Malaysia Travel Tips – DOs and DONTs

Filed under : Asia, Malaysia








Welcome to Maylaysia!


Malaysia is one of the colourful countries of South Asia, which is renowned for its diverse culture and is fast becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations of South Asia. The country boasts of a heterogeneous society with indigenous people of Malaysia as well as citizens of Indian and Chinese origins. The influence of European, Arab, Persian, and also British Empire, made Malaysia a truly multicultural culture that is rich in variety and truly global.  Although Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place, and people of Malaysia are quite friendly, they do reserve their own customs and the visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. The following Malaysia travel tips, taboos, dos and donts would surely make your Malaysia tourism an enjoyable lifetime experience.






Malaysia Travel Taboo

 Avoid touching or passing object over the top of anyone’s head as it is viewed as the most sacred body part.

 A woman should never touch or hand a monk something. Even accidentally brushing against their robes requires that they fast and perform a cleansing ritual.


Malaysia Travel Donts

  • Do not touch the head of an adult. Touching people on the head is considered rude.
  • Do not point forefinger at things. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred way.
  • Do not pound your fist into the palm of the other hand, which is considered an obscene gesture to some people. 
  • Do not point your feet towards people or sacred images.
  • Do not wear hot pants and vests at mainland beaches if you are female. Topless sunbathing is a no-no. Malay women usually go swimming fully dressed and some keep their scarves on.
  • Do not kiss in public. Public behaviour is important in Malaysian culture. Most Malaysians refrain from displaying affection such as embracing or kissing in public.
  • Do not ever touch or hand a monk something if you are a woman. Even accidentally brushing against their robes requires that they fast and perform a cleansing ritual.
  • Do not be offended if your offer of a handshake is not reciprocated by a Muslim who is of the opposite sex. In Islam, physical contact between the opposite sex is discouraged.
  • Do not be embarrassed for burping. In Malay dining etiquette, burping or belching after a meal is acceptable.
  • Do not discuss ethnic relations or the political system. They are both sensitive subjects.
  • Do not drink alcohol. The country’s large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.
  • Do not ever involve in illegal drugs. There is a mandatory death penalty for trafficking.  

Malaysia Travel Dos

  • Do shake hand with men for greeting, but not women unless they offer to do so first. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. People greet visitors by placing their right hand over the left chest to mean I greet you from my heart.
  • Do remove your shoes before entering a Malaysian home or temples and mosques. It is customary to remove and leave footwear outside the house. This practice is also applicable when visiting religious buildings.
  • Do use right hand to receive or give something. The right hand should also be used for eating. It is considered discourteous in Malay custom to use your left hand when you hand over or receive things.
  • Do carry essential travel documents and have your health insurance and health certificates ready before your travel.
  • Do be aware that the cameras, watches, pens, portable radio-cassette players, perfume, cosmetics and lighters are duty-free in Malaysia. If you are bringing in dutiable goods then a deposit is required for temporary importation, which would be refundable on departure.
  • Do convert most of your currency in Malaysia. There is restriction of bringing large amounts of ringgit (Malaysia’s currency) into or out of the country.
  • Do follow simple rules when visit a Buddha temple. Show respect and remove your hat and shoes, Dress conservatively, no shorts. When sitting, never point your feet at a person or image of Buddha. Stand up to show respect when monks or nuns enter.
  • Do enter the shrine with your left foot first, and exit by leading with your right foot. This gesture symbolically represents a whole.


© 2010

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