I was completely nervous for no good reason about traveling to Malaysia. First off, the flight tragedies over the last years were unfortunate and terrifying. Right from the bat, I was afraid to fly there. Second, no one talks about Malaysia. All the talks about Thailand. So I assume, there’s a reason for this, Thailand must be a nicer travel destination. Third, there’s so much bad press about Muslims which is really unfair and wrong. But the rules about dress and public behaviour did worry me. What would happen if I accidentally kissed my boyfriend in public? Would I be fined for wearing short shorts? Yes, I really did have these thoughts.
I have to start with the fact that Malaysians are very kind people and are more similar to us in the West than the other countries in South East Asia. The country is religiously accepting and welcoming of people from all backgrounds and beliefs. Malaysia is one diverse country with many nationalities. I felt very comfortable in Malaysia and we ended up staying around for 1 and a half months! Can you believe I wanted to skip it?!
Here’s what you need to know about traveling in a Muslim country like Malaysia
1. In Malaysia, skip the PDA
You will see signs on trains and elsewhere that clearly state no kissing (or incur a fine). From what I could understand, the young Muslim men and women are innocent and the country likes to keep everyone comfortable without providing these distractions. A peck on the cheek is totally fine! Just no French Kissing and that’s totally fair.
2. No Public Indecency
Yes, no indecent behaviour. Don’t do anything excessively rude and you’ll be fine. Even walking around with a beer is fine.
3. Modesty (especially with the way you dress)
For women: You can wear short shorts and skimpy clothes but it is polite to wear long skirts. A long skirt can be very cute and you’ll feel comfortable. Many travelers opt for the Thai style genie pants. I liked wearing long dresses in Malaysia. I’m so used to wearing short shorts, it gave me a good excuse to change my style.
4. Ladies ONLY Train Cars
There are ladies only train cars in Kuala Lumpur. You are advised to not sit in them. Just respect the culture.
5. Acceptance and Respect
Being open-minded and respectful is what it all boils down to.
Why we love Malaysia
Malaysia surprised me. It was really a wonderful time and out of our 6 month South East Asia trip, Malaysia is my favourite. We spent the majority of our time volunteering so we really got to know an interesting group of people doing what we love. We ventured over to Sarawak, Borneo (a state of Malaysia) and it was far beyond amazing. Borneo was a dream come true with massive limestone caves, unique wildlife, ancient rainforests, and the kindest people. Malaysian food hands down the best in South East Asia. Malaysia is just so diverse that you can really enjoy any type of food but we mainly stuck with Malaysian and Indian cuisine. Malaysia has everything from National Parks, cities, old historic towns, beautiful islands, wildlife, and lack of shoulder to shoulder tourists (like in Thailand). Malaysia should be on everyone’s list of top travel destinations!
P.S. Do you even tourist?