All foreign visitors to Malaysia must have a passport, which will remain valid for a minimum of six months after the return date of travel. Most nationalities, including U.S. citizens, do not require visas for social or business visits. For further information you may contact the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission or Tourism Malaysia office.
Malay (Bahasa Melayu) is the national language of Malaysia, but English is widely spoken. The ethnic groups also converse in their various languages and dialects.
The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and money changers. Banknotes are issued in M$1, M$5, M$10, M$20, M$50, M$100, and M$1,000. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, although it is advisable to have some cash when visiting rural areas. In most states, banks are open Mon-Fri, from 9.30am-4.30pm. ATM's are readily found in the major cities and tourist areas.
Phones & Communications
Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or pre-paid cards. International calls can be made from public phones with card phone facilities or at any Telekom offices. International Direct Dial (IDD) is available in most hotels. Malaysia has several mobile telephone providers, and coverage around the country is strong. Check with your provider on international roaming rates, and what plans may be available. Broadband internet is available in most hotels, and in Internet Cafes around the country.
The country experiences tropical weather year round. Temperatures range from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Higher elevations are much colder with temperatures between 15°C (59° F) to 25°C (77°F). The rainy season occurs Nov-Feb for the Peninsula East Coast and East Malaysia. For the western peninsula the rainy season is Apr-May and Oct-Nov. In general the rains don't last all day, and are usually interspersed with sunshine.
Voltage is 220 - 240 Volt AC at 50 cycles per second. Malaysia uses standard 3- pin square plugs and socket, so bring along a universal adaptor.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of G.M.T., which is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. No daylight savings time is practiced.
Tipping is rarely seen in Malaysia, and in most cases never expected. In hotels and major restaurants a service charge of 10% may be added into the bill. It is always a nice practice to leave the loose change behind. The exception is for bellboys, where tipping a few dollars is encouraged. It is customary to tip your tour guide and driver.
There are no required immunizations to enter Malaysia. However, it is recommended to consult with your physician prior to travel. Malaria prophylaxis is commonly recommended for travel to the Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah. Medical standards in Malaysia are high; however, any essential medication should be brought along. It is best to drink only bottled water, and avoid food sold by sidewalk vendors. Use an insect repellent against mosquitoes if you are traveling in Borneo.