Monday, 19 March 2012 09:08
To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia. A bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Chinese and Indians and many other ethnic groups live in peace and harmony.
Multiculturalism has not only made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, it has also made Malaysia home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It's no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very laid back, warm and friendly.
Geographically, Malaysia is as diverse as its culture. There are two parts to the country, 11 states in the peninsula of Malaysia and two states on the northern part of Borneo. Cool hideaways are found in the highlands that roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
One of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts, and five-star hotels sit several metres away from ancient reefs.
For the perfect holiday full of surprises, eclectic cultures and natural wonders, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.
Area: 329,758 sq km
Population: 25 million
Language: Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language but English is widely spoken.
Religion: Islam is the official religion but all other religions are practiced freely.
Climate: Malaysia has an equatorial climate with uniform temperatures throughout the year. Temperatures range from 89.6°F (32°C) during the day to 71.6°F (22°C) during the night. It is slightly colder in the hill country. Malaysia's seasons follow the seasonal winds, which splash rains inland from September to December on the peninsular, only to be overtaken by sunshine within the hour. Rains arrive later, between October and February, on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah and Sarawak. Rainfall averages 85.8 inches (220 centimetres) a year. Average Temp 89.6°F to 71.6°F (32°C to 22°C)
Time: Eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.
Tipping: Most hotels and restaurant levy a 10% service charge and 5% government sales tax on bills and tipping is not customary. However, should you want to show your appreciation for good service, a small tip will be suffice.
Shopping: All purchases are done in Malaysian Ringgit (RM). Major credit cards are accepted in most dining and retail outlets. Hypermarkets, supermarkets and most retail outlets have fixed prices for their goods, which are displayed on the products. However, bargaining is acceptable at selected retail outlets and is most common at night markets (pasar malam), or at bazaars. Shopping centres operate from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm with extended hours during sales and festive seasons.
Dining: Most eateries operate until late night. However, selected eateries are open 24 hours. Most Malaysians enjoy their meals using their fingers and adventurous visitors may choose to do so. However, it is perfectly normal to request for cutlery.
Insurance: Visitors are strongly advised to obtain adequate insurance coverage before traveling to Malaysia.
Getting There: Set in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is easily accessible from most parts of the world by air, surface and sea links. The state-of-the-art Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the main gateway into the country. The newly-opened Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) is situated 20km from the main terminal building.
Currency: Exchange rate - the official Malaysian currency is Ringgit (RM) with the USD rate of exchange is 1 USD = 3.5 RM.
Safety: Malaysia is a relatively safe country. However, visitors are advised to take certain precautionary measures to ensure their safety.
Electricity: Voltage is 220-240 volts AC at 50 cycles per second.
Dress: Lightweight clothing is ideal with sweatshirts for the high land areas. A shirt, jacket and tie is normal office attire and is appropriate for business. Shorts, miniskirts, sleeveless garments for women are not advisable, especially in the rural areas.
Health: Travellers have little to worry about in a country where the health standards are ranked among the highest in Asia. Water in cities is generally safe for drinking but it is safest to drink it boiled. Bottled drinks and mineral water are also widely available. Ensure that food is well cooked. Tap water in the hotel is potable and if desired, may be boiled prior to consumption using the facilities provided in-room.
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