General information on Malaysia
The Federation of Malaysia is a holiday destination that has so far been largely spared mass tourism, but has all the same become a well-guarded secret favourite amongst those seeking rest and relaxation in far-flung corners of the planet. Malaysia, one of the so-called ‘tiger states’ of Asia, is geographically divided into two sections. One half is located on the Asian mainland, immediately adjacent to Thailand, while the other half is to be found in the northern part of the island of Borneo. The land sandwiched between the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea includes wooded mountains, a 1900-kilometre coastline, swamps and areas of dense jungle. Malaysia is a land of fascinating insights and attractions. Full of colour, contrast and all manner of charms, it has a multitude of endearing impressions to offer. Colonial towns, tiny villages, Malayan "kampongs” and some of the oldest jungle regions in the world. Here you’ll find upland areas with cooler temperatures and enchanting islands with wide, empty beaches and a natural beauty virtually untouched by man. This is a land of perpetual summer where the sun always shines. The palm-lined beaches fall away into the enticing blue waters of the sea. The interior of the country boasts high mountains towering above the timeless green of the jungle; the mountain air is cool and clear, revitalising all who travel up from the coast. The picturesque little fishing villages exude the relaxed, peaceful way of life enjoyed by those who live there. Malaysia reflects a meeting point between Islam and Buddhism, between adventure and discovery. <strong/>
The time difference to CET (Central European Time) is plus seven hours.
Malaysia consists of two totally different sections of land which are separated by the South China Sea and would have been unlikely ever to form a single country had it not been for British colonisation. The two sections of land have a combined surface area of 330,433 square kilometres, which means that Malaysia is just slightly smaller than Germany. 40% of the land area is accounted for by the Malaysian peninsula, formerly Malaya, with most of the remainder made up of Sabah and Sarawak in the north and northwest of the island of Borneo. West Malaysia comprises the southern part of the Malaysian peninsula which, as a narrow tongue of land 1500 kilometres in length, forms the southernmost part of the Asian mainland. Malaysia is bordered by Thailand to the north, by the South China Sea to the east, by Singapore to the south and by the Strait of Malacca to the west and southwest.
Malaysia’s climate is hot and tropical, although it does also vary between the different regions. The mountain regions have cooler weather in all seasons of the year, with temperatures falling to around 16°C as the evening approaches. In the coastal regions the maximum daytime temperatures are on average around or above 30°C. The Malaysian climate is also relatively humid. Rain falls all year round in the form of short, sharp showers.
It is advisable to wear light cotton or linen clothing in Malaysia. If you’re travelling to the mountains or the upland region, then you should also take a warm pullover and waterproofs. In addition to sandals, it’s also worth bringing a pair of more substantial shoes for some of the excursions. It is also important that you bring a sunhat, suncream and UV-protective sunglasses with you for the hot, sunny days.
Malaysia offers a wide range of culinary dishes, many of which are liberally spiced. The most commonly used fresh ingredients include chillies, garlic, onions, ginger, lemon grass, lemon leaves, tamarind juice and, above all, coconut milk. In Malaysian restaurants the food is often presented on open dishes so that you can use your eyes to choose between the various delicious offerings made from chicken, crab, beef and baked fish. You can then order nasi puteh (white rice) or nasi- / mee goreng (fried rice / noodles) as a side dish.
Accommodation in all categories can be found in Malaysia, ranging from youth hostels, apartments, bungalows, simple beds in down-to-earth wooden huts or simple hotels to luxury hotels at the other end of the scale. It is important that you bring your own sleeping bag for the nights in tents as well as for some of the facilities listed above.
Malaysians call their currency ringgits or sens, both of which refer to Malaysian dollars. Maestro cards, credit cards and travellers’ cheques are accepted without problem. There is always plenty of call for cash in the form of US dollars. Since the currency of the Southeast-Asian region is no longer pegged to the US dollar, it is extremely unstable.
It’s no problem to use a European mobile phone in Malaysia, but you should be aware that an additional charge of 0.44 euro is levied on each call.
Overseas calls, either direct-dialled or via the operator, can also be made 24 hours a day from the telecom centres (STM). Call charges there must be paid in cash. The international prefix for Germany is 0049, and for Malaysia 0060.
Out-patient treatment in state hospitals is to all intents and purposes free. Having said that, there are generally long queues for treatment in the large cities; travellers may be lucky enough to bypass these queues. Medical services in Malaysia are virtually of the same standard as those in Europe. There are plenty of dispensing chemists, shops selling primarily traditional Chinese remedies, non-dispensing chemists and doctors’ surgeries in Malaysia. A lot of western medicaments are imported from Australia, and are sold direct with no need for a prescription. Doctors can be found in so-called ‘shoplots’, retail centres and medical centres. If you need particular medication on a daily basis, please be sure to bring it with you in sufficient quantity.
Hygiene conditions in Malaysia do not meet European standards. It is therefore prudent to take certain precautionary measures: wash your hands frequently, never drink tap water or unboiled water, and always peel fruit before eating it. You are advised to refrain from eating or buying food from cheap restaurants or markets.
It is also advisable to check that you have been inoculated recently against diphtheria, tetanus and polio. We would also recommend vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid and perhaps also rabies. Travellers should obtain information and medical advice on how to protect themselves against infection, what vaccinations are required and other prophylactic measures well in advance of their departure date. We would refer you in particular to the general information available from health authorities, doctors experienced in travel medicine, doctors of tropical medicine, travel medicine information services or the Federal Centre for Health Education [Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung].
English-style three-pin plugs are widely used in Malaysia. If you want to bring electrical appliances with you and use them in Malaysia, you should consider bringing a suitable adapter. If necessary, plug adapters can be obtained easily and cost between RM 4 and 5.
Mains voltage is generally 240 volts, with a frequency of 50 Hz (subject to fluctuation).
You are permitted to bring in the following items duty-free: gifts up to a value of RM 200, 1 litre of alcoholic drinks, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 225g of tobacco and normal luggage items incl. camera, DVD player, etc. However, in theory a cautionary notice may be served on certain items that are subject to import duty, such as video cameras or computers. In this instance you should make sure that you obtain an official receipt, because without one you will be unable to reclaim your valuables on leaving the country. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency that may be brought into or taken out of the country. However, if sums in excess of RM 1,000 or 2,500 US dollars are being taken in or out, these must be declared.
It is basically pretty simple to behave in a way that is deemed respectable in Malaysia, and to make contact with others. You should show respect towards anyone who is older than yourself, especially if their social standing is similar to or above your own. <span/>You should never point at anyone with your index finger. Either make a fist and use your thumb to indicate direction, or use your whole hand for this purpose. People in Malaysia generally avoid emphatic use of the word for "no” as this comes across as crude and undiplomatic. Women are expected to dress respectably. In 1994 Malaysia passed a law prohibiting smoking in public places including theatres, hospitals, lifts, amusement arcades, taxis and air-conditioned restaurants. If you contravene this law you are likely to be fined 50 RM.
Malaysia lies in a region that has been affected in the past by earthquakes and seaquakes. These are dangers, moreover, that will still be there in the future. Travellers may experience problems with conmen or thieves; to avoid such problems you should never leave luggage or valuables unattended in a car or indeed anywhere else. We also recommend that you do not wear ostentatious jewellery or display large quantities of money in public; you should keep valuables close to your body<span/> and always be aware of what is happening around you.
Stages through Malaysia
This information has been compiled to the best of our knowledge, however this may be subject to change. We are not liable for the accuracy of the stated information.