Malaysia Travel Tips for Beginners
Malaysia's currency is called the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). One ringgit is made up of 100 sen (cents). Bank notes are available in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50 and RM100 denomination. Meanwhile coins are in 5, 10, 20, & 50 sen. Malaysians often refer to the curency as ‘Dollars’ (its old name) – They are actually referring to the Malaysian Ringgit, and not the US Dollars. The average exchange rate is approximately MYR3.90 to US$1. (As at Feb 2018) International access ATMs can be found across the country. You will be expected to use the Ringgit for all cash purchases. Credit cards are widely accepted, though some small businesses may not accept them.
Malaysia is a very safe country. While petty theft is a problem in some tourists’ spots, violent crime against foreigners is particularly rare. Use your common sense when out in the evening and stay in control. If you feel threatened, especially in a bar or club environment, leave immediately. Credit card fraud is the most likely problem you may encounter -- Keep an eye on your credit cards at all times and while not always feasible, try not to let your cards to be out of your sight.
Malaysia has Tourist Police who have been specifically trained to help tourists. They can be recognized by their dark blue uniforms and the letter "I" (Information) with a red and blue badge on their shirt’s pocket. The nation-wide emergency number for the police is 999.
Malaysia's healthcare, while not as good as that of neighboring Singapore, it is nevertheless pretty good -- especially in the urban centers. Upcountry and in rural areas, medical care is, not surprisingly, more basic. We certainly recommend tourists to ensure that that are covered by travel insurance during their visits in Malaysia.
Compared to ever-changing Thailand, the visa system in Malaysia for tourists is dead simple. Most nationalities do not require a visa if your stay in Malaysia is less than 30Days. The one standout exception to this are to applicable to Israelis, whereas in most cases they are not permitted to enter Malaysia as Malaysia currently doesn’t have diplomatic ties with Israel yet.
240V AC electricity. Power outlets are three-prong sockets (Type G), similar to the ones used in the UK. Be sure to pack along a universal travel adaptor with you so you can still use your electronic gadgets.
The Malay language or Bahasa Malaysia is the name regularly applied to the Malay language used in Malaysia, and it is very similar to Bahasa Indonesia. The Malay language is normally written using a Latin alphabet, which is the most commonly used script in Malaysia. A word of advice though, even being the worst language learner, it will be quite struggling not to pick up some local lingo while you are in Malaysia. In tourist centers, many Malaysians will speak some simple English, but many will speak none. Don't expect taxi drivers to speak English, although many may have some basic command of the language.
Malaysia's weather is pretty hot and humid year-round -- The hottest months being March, April and October. Malaysia is affected by two monsoon seasons -- the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoons. The former brings most of the rain within the west coast between September and October, the east coast from October to February and Malaysian Borneo between November and February.
Malaysia Is A Developing Country
Malaysia is an advanced developing country that has its own sets of challenges compared to its neighbor Singapore. The urban cities and tourist centers are very well developed, but in the countryside, services can still be pretty basic. This can be good as you will still be able to experience comfort with a bit of challenges along your trip. Do not come expecting first world services when you are in remote villages – You’ll probably left in disappointment and perhaps feel frustrated.
Malaysia Is A Conservative Country
As a predominantly Muslim nation, Malaysians can be quite conservative -- especially when compared with their northern Thai neighbors. Exercise your common sense and discretion accordingly -- Dress decently and appropriately. Do not insists on drinking alcohol in guesthouses that would prefer you don't. Do not ever sunbath in nude and don't, whatever you do, bring any pot with you from Thailand – As the penalties for drug use and/or possession in Malaysia are fierce, and capital punishment is the mandatory punishment for drug trafficking in Malaysia.