Malaysians like both coffee (kopi) and tea (teh), especially the national drink teh tarik ("pulled tea"), named after the theatrical 'pulling' motion used to pour it. By default, both will be served hot, sweet and with a dose of condensed milk; request teh o to skip the milk, teh ais for iced milky tea, or teh o ais for iced milkless tea. Drinking with no sugar at all is considered odd, but asking for kurang manis (less sugar) will ease the pain.
Another peculiar local favourite is the kopi tongkat ali ginseng, a mixture of coffee, a local aphrodisiacal root, and ginseng served with condensed milk that's touted as an alternative to viagra and red bull combined and is usually advertised with a picture of a bed broken in half.
Other popular nonalcoholic options include the chocolate drink Milo and lime juice (limau). Freshly made fruit juices are also widely available, as well as a wide range of canned drinks (some familiar, some less so).
Topically and perhaps, rather un-PC, is a local drink comprised of white soya milk and black grass jelly (cincau) called a Michael Jackson and can be ordered at most hawker centre and local roadside cafes ("mamak")
Although Malaysia is a self-proclaimed Islamic country, alcohol is widely available on licensed outlet, however some states (notably Kelantan and Terengganu) ban alcohol. With the exception of tax-free islands (Labuan, Langkawi, Tioman) and duty free shops (for example in Johor Bahru), prices are comparatively high, with a can of beer costing RM7.50 or more even in supermarkets or 7 elevens. However, in East Malaysia, smuggled liquors are widely available.
In East Malaysia, particularly Sarawak, tuak is a common affair for any celebration or festivals such as Gawai Dayak and Christmas Day. Tuak is made from fermented rice which sometimes sugar, honey or other various condiments are added. It is normally served lukewarm without ice. Visitors can choose from 'strong' flavour of tuak (which is normally being fermented for years), or 'mild' flavour (which sometimes just being prepared a week or even a day before). Tuak in Kelantan is also can be considered as a liquor since that it contains trace amount of fermented nipah or sap juice. The alcohol content in Kelantan tuak can easily reach 50% after 3 days from the time it was extracted.
The crossroads of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, Malaysia is an excellent place to makan (eat in Malay). Look out for regional specialities and Nyonya (Peranakan) cuisine, the fusion between Malay and Chinese cooking.
Malaysians are very proud of their cooking and most towns or even villages have their own delicious specialities such as Sarawak laksa, Kajang satay, Ipoh chicken rice, Kelantanese nasi minyak and many, many more. Most of them rely on word of mouth for advertising and are frequently located in the most inconvenient, out-of-the-way places so you might want to try asking the locals for their personal recommendations.
Generally, you can eat pretty much anywhere in Malaysia. Food outlets are comparatively clean - the only thing you should avoid is ice for your drinks, when you frequent the street or hawker stalls since the blocks of ice used there might not be up to your hygienic standards. In actual restaurants this is not a problem. Also you might want to avoid ordering water from hawker stalls or the mamak restaurants as they are usually unboiled tap water.
Eating habits run the gamut, but most foods are eaten by fork and spoon: push and cut with the fork in the left hand, and eat with the spoon in the right. Noodles and Chinese dishes typically come with chopsticks, while Malay and Indian food can be eaten by hand, but nobody will blink an eye if you ask for a fork and spoon instead. If eating by hand, always use your right hand to pick your food as Malays and Indians traditionally use their left hand for dirty things like washing up after using the restroom. If eating in a group, serving dishes are always shared, but you'll get your own bowl of rice and soup.
Malaysia is a country in South-East Asia, located partly
on a peninsula of the Asian mainland and partly on the northern
third of the island of Borneo. West (peninsular) Malaysia shares
a border with Thailand, is connected by a causeway and a bridge
(the 'second link') to the island state of Singapore, and has
coastlines on the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.
East Malaysia (Borneo) shares borders with Brunei and Indonesia.
Peninsular Malaysia (Malay: Semenanjung Malaysia) occupies most
of the Malayan Peninsula between Thailand and Singapore, and
is also known as West Malaysia (Malaysia Barat) or the slightly
archaic Malaya (Tanah Melayu). It is home to the bulk of Malaysia's
population, its capital and largest city Kuala Lumpur, and is
generally more economically developed.
West Coast - the more developed side of Peninsular Malaysia,
with the states of Kedah, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Penang,
Perak, Perlis and Selangor, and Malaysia's capital city Kuala
Lumpur and the new administrative centre of Putrajaya, all located
within this region.
East Coast - more traditional and Muslim, the islands here are
glittering tropical jewels. Made up of the states of Kelantan,
Pahang and Terengganu.
South - comprising just one state, Johor, two coastlines, and
endless palm oil plantations.
Some 800 kilometres to the east is East Malaysia (Malaysia Timur),
which occupies the northern third of the island of Borneo, shared
with Indonesia and tiny Brunei. Partly covered in impenetrable
jungle where headhunters roam (on GSM networks if nothing else),
East Malaysia is rich in natural resources but very much Malaysia's
hinterland for industry and tourism.
Sabah - superb scuba diving in Sipadan , nature reserves and
the mighty Mount Kinabalu
Sarawak - jungles, national parks, and traditional longhouses
- Kuala Lumpur - the capital
- George Town - the cultural and cuisine capital of Penang
- Ipoh - capital of Perak, famous for its Chinese food, tin mines and limestone mountains and caves
- Johor Bahru - capital of Johor, and gateway to Singapore
- Kota Kinabalu - capital of Sabah, and the largest city in East Malaysia
- Kuching - capital of Sarawak
- Malacca - the historical city of Malaysia
- Miri - the resort city of Sarawak and gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site Gunung Mulu National Park
- Putrajaya - the administrative centre of Malaysia, known for its lavish buildings, bridges and man-made lakes
Some of the most stunningly beautiful things about Malaysia are its tropical islands. And there's more to them than sun, sand and surf: particularly on the East Coast and Borneo's Sipadan there are coral reefs and hence excellent diving .
- Labuan - offshore finance centre off the coast of East Malaysia, Borneo
- Langkawi - newly developed West Coast island home to some of Malaysia's most opulent resorts and the Pulau Paya Marine Park
- Pangkor - fishing community and less well-known tourist destination off the west coast
- Penang - former British colony known as the "Pearl of the Orient", and bustling island city with excellent cuisine
- Perhentian Islands - glittering jewels off the East Coast still undiscovered by mass tourism
- Redang Island - popular destination for scuba divers
- Sipadan Island - remote scuba diving paradise at the easternmost tip of Malaysia
- Tenggol Island
- Tioman Island - once nominated one of the most beautiful islands in the world
- Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
- Mabul Island
There are various beautiful national parks in Malaysia. There are many different types of expeditions available, ranging from those where you hardly lose sight of the hotel to those were you are fully immersed in the jungle with only the guide and yourself if you are willing to pay the money! Tours vary from about 4 days to 2 weeks or more. It is very unlikely in most of the national parks for you to see a tiger or an elephant, this is only really likely if you are going to be staying for longer than a few days, i.e., for a couple of weeks at least. One of the most common forms of wildlife that you will encounter in the jungle however are definitely leeches! In the rainforest it is very very humid but actually it is not incredibly hot. This is because of the large amount of shade afforded by the canopy created by the interlocking trees. Shop around for deals of getting into the jungle and make your decision based on what type of person you are. If you are going to enjoy a lot of hiking without seeing any other people for days or even weeks then you can have that choice, alternatively you can have a much more 'packaged' tour in which you will probably stay in a very built up tourist town which has probably just grown out of the demand for people wanting to stay in the jungle.
- Bako National Park, Sarawak - famed for its wildlife, especially bearded pigs and proboscis monkeys
- Batang Ai National Park, Sarawak - the Iban heartland
- Endau Rompin National Park, Johor
- Gunung Gading National Park, Sarawak - home of the parasitic flower Rafflesia
- Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak - fantastic limestones caves and karst formations
- Kinabalu National Park, Sabah - home of 4095 metre peak Gunung Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Borneo.
- Kubah National Park, Sarawak - home of the orang-utan and many other species of wildlife
- Taman Negara National Park - the self-proclaimed World's Oldest Rainforest, spanning Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu
Malaysia is a mix of the modern world and a developing nation. With its investment in the high technology industries and moderate oil wealth, it has become a rich nation in South-East Asia. Malaysia, for most visitors, presents a happy mix: there is high-tech infrastructure and things generally work well and more or less on schedule, but prices remain reasonable and daily life far more vibrant than, say, sanitized Singapore.
Malaya was formed in the year 1957 and became independent from British Colonialisation. The Union Jack was lowered and the first Malaysian flag was raised in the Merdeka (independence) square on midnight 31st August, 1957. Six years later, Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a merging of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah (known then as North Borneo) and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. The first several years of the country's history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippines' claims to Sabah, and Singapore's expulsion in 1965.
Today's Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, nominally headed by the Paramount Ruler (Yang di-Pertuan Agong), who is elected for a five-year term from among the nine sultans of the Malay states. The current king, from Terengganu, was sworn in on 13 Dec 2006. In practice, however, power is held by the Prime Minister, who is the leader of elected government. The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party and its National Alliance (Barisan Nasional) coalition have ruled Malaysia uninterrupted since its independence, and while periodic elections are contested by feisty opposition parties, the balance has so far always been shifted in the government's favor by press control and use of restrictive security legislation dating from the colonial era.
The climate in Malaysia is tropical. The north-east monsoon (October to February) deluges Borneo and the east coast in rain and often causes flooding, while the west coast (particularly Langkawi and Penang) escape unscathed. The milder south-west monsoon (April to October) reverses the pattern. The southern parts of peninsular Malaysia, including perennially soggy Kuala Lumpur, are exposed to both but even during the rainy season, the showers tend to be intense but brief.
The terrain consists of coastal plains rising to hills and mountains.
Malaysia is a multicultural society. While Malays and other indigenous minorities make up a 69% majority, there are also 21% Chinese (especially visible in the cities), 8% Indian and a miscellaneous grouping of 10% "others", such as the Portugese clan in Melaka. There is hence also a profusion of faiths and religions, with Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism and even shamanism on the map.
Most notably in Malaysia, unlike in other countries, the Chinese community is not assimilated and has managed to maintain a distinct cultural identity from the rest of the population. Many traditional Chinese customs, including some no longer practised in China itself due to the cultural revolution, are widely practised by the Malaysian Chinese