go to Malaysia ?
You will find here most of the practical
information you need to prepare your trip :
& away ?
It is possible to fly to KL or
Penang in Malaysia but Singapore is also a good entry point. Departure tax
in Malaysia is RM40 for international flights but it is usually included in your
countries offer worry free land or rail crossing with
: There are 4 entry points to choose from : Padang Besar
(rail crossing as well), Bukit Kayu Hitam (the main crossing point) and
Keroh for the West Coast (Penang) or
Rantau Panjang for the East coast (Kota
Singapore : A Causeway
with regular buses easily connect Johor
Bahru with the State Island.
It is possible to reach
Peninsular Malaysia by sea from the following countries :
Indonesia (Sumatra) : boats
regularly connect Medan with Penang
and Dumai with Melaka. See the
localities for more details. It is also possible to reach Johor Bahru from
Sumatra (Batu Ampar or Tanjung Pinang).
Thailand : it is possible
to reach Kuala Perlis or Langkawi Island from Satun in Thailand
Singapore : ferry crossing
are possible between Changi Villlage and Tanjung Belungkor, east of Johor
Bahru. More useful maybe is the high speed ferry to Tioman
Island which operate daily except during the monsoon from 31 October to
You are usually given a three months stay when entering Malaysia but some people get only one or two months. If you plan to spend a long period of time, it cost nothing to ask the official to give you the maximum. Otherwise, any immigration office in any town should be able to extend it up to the 3 months for R1. You have no choice but to leave the country after 3 months.
When to visit ?
From the weather point
of view :
Peninsular Malaysia can be visited year round.
Temperatures are fairly stable : between 22C and 32C on average but it can get
cold at the hill stations. The rain vary with the monsoon. The West Coast
monsoon blow from September to December but does not really prevent from
visiting. More annoying if you wish to relax on the islands is the East Coast
monsoon which last from November to February : even if boats are not cancelled
because of rough sea, it can rain all day...
From the crowd point of view
Any public holiday, in Malaysia or Singapore, fills up the resorts with
local people. The Chinese New Year is the worst time for example to visit
cool places like Cameron Highlands, although local tourists are more likely to
stay in hotels than guesthouses. Foreigner's invasion is not yet a problem
on the Peninsula but some islands are getting increasingly crowded : the
Perhentian Islands are now very full from the end of May to September and
finding a cheap place to stay at such time can be problematic. Visiting
the islands from the end of the monsoon until the beginning of May is a good
From the festivals point of
With so many ethnic
communities, Malaysia is blessed with a fair number of festivals. The
Chinese New Year in January or February is a colorful time to visit.. Hari
Raya Haji in April is the most important holidays for the Muslims who celebrates
the end of the Ramadan. The National Day is celebrated on the 31st of
How long ?
Peninsular Malaysia would
require between three weeks and one month at a leisurely pace. But of course,
you could forget the notion of time on a island...
At the time of writing, the
Malaysian Ringgit was worth 3.76 to the US$. See the banknotes
There is no problem to change
money in developed Malaysia. Money changers usually offer a better deal than
banks. This is particularly true with Travelers Cheques as most banks
charge a commission per cheque. Plastic can be used in the numerous ATM
Machines but check with your bank for the cost.
How much ?
its relative modernity, Malaysia remains pleasantly cheap. There is however a
big difference between the Peninsula and the islands. On the Peninsula, it is
possible to live with less than US$8 a day : room, transport and food at the
markets but unfortunately no beers ($2.66 for a big bottle, not cheap !). On the
islands however, in particular during the high season, count on about US$15 for
a basic bungalow, the boat transport and the basic food, again without any beer.
Staying in dormitories will of course reduce the costs a bit.
Backpacker's Tips : Ivana (June 04)
« Bus tickets were about 10% more expensive than the prices on your web. »
Tips : Anonymous (Oct 01)
« The transportation costs have increased a lot all over Peninsular
Malaysia and accomodation costs have also increased in a few major places (KL,
Penang,...), due to the rent decontrol acts. As a whole, expect now to pay at
least US$10-12 a day. »
Table for more details.
Malaysia is a fairly healthy
country to visit and the hospitals are well equipped.
It is not recommended to drink
water straight from the tap but it won't kill you. Check the color, ask around
and boil it. Most guesthouses and
restaurants provide boiled water and "plastic" drinks are available
everywhere in the street. Ice from such food stalls are usually OK.
Malaria is not a problem on the
Peninsula so prophylaxis could be avoided. Dengue fewer is also quite
There is little dangers in
Malaysia as a whole but unfortunately a few real nuisances, in particular for
the girls :
The sexual harassment conducted by Muslim
men toward western girls, in particular on the east coast. Female
travelers have reported being regularly pinched, touched or scrutinized while walking the streets and this even in the presence of their boyfriend. This weird attitude might be partly attributable to western TV series in which female are seen flirting from one guy to the other. The non respect of the Muslim dress code is probably another factor and it is clear that any dress provocation would attract hands full of fingers. But considering that any attractive local girls are also under continual verbal abuses, why not simply states that Malaysia is a country with a fair number of sexually frustrated machos ?
Discovering holes in the room of cheap hotels. As with the above, some local aren't too delicate and are going straight to the point when it comes to raise things up...
Dirty Malaysia : most local people in SE Asia may also have a preference for throwing their rubbish outside any dustbin but it somehow strikes more here as Malaysia is a fairly
developed country. Being located next to Singapore does not help...
Not seeing the hair of a lot of girls : well, I'll tell you : their hair is invariably black.
Their chador, however, is multi colors ! I am not saying that I will turn Muslim anytime soon. Just that, in tolerant Malaysia, this dress somehow makes the girl
look even more attractive...
The soft nightlife : Malaysia is not Thailand and beer here is even more expensive, if available. It is off course possible to have parties and to meet local people on the dance floor but, generally speaking, Malaysia is a fairly relaxed and quiet country where local people frown upon
eccentricity in dress or behaviors.
The pace of development : Some first class natural locations are falling victims of
developers & mass (local) tourism to the point that backpacking may become irrelevant in the future. The trend is clearly toward prices increase and a lower ratio of sand or greenery compared to concrete or rubbish...
The lack of big spectacular attractions : Malaysia is a country to be enjoyed as a whole rather than through a few architectural or natural wonders
around ! See Why Go for
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