Guide to travelling in Malaysia

Nothing ruins a good trip than by unwittingly offending your host or the customs of the country. Travel agencies attest to this, because these are most of the mistakes their clients make when in another country. Statistics show that the bulk of these mistakes happens when a tourist or visitor is on a country in a different continent. Perhaps this is because of the expansive difference between the cultures of the continents. Western culture is radically different from the cultures of the East, especially in terms of religion. Predominantly, Muslim regions are more stringent with their customs, and even visitors are not exempt. If you are thinking about traveling to a Muslim country like Malaysia, there are several things you must remember to enjoy smooth Malaysia travel.


Keep in mind that Malaysian population is an integration of social groups, diverse cultures, and traditions. Generally, the different racial groups form a society, but still keep individual lifestyles and traditions. Malays predominate the total population and are still governed by strong decorum and the authority of the elders. The other Asian members of the society originally came to Malaysia to take up civil service positions but are now also among the professional classes. The Western European influence is visible but minimal. Therefore, as a Western traveler, don’t expect to find that your ways will be accepted and understood by most of the locals. Malaysians are hospitable, but they would not change their customs to suit your needs. If you want a successful and hassle-free Malaysia travel, it is better to equip yourself with the knowledge about your host country and its traditions.

Malaysia travel requires that you speak to the locals. Unless you have the extra money for an interpreter, it is best that you learn a few basic and useful Malaysian phrases, and forms of address. You would not be only thought of as considerate but also as a respectful traveler. Locals will also be more helpful and accommodating if you can talk to them, no matter how poorly. A handshake seems to be a universal symbol for peace and goodwill, but unlike the Western handshake, Malays do theirs relaxed and gently as a sign of warmth and welcome. If you want to pay respect to a Malay elder, statue, or temple, simply touch your chest briefly. The way you dress is very important as Malays are very proper people. Don informal clothing bit don’t be overly casual. Some shrines and temples won’t allow visitors to enter if dressed too casually. Speaking of shrines, removing footwear before entering temples, shrines, and houses is a form of courtesy and respect. Despite the many social conventions, visitors can expect lavish hospitality from the locals. Unlike in western countries, giving tips is not practiced, so do not tip even taxi drivers. It may be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. Smoking is also deemed as rude; if you must smoke, go to designated smoking areas in your hotel but never do it on the streets.

Bear this in mind and practice them on your Malaysia travel. You can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and invitations to return from newfound local friends. With respect for others culture and the local residents, any travel will be surely glitch-free.

8 thoughts on “Guide to travelling in Malaysia

  1. Heya nice interpretation on visiting Malaysia, tho I think it’s not fully accurate. lol.

    It really depends on where you visit – if you are in KL, speaking English is quite ok. But of course if you are in small kampungs or smaller towns, then you are right – Mandarin or Malay will help a great deal!

    And yes, one thing is true, Malaysians are not as flexible as the warm Thais in that sense. But nevertheless, you can expect some Malaysian smiles 🙂

  2. I am agreed with Quachee statement. Most students or undergraduate are more open-minded and caring. If you guys happen to stumble upon problems u can actually ask for help. And always smile as I believe Malaysian will smile back^^

  3. True true. For smoker, i think it is really better to smoke accordingly..though there may be some malaysian smoking on the street….just bear in mind that second hand smoke is very bad for health.
    Well, have fun in Malaysia^^

  4. i have never been to Malaysia, but my dad went on tour this early summer, and it wad an amazing experience for him there, i wish when ill visit this beautiful country…

  5. I have learnt with my experience that it is alwyas good to gain some knowledge of the local customs before you go to an unknown country. If you are totally unaware of the feelings of the locals, you could offend them.

  6. Malaysia is a good place to spend your holiday. The mix of cultures will give different side of experiences. There are good beaches around too.

  7. Malaysian mostly are Moslem but their diversity in culture : Malay, Chinese,etc are at harmonious combination. As a developing country in South East Asia, Malaysia is one of the most favorite place as tourism destination.

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