Malaysia Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Kuala Lumpur tourist information, Malaysia food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Kuala Lumpur. Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Malaysia Travel Guide

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Full country name: Federation of Malaysia
Area: 329,847 sq km
Population: 25,72 million (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
Language: Malay, English, Tamil
Religion: Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8%
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +8
Dialling Code: 60
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs:
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit
Average yearly salary: USD 14,900

Budget: RM11-15
Mid-range: RM15-35
High: RM35-55
Top: RM55+
Budget: RM30-75
Mid-range: RM75-200
High: RM200-300
Top: RM300+

Culture: Ethnically and culturally, Malaysia is a fundamentally Malay country overlaid with Chinese, Indian and British influences, and possessing several indigenous tribal peoples such as the Iban, Penan and Negrito. Yet it preserves many traditional cultural aspects - dress, religion, food and architecture and retains great natural beauty in beaches, forests, rivers and mountains. Visiting Malaysia provides a step into a special and distinctive world that can be done with ease and comfort via high modern standards of transportation and accommodation.

Geography: Malaysia is located in southeastern Asia, and is a peninsula bordering Thailand, the northern one-third of the island of Borneo, Indonesia, and Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Malaysia is a country of contrasts, bathed in the warm tropical sun, endowed with 3,000 kilometers of coastline, several historic cities, a unique cultural mix, a string of cool hill resorts, the world's oldest rainforest and even Southeast Asia's highest mountain.

Malaysia offers a huge range of seaside relaxation running from luxurious total-comfort resorts to deserted away-from-it-all beaches. On the northwest coast of the peninsula sits the holiday island of Langkawi, set on the Andaman Sea. In its myriad coves and inlets, beside palm-fringed golden sand beaches, Langkawi offers international-standard resort hotels and simple chalet accommodation. For a bit of action, there are water sports of all kinds, a fine golf course and duty-free shopping. Especially easy to access, Langkawi has its own international airport.

Farther down the coast lies Penang Island and Batu Ferringhi's resort hotel-lined beach with little offshore islands ideal for snorkeling and diving, or cruising around. Penang has long been popular with international tourists, as the large island offers many attractions, including a hill resort, botanical gardens, rainforest, typical Malay villages and the historic port city of Georgetown. Farther south, in the Straits of Malacca, lies the island of Pangkor, a popular getaway for Malaysians with its many sandy bays and all kinds of accommodation and diversions.

On the east coast, in an archipelago of 64 volcanic islands, sits Tioman Island. Blessed with miles of soft white sand and swaying palms, with a forested, mountainous interior where wild flowers grow in profusion and cool waterfalls cascade down rocky slopes, Tioman affords a paradise for everything from nature walks to sea sports, or just plain lazing in the tropical sun. The states of Pahang, Terengganu.

East Malaysia also boasts beach resorts such as at Damai, near Kuching, with its brilliant white sands and the Sarawak Cultural Village - a museum of Sarawak's ethnic cultures. The real highlight, however, comes from diving in the waters off Labuan Island, famous for underwater shipwrecks, and Sipadan Island, in the state of Sabah.

With its wealth of natural environments, Malaysia offers a plethora of adventure opportunities: jungle trekking, white-water rafting, mountain and rock climbing, great cave exploration, scuba diving, kayaking, mountain biking and more. Throughout the country the settings provide ideal adventure activities-dense forests, rapid rivers, craggy mountains, huge cave systems, bountiful seas and kaleidoscopic coral reefs-plus abundant wildlife and ancient indigenous peoples.

Climate: Tropical without extremely high temperatures. Days are very warm, while nights are fairly cool. The main rainy season in the east runs between November and February, while August is the wettest period on the west coast. East Malaysia has heavy rains (November to February) in Sabah and in Sarawak. However, it is difficult to generalise about the country's climate, as rainfall differs on the east and west coasts according to the prevailing monsoon winds (northeast or southwest).

Recommended clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens are worn throughout the year. Waterproofing is advisable all year.

Food & Drinks: In Malaysia rice is the staple food, and coconut milk is the basic ingredient of all the curries served. Some of the most popular local dishes include: Satay (marinated, skewered and grilled meats, served with a sauce), Rojak (traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish) and Nasi Lemak (rice steamed with coconut milk and served with fried anchovies, peanuts, sliced cucumber, hard boiled eggs, and a spicy chili paste known as sambal). There are various international cuisines offered in Malaysian restaurants. Excellent south Indian, Thai and Chinese dishes can be found in all bigger towns. Soup is considered to be a drink, and it is one of the most popular drinks, as well as coffee, in Malaysia.

Health: You should inquire about the required vaccinations and immunization before traveling to Malaysia, since there are some tropical illnesses prevalent. Hepatitis A and B are common, as well as dengue fever. Air pollution, especially in Kuala Lumpur, is also a big problem in Malaysia. Hospitals are of a high standard, but medical insurance is recommended.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1
New Year's Day
Jan 14 Birthday of Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
Jan 23 Hari Raya Haji (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Feb 9-11 Chinese New Year
Feb 10 Hari Raya Tussa (Islamic New Year)
Apr 22 Birth of the Prophet Muhammad
May 1 Labour Day
May 23 Vesak Day (Birth of the Buddha)
Jun 4 Official Birthday of HM the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Aug 31 National Day
Nov 1 Deepvali Festival
Nov 3-5 Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan)
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Note: (a) Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Many restaurants are closed during the day and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking. Some disruption may continue into Hari Raya Puasa itself and Hari Raja Haji may last anything from 2 to 10 days, depending on the region. (b) Buddhist festivals are also timed according to phases of the moon and variations may occur.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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