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Malaysia is a mostly a relaxed place with laid-back people. However, there are some customs that we encourage visitors try to observe when in Malaysia. Have a look at some examples below:
Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some more traditional ladies may acknowledge gentlemen they're being introduced to by merely nodding and smiling slightly. Try not to force a handshake upon ladies when meeting people. A good rule of thumb for men is to let the woman you're being introduced take the handshake initiative. If she doesn't reach out her hand, then best leave it at that - a nod and a polite smile.
Amongst men, the traditional greeting, or "salam", resembles a regular handshake, but it involves both hands. Just shake hands as per normal, at the same time lightly touching the outstretched hands with your free hand. Follow this by bringing your hands to your chest area. This traditional Malay greeting signifies "I greet you from my heart". It's best to reciprocate. However, you'll find that the regular western-type handshake is more and more in use too.
It is polite to call before visiting a home.
Footwear must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home and mosques or temples.
Women visitors to mosques or temples must always cover all bare skin. Note that some mosques provide robes and scarves.
Best ask for permission before taking photographs of people or places of worship.
The right hand is always used when eating with one's hand or giving and receiving objects. Do not use the left hand to touch people or give or receive objects.
The forefinger (also called index finger) is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.
Non-alcoholic drinks are usually offered to guests. It is polite to accept. Toasting is not a common practice in Malaysia. The country's Muslim population does not drink alcohol.
Note to all sun-worshippers: Female topless sun-bathing is strongy discouraged and, in fact, against the law. There are no topless or naturalist beaches on Tioman, so please keep all bits and pieces covered.
Book your resort and ferry ticket as far as possible in advance, especially when travelling over weekends, public holidays and Singaporean and Malaysian school holidays. You'll find that these are extremely busy periods. Given the record-breaking sales at recent holiday fairs and the international "Visit Malaysia Year" campaign, the 2017 season will be no exception.
Visitors to Malaysia must be in possession of a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Most visitors do not require visas for social or business visits. However, citizens from North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China are required to have a visa to visit Malaysia.
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 or Internet cafes using Skype.
The only vaccination requirements For West Malaysia are yellow fever for infected areas. Cholera, smallpox and malaria have largely been eliminated. That said, if you're going jungle trekking in remote areas, then it makes sense to bring malaria pills.
Visitors to Malaysia who wish to drive need an international driving licence. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. Please note that it's advisable to observe the speed limits, 50km/h in the city or residential areas and 80km/h and 110km/h on the highway and expressway, respectively.
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Whale sharks migrating along
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Kitesurfer getting stoked
Pristine jungle waiting to be explored