The sole official language of Malaysia is Malay officially Bahasa Malaysia, sometimes also known as Bahasa Melayu. The Indonesian language, spoken accross the border in Indonesia, is similar to Malay, and both languages are largely mutually intelligible. Some parts of Malaysia near the Thai border, most notably Kelantan, have dialects of Malay which are nearly incomprehensible to speakers of standard Malay, though most people in these areas will be able to converse in standard Malay if needed.
English is compulsory in all schools and widely spoken in the larger cities, as well as around the main tourist attractions, although in rural areas a little Malay will come in handy. There is also a colloquial form of English spoken among Malaysians in urban areas, not inappropriately known as Manglish, which involves code switching between English, Malay and/or other languages, and takes a bit of getting used to if you intend to join in the conversation on local topics. Malaysians will almost always try to speak 'standardized English' when approached by Western travellers. In general, police stations and government offices will have English-speaking staff on duty.
Arabic is taught to those who attend Islamic religious schools, and many clerics as well as other very observant Muslims will have a functional command of Arabic. However, it is not widely spoken, though the Malay language does have a large number of loan words from Arabic. You also might notice some examples of Malay written with Arabic letters. This is called Jawi, and it is still used for religious publications and inscriptions, especially in states like Kelantan, although the Latin alphabet is much more commonly used throughout the country.
The Chinese community in Malaysia speaks a wide variety of Chinese languages including Cantonese, Mandarin, Teo-chew, Hakka, Hainanese, Hok-chew and Hokkien. Mandarin is taught in most Chinese schools while Cantonese is commonly heard in the mass media due to the popularity of TVB serials from Hong Kong among the Chinese community, so many are conversant in both, in addition to their native language. The most commonly spoken Indian language is Tamil; others include Malayalam, Punjabi and Telugu.
In the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand, there are various ethnic Thai communities, known locally as the Orang Siam, who speak various dialects of Thai. Malacca in the south is also home to a Portuguese community which speaks a Portuguese based creole. The remote forest areas of Peninsular Malaysia are also home to various tribal people known as the Orang Asli, who speak various indigenous languages such as Semelai, Temuan and many others. In East Malaysia several indigenous languages are also spoken, especially Iban and Kadazan.
Films and television programmes are usually shown in their original language with Malay subtitles. Some children's programmes are dubbed into Malay.
Emergency numbersCentral emergency number 999
Despite street crime such as bag snatching and pick-pocketing is there, violent crimes are only among gang and triad members. Crimes towards tourists are rare but still It is important to keep a close eye on valuable items. Generally, if you avoid deserted area and use your common sense, you're unlikely to be assaulted. Please rely on the policemen in Malaysia, because most of them take up their job seriously. It is not a problem when you want to communicate with the policemen, the English proficiency of the policemen in Malaysia is average, most of them can speak Bahasa MalaysiaOfficial Language and English. In conclusion, you can hardly feel any harm traveling through the country.
There are eight main radio stations in Malaysia:
Klasik Nasional FM 98.3 - Malay
TraXX FM 90.3 - English
Ai FM 89.3 - Chinese
Minnal FM 92.3 - Indian
Asyik FM 91.1 - Local languages
Hot FM 97.6 - Malay
Fly FM 95.8 - English
One FM 88.1 - Chinese
Most radio stations in Kuala Lumpur broadcasts 24 hours a day. There are many local radio stations both private and government in the countryside. Most local radio stations do not broadcast 24 hours a day. The local radio stations in cities broadcast until midnight, and in towns until 8 or 9 pm. Radio jamming is common in Malaysia, and radio stations do not have the RDS, so you have to carefully listen to the ID to identify whether it's the one you want to listen or not.
There are seven television channels in Malaysia:
RTM 1 Channel 5 - broadcasts in Malay, broadcasting hours: 6AM-1AM.
RTM 2 Channel 8 - broadcasts in English, broadcasting hours: 24 hours.
TV3 Channel 12 - broadcasts in Malay and English, broadcasting hours: 24 hours since November 2011.
ntv7 Channel 21 - broadcasts in Malay and Chinese, broadcasting hours: 7AM-2AM.
8TV Channel 25 - broadcasts in Chinese, broadcasting hours: 8AM-2AM.
TV9 Channel 33 - broadcasts in Malay, broadcasting hours: 7AM-1AM.
Alhijrah Channel 55 - broadcasts in Malay and Arabic, broadcasting hours: 12PM-12AM.
Malaysia is one of the first countries in the world to offer 4G connectivity. Free Wi-Fi is easily available in almost all restaurants, fast-food outlets, shopping malls, City-wide wireless connections and in some hawker stalls. Prepaid Internet cards are also available to access wireless broadband, in some cafes.
Customers usually pay RM1.00 to RM5.00 per hour for Internet services in a cybercafe depending on which city you're in. Internet connections offered in restaurants and cafes are usually free and more and more food outlets are offering this. These include all Starbucks and Coffeebean, and some McDonald's and Subway, and an increasing number of smaller places.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA also provides free Wi-Fi throughout the airport.
Many international courier services like Fedex, DHL and UPS are available in towns and cities but the main postal service provider is Pos Malaysia (http://www.pos.com.my) which reliably provides postal services to most countries in the world.
Postage rates in Malaysia are cheap. Much much cheaper than Thailand ,Singapore or Vietnam, and surface post is available as well. In addition the mail is reliable and trustworthy.When posting, do not seal the box. This is to allow for inspection in case illegal items are posted this way.
A local alternative to the international courier companies mentioned above is the Pos Laju, which provides just as reliable a service but at a fraction of the costs!
Non-urgent letters and postcards can be dropped in postboxes inside post offices or red postboxes found outside post offices and along main roads. If there are two slots in a postbox use the one that says "lain lain" for international post.
Post offices are open from 8AM to 5PM daily except Sundays and public holidays, although a few in Klang Valley stay open till 10PM. In the states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu they are closed on Fridays and public holidays.
Tap water is drinkable straight off the tap as it is treated depending on location, but even locals boil or filter it first just to be on the safe side. When travelling it is best to stick to bottled water, which is very affordable.
Ice in drinks might be made from tap water but nowadays, most restaurants and even roadside stalls use the cylindrical variety with a hollow tube down the middle that are mass-produced at ice factories and are safer to consume.
Heat exhaustion is rare, but do consume lots of fluids, use a hat and sunscreen and shower often!
Peninsular Malaysia is largely malaria-free, but there is a significant risk in Borneo especially in inland and rural areas. Dengue fever occurs throughout Malaysia in both urban and rural areas, and can be avoided only by preventing mosquito bites. The mosquito that transmits dengue feeds throughout the daytime, and is most active at dawn and dusk. If you experience a sudden fever with aches and lethargy, seek medical attention immediately. Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be used until dengue fever has been ruled out. Mosquito repellents ubat nyamuk are widely available. Be careful with mosquito coils, which can easily start fires: set them on a plate or other non-flammable surface and extinguish them before going to sleep.
Haze from burning vegetation in neighbouring Indonesia may come and go without warning from the months of May to August so travellers with respiratory ailments should come prepared.
Most public washrooms make a small charge generally between RM0.20-RM5.00, usually depending on the standard of the facilities so keep some loose change to hand. If the condition of the sitting toilets is questionable, use the squatting toilets instead - both are usually available, and some believe that the latter are more hygienic and if you can get used to them are just as easy to use as sitting toilets.
Malaysia is largely free from earthquakes as there are no nearby faultlines, though tremors can occasionally be felt when a major quake occurs in neighbouring Indonesia. Typhoons also generally do not occur. However, the Nov-Jan monsoon season often results in flooding due to torrential rains, and landslides are known to occur, most notably on the East Coast. Tsunamis are a rare occurence, though Penang and a few islands on the north of the West Coast were hit by the infamous tsunami in 2004.
Government health care facilities are cheap but good, but many visitors prefer to seek out private medical care. Private medical costs can be high and having travel insurance is a very good idea.
You can find specialist private doctors and clinics via MYDOC.my (https://www.mydoc.my), it is a local and modern location based health care resources providing patients/consumers with the information that are required for them to make informed decisions on choosing their medical/healthcare service provider. Such information may include the doctor’s experience, ex-patients’ satisfaction, quality of the clinic and/or its facilities etc. But if you are in an emergency, please call 999, the national emergency contact number.
What's in a name?- Malay names are usually given name + bin or binti son/daughter + father's name. Mohammed bin Abdullah would usually be called Mohammed by his friends, and Mr. Mohammed for business. Sometimes, the person's given name appears after the Mohammed or Abdul example: Mohammed Faizal bin Abdul Nasser so, in such a case, he would usually be addressed as Faizal by his friends, and Mr. Faizal for business.- Chinese place their family name first, so Tan Ah Heng is Mr. Tan for business and Ah Heng to his friends. Many have Western names, so he may also be known as John Tan.- Indian names are complex, but the south Indian Tamil names usually found in Malaysia have two patterns: either given name + a/l or a/p anak lelaki (son of/anak perempuan daughter of) + father's name, or father's initial + given name. Given names are often long and may be abbreviated, so Thirumurugan a/l Govindasamy may just be addressed as Thiru by his friends and Mr Thiru for business. The foolproof method is to ask how the person wants to be addressed.- Other ethnic minorities have their own naming conventions. The foolproof method is to ask how the person wants to be addressed.
It is advisable to dress respectfully, particularly in rural areas wearing trousers or a long skirt, not shorts, and covering your shoulders is recommended but not essential. In more metropolitan areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, and Ipoh, as well as East Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak, attitudes are more liberal.
When entering a home or a place of worship, always take off your shoes. Also, never eat with your left hand, or give a gift with your left hand; and never point with your forefinger you may use a closed fist with the thumb instead, point with your feet or touch a person's head.
Public showing of affection in larger cities is tolerated but might invite unnecessary attention from the public. In more rural areas it is frowned upon and is to be avoided.
Same-sex relationships are a taboo subject in Malaysia. Gay and lesbian travellers should avoid any outward signs of affection, including holding hands in public. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia.
Swastikas are an ancient symbol commonly seen in Hindu and Buddhist temples. They are typically a reverse image of those used by Nazis and do not express similar sentiments or anti-Semitism, so Western visitors should not feel offended when seeing it in the homes of their hosts.
Some taxis will refuse to use the meter, even though the official rate has changed recently and most taxis now have a sticker on the rear door that informs tourists that haggling is prohibited. Be aware that taxi drivers, sensing that you are a tourist, may drive around and take a very long route to reach your destination.
If using a taxi late at night, it is best to use the dial-a-taxi service as there have been incidents where taxis flagged down during those hours being fake/unregistered.
Public demonstrations are uncommon in Malaysia due to police crackdowns, but a number of anti-government demonstrations have been held recently. Should one occur it may be dealt with in a heavy-handed manner, so avoid them at all costs.
Drunk driving is a serious offense and breathalyzer tests by the police are common.You should not offer bribes at all - if found guilty you can be sentenced up to 20 years in jail! Anyone who tries to bribe public officials may be arrested on the spot and placed in a lock-up overnight to be charged for the offence in the morning. If this happens on a Friday or on eve of public holidays, you will find yourself spending a few nights in the lock-up as the courts are only open Monday to Friday. Do not let this dissuade you from requesting help - generally Malaysian police are helpful to tourists. You should just accept whatever traffic summons you are being issued.
When on foot, be careful when crossing the street. Vehicles will often ignore pedestrian zebra crossings. However, reports of road bullying during accidents is still common so if you are involved in an accident be very careful when negotiating or dial 999 for help.
beware of scratch and win scams
Scratch and Win Scams are rampant in all over Malaysia. Victims are given reward tickets to scratch/tear/peel off on spot to see if they win prizes. In these cases, victims would be informed that they had won prizes in foreign lottery or lucky draws.
The scammers would ask victims to make advance payment if they wanted to claim their prizes. They would even offer victims car rides to withdraw the large sums of money, reported a local news source. After which, victims would realise that the prizes never existed or were of lower value than previously promised.
Reports on pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves have been sometimes heard in large cities like Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown and Johor Bahru. As a general precaution, never carry your bags on the side facing the road & always walk facing the oncoming traffic. Additionally, walk a few feet deeper away from the roads. Women travellers should take extra precautions at night.
Do note that in Malaysia, certain crimes are punished with caning. Being convicted of rape, vandalism, illegal entry, bribery, overstaying your visa, and other certain crimes could get you caned. This is no slap on the wrist! Strokes from the thick rattan cane are very painful and can take weeks to heal, and even scar for life. This technique also applies to Singapore.
Credit card fraud is a growing problem. Use cards only in reputable shops.
Never bring any recreational drugs into Malaysia, even as a transit passenger. Possession of even minimal amounts can lead to a mandatory death sentence.
Malaysia also has four mobile telephone service providers, Maxis (http://www.maxis.com.my), DiGi (http://www.digi.com.my), Celcom (http://www.celcom.com.my), and U Mobile (http://www.u.com.my) which utilise codes 012, 013, 014, 016, 017, 018, 019. Network connection in Malaysia is excellent. Mobile number portability has been implemented in Malaysia, meaning a code like 012 that traditionally belonged to Maxis, can now be a DiGi subscriber. Mobile networks utilize the GSM 900 and 1800 systems. 3G WCDMA, EDGE & HSPDA networks available in larger towns. International roaming onto these networks is possible if your operator allows it
Malaysian SIM cards will usually come with free ringback tones for one month. Explain to your callers that you have it, otherwise they will assume that they have dialed the wrong number.
To call a Malaysian mobile number:
From a landline
Dial the international access code "00" followed by the country code and the phone number. for example, dialing the united states from malaysia you would dial 001 followed by the us area code and phone number. on the maxis network, take advantage of 50% idd rates via idd132, which doesn't require any registration, just dial "132" prior to the the "00".
From a mobile phone
Same as from a landline above. an alternative, and simpler, approach on many mobile phones is to press & hold the zero button to enter a "+" plus sign before the country code and phone number. the "+" represents in any country the appropriate international access code. on the maxis network, take advantage of 50% idd rates via idd132, which doesn't require any registration, just dial "132" prior to the the "00" and note that you do not use the "+" symbol using this method.
If you are staying for a period, it is worth getting a Prepaid SIM card. Besides the big telco: Digi, Maxis, Celcom, there's MVMO - Mobile Virtual Network Operator that 'piggy back' the big telco's network but offer cheaper rates. eg U Mobile, Tune Mobile, Tron, etc. Most operators operate a tiered system where your credit is available a certain amount of days. eg RM5 lasting 5 days, RM30 lasting 50 days and RM50 lasting 75 days. An exception is the new MVMO, Tron, which offers 365 days validity on all balance. For rates comparisonComparison of Prepaid