Getting to know Malaysia

Deeply entrenched in each Malaysian, whether a Malay, Chinese, Indian or any other race, is the engaging charm and traditional hospitality for which Malaysia is renowned.  Malaysians enjoy meeting people from other lands.  So, do go right ahead and strike up a conversation and you will be pleased to know that most Malaysians speak English.

When greeting a Muslim, offer your right hand then bring it towards you, fingertips lightly touching your heart.  This is the traditional Salam or ‘greeting of acceptance’.  Hindus greet with a Namaste (in Hindi) or Vanakam (Tamil).  Both palms are brought together as in prayer at mid-chest level.  With a Chinese, you may shake hands.  If you are really unsure about all the different forms of greetings, just smile and nod your head slightly when introduced.

The Federation of Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.  There are a total of 13 states.  Each state has its own Ruler known as the Sultan.

Located between 2º and 7º north of the Equator, Peninsular Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea.  To the north of Peninsular Malaysia is Thailand while its southern neighbour is Singapore.

329,758 sq km

26 million.  Malays who make up about 57% of the population are the predominant group with Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups making up the rest.

Kuala Lumpur

Bahasa Malaysia is the national language.  However, English is widely spoken and used.  The various ethnic groups also speak their own dialects.

Islam is the official religion.  Freedom of religion is practiced.

Tropical climate with warm weather all year round.  Temperatures in the lowlands range from 21ºC ( 70ºF ) to 32ºC ( 90ºF ).  The highlands are cooler, where temperatures range from15°C ( 59°F ) to 25°C ( 77°F ).

The unit of currency is the Malaysian Ringgit (RM).  Foreign exchange currencies can be made at all commercial banks and licensed money changers.

Eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time.

Voltage is 220 – 240 volts.  Standard 3 square pin plugs and sockets.

Light clothing is ideal for this sunny and humid climate almost year round.

Malaysia’s tap water supply is safe to drink.

Visitors to Malaysia must hold a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months.

Most major international airlines fly into the country.  The national carrier Malaysia Airlines has a wide global network and an extensive national network.  Air Asia, Malaysia’s budget airline, also services selected domestic and international routes.