Info for your trip planning

Note: These suggestions are generalizations based on local experiences. For more detailed information, further research is recommended.

Disclaimer: As a local resident, I am not an expert in all aspects discussed.

Research in these Platforms

Malaysian government agencies, tourism boards, and travel websites are actively publishing official articles online to provide comprehensive information to the public. These sources include official Malaysian government websites, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, tourism portals such as Visit Malaysia Tourism, and travel-related platforms dedicated to promoting Malaysia as a destination.

Additionally, travel blogs and forums are valuable resources for obtaining insights and firsthand experiences from travellers who have visited Malaysia. Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and Red (XiaoHongShu) offer opportunities to ask specific questions and engage with a community of users who can provide helpful advice and recommendations. If you’re unable to find answers to your questions through other channels, these platforms can be useful for seeking guidance and information.

Main Languages and More

Malaysia’s rich multiculturalism and ethnic diversity contribute to the linguistic prowess of its people. Our national language is Malay and English serves as the widely used international language. Additionally, many residents are proficient in other languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Teochew, and Tamil.

Furthermore, a significant number of Malaysians are also capable of conversing in languages like Japanese, Korean, French, and beyond, reflecting the country’s openness to global influences and its vibrant tapestry of languages and cultures.

Food and Street Food

It’s a source of local pride that Malaysia offers an incredibly diverse range of cuisines and dining experiences. Many restaurants, particularly those in major malls, strive to deliver exceptional dishes to your table. Meals these days could cost between RM20-50 and above. Beverages start from RM8 and above.

Outside of major malls, local restaurants provide decent dining experiences, although the quality of service, ambience, and food can vary significantly across different areas and eateries. If you are visiting mixed-rice restaurants that offer extremely affordable food to everyday working individuals, they could cost RM10-20 per person or for two people.

Exploring street food in night markets is a popular and generally safe option, with affordable prices. For two people, you can expect to spend around RM 50 for a satisfying amount of food and beverages, depending on the stalls you choose.

As a personal recommendation, I suggest trying the following items to start:

  1. Nasi Lemak Biasa (Normal): A traditional Malay dish consisting of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, served with sambal (spicy chili paste), fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, sliced cucumbers, and a hard-boiled or fried egg.
  2. Bak Kut Teh: A fragrant herbal and spices pork rib stew, originating from the Hokkien Chinese community in Malaysia. The dish features tender pork ribs simmered in a flavorful broth with various herbs and spices, often served with steamed rice or Chinese dough fritters (youtiao).
  3. Roti Canai and Roti Tissue: Roti Canai is a hand-thrown flatbread with Indian-Muslim origins, typically served with curry or dhal for dipping. Roti Tissue is a crispy, paper-thin version of roti canai, often drizzled with condensed milk and sugar for a sweet treat.
  4. Dim Sum and Xiao Long Bao: Dim Sum refers to a variety of small dishes served in bamboo steamers or on small plates, often enjoyed as brunch or tea. Popular dim sum dishes include steamed dumplings, buns, and rolls. Xiao Long Bao, also known as soup dumplings, are delicate dumplings filled with flavorful broth and meat, typically enjoyed steamed.
  5. Cold Drunken Chicken: A traditional Chinese dish featuring chicken marinated in Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, ginger, and other seasonings, then chilled before serving. It’s a refreshing appetizer with complex flavors.
  6. Prawn Omelette or Long Bean Omelette: A simple yet flavorful dish made by frying beaten eggs with prawns or long beans, seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes soy sauce or other spices.
  7. Crispy Tofu with House-special Sauce: Crispy tofu is deep-fried until golden and crispy on the outside while remaining soft and creamy on the inside. It’s often served with a house-special sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, garlic, chili, and other seasonings, or mayonnaise.
  8. Fried Kangkung Belacan with Sotong: A spicy Malaysian dish made with stir-fried kangkung (water spinach) and sotong (squid), seasoned with belacan (fermented shrimp paste) and chili for a flavorful and aromatic dish.
  9. Nasi Beriyani/Briyani with any meat curry sauce: Nasi Beriyani/Briyani is a fragrant rice dish cooked with a blend of spices, often served with a variety of meat curry sauces such as Ayam Madu (honey chicken) or Fried Chicken drenched in sweet sauce, offering a rich and savory flavor profile.
  10. Satay: Grilled skewered meat (usually chicken, beef, or lamb) marinated in a flavorful blend of spices, served with a rich peanut sauce, sliced cucumbers, and ketupat (compressed rice cakes).
  11. Asam Laksa: A tangy and flavorful noodle soup dish with a spicy and sour fish-based broth. The broth is made with tamarind (asam), mackerel fish, and various aromatic spices such as lemongrass, galangal, and torch ginger flower. It’s typically served with thick rice noodles, shredded fish, cucumber slices, onions, mint leaves, and a dollop of shrimp paste (hae ko). Asam Laksa is known for its bold and complex flavors, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  12. Char Kway Teow: A popular stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, prawns, cockles, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives, stir-fried in a savory soy sauce-based sauce.
  13. Hainanese Chicken Rice: A beloved Malaysian dish featuring poached or roasted chicken served with fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, accompanied by chili sauce, ginger paste, and soy sauce.
  14. Mee Goreng: A spicy and flavorful fried noodle dish made with yellow noodles stir-fried with a blend of spices, vegetables, tofu, eggs, and your choice of meat (commonly chicken, beef, or seafood).
  15. Nasi Goreng: A classic Malaysian fried rice dish made with cooked rice stir-fried with a medley of vegetables, eggs, meat (such as chicken, shrimp, or beef), and a blend of spices and sauces.
  16. Rendang: A rich and aromatic Indonesian-influenced dish made with slow-cooked beef (or sometimes chicken) simmered in a coconut milk-based sauce with a blend of aromatic spices and herbs.
  17. Curry Laksa: A variation of laksa that features a spicy curry broth made with coconut milk and a blend of curry spices, served with noodles, tofu puffs, shrimp, cockles, and bean sprouts.
  1. Satay Ayam/Daging (Chicken or Beef Satay) with Peanut Sauce: Skewered and grilled marinated chicken or beef, served with a delicious peanut sauce, onions, and cucumber. It’s a flavorful and popular street food in Malaysia.
  2. Kerepek Sambal Basah (Wet Sambal Potato Chips): Thinly sliced potato chips fried until crispy and coated in a spicy and tangy sambal sauce, offering a delightful crunch with a burst of flavor.
  3. Rojak Buah Sos Manis (Mixed Fruits and Prawn Crackers with Black Sweet Sauce): A refreshing salad-like dish featuring a mix of tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, guava, and cucumber, combined with crispy prawn crackers and drizzled with a sweet and tangy black sauce made from palm sugar, tamarind, and shrimp paste.
  4. Rojak Kuah Kacang/Rojak Mamak (Mixed Fried Food with Spicy Peanut Sauce): A hearty and flavorful salad made with a mix of fried tofu, tempeh, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, topped with a spicy and tangy peanut sauce and garnished with chopped peanuts and crispy shallots.
  5. Keropok Lekor: Crispy fish fries or chips made from a mixture of fish paste and sago flour, typically served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. It’s a popular snack in Malaysia, especially in coastal regions.
  6. Murtabak: A savory stuffed pancake filled with a flavorful mixture of minced meat (chicken or beef), onions, and spices. The pancake is folded into a square parcel and fried until golden and crispy on the outside, while remaining tender and juicy on the inside.
  7. Cendol: A refreshing Malaysian dessert consisting of shaved ice topped with green jelly noodles made from rice flour, coconut milk, and pandan flavoring. It’s sweetened with palm sugar syrup and typically served with red beans and creamy coconut milk, offering a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
  8. Apam Balik: Also known as Malaysian peanut pancake, apam balik is a crispy and fluffy pancake filled with a sweet filling, often made with peanuts, sugar, and sometimes corn or creamed corn.
  9. Mee Goreng Mamak: Spicy fried noodles cooked in a flavorful blend of spices, vegetables, tofu, eggs, and your choice of meat (commonly chicken, beef, or seafood), often served with a wedge of lime and sliced cucumbers.
  10. Curry Puffs: Flaky and crispy pastry filled with a savory curry-spiced filling, typically made with potatoes, chicken, or beef, and sometimes mixed with peas or eggs.
  11. Otak-Otak: Spicy fish cake made from a mixture of fish paste, coconut milk, and aromatic spices, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled or steamed until fragrant and tender.
  12. Roti Bakar: Grilled or toasted bread slathered with butter and kaya (coconut jam), a sweet and creamy spread made from coconut milk, eggs, and sugar, often served with soft-boiled eggs and a cup of coffee or tea.
  13. Ais Kacang (ABC): A colorful Malaysian dessert made with shaved ice topped with a medley of sweet ingredients such as red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, agar agar (jelly), and colorful syrup, often drizzled with evaporated milk and condensed milk.
  14. Kuih: A wide variety of traditional Malaysian bite-sized desserts, including kuih lapis (layered cake), ondeh-ondeh (glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar syrup), kuih talam (pandan and coconut milk custard), and kuih seri muka (glutinous rice cake topped with pandan custard).
  15. Bubur Cha Cha: A warm and comforting Malaysian dessert soup made with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, yam, tapioca pearls, and pandan-flavored sago pearls, often sweetened with palm sugar and flavored with pandan leaves.
  16. Pulut Hitam: A traditional Malaysian dessert made from black glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar until thick and creamy, often served warm with a dollop of coconut cream or evaporated milk.
  17. Pengat Pisang: A creamy and fragrant Malaysian dessert made with ripe bananas simmered in coconut milk, palm sugar, and pandan leaves until tender and flavorful, often served warm or chilled.
  18. Char Kuih: Also known as “chewy fried dough sticks” or “youtiao” in Chinese, Char Kuih are crispy yet chewy strips of deep-fried dough that are popular as a street food snack or breakfast item. They are often enjoyed alongside a warm bowl of congee or soy milk, or as a filling in other dishes like chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls). In Malaysia, they are typically served plain or with a sweet dipping sauce made from soy sauce and chili paste, offering a savory and slightly salty contrast to the dough’s neutral flavor. Char Kuih are loved for their satisfying crunch and soft, doughy texture, making them a beloved staple in Malaysian cuisine.
  19. Putu Mayam: Putu Mayam is a traditional Malaysian dessert made from steamed rice flour noodles, also known as “idiyappam” or “string hoppers.” The noodles are typically thin and delicate, resembling vermicelli, and are served with grated coconut and palm sugar (gula melaka). Putu Mayam is enjoyed for its light and fluffy texture, as well as its delightful combination of sweet, nutty, and aromatic flavors. It’s a popular street food snack or breakfast item in Malaysia, often sold by street vendors or at local markets.
  1. Durian: Known as the “king of fruits,” durian has a unique aroma and creamy texture. It’s a must-try for adventurous eaters.
  2. Mangosteen: Often called the “queen of fruits,” mangosteen has a sweet and tangy flavor with a delicate texture.
  3. Rambutan: With its hairy red exterior, rambutan encases a sweet and juicy white flesh that’s refreshing to eat.
  4. Langsat (Duku): Langsat has a sweet and slightly tangy flavor with a texture similar to grapes. It’s often eaten fresh.
  5. Ciku (Sapodilla): Ciku has a sweet and caramel-like flavor with a grainy texture. It’s commonly eaten fresh or made into desserts.
  6. Pomelo (Limau Bali): Pomelo is a large citrus fruit with a sweet and slightly tart flavor. It’s often enjoyed fresh or used in salads.
  7. Buah Mertajam (Snake Fruit): Buah mertajam has a crunchy texture and a sweet-sour taste. It’s named for its reddish-brown skin with scales resembling snake skin.
  8. Salak (Snake Fruit): Salak has a unique taste with a blend of sweet and tangy flavors. It’s named for its reddish-brown skin with scales resembling snake skin.
  9. Jambu Air (Rose Apple): Jambu air has a crisp texture and a mildly sweet flavor. It’s commonly eaten fresh or used in salads.
  10. Cempedak: Similar to jackfruit, cempedak has a sweet and fragrant aroma with a custard-like texture. It’s often eaten fresh or fried as a snack.

Payment Methods

While cashless payments are increasingly supported in many places, cash remains widely used in Malaysia. It’s advisable to carry sufficient cash, as some establishments may still not accept credit card payments.

E-wallets or digital payment methods are also prevalent, offering convenience and versatility. Popular options include Apple Pay, Google Pay, Touch ‘n Go, GrabPay, Boost, AliPay, BigPay, WeChat Pay, Union Pay, and Merchantrade Money. DuitNow is the official instant bank transfer method in Malaysia, available across most local banks and e-wallet apps.

For debit and credit card transactions, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX MAE, AMEX international, and JCB are commonly accepted. However, it’s worth noting that AMEX payment can be tricky, as some merchants may only accept the MAE (Maybank) version and not the international variant.

Outfit Check: Appropriate is Key

Dressing appropriately is a mark of respect for the places you visit. 

While short-sleeved shirts and suitable shorts are acceptable attire, overly revealing clothing is generally disapproved of. Despite the warm and humid weather, it’s important to prioritize modesty in public dress.

Moreover, it’s vital to recognize that in religious settings, wearing revealing attire is strictly prohibited and deeply disrespectful, irrespective of weather conditions. Demonstrating reverence for cultural and religious customs is fundamental when entering these spaces.

Walk Left, Drive Left.

In Malaysia, a common practice when walking in general areas is to keep to the left side. While not rigorously enforced, it’s considered a courteous habit. This convention aligns with the country’s traffic flow, where the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car, and slower lanes typically occupy the left side of the road.

Weather Prepping

In Malaysia, it’s summer-like weather all year round, with temperatures typically ranging from 30 to 38 degrees Celsius. While indoors, temperatures are usually cooler, around 24 to 28 degrees Celsius, both during the day and at night. There’s generally no strong wind, but if there is, it’s more breezy than cold. Due to the high humidity, you might find yourself sweating a lot, and your hair may become oily quickly. Consider using products designed to address these issues.

Be aware that heavy rain and potential flooding can occur during certain quarters of the year. It’s essential to research weather conditions before visiting Malaysia and be prepared for sudden downpours. Avoid playing in the rain, and if you do get caught in it, make sure to shower immediately afterward to prevent illness.

Haze and air pollutants are not frequently detected in Malaysia, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, where the air quality is generally acceptable. While you may occasionally smell vehicle exhaust on open roads, malls, and retail areas are more likely to carry food smells than pollutants. Wearing a mask is welcomed, and you can use one as often as you like for added protection, especially if you’re sensitive to air quality or allergens.

Transportation and Public Facilities

In Malaysia, driving is often necessary as public transportation, such as train systems, is still under development. However, many popular areas now feature newly constructed MRT stations. It’s important to research train destinations and stations before using them. While public buses are available, they may not offer the same convenience as the train system. Use the official Rapid KL website for navigating within Kuala Lumpur.

To reach areas without public transport, e-hailing services like GrabCar, EzCab, Airasia Ride, MyCar, and RidingPink are viable alternatives.

Walking and Friendliness Towards Wheelchaired, Pregnant, Family, Elderly, Injured/Disabled Individuals

In Malaysia, the culture surrounding walking and the treatment of individuals with special needs, including those in wheelchairs, pregnant women, families, the elderly, and those with injuries or disabilities, reflects a blend of warmth, respect, and inclusivity.

While walking may not be the primary mode of transportation due to limited facilities and the tropical climate, Malaysians exhibit a remarkable friendliness and consideration towards individuals with special needs. Efforts to enhance wheelchair accessibility are ongoing, with authorities striving to address infrastructure gaps and improve facilities. However, challenges persist, such as obstructed walkways and potholes, which can hinder mobility for those with disabilities or injuries.

In major malls and public spaces, there is a noticeable emphasis on inclusivity and support for vulnerable groups. Wheelchair-friendly facilities are increasingly common, and many establishments provide separate washrooms equipped for families with children and individuals with disabilities. Additionally, amenities such as nappy changing and breastfeeding rooms cater to the needs of parents with infants.

Malaysia’s kindness extends to pregnant individuals and the elderly, with societal norms emphasizing respect and care for these groups. Pregnant women are often offered assistance and accommodations, while the elderly are treated with reverence and consideration. From offering seats on public transportation to providing assistance with tasks, Malaysians demonstrate a collective commitment to ensuring the comfort and well-being of those in need.


Malaysia boasts several trusted pharmacy chains that are widely accessible in malls and retail districts. Among the prominent names are Watsons and Guardians, renowned for their extensive range of products, including cosmetics, skincare, and major brands. Larger malls typically feature expanded branches with a broader selection and inventory.

Caring Pharmacy is another notable player, known for its competitive pricing, although it focuses more on essentials rather than cosmetic offerings. Additionally, chains like Big Pharmacy, Alpro Pharmacy, AA Pharmacy, Ascen Pharmacy, and Health Lane Family Pharmacy are ubiquitous across retail areas, with some also operating within malls. While these pharmacies may not prioritize cosmetic lines, they provide comprehensive healthcare and wellness options. For those seeking first aid supplies, Big Pharmacy stands out for its diverse range of tools and choices. 

Importantly, many of these pharmacy chains offer e-commerce platforms, allowing customers to conveniently compare prices and make informed purchasing decisions online.

Stay Cautious & Alert

Racism and Politics

In Malaysia, racism is vehemently denounced, and any form of politicking that exploits racial or sensitive issues is met with disapproval.

While English is commonly spoken, it’s important to understand that Malaysians are not obliged to accommodate every need or demand of visitors. Expecting special treatment or acting entitled is frowned upon, and any behavior hinting at a superiority complex, particularly from Westerners, is not tolerated. Instances like Matty Healy’s controversial behavior, resulting in public backlash, serve as a reminder to avoid such attitudes.

As a Westerner in Malaysia, it’s crucial to respect cultural nuances and refrain from displaying entitlement or superiority. Adhering to humility, respect, and an open-minded demeanor is key to fostering positive interactions with the local community. Embracing Malaysia’s diverse culture with appreciation and understanding is paramount.

Malaysians generally welcome visitors who exhibit humility, kindness, open-mindedness, cleanliness, and respect for local customs & traditions. Avoiding disruptive behavior in public spaces, such as causing disturbances or engaging in illegal activities, is fundamental to fostering positive interactions during your stay.

Safety and Security

Safety precautions are crucial in Malaysia, even within major upscale malls where theft and robbery incidents can still occur. Criminal activity, especially in unregulated retail districts, remains a concern.

It’s crucial to prioritize security by promptly securing all belongings with high-quality security products. Leaving items unattended in public spaces increases the risk of theft, as opportunistic individuals may take advantage of the situation. Take proactive measures to safeguard your possessions and minimize the chances of theft or loss.

Avoiding dilapidated areas is advisable due to safety concerns. It’s highly recommended to avoid walking alone, particularly for women and girls. Even within malls, instances of stalking may occur. It’s advisable to visit malls in groups of two or more, preferably accompanied by a male companion. In case of encountering a stalker, seek refuge in a store with credible and helpful staff. Fortunately, CCTV cameras are widely installed for added security.

When out and about, it’s wise to refrain from wearing flashy accessories like jewelry and bags, unless traveling directly to a venue with secure parking. While car-jackings are not common, it’s important not to leave valuables visible in your vehicle.

When using public transportation, ensure that all valuables are securely locked and remain within sight. Women and girls should remain vigilant against sexual harassment and assaults, which unfortunately remain prevalent.

Although the bystander effect persists, many younger Malaysians are increasingly taking proactive measures to counter malicious intentions. Additionally, it’s crucial to steer clear of situations that may lead to encounters with authorities, either by exercising caution or adhering to the law.

Mosquitoes, Bug Bites, and Parasites

The most prevalent bug bites to be cautious of in Malaysia are those from mosquitoes, as diseases like dengue fever and malaria are common.

Aside from mosquito bites, occurrences of other bug bites are relatively rare. Infrequently reported cases involve bed bugs, ticks, mites, and fleas. Ensuring that you wash your hands and any exposed items after interacting with stray animals can help prevent these bites. It’s also advisable to avoid walking barefoot, as this can expose you to roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Similarly, it’s best to refrain from wading through floodwaters due to the risk of bacterial infection.

When hiking in Malaysia, it’s important to be mindful of leeches, as they are an additional parasite commonly encountered in forested areas.

Alcohol Consumption and Purchasing

In Malaysia, there are no strict regulations against drinking, as long as it is done responsibly and in moderation. Individuals of legal drinking age can purchase alcohol from any store. However, there is a curfew in place, typically around 8pm or 9pm, after which the sale of alcohol is prohibited in most stores.

Drinking is generally permitted in appropriate venues such as pubs, clubs, speakeasies, and restaurants that serve alcohol. However, it is important to refrain from engaging in misconduct while intoxicated, as it is illegal. Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Malaysia, and there are strict penalties for those caught doing so. While some people opt for ride-sharing services like Grabcar after drinking, it’s worth noting that some drivers may refuse to take intoxicated passengers due to hygiene and behavioral concerns.

Women should take precautions in drinking establishments, as instances of sexual harassment and assault can unfortunately occur. It’s advisable to go out in a group that can provide support and lookout for each other’s safety.

Smoking and Vaping Areas

The Malaysian authorities are increasingly cracking down on cigarette smoking and vaping. Smoking of any kind is prohibited indoors and in restaurants, with fines enforced for violations. While specific designated smoking areas are not widely available, it’s advisable to avoid crowded spaces, dining areas, and proximity to children, the elderly, and non-smokers.

In Malaysia, smoking and vaping are beginning to be regarded with disapproval. Cigarette prices in Malaysia are also continually rising, and strict age restrictions are in place for purchasing them.

Substances Consumption & Possession

In Malaysia, substance consumption, particularly of illicit drugs, is strictly prohibited by law. The country’s legal framework, outlined in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, imposes severe penalties for possession, trafficking, or consumption of illegal substances. Individuals found guilty of drug offenses can face consequences ranging from fines to lengthy imprisonment sentences, and in some cases, even the death penalty.

To enforce these laws and combat drug-related crimes, Malaysia has established the National Anti-Drug Agency (NADA). NADA plays a crucial role in coordinating efforts in drug prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. It focuses on raising public awareness about the dangers of substance abuse, providing counseling and support services for individuals struggling with addiction, and implementing preventive measures to curb the spread of drug abuse in communities.