Our recommendation to visit Malaysia and neighboring countries
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Malaysia Travel guide
Events and festivals in Malaysia
The popular festivals in Malaysia are many, and they are varied. There is an event or celebration on practically every month of the year. Chinese influence on the Malay culture is evident in festivities such as the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated at the beginning of each year.
Each month offers the visitor one or more popular festivals, each more picturesque and lively than the last. Take note of the following events in Malaysia so that you can programme your trip according to which ones you like the most.
January - Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year is celebrated from 1 January to 28 February, and it begins with the lunar calendar. During the celebrations there are parades, culinary events, music, and of course, the dragon dance. If your travel plans allow it, don’t miss out on this celebration. It is full of colour, lights and happiness.
February - Kek Lok Si Temple
February in Malaysia is full of festivities that you can’t afford to miss. We’ll start with the Malaysia Super Sale, which runs from 1 to 28 February. This is an event for shopping aficionados with discounts of up to 70%. Alongside this, from 4 to 19 February, the Kek Lok Si Temple celebrations take place. This is the temple of the supreme blessing, and is adorned with over 10.000 lights.
March - East Wind Festival
Among the Malaysian events celebrated during March, you will find the East Wind Festival which takes place from the 1 - 3 of the month. To celebrate this festival, Malaysians put on fishing competitions, buffalo races, tractor decoration and they even choose the strongest farmer. There is also the Kite Festival, batik painting exhibitions, traditional theatre and, of course, many traditional Malay food stalls.
April - Vaisakhi
The Vaisakhi is another popular Malaysian festival that you should not miss. It is celebrated on 14 April and is organised by the Sikh community. The birthplace of this festival is the Punjab, India, although Malaysia celebrates its own version of these festivities.
If you have a desire for more festivals, you can also attend the Sarawak Folklore Festival from 26 – 28 April. Apart from traditional music, there are cookery competitions, and Miss Culture is chosen from 15 finalists.
May - IFTAR
The IFTAR celebrations take place in Kuala Lumpur from 11 May to 26 June. This is a very important festival for the Muslim community. During this event, activities are organised to highlight the value and significance of Islamic culture and religion.
At the same time, within the popular festivals of Malaysia, Wesak is celebrated on 29 May. This is a Buddhist celebration where, each year, thousands of devotees celebrate this special day through activities such as decorating the temples, giving help and donations to those in need, meditation and vegetarian food stalls.
June - Malaysian Festival of Colours
Between the end of May and the beginning of June, the Citrawarna, or Malaysian Festival of Colours takes place in Kuala Lumpur. This festival has the distinctive feature of having been created for foreign visitors. Supported by the Ministry for Tourism, the events programme offers folklore and gastronomic demonstrations from the different Malaysian states.
July - Penang Bon Odori
During the entire month of July one of the most traditional Malaysian festivals takes place: the Penang Bon Odori. This festival is a Japanese Buddhist celebration to honour the spirits of the ancestors. It is a kind of carnival with local food stalls, firework displays and a wide diversity of games.
August - Merdeka Festival
In August you will be able to attend the Merdeka Festival. During 30 days the whole country commemorates Malaysia’s independence from Great Britain which took place on 31 August 1957. At the same time, there are other popular festivals in Malaysia which have a Chinese character, such as the Penang Hungry Ghost Festival.
September - Full Moon Festival
Continuing with events in Malaysia, in September you can attend the Halfway to the Full Moon Festival. This celebration coincides with the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar month, which is September in the solar calendar. During this night, people go out into the street to watch the moon and eat a sweet which is traditional on this date: moon biscuits.
Octubre - Dwali
Diwali or Festival of Lights, is celebrated on 15 October and November. During this festival, two Hindu gods are worshipped: Kali and Lakshmí, the wife of Vishnu. In this same month, celebrations are also held for the Nine Emperor of Gods Festival, which is of Chinese origin, and the Deepavali Festival of Lights, which is of Hindu origin.
November and December - Pesta Pulau Pinang
If you are in Malaysia from 1 November to 31 December, you will be able to attend the Pesta Pulau Pinang celebration. This was created by the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, and began in December 1970 as part of the endeavour to create a healthy environment for businesses. Consumer goods and commercial items are exhibited in an environment which is similar to a carnival during the holiday period.
As you can see, there are many popular festivals in Malaysia. They are all varied and distributed throughout most of the year. Pick up your calendar and take note of the ones you like best so that you can plan your trip to this marvellous country.LEARN MORE
Food in Malaysia
This is a truly fascinating country, so when choosing what to eat in Malaysia, keep in mind that there are flavours which will take you straight to paradise. Malaysian food is spectacular, so be ready to savour delightful flavours everywhere you go.
Typical Malaysian dishes are abundant and varied. There is much to choose from, but don’t feel overwhelmed by it all. Below, you have a summary of the most traditional Malaysian food which is definitely worth trying.
This typical Malaysian dish consists of yellow noodles of the Mee type with vegetables, to which are added slices of roast pork and dumplings. You can find them in soup, or dry. The dry version is served with soy sauce.
Of all there is to eat in Malaysia, fried noodles are one of the star dishes. They are prepared stir fried with vegetables and soy sauce, and are accompanied by tofu, fried chicken, seafood and different sauces. There are different types of noodles, yellow noodles which are long and rather thick, fine rice noodles or Mee Hoon, thick rice noodles or Kuey Teow, and the Glass Noodles, also known as cellophane noodles.
This is one of the most popular typical Malaysian dishes and is based on fried rice. There are different varieties, and Malaysians eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rice used is Nasi Lemak, which is a typical curry rice and it is served on banana leaves.
I am sure that you are already familiar with dumplings, those little balls of dough stuffed with beef, chicken, fish or vegetables. Dumplings can be boiled, steamed or fried. They are one of the dishes to eat in Malaysia and are very easy to find everywhere.
More than a typical Malaysian dish, the roti is a type of flat bread originating from Hindu cuisine. Its different variants, of which there are many, are always served with curry. In general, this bread is eaten for breakfast and dinner, although you can also find it with the midday meal.
Talking of bread, the Bun is a type of bread stuffed with pork, beef, chicken, vegetables, and even with sweet fillings. This accompaniment to Malaysian cuisine is steamed and is a classic which you will find in any restaurant or on any food stall.
Another variety of bread, this time it is purely Hindu in style and served with curry. Its preparation is unusual, as it has to be cooked inside a clay drum. The dough, made from wheat flour, can include cheese, garlic and carrot.
Continuing with the variety of typical Malaysian dishes, you will find that the Murtabak is a kind of tortilla. This dish consists of a dough stuffed with beef, chicken, pork or vegetables which is then cooked.
If you like soups, the Laksa is the dish to eat in Malaysia, as it has a great variety of flavours. The soup is prepared with coconut milk which is cooked with fish stock and tamarind sauce. The soup dish contains noodles and vegetables, and it can also contain chicken or seafood.
The popiah is a typical dish to eat in Malaysia which may remind you of spring rolls. The dough is made with wheat flour, and they are served with a sweet or spicy sauce. They are filled with soy bean sprouts, lettuce, egg, carrot and vegetables and are steam-cooked.
Within the sweets and desserts section of Malaysian cookery there are also some delicacies. Take note of the summary below.
This typically Malaysian food is a marmalade made with coconut milk, egg and sugar. Sometimes banana leaf is used to give it a greenish colour. If you get the opportunity, ask for it for breakfast and try it spread on a Roti. You will never forget the taste.
If you like desserts and sweets, Dodol are prepared with coconut milk, rice flour and sugar cane. You can get them in different flavours and they can be bought loose or in packets. Many travellers take them home as sweet gifts from such an exotic country as Malaysia.
This dessert can be a sweet or a drink. It is prepared with coconut milk, palm sugar, beans, corn, crushed ice, colouring and gelatine in the form of noodles, which can be green or black. You can find it easily on the street food stalls and although its appearance may seem a little unusual, due to the gelatinous nature of the noodles and the dark green colour, it has a fantastic flavour.
Now that you know about the most important typical dishes of Malaysia, including breads and desserts, don’t miss the opportunity to try each one. The culinary journey that this Asian country has prepared for you to try is bound to leave a delicious taste in your mouth.LEARN MORE
Shopping in Malaysia
If you travel to Southeast Asia, there is a wide variety of souvenirs that you can buy in Malaysia. Traditional Malaysian products are spread throughout the country’s thirteen states and three federal territories. Nothing less than their 27 million inhabitants are ready to provide you with an incredible journey.
Souvenirs from Malaysia are varied but, above all, they are crafted by artisans. They can be anything from expensive antiquities to beautiful handmade pieces. The majority of the artisans are Muslim, and for this reason designs are heavily influenced by Islam. On the other hand, as the religion prohibits the reproduction of the human form in art, you will find designs with natural elements, like vine leaves, flowers and animal motifs.
Let’s see what to buy in Malaysia and what traditional souvenir would make the perfect reminder of this fascinating country.
Crafts made from wood
Wooden handicrafts are another possible item to buy in Malaysia, as the country has been blessed with an abundance of wood. You will find a large variety of exotic decorative objects made from wood. Among these, you may like the panels engraved in the Malaysian style, the Keris dagger handles, the spirit sculptures of Orang Asli, the sculpted walking sticks and the kitchen utensils. There is also a wide selection of carved fragrant woods.
Metal, or to be more precise, brass, is one of the traditional products of Malaysia. From ancient times, brass and bronze have been used to make a wide variety of utensils. Craft items made from brass include: kitchen utensils, decorative objects, Tepak Sireh saucepan sets and Keris knife blades.
The incredible creativity of the hand-crafted textiles makes these the perfect Malaysian souvenir. To create the textile items, Malaysians use local plant fibres like the bamboo, rattan, wicker and the leaves of the mengkuang. With these fibres they produce baskets, briefcases, carpets, hats and balls of sepak raga, all of which are hand crafted.
Among the materials you will find in the markets are: batik, songket, pua kumbu and tekat. With these types of materials, Malaysians create everything from high couture clothing to shoes, as well as colourful curtains and exquisite bed linen.
Jewellery and Accessories
Of all the traditional items to buy in Malaysia, jewellery and accessories delight many travellers. You can choose between items made from leather, necklaces made of beads from Borneo or gold or silver jewellery with precious and semi-precious stones.
This jewellery can range from the most sophisticated and expensive to the simplest trinkets used for costumes and for the country’s traditional festivals. There is something for everyone’s taste in both quality and originality and, in every case, you have to consider the value of a totally handcrafted product.
This traditional accessory consists of a three-piece brooch which was traditionally used to secure the collar of the Baju kebaya. It generally comes in sets of three, from larger to smaller, and is an ideal souvenir to give as a gift or to keep at home as a memory of the trip.
Las Cucuk Sanggul
Another item of traditional Malaysian jewellery is the hairpins used for holding the hair in place. The finest ones are made of gold and silver and are traditionally worn by brides and traditional dancers. They are also sold in packs of three, five or seven. They are a very sophisticated touch with which to surprise your friends and family.
This traditional item is a clasp used by men to decorate their traditional costume. Apart from its design, an attractive element of the pending is that it is considered to be a sign of wealth and class. If you want to take home one of the most original Malaysian traditional items, be sure to find the precious pending.
On the Sabah coast, there are natural pearls which are used to make necklaces, earrings and bracelets. What better Malaysian souvenir than a gift of those Sabah pearl earrings? Choose between different shades of cream, white, pink or blue-grey. The price is a real bargain and you can buy the pearls by weight or as part of a piece of jewellery.
Apart from items of decoration and jewellery, there are other things to buy in Malaysia, such as mouth-watering sweet and tasty souvenirs like the Dodol. This dark brown-coloured and sweet-smelling Malaysian sweet is similar to toffee. You can also buy it in green, tinted with Pandan leaves, and it is sold in packs of different sizes.
Malaysia tourist attractions
More information about Malaysia
Where tropical jungles and beaches meet fast-paced cityscapes, Malaysia is one of the most multicultural and colourful countries in Asia. Over the centuries Hindu, Chinese, Malay and indigenous communities have settled on the peninsula, raising their own unique neighbourhoods in some of the main cities.
With coastlines on the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, a holiday to Malaysia is sure to be filled with unique experiences, from meeting endangered orangutans to trekking the rainforest of Sarawak or finding a slice of bliss on the remote beaches of Sipadan Island. Kuala Lumpur is the capital city and the perfect starting point for Malaysia tour package. Here, great Hindu temples coexist side by side with mosques and Chinese sanctuaries.
Known for the famous Petronas Towers, these twin skyscrapers were once the highest in the world. Since the days of colonisation, Kuala Lumpur has managed to build its own identity mixing the best of the diversity of its citizens. The same is true of Malacca, one of the oldest cities in Malaysia, whose port has served as an important centre of maritime trade for centuries, bringing in products from India, China and the West.
Today, this small city receives attention for its architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The beauty of Malaysia's beaches and its unspoilt nature can be found in the islands of Langkawi, or in its many national parks such as Taman Negara or Baku National Park, in Borneo, the huge island known for its population of orangutans. Characterised as one of the best regions in the world for scuba diving, the capital, Kuching is a melting-pot metropolis. From here, many excursions depart to explore the dense tropical jungles or to enjoy the rugged beauty of the coastline.
History of Malaysia
Much of the appeal of a trip to Malaysia lies in its amazing diversity, a product of its complex and rich history. Before the arrival of European powers on the Malay Peninsula, Malaysia was home to a number of kingdoms. Hinduism and Buddhism were adopted from neighbouring countries and through contact with merchants and migrants who travelled to the peninsula. The Kingdom of Langkasuka was one of the earliest and most powerful of the Malay kingdoms and endured from the 2th-century to the 15th-century. By the time of the decline of Langkasuka, Islam had arrived in the region and the teachings spread quickly amongst Malays, resulting in the creation of the Malacca Sultanate, centred in the popular city of modern-day Malacca, a must-visit on a Malaysia holiday package. In 1511 Portuguese powers began asserting their dominance in the region, conquering Malacca following news of its wealth. Later, Dutch forces would do the same due to the importance of the city as a centre of trade.
The British Empire followed colonising large parts of Malaysia during the 18th and 19th-centuries. During World War II many major cities and regions were occupied by the Japanese Army which ignited calls for independence and increasing nationalist ideas among Malay people. Peninsula Malaysia unified in 1946 and became known as Malaya, and over the next decade extended its territory to include North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, although Singapore was expelled shortly after due to political differences. Full independence from the British was declared in 1957 through peaceful diplomacy. Since its independence, Malaysia has grown steadily to become an Asian and global giant.
Nature in Malaysia
World-renowned for its ancient equatorial rainforest, Malaysia is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. Aside from rainbow-coloured birdlife and amazing flora, such as the largest flower in the world, the rafflesia, a holiday to Malaysia is likely to focus on the countries most unique inhabitants, such as Proboscis monkeys and orangutans. Malaysia is categorised as a megadiverse county, due to its high number of endemic species. The oldest national park in the country is the huge Taman Negara National Park, situated in the centre of the Malaysian Peninsula.
This rich rainforest environment is one of the best places in the country to get in touch with nature and soak up the amazing biodiversity of the jungle landscapes. On a visit Taman Negara, you can look out for leopards, enjoy scenic canopy walks or cruise along the Tahan River. Another verdant oasis is the leafy Cameron Highlands, located in the hills just outside of bustling Kuala Lumpur.
This is a favourite summer retreat for Malaysian due to its cooler high-altitude climate and visitors can enjoy scenic hiking trails and tours of the abundant tea and strawberry plantations. The Cameron Highlands is also the perfect destination to see the iconic rafflesia flowers, which grows there year-round. Malaysian Borneo is another must-visit for both beach-lovers and animal fans alike. Here you can watch orangutans in the wild, scuba dive in some of the most abundant waters in the world or find your own personal slice of bliss on a pristine white-sand beach.
Culture in Malaysia
Famed for its multi-cultural society, Malaysia is one of the few places on earth where you can smell the sweet aroma of flower garlands placed at Hindu shrines whilst simultaneously listening to the call of prayer emanating from a neighbourhood mosque. A Malaysia package holiday is a unique experience, to say the least. A melting pot of Asian cultures, Malaysia is also known for the indigenous groups of Borneo, such as the Dayak tribes whose unique traditions and practices have captivated the imaginations of travellers and explorers for centuries.
The official language is Malay, although, like all areas of Malaysian culture, language is equally as diverse, with hundreds of languages being spoken in the country, ranging from Mandarin to Tamil, various indigenous languages and English. Traditional Malay arts and music date back to the days of the sultanates, including crafts such as carving and silversmithing. Traditional Malaysian performing arts include intricate shadow puppetry and the traditional joget dance. You cannot pass up the opportunity to watch a joget show when you visit Malaysia.
Experience a whole continent of cultures in one beautiful and abundant country on a tour of Malaysia. From the treetops of the equatorial rainforest, home to endangered orangutans, to the twinkling lights of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline, Malaysia is a cornucopia of unique travel experiences.
Malaysia travel information
Passport with a minimum of six months validity.
No entry visa is required.
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