Malaysia Country Guide



Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country and you should dress respectfully, particularly in the rural areas such as wearing trousers or a long skirt (not shorts) and covering your shoulders is recommended but not essential. In more metropolitan areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, and Ipoh, as well as East Malaysian states (Sabah and Sarawak) with a significant non-Muslim population, attitudes are more liberal.

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At a Malay village

At a Malay village

As a tourist, it is best not to criticize the government or the Malay royal families. You may hear Malaysians criticize their own government and political parties but you do not need to take sides. Just listen and feel free to talk about your feelings about your own government and politics in your country.

When entering a home or a place of worship, always take off your shoes. Also, never eat with your left hand or give a gift with your left hand. Never point with your forefinger (you may use a closed fist with the thumb instead), point with your feet or touch a person's head.

Showing Affection
Public showing of affection (such as kissing) in the larger cities is tolerated but might invite unnecessary attention from the public. In more rural areas it is definitely frowned upon and is to be avoided.

Outlandish fashion in Kuala Lumpur

Outlandish fashion in Kuala Lumpur

Same-sex relationships are taboo in Malaysia and such relationships are behind close doors. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and gay and lesbian travellers should avoid any outward signs of affection such as holding hands in public.

Swastikas are commonly seen in Hindu and Buddhist temples, and are regarded as a religious symbol by these communities. It emphatically does not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism, so Western visitors should not feel offended when seeing it in the temples and the homes their hosts.

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