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All About Malaysia: Facts, Culture, and Tourist Attractions

If you enjoy nature, culture, delicious food, and the tropical weather, then why not add Malaysia to your travel itinerary? This Southeast Asian country boasts of a rich culture and history, diverse ethnicities, rare flora and fauna, and urban cities with impressive infrastructure. It is the ideal place for anyone hoping to have an exotic vacation.

Most Southeast Asian countries are known for their great hospitality. Malaysia is no exception. The people are warm, friendly, and polite. If you intend to visit this country in the future, you need to be aware of its background and keep up with the latest news. Doing so gives you an idea of what to expect once you get there.

Here are some important facts about Malaysia that every traveler must know:

Geography and Climate

Malaysia spans 127,724 square miles and is composed of two parts: the main peninsula, which houses the capital and majority of the provinces, and the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak, which comprise a portion of the Borneo Island. Situated along the equator, the Malaysian Peninsula is flanked by Singapore to the south and Thailand to the north. Further down the equator lies the island of Borneo, bordered by the Philippines in the north and Indonesia in the south east. Indonesians call the island Kalimantan, while the Philippines still has pending claims over certain areas of Borneo.

Malaysia

The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, home to more than 1.6 million people and a highly urbanized city surrounded by several suburbs. As a tropical country, temperatures are mostly warm, fluctuating between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Surrounding islands and the highlands are cooler, with a peak temperature of around 25 degrees. Rainy season in Peninsular Malaysia begins in October and ends around March. Most provinces experience heavy rainfall, brought about by southwest monsoon winds.

Beach at Langkawi

Tourists should avoid going to particular areas of Peninsular Malaysia during the monsoon season as resorts, restaurants and other public places may be closed for safety purposes. The best time to enjoy the sun and the warm tropical climate would be from late March to September. On the brighter side, Western Malaysia is usually not affected by the monsoon winds. Places like Penang, Langkawi and other towns and provinces to the west of the peninsula are safe to visit anytime throughout the year.

Culturally Diverse Population

There are over 28 million Malaysians, based on latest statistics. Malaysia is predominantly inhabited by Malaysian Muslims. Making up more than half of the population, Malays come in various ethnicities. The majority of Malays belong to the ethnic group Bumiputera, while the minority are indigenous groups living in the provinces of Sarawak and Sabah. The Malaysian constitution defines Malays as Muslims who adhere to the Malay way of life.

Malaysians in Colorful Traditional Attire

Malaysia also has a huge Chinese community, which accounts for approximately 24 percent of the population. Indians, who migrated to Malaysia in the 1800s, make up  around 7 percent of the population. The rest are descendants of British colonials, naturalized citizens and expats who settled in the country. The majority of Malaysians live in the peninsula.

Visitors must be aware of Malaysia’s ethnic composition and laws (especially those concerning tourists) to avoid cultural and legal run-ins.

Fusion Cuisine

Malaysian food is just as diverse as its culture. Native dishes often make use of coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, peanuts, chicken and beef (mainly because the country is predominantly Muslim). There are some spicy dishes like Ayam Masak Merah (chicken drenched in spicy tomato sauce) and Mee Goreng (spicy stir-fried noodles), but the level of spiciness can be adjusted according to customer preference. Like the rest of Asia, Malaysians eat their meals with rice. Notable dishes that every epicurious traveler must try include Nasi Lemak (fragrant rice in coconut  milk), Beef Rendang (spicy beef dish), Wan Tan Mee (wanton noodles), Satay (grilled meat in peanut sauce) and Nasi Goreng (fried rice) to name a few.

Nasi Lemak

Night markets and makeshift food courts are popular in Asia. In Malaysia, tourists and locals enjoy dining at these buzzing food courts, offering a wide selection of Malay, Indian and Chinese dishes. Tables are set up at the center and customers simply take their order from any of the stalls surrounding the dining area. Food is always cooked from fresh ingredients and served hot.

Buzzing Food Court in Penang

When dining at evening food courts, tourists should consider bringing mineral water bottles with them just in case they pick an extra spicy dish they’re not accustomed to.

Tourist Activities

Malaysia is famous for its abundant natural resources, unique wildlife species, and pristine beaches. There is an endless list of places to visit and recreational activities to engage in when you’re in Malaysia. Don’t forget to make room for these activities in your itinerary:

  • Enjoy the sun, sea and sand at Langkawi, a group of islands just 30 kilometers off Malaysia’s coast that’s also a well-known diving spot
Diving at Langkawi

 

  • Cruise through the Kinabatangan River (the second longest river in the country ) in the state of Sabah
Kinabatangan River Cruise

 

  • Immerse yourself in the cultural diversity of Penang
Nighttime at Penang

 

  • Plan a road trip to the rural east coast cities
Scenic Sandakan on the Malaysian East Coast

 

  • Shop to your heart’s content while admiring the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
The Iconic Petronas Towers

 

  • Trek in nature at Taman Negara – one of the oldest rainforests in the world
River Cruise at the Taman Negara National Park

 

The local currency is Ringgit. One U.S. dollar is equivalent to 4 or 5 Ringgits (based on present foreign exchange rates). Seasoned tourists usually purchase a stack of dollars and then exchange them for Ringgits when they arrive in Malaysia. Besides your itinerary, make sure to plot out your budget carefully. Settle on activities that allow you to see and experience the sights and wonders of the country without unnecessary costs.

Originally posted 2017-05-10 07:46:08.

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