Malaysia Travel Tips
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/23/2006 | Travel
For those looking for a different cultural experience, or even just a great holiday destination, then adding Malaysia to your travel list will not disappoint. A Malaysian holiday can be a relaxed resort style getaway on one of the islands such as Sabah or Langkawi, bargain shopping and sight-seeing in the capital Kuala Lumpur, or perhaps a combination of both to let you experience the diversity of this amazing country.
For first time travelers to Malaysia there are several tips that will make your holiday less stressful and infinitely more enjoyable, such as:
Check Health Warnings
Before leaving for Malaysia visit your family doctor to check health warnings for the area you intend to visit. If you intend to do any hiking or rainforest walks then you will need to start taking malaria tablets around a week before your departure. Your family doctor will be able to advise of any other precautions or medications that you need.
By far the easiest and cheapest way to get from the airport into the capital is via the KLIA Express (airport express train). The train is very modern with video screens showing points of interest and things to do in Malaysia while you enjoy a comfortable ride into Kuala Lumpur in around 35 minutes. Using a bus or taxi transfer will normally take around one hour by comparison and cost a little more. An added convenience when using the KLIA Express to connect with a departing flight is the facility to book your luggage onto your flight from the central train station in Kuala Lumpur (providing you do this at least 2.5 hours before your flight).
Always ask how much the fare will be to get to your destination before getting into the taxi. Taxi fares in Malaysia are for the most part quite reasonable however at times a naive traveler can be easy pickings, especially on a return trip from an outlying area so be sure to ask for the cost of the fare beforehand and if it seems too high then you can usually find another taxi to get a better deal. The exception to this however is during peak hours in Kuala Lumpur when you will pay more because of traffic delays. Your hotel concierge can advise you on what the busiest traffic times are likely to be. Planning your movements around the capital outside of these times will save you money if you're on a tight budget.
Don't drink the tap water
To reduce your chances of having your holiday ruined by tummy upsets it is wise not to consume the local tap water. During your stay keep these points in mind:
1) Clean your teeth and toothbrush with bottled water.
2) Remember to specify "No Ice" when ordering cocktails or mixer drinks. (Many of the more up-market resorts and hotels have ice that has been made using filtered or bottled water which is perfectly safe, however if you wish to be extra cautious then it is safer to forgo the ice).
Buy personal items from a supermarket
Make purchases of personal care items such as sunscreen, toothpaste or bottled water from a local supermarket instead of the resort or hotel where you are staying. Although the prices of these items may not seem too expensive you will normally find a supermarket or small convenience store somewhere close to the resort where these items are up to a third of the price that you will pay at the resort. Any money you save on these purchases can be used for souvenir shopping instead.
When you're staying in regional areas and choosing somewhere to eat keep in mind that you are no longer in a western country. Malaysia is a relatively poor country which is more evident in outlying areas than it is in the capital. While in your home country a restaurant in a run down looking building could indicate a possible health risk this is not the case in regional areas of Malaysia as many of the buildings are old because of the general poverty of the population. The best guide for choosing a restaurant is if the local people are happy eating there it is a good indication that the food is safe.
Keep valuables concealed
Always keep wallets, purses, mobile phones etc in your pockets or backpack to avoid the attention of pickpockets, especially in larger cities. Although not a major problem any large population has its share of thieving so it is best to keep your valuables secure. It is also wise to carry your backpack on the front of your body in certain areas such as the china town markets in Kuala Lumpur where it can be quite crowded giving pickpockets a chance to access valuables within the outer compartments of a backpack.
Malaysia is a great holiday destination with excellent shopping, friendly people, wonderful scenery, and delicious food and by following these simple tips you'll have such a memorable time you'll want to return again and again.