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
All our Malaysia trips
Articles on Malaysia
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 [...]Read more
Malaysia’s beautiful green bowl
Posted on Tue, 08 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
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:
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:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Kuala Lumpur (population 1.1 million)
- 28.7 million
- Bahasa Malaysia
- Time zone:
- (GMT+08:00) Kuala Lumpur, Singapore
- Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
- Dialing code:
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.
Culture and customs
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
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
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).
Aromatic curries, cool lassis, delicious daal and sweet fried coconut balls.
Hearty noodle broths, Peking duck pancakes and chrysanthemum tea.
Geography and environment
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
FAQs on Malaysia
Cup of teh tarik (tea) = 1-2 MYR
Beer in a bar or pub = 8 MYR
Souvenir t-shirt = 10-20 MYR
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
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
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 New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
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.
|Evening is the Whole Day||Preeta Samarasan|
|The Rice Mother||Rani Manicka|
|The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy||Anthony Burgess|
|The Gift of Rain||Tan Twan Eng|
|A Malaysian Journey||Rehman Rashid|
|Malaysian Stories||Somerset Maugham|