Reasons to Visit
Malaysia`s picture perfect white sand beaches and year round travel season means they are the envy of their Southeast Asian neighbours! From the private island of Pangkor Laut, long quiet beaches around Kuala Terengganu, popular white sand beaches on Langkawi and hidden gems on small islands off the East coast.
UNESCO sites Malacca and George Town were once cities which rose from humble fishing villages to become major centres of the spice trade. Four centuries of European influence have left behind rich cultural icons including Dutch churches, remnants of ruined Portuguese and British fortresses and imposing town halls.
Enjoy the peace and solitude around the Cameron Highlands, following jungle trails to streams, lakes and waterfalls, or take time to visit one of the nearby tea plantations.
Explore Taman Negara National Park on foot, by boat and even 25 metres up in the jungle on a canopy walkway. Climb Teresik Hill, swim in the water holes around the rapids of Lata Berkoh or just walk amongst the flora of the oldest rainforest in the world.
A foodies delight! Malaysia is a true melting pot of cultures and the Indian, Chinese and Malay influence is strongly evident in the food. Places like Penang, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur have hawkers stalls and local restaurants on every corner. Eating really is a national hobby here so get involved!
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Our Malaysia specialists are experienced and passionate about the country - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know Malaysia inside out.
RebeccaMalaysia Specialist01993 838 143
JackMalaysia Specialist01993 838 118
DavidMalaysia Specialist01993 838 138
TimMalaysia Specialist01993 838 131
CharlotteMalaysia Specialist01993 838 113
NickiMalaysia Specialist01993 838 142
Malaysia is a great introduction to Southeast Asia, and can be easily explored by hire car.
We get to the heart of the country, utilising experienced local guides and our own knowledge in the careful planning of your itinerary.
Accommodation in Malaysia ranges from some of the most sophisticated beach resorts in the world through atmospheric colonial buildings to the small jungle lodges we have discovered on our research trips.
To discover some of the unexplored regions that you might otherwise miss, we can arrange a private car with chauffeur guide for a similar price to a self drive (see below). This way you can visit some of the more remote Orang Asli villages in the Cameron Highlands, sample the local delicacies of Penang’s night market and experience the more relaxed and traditional way of life in the atmospheric fishing villages of the east coast.
At the end of the trip your chauffeur guide can leave you to enjoy one of Malaysia’s stunning beaches.
Good roads and driving on the left make Malaysia a great option for a self drive holiday. The main cities are busy and not always clearly signed, but expressways and older trunk roads tend to be quiet and easy to navigate. The expressways have good, frequent rest stops whilst travelling on the older roads allows the opportunity to stop at local villages and roadside stalls where children sell seasonal fruits fresh from their family farms.
Hire cars are of good quality and the road maps are some of the best in Southeast Asia.
Bahasa Malaysia is the national and official language but English is widely spoken. Other languages are Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Iban and Tamil.
In multi-racial Malaysia, every type of cooking from Southeast Asia can be tasted. Malay food concentrates on subtleties of taste using a blend of spices, ginger, coconut milk and peanuts. Sambal (a paste of ground chilli, onion and tamarind) is often used as a side dish. Blachan (a dried shrimp paste) is used in many dishes and ikan bilis (dried anchovies) are one popular snack. Popular Malay dishes include satay, which consists of a variety of meat, especially chicken, barbecued on small skewers with a spicy peanut dipping sauce and a salad of cucumber, onion and compressed rice cakes. The best sauce often takes several hours to prepare to attain its subtle flavour.
There are many regional types of Chinese cooking including Cantonese, Peking, Hakka, Sichuan and Taiwanese. Indian food is also popular, with curries ranging from mild to very hot indeed. Vegetarian food, chutneys and Indian bread are available. Indonesian cuisine also combines the use of dried seafood and spiced vegetables with the Japanese method of preparation with fresh ingredients cooked to retain the natural flavour. Japanese, Korean and Thai food are available in restaurants. Western food is served throughout the country, particularly in major hotels which have continental menus and international coffee shops. Drink: Although the country is largely Islamic, alcohol is available. Local beers are Tiger and Anchor and are a similar cost to the UK.
Tipping: 10% service charge and 5% government tax are commonly included in bills. If you would like to reward good service we recommend tipping your chauffeur guide 20-30 Ringgit per day. Obviously this is very much a rough guide and you are completely free to give whatever you feel is appropriate. For porters in hotels (and at airports where appropriate) we recommend that you give a couple of Ringgit.
Ringgit (R) = 100 sen. Notes are in denominations of R100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 sen. There are also a large number of commemorative coins in various denominations which are legal tender.
Automatic cash dispensers are widespread, especially in the major cities. Most machines take all credit cards, as well as Cirrus and Plus cards. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, as are bank debit cards. Please do remember that most banks charge a fee for cash withdrawals whilst abroad. It is recommended that you call your bank a few days prior to travelling to Malaysia and provide them with your dates of entry and exit to the country. Due to a recent change in bank policy, many people have encountered problems trying to withdraw cash from ATMs around the country as they have not informed their bank of their trip. If you want to bring traveller's cheques, they can be taken in either UK sterling or in US dollars.
Malaysia's population is a mixture of diverse cultures and characters. In general, the racial groups integrate, but keep to their individual traditions and lifestyles. Malays still form more than half of the total population and lead a calm life governed by the authority of elders and a strong sense of respect and etiquette. Hospitality is always warm, lavish and informal. Visitors should follow Malaysian example and respect religious beliefs, such as taking off footwear at the door and wearing appropriate clothing. Dress should be informal, but not over-casual. Within towns, smoking has now become the subject of government disapproval and fines are levied in a number of public places. You should avoid touching food with your left hand. Shaking hands, although European, has become common place.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
KS Maniam's 'The Return' (1994) is one of the few works of contemporary fiction from Malaysia in English that can be wholeheartedly recommended. The author shines a light on the Indian Malaysian experience through his characters search for a home on returning from being educated abroad. Rehman Rashad's 'A Malaysian Journey' is an affectionate insightful travelogue by a respected Malaysian journalist.
Traditional Malay music is based largly on the gendang (drum) of which there are more that a dozen types. Other percussion instruments include the gong, cerucap(made of shells), raurau (coconut shells), Kertuk and pertnag (both made of bamboo).
Eric Khoo directed the 1995 movie 'Mek Pok Man' where a mentally disabled noodle seller falls for a prostitute who visits his stall. The all amateur cast give outstanding performances.
Forget potatoes, rice (nasi) and noodles (mee) rule in this region. Rice is eaten steamed, fried with other ingredients, boiled into sweeet or savory porridge, or with glutinous varieties, steamed and moulded into tubes or cubes. Noodles can be made from wheat, rice or mung beans and are used in a bewildering array of dishes.
Freshly made fruit juices are readily available from hawker stalls. In particular, sugar cane juice is an amazing thirst quencher when served with a wedge of lemon and coconut water is also very popular and usually served in the actual coconut.
Salamat Pagi ('Good morning'); Terima Kasih ('Thank you').
Beautiful beaches, tropical islands, great hospitality, bustling hawker stalls and nightmarkets, sleek sophistication, fabulous diving.
Batik, silver and other metalwork around Kuala Lumpur. Antiques and crafts in Jonkers Street, Malacca.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to Malaysia by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in MalaysiaWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
Other countries in Southeast Asia:BorneoBurmaCambodiaIndonesiaLaosPapua New GuineaThailandThe PhilippinesVietnam
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