Diverse wildlife, tropical rainforest, vibrant cities and outstanding food mean that visiting Malaysia will be full of wonder, amazement, fun, and unforgettable experiences. A holiday to Malaysia is like seeing two countries in one. There are the UNESCO heritage sites and nature reserves of Borneo and then the contrasting modern side to Malaysia, epitomised by the impressive 21st-century architecture of Kuala Lumpur, its capital.
A large part of tourism in Malaysia is geared towards seeing its range of stunning landscapes and the wildlife it hosts. An estimated 20 percent of the world's animal species are native to Malaysia. Tropical rainforest, granite peaks, crystal-clear shores contain approximately 210 species of mammals, 620 bird species, 250 species of reptiles and 150 types of frog.
Malaysia’s national parks are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia. Trekking, wildlife-watching, cave exploration and river rafting are all typical things to do in Malaysia. Snorkeling and scuba diving in Malaysia are also popular because of its beautiful beaches and rich marine life.
Malaysia key facts
Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy with a population of 31.2 million. There is evidence that modern human habitation dates back 40,000 years there. Malaysia's history as a nation goes back to the classical Malay Kingdoms, which later fell under the control of the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires at different points.
Since gaining its independence in 1957 Malaysia has emerged as one of the strongest economic powers in Asia. Traditionally its economic growth was fuelled by its natural resources but in recent years it has diversified, science, tourism, and commerce have all been expanded.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural and boasts a rich cultural heritage which includes a huge variety of annual festivals. What is the religion of Malaysia? Though Islam is the dominant religion, Malaysia is officially a secular state and its people follow a range of different faiths.
Its rich culture and history have produced four UNESCO world heritage sites. The Lenggong Valley, Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park, and Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca, are all popular things to see in Malaysia.
Food in Malaysia is a highlight of any trip there. A diverse range of Malaysian curries and local fruits and vegetables combine to form a cuisine like no other. Its food is as diverse as its population. With Chinese food, Indian curries, Malay food stalls, Dayak specialties, and some impressive Western-style food all on offer, travelers will never go hungry here.
Malaysia Basic Information
- Time Zone:
When to Go
Due to its position near the equator, the temperatures in Malaysia are fairly constant (around 30°C or just above) and the humidity level is also consistently high. The climate is tropical so showers are common in the mid-afternoon, but the short bursts of torrential rain don’t last long. When is the best time to visit Malaysia? The most important consideration is avoiding the monsoon (rainy season)…
- March to August: These are the best months to visit Malaysia as you avoid the worst of the rains and there’s less humidity.
- September to October: These are also pleasant months to go to Malaysia, however, on the peninsula’s west coast there are downpours that can last up to a few hours.
- November to February: Overall, these are the wettest months, the monsoon particularly affects the east coast of the peninsula and the western end of Sarawak.
Malaysia is a good destination for:
Malaysia Entry Requirements
All visitors must have a valid passport with six months remaining on entry to Malaysia.
Visitors must also obtain a visa before they travel, unless they come from one of the countries which are exempt, in which case they can travel to Malaysia visa-free.
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days in Malaysia: the US, EU countries, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa (and many more, 63 jurisdictions in total).
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa for stays of up to 30 days in Malaysia: Russia, Mexico, the Philippines, Ukraine (and may more, 95 jurisdictions in total).
Citizens of Iran, Libya, Sierra Leone and Somalia can visit Malaysia for up to 14 days without a visa.
The Malaysian government has set up a new online application system to accept applications for eVisas, available to citizens of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Serbia and Sri Lanka.
Malaysia Country Atractions
Malaysia’s stunning natural beauty, the traces of its rich history and its vibrant modern cities mean that there won’t be a boring moment on your holiday to Malaysia.
Things to see in Malaysia
- Kinabalu National Park: Malaysia’s first UNESCO site is also known as ‘Gunung Kinabalu’ in Malay. It has a diverse range of habitats including tropical lowland, hill rainforest, and tropical mountain forest and is dominated by Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia. It is exceptionally rich in species and has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia.
- Sarawak contains the Mulu Caves: Situated deep in Sarawak’s Gunung Mulu National Park, they form largest and most spectacular cave system in the world. An underground world of great beauty and mystery formed over thousands of years, the domain of caves remains largely unexplored. There have been a host of incredible discoveries since expeditions began in 1978.
- Melacca City: Before Kuala Lumpur was transformed into the capital Malacca was one of Southeast Asia’s most important trading ports. It was founded in 1400 but over time it became sleepy backwater city but in recent times it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia, offering the opportunity to go back in time and witness a different era of the country’s history. Fantastic for a day visit, it is full of attractions, old buildings and great places to eat.
- Petronas Twin Towers: Declared the tallest buildings in the world when they were completed in 1998, these giant twin wonders, located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, contain a complex of office buildings, conference halls, a 50-acre park and an upmarket shopping mall. There are tours around the building which offers fantastic views of the cityscape of Malaysia’s modern capital.
- Redang Island: A popular location for scuba diving in Malaysia because of the diversity of its marine life, the island is believed to be the place where the first human settlement in Malaysia was. It is famous for its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and variety of tropical fish. It is possible to get there by plane or boat.
- Langkawi Sky Bridge: The cable-car ride takes visitors all the way up to Mount Mat Chinchang and offers spectacular views of the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls which cascades down a grey rock face. An inclined lift called ‘SkyGlide’ then takes visitors from the top station to the bridge which was designed to maximise the viewing experience. It opened in 2005 and has been drawing visitors since.
- Changing money in Malaysia: There is a restriction on bringing large amounts of money into Malaysia and money can be easily exchanged at banks or at counters found in major shopping malls. One US Dollar is approximately 4.2 Malaysian Ringgit. Travelers’ cheques and most credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants. Are there ATMs in Malaysia? There are plenty and you can withdraw the local currency.
- Don’t do the following as it is considered rude: touch anyone’s head, use your finger to point at things, pound your fist into your palm, point your feet towards people or sacred objects, kiss in public, use your left hand when eating or giving and receiving objects.
- Stay on the right side of the police! Punishments are very severe. The death penalty is mandatory for certain crimes, such as carrying drugs, and others, such as overstaying your visa, might get you caned. Homosexuality is illegal, as long as public displays of affection are avoided this is not a problem for tourists.
- See your doctor about vaccinations and medication a few weeks before you go. Peninsular Malaysia is largely malaria-free, but there is a significant risk in Borneo especially in the rural areas. Dengue fever in Malaysia is common in both urban and rural areas and can be avoided only by preventing mosquito bites, so use repellent.
- Dress respectfully, particularly in rural areas. Wear trousers or a long skirt, not shorts, and cover your shoulders. In more metropolitan areas such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang attitudes are more liberal.
- Be wary of the sun and heat! Heat exhaustion is rare, but do consume lots of fluids, wear a hat and use sunscreen.