Many travellers to South East Asia put Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia at the top of their itinerary, and completely forget about Malaysia altogether, and it’s just downright criminal!
Below I’ve listed 6 essential things you need to know to go to Malaysia, in the hope of inspiring you to visit this tropical paradise for yourself!
1. You may need a visa depending on your nationality
If you’re traveling to Malaysia for tourism, you might not need a visa if you’re visiting for a short trip. Citizens of up to 100 countries do not need a tourist visa for a stay 90 days, while an additional 60 nationalities are permitted a visa-free stay of up to 30 days. Libyan and Iranian passport holders are also allowed to visit for 14 days without a visa.
All other nationalities need to have a visa for Malaysia no matter the amount of time they intended to spend in the country. While some foreign nationals are required to apply for a visa from a Malaysian embassy, a select few nationalities are now able to obtain a Malaysia eVisa through a simplified electronic application method.
Regardless of whether you need a tourist visa for Malaysia, you’ll need to ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months on arrival to gain entry to the country. You also need to have some blank pages in your passport to receive entry and exit stamps at the border.
2. You might need to get some vaccines before you go
When visiting any international destination, it’s always a good idea to ensure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date to reduce your chances of getting sick in a foreign land, and Malaysia is no different.
It’s especially important to get vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid before traveling to Malaysia, as well as Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies if you’re planning to spend an extended period in the country.
If you’re arriving from a region with a high risk of yellow fever infection, you’ll also need to present proof of a yellow fever vaccine certificate to gain entry to Malaysia. And, as there is a risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the country, it’s a good idea to carry some anti-malaria tablets and repellent if you will be spending a lot of time in rural areas.
3. You should prepare for the tropical climate
Like other territories in the region, such as Thailand and Vietnam, Malaysia has a tropical climate and hot and humid weather year-round. When packing your suitcase you’ll want to keep this in mind and make sure you bring lots of lightweight and loose clothing.
Saying that you should also remember that Malaysia is a Muslim majority country. Make sure to bring some long-sleeved tops and long skirts/ trousers to cover up outside tourist areas and at sacred sites.
Also, Malaysia is not exempt from the monsoon season that affects much of Southeast Asia during the summer months. So if you’re visiting from June-October be prepared to bring some waterproof clothing and shoes. An umbrella might also be a good idea!
4. Malaysia has some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia
Malaysia’s beaches are truly world-class and give some of the best sands in Thailand and Indonesia a run for their money, especially on the resort-filled Perhentian Island.
Both Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo are also packed to the brim with beaches full of excellent scuba-diving opportunities. It’s also incredibly cheap to go scuba diving in Malaysia, so you don’t have an excuse not to give it a go!
5. Malaysian food is fantastic and very cheap
One of the best things about Malaysia is, without question, the rich and diverse cuisine. You’ll have the chance to sample local dishes like the creamy coconut milk-infused Nasi Lemak, but there is also ample opportunity to try cuisine from throughout Asia at Malaysia’s inexpensive street food stalls and varied restaurants.
6. It’s an incredibly diverse country
Malaysia boasts a truly diverse landscape that ranges from vast modern cities like Kuala Lumpur, to national parks full of lush rainforest, to pristine conservation areas like the Danum Valley.
However, with a population made up of a mix of Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, and Indigenous ethnicities, it is also incredibly culturally diverse, something that contributes to making it such an exciting place.
In general, Malaysians are incredibly warm and welcoming people, and as English is widely spoken in the country, it shouldn’t be too hard to interact and make some local friends!