I recently went to Malaysia with my sister for two weeks and I wanted to give tips on what to do there and how to go about for a safe trip as well as give some security tips for travellers or even people who are thinking of moving there. It was a beautiful country filled with warm hospitable people that I honestly felt at home there during the two weeks more than my home in Canada where I lived for 12 years, even though we knew not a single soul in that foreign country. Although it wasn’t the safest country to be in compared to where we live, with precautions and with being a bit more alert, if God wills you will be safe and sound as well as have the time of your life there, as we did. This might be messy but there are important information I wish I knew before going there, I hope this guide helps you!
1- The first thing you keep in mind is do as the Malays do in Malaysia. Not simply to have more fun because they know everything there is, but for security reasons and to save money. As we arrived at the airport, we got seduced by a tour company kiosk that had no line-up (first bad sign) who told us they’d book the taxi for us for the hotel. It was only 180 ringgits (around 60 $), second bad sign. Because we weren’t sure how the prices worked yet we went with it thinking it was a good idea, when it was NOT at all. When you see a minivan, that is not a legitimate taxi. Make sure you check for the license number, the person’s ID, and make sure the meter is on or at least agree on the price before you depart. Our unlegit minivan driver did not get us to our hotel because he didn’t have a GPS on him, and long story short, we should’ve just went in the huge line to get a normal taxi and not spend 4 hours on the road only to be left at a gas station afterwards with our luggages. Thankfully a nice man asked us if we needed help and he called a taxi for us to come to the gas station to take us to our hotel, and we are eternally grateful for that man.
2- Book a hotel where the reviews claim that it has friendly and helpful staff. Ask your hotel about prices, places to visit, and normal everyday knowledge you can only get from people who know the country well. No amount of internet research will fully prepare you.
3- In Malaysia, there is no such thing as free water fountains to fill up your bottle, except for in parks. Make sure you always carry change for buying water bottles, and sometimes entering bathrooms. Make sure you always have a hygenic kit with you including toilet paper or wet wipes for bathroom reasons or even for wiping your sweat since it is insanely hot and humid in that country.
4- Be careful what you eat the first period, your body is not used to street food or eating from random places so I suggest you be adventurous after the first week has passed and you are still sick-free.
5- Bargain everywhere or else you will be ripped off. Whatever’s written on the object is the actual price x5. Here are some ways to:
ask” Is this the last price you can give me?”
“I will think about it” do try other places and see the price difference so that you can get the best deal
or actually give a price you want by asking around what is the average price for such an item. Don’t feel shy to say it’s too expensive or can you lower the price please, as long as you’re polite the vendors will be happy to help out sometimes. Just don’t get carried away and try to bargain at big shopping malls xD.
Do bargain a lot in Central Market when you go to get your souvenirs. Oh and go to Merdaka Square, there’s even a tourist information desk that will help you plan whatever you like and give you information about other cities.
5- Mosquito repellent will be your new perfume.
6- To get a bus to stop for you extend your arm towards it
7- Pointing is rude in Malaysia what they do it make a fist and fold the thumb over so that the thumb or fist directs you to where you want to point. We at first had no idea what they were doing but now you will be prepared.
8- Flip flops are worn by EVERYONE, why? Because they are cheap, come in so many different shapes and colors and make sure you don’t bring your own just buy some here because this country is THE country to get your flip flops from: cheap, expensive, fancy, comfortable, they got it ALL. You need one for hotels especially if you’re planning to go to a hotel where the bathrooms are shared, it is preferable to have one so you won’t be barefooted as you do your business because a lot of the hotels require you to take off your shoes at the entrance, so do buy flip flops as you arrive but no worries you’ll see them everywhere.
9- Tipping people is NOT required like it is in US or Canada, but now a 10% service charge may be charged to you at some of the fancier restaurants already so no need to worry about that. However, if a person is generous, kind to you and you feel they were great with their service, they will appreciate you tipping them. As I’ve learned from our great tour guide from the elephant tour, when you receive, give back. But if you do not want to tip you are not obliged to.
that is all. Good luck!