Top Picks

Street food

Top 10 Culinary Experiences of Malaysia

1. Baba Nonya Banquet

The port town of Melaka is known for its unique Baba Nyonya style food. A fusion of Straits Chinese and Malaysian food (with hints of Portuguese, Thai and Indian), chowing down at a Nyonya restaurant is an elaborate affair filled with spicy flavours and tangy sauces.

2. Savour a Street Eat

The streets of Malaysia are filled with locals pushing street carts selling everything from hand-made roti to fresh fruit, delicious satay and steaming bowls of laksa. Malaysian street food offers convenience, variety and flavour on a budget.

3. Taste Some Tea

Traditional tea is made a little differently in Malaysia. Order ‘teh tarik’ and watch as your condensed-milk tea is frothed and cooled by being poured dramatically between two metal cups, which are held metres apart.

4. Tuck Into a Hot Curry

Beef Rendang is a Malay culinary favourite and is made at home, served at restaurants and prepared for special occasions. This spicy curry is packed with lemongrass, cinnamon, cloves, chilli and melt-in-your-mouth beef — an unforgettable fusion of flavours!

5. Seek Out Cool City Eat Streets

The hip cafes and bars of Kuala Lumpur are a great place to mix with locals and connect with modern Asian culture. Head to the Jalan Bukit Bintang area in KL and check out the new-age teahouses, cool cafes and international dining options.

6. Down a Luscious Lassi

With a large Indian population, it’s not hard to find a refreshing Lassi when in Malaysia. Made from yoghurt and fresh fruit, sipping a cool Mango Lassi is the ideal antidote to a humid summer’s day.

7. Relish Some Rice

Chicken–rice is a favourite with locals and travellers alike. Available at small neighbourhood eateries, night markets and from street carts, this option is a great, low-cost meal for travellers on the go.

8. Slurp a Bowl of Laksa

Chicken, prawn, tofu and fish; there are many different varieties of spicy laksa to try while in Malaysia. Noodle types and ingredients may vary around the country - a good excuse to try laksa in every town you visit.

9. Chill Out With a Coconut

Quench your thirst with a fresh coconut juice. Sold at roadside stalls and on beaches, a straw is simply slipped into a stripped back coconut for a refreshing post-swim pick-me-up.

10. Feast on Roti

No visit to Malaysia is complete without encountering roti. Walk down any busy street and the sight of people kneading roti dough at street stalls and shop windows will be common. Often served with lentils, potatoes, onions and rice, roti is an excellent option for vegetarians looking for a meat-free meal.

Shopping

Local artians

Malaysia has a shopping experience to suit travellers on all budgets. From dazzling, modern malls and exciting night markets to boutique speciality stores, the opportunity to buy something special is never far away.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Malaysia

1. Kuala Lumpur

The capital’s huge malls offer loads of variety and opportunities to shop. Shoes, bags and accessories are all great buys - from haute couture labels to chic chain-store fashions.

2. Melaka

Home to a diverse range of artisans and craftsmen. Browse the markets, galleries and shops to pick up antiques, art and bespoke items. Handcrafted wooden ornaments, leather sandals, vibrant woven bags and antique coins are the best picks.

3. Penang

Boasts an eclectic mix of sleek malls, independent stores, interesting boutiques and open-air street markets. Head to Little India to source Indian-inspired saris, garlands and silver jewellery or stroll along Rope Walk to find one-of-a-kind antiques and treasures.

4. Langkawi

This island has duty-free status, making it a great place to buy fragrances, watches, cameras and other technology. For art lovers, the Craft Cultural Complex showcases locally made fabric, ceramics, baskets and jewellery.

Festivals and Events in Malaysia

Malaysian Grand Prix

For a bit of high-octane fun, see the fastest cars in the world in action at the Malaysian Grand Prix, held near Kuala Lumpur each year.

Ramadan and Eid

Ramadan is observed by the Muslim population of Malaysia. During the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset - refraining from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Eid marks the end of fasting with three days of feasting and celebration.

Thaipusam

Kuala Lumpur’s Batu Caves light up in honour of the Hindi deity Subramaniam (also known as Lord Murugan). Pilgrims arrive after sunset and watch as brave individuals thread hooks and skewers through their body to carry decorative steel arches to the Gods. This is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!

FAQs on Malaysia

Tipping isn’t expected in Malaysia. Some restaurants include a 10% service fee in bills. Feel free to leave a tip at restaurants or with taxi drivers if you’re feeling generous – it will be appreciated.
The internet is easy to access in Malaysia’s large cities, with internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots quite common, especially in tourist spots, hotels and hostels. Regional areas and rural communities might have little to no internet access, so be aware of this before heading out of the city.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Malaysia’s large cities; however, it may be patchy in regional areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated on your phone before leaving home.
Malaysian public toilets are a mix of western-style toilets and squat toilets. Up-market hotels and malls will usually have both options, whereas rural areas will almost certainly only have squat toilets. Be aware that soap and paper aren't always supplied, so be prepared and carry your own.
Hawker food snack = 3 MYR
Cup of teh tarik (tea) = 1-2 MYR
Beer in a bar or pub = 8 MYR
Souvenir t-shirt = 10-20 MYR
It's not recommended to drink the tap water in Malaysia. Filtered water is a better option; try to use a refillable canteen or water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Remember to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating.
Credit cards are widely accepted by malls, hotels and large restaurants in Malaysia. Smaller guesthouses, shops and cafes may not accept credit cards, so ensure you have enough cash to cover purchases in smaller establishments.
ATMs are easily found in large cities and towns but are far less common in rural and remote areas. Ensure you have enough cash before heading to isolated areas, as ATMs might be sparse.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 24 Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
Feb 1 Federal Territory Day
Feb 11 Chinese New Year
May 1 Labour Day
May 25 Wesak Day (Birth of Buddha)
Jun 1 King’s Birthday
Aug 8 Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan)
Aug 31 Merdeka Day (National Day)
Sep 16 Malaysia Day
Oct 15 Hari Raya Qurban (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Nov 3 Deepavali (Festival of Lights)
Nov 5 Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year)
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. Religious festivals are usually timed with the lunar calendar, so the dates listed above are estimates and vary from year to year. For a current list of public holidays in Malaysia go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Malaysia/public-holidays
MALAYSIA:
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required

The above nationalities do not need visas to visit Malaysia as a tourist for up to three months. Other nationalities should check with their Malaysian embassy or consulate.

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Malaysia Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Malaysia

1. Be considerate of Malaysia's customs, traditions, religions and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. Ask permission, remove your shoes and cover your shoulders with a jacket or wrap before entering a place of worship.

4. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

5. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

6. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

7. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

8. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

9. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

10. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

11. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

12. Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims. During this month no food, drink or smoking is permitted during daylight hours. While non-Muslims aren't expected to fast, it's recommended to try to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Evening is the Whole DayPreeta Samarasan
The Rice MotherRani Manicka
The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan TrilogyAnthony Burgess
The Gift of RainTan Twan Eng
A Malaysian JourneyRehman Rashid
Malaysian StoriesSomerset Maugham