I went to Malaysia absolutely blind! I knew nothing about it before traveling there. And while that was no problem at all for me, sometimes it’s nice to know a few main things about a country before arriving there…. Just to be better prepared and I think it’s also respectful to know certain things. So, here’s 7 things to know before traveling to Malaysia.
Things To Know Before Traveling To Malaysia
1. The People
Malaysia is often described as a melting pot… Or a stew pot even! And both are right… I too would say that it’s a melting pot or a stew pot… But with THREE main ingredients: Malay, Chinese, and Indian.
You see, Malaysia is made up of about 60% Malaysians, 20% Chinese, and 10% Indians. The Chinese and Indian people are born and raised in Malaysia, like their parents before them, but they don’t refer to themselves as just being Malaysian. For example, our tour guide would call himself Chinese Malaysian; just as the Indians would call themselves Indian Malaysian.
2. The Religions
Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country. The government is Muslim and roughly 60% of the country are Muslims. But what’s great about Malaysia is that even though it’s considered a Muslim country, everyone still has the right to practice whatever religion they choose. So with the strong Chinese population, there comes a strong Buddhist culture. With the Indian population, there is a strong Hindu presence.
It’s not often you can find multiple Mosques, Buddhist Temples and Hindu Temples all within close walking distance of one another. Plus Churches of all types!
This is one of the things I really loved about Malaysia. The people of the country don’t seem to discriminate or judge one’s chosen path. Here you will see best friends made up of different religions and different up bringings. You’ll see tables in restaurants with a mix of people who all clearly believe in different religions; yet it doesn’t stop them accepting each other and being good friends. In different parts of the world this is something you rarely see.
Note: If you’re planning to go see some temples and mosques, be respectful and cover your legs before doing so. Often they will provide you with a sarong or a robe, but if they don’t, it is just more respectful to come prepared yourself.
3. It’s Safe
I have never felt as safe in any other country as I did in Malaysia. Singapore is a close second! I think it might have something to do with what I mentioned in #2; that everyone is just accepting and non-judgemental. Everyone here has grown up with so much diversity around them that there seems to be such little hate. That’s my guess anyway! Perhaps also because it’s a religiously charged country too; everybody follows rules and wants to do good.
4. Most can speak English
When following along the common tourist areas you won’t have a problem not being able to speak Malay. Most people can speak basic English and often you’ll come across people who speak very good English. Some even sounded like they had American accents!
A lot of the radio is in English, menus are in English, signs are in English, movies are English. English is everywhere.
5. Power Sockets
Malaysian power sockets are the same as the UK, Hong Kong, and Singapore… If that means anything to you haha. In easy terms it’s the one with the 3 thicker prongs (photo example).
Malaysia has Uber!!!! YASSSSS. This makes it so much easier to get around. And it’s light on the wallet too. A 30 minute ride wouldn’t even cost $4. Definitely make sure you have the Uber app downloaded before traveling to Malaysia. In places like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, it is super convenient to just order an Uber ride on your phone, than having to worry about hailing down a taxi or finding the nearest bus stop and working out how it all works. God bless Uber. Be sure to chat with your drivers too- they always told us the best places to eat!
7. Currency & Costs
Malaysia has their own currency called the Malaysian Ringgit (RM). If you’re from New Zealand (like me!) it’s easy to calculate the currency difference; just divide the RM cost by 3 and thats roughly your NZD.
Malaysia is also CHEAP! Like I didn’t realise just how cheap it really was. With it being right next to Singapore, I assumed it was going to be a little more expensive than the rest of South East Asia. But then again, it does also border with Thailand. A good meal here at one of the delicious hawker centres, can come to about $3!
Well that’s my little run down of things to know before traveling to Malaysia. I hope it helps you prepare for your trip and maybe it got you a little more excited! I mean it’s safe, the people are nice, they have Uber, and it’s cheap! What more could you ask for! Fabulous country!