To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia – a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Our multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It’s no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.
Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.
One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.
Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
For the perfect holiday full of surprises, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.
Fast Facts About Malaysia
The Federation of Malaysia comprises of Peninsular Malaysia, and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
Situated between 2º and 7º to the North of the Equator line, Peninsular Malaysia is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea.
In the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia lies Thailand, and in the south, neighbouring Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares borders with Brunei.
PEOPLE & LANGUAGE
Malays comprise 57% of the population, while the Chinese, Indian and Bumiputeras and other races make up the rest of the country’s population.
While Malay is the national language the many ethnic groups also converse in their various languages and dialects, but English is also widely spoken.
Islam is the official religion of the country, but other religions such as Buddhism and Christianity are widely and freely practised.
The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM or MYR.
The exchange rate is valued at USD1 = RM3.15. Notes are available in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100 denominations, while coins are issued in 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen (cents) denominations.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and money changers.
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).
Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm. However, the wettest parts of Malaysia could well be the hill slopes of Sarawak’s inland areas, which receive a mean annual rainfall exceeding 5,000mm.
New Year : 1 Jan 2015 | Nationwide
With New Year’s Eve parties in full swing, dazzling fireworks accompanying the local countdown, celebrating the turn of the year in Malaysia is always an exciting affair.
Maulidur Rasul : 3 Jan 2015 | Nationwide
Maulidur Rasul is the observance of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, which falls on the 12th day of the month of Rabiul Awal in the Islamic calendar.
Federal Territory Day : 1 Feb 2015 | Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Labuan only
Federal Territory Day is a state holiday observed by the three Federal Territories in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
Chinese New Year : 19 Feb – 20 Feb 2015 | Nationwide
Red is the colour of this festive season. Malaysian Chinese celebrate the New Year with family reunions, food and merrymaking, while children receive money in little red packets.
Labour Day : 1 May 2015 | Nationwide
As in many other countries, Labour Day is observed in Malaysia on 1st May every year. The working populace celebrate with an extra day off.
Wesak : 3 May 2015 | Nationwide
Wesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha. Buddhists all over the country celebrate with religious offerings and rituals held at Buddhist temples.
Tadau Kaamatan : 30 – 31 May 2015 | Sabah and Labuan
Rice holds a special meaning to Sabahans, which makes Tadau Kaamatan (rice harvest festival) one of the biggest, most joyous celebrations in Sabah. In an event filled with traditional customs, villagers give thanks for the year’s crop and pray for an even better harvest the following year.
Gawai Dayak Festival : 1 – 2 June 2015 | Sarawak
Gawai Dayak, or the harvest festival, marks the end of the rice-harvesting season and welcomes in another year of bountiful harvest. It is celebrated by the Iban and Bidayuh tribes in Sarawak with traditional dances, ceremonial offerings and ‘tuak’ (home-made rice wine).
King’s Birthday : 6 Jun 2015 | Nationwide
The King, or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is the head of state of Malaysia. His Majesty’s birthday is officially celebrated on the first Saturday in June, as mandated in the Malaysian Constitution.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri : 17 – 18 July 2015 | Nationwide
After a month of fasting, Hari Raya Aidilfitri symbolises victory for Muslims everywhere. Starting with morning prayers and visits to the graves of loved ones, Muslims then proceed to open houses and family gatherings filled with good food and company.
Independence Day (Hari Merdeka) : 31 Aug 2015 | Nationwide
This day marks the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957. Colourful multicultural parades are organised at city centres throughout the country.
Malaysia Day : 16 Sep 2015 | Nationwide
Malaysia Day is held on September 16 yearly to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. Celebrations are held in various parts of the country.
Hari Raya Aidiladha : 24 Sept 2015 | Nationwide
Also known as Hari Raya Haji or Qurban, this festival marks the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca which is performed by millions of Muslims annually. Muslims in the country celebrate the festival with prayers and the sacrifice of cattle.
Awal Muharram : 14 Oct 2015 | Nationwide
Awal Muharram (also called Maal Hijrah) marks the beginning of the new Islamic calendar, commemorating the day Prophet Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijrah.
Deepavali : 10 Nov 2015 | Nationwide except Labuan and Sarawak
Deepavali or the ‘Festival of Lights’ is celebrated by Hindus with prayers, family gatherings and festivities. Family and friends visit each other at open houses, where delicious traditional goodies are served.
Christmas : 25 Dec 2015 | Nationwide
You won’t find a white Christmas in Malaysia, but the real spirit of the season — love, joy and peace — is evident. Christians look forward to special services in church, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Time : Eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S Standard Time.
Electricity : Voltage is 220 – 240 Volt AC at 50 cycles per second. Malaysia uses standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets.
Weight & Measurement : Malaysia follows the metric system for weight and measurement.
Telecommunications : Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or prepaid card. International calls can also be made using phone cards or at any Telekom office.