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  • infant orangutan, Sabah, Borneo
  • Tea plantation, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
  • Ferris wheel at night, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Canoes on the beach,Langkawi, Malaysia
  • Overwater bungalows, Pangkor Laut, Malaysia
  • Adult Orangutan, Sabah, Borneo
  • Traditional trishaw, Penang, Malaysia
  • Probiscis Monkey, Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Borneo
  • Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia - Info & Facts

Suggested length of stay

Malaysia is broken in to two distinct parts, Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo (Sabah & Sarawak). For a good overview of the Peninsula including Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands you will need approximately a week. The highlights of Sarawak can be seen in five days and Sabah in seven days.

Of course for more detailed in depth tours you may want to stay much longer. You will notice that the above does not include any beach time, you could spend months just exploring the many beautiful beaches alone.

The style of the beaches and resorts differ greatly as does the weather in different seasons. Discuss your requirements with your consultant and we will be happy to recommend a suitable beach extension to your tour!

Kuala Lumpur 2 or 3 nights, Taman Negara 3 or 4 nights, Cameron Highlands 2 nights, Sabah 5 to 7 nights, Sarawak 4 or 5 nights

Modes of transport

Air
Malaysia has a safe and reliable internal air network making it simple, for example, to combine the wonders of the spectacular wildlife of Sabah with the perfect beaches of Langkawi or Penang.

Rail
The rail network in Peninsula Malaysia is not really developed for tourism apart from the main Singapore to Bangkok line which gives access to Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth (the gateway station to Penang). The main tourist train is the opulent Eastern and Oriental Express.

Road
The road network on Peninsula Malaysia is amongst the best developed in Southeast Asia making self drive a popular option, however for very little much more you can have a private driver/guide take the stress out of travelling and is our recommended option. Self drive in Borneo is not recommended.

Climate

In general the climate is tropical without extremely high temperatures and days are warm and nights relatively cool. Kuala Lumpur and the west coast are generally warm and sunny all year round with the chance of a short sharp heavy down pour at just about anytime. The east coast is best visited between May and October as is Borneo, although as Borneo is mainly covered by rain forest heavy down pours can be expected at anytime. However, it is difficult to generalise about the country's climate, as rainfall differs on the east and west coasts according to the prevailing monsoon winds (northeast or southwest). Average daytime temperatures in Kuala Lumpur are around 27°C (82°F) year round. Your travel consultant will discuss the climate of each of your Malaysian destinations with you when putting together your itinerary.

Geography

Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia and is both a peninsular and an island nation. The central part of the country is located on a long, thin peninsula, bordering Thailand; this part of the country contains the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and the main industrial and agricultural enterprises. At the tip of the country, across the straits, is the island city-state of Singapore. The second part of the country, often referred to as East Malaysia, is across the South China Sea on the island of Borneo, an island which Malaysia shares with Indonesia, and Brunei. East Malaysia comprises the areas known as Sabah and Sarawak, which form 60 percent of the total area of the country. Peninsular Malaysia is bordered in the North by Thailand and is separated from the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the east by the Strait of Malacca.

Food

Malaysia is well known for its amazing food and thoroughly deserves its tag as “the food Mecca of the East”. Malaysian food is not one particular type of food but rather a culinary diversity originating from its multi-ethnic population of Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Chinese and the Indigenous peoples of Borneo. Typical Malay dishes include satays - meat kebabs in spicy peanut sauce, fried soyabean curd in peanut sauce, sour tamarind fish curry, fiery curry prawns and spiced curried meat in coconut marinade. The variety of wonderful tropical fruits and fruit juices available is huge and strange sweet concoctions include cendol (sugar syrup, coconut milk and green noodles) and ais kacang - beans and jellies topped with shaved ice, syrups and condensed milk. Traditional Indian and Chinese food is also widely available. If the delights of eastern cookery are not for you Western dishes are served at most hotels and at selected restaurants in the tourist areas.

Drinking water

It is not advisable to drink the tap water in Malaysia. Bottled water is very widely available and very cheap.

A brief history

The earliest evidence of inhabitants on the Malay Peninsula that has been found is from about 10,000 years ago. Neolithic culture was well established by 2500-1500 BC. Most scholars believe the earliest settlers on the Malay Peninsula came overland from southern China in small groups over a period of thousands of years. During the 1000's B.C. new groups of migrants who spoke a language related to Malay came to Malaysia. The ancestors of these people had travelled by sea from south China to Taiwan, and later from Taiwan to Borneo and the Philippines. These people became the ancestors of the Malays and the Orang Laut.

Small Malayan kingdoms existed in the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, when adventurers from India arrived and initiated more than 1,000 years of Indian influence. About A.D. 1400, a group of Malay-speaking migrants came to the Malay Peninsula from Srivijaya, a trading kingdom on the island of Sumatra (now part of Indonesia). Led by a Sumatran prince these immigrants established a commercial kingdom called Malacca and secured Chinese protection for the city-state. Malacca went on to become one of the world’s most important trading ports.

At the height of its power, however, fate would ruin the city as quickly as it built it up. In 1511, the Portuguese seized the commercial kingdom of Malacca from the Malays but were unsuccessful in conquering other areas on the Malay Peninsula and thus began a colonial legacy that would last well into the 20th century. In 1641 Malacca fell to the Dutch, who ruled there for the following 150 years, giving them an economical strangle hold on the lucrative spice trade.

In 1786 the British acquired Penang Island and established a settlement called George Town there. Gradually, Britain acquired control over more of the area to protect its shipping lanes between China and India. In 1824 the Dutch signed a treaty which surrendered their possessions on the Malay Peninsula to the British. In 1826, the British formed a colony called the Straits Settlements that included Malacca and the islands of Penang and Singapore.

In 1881, North Borneo (as Sabah was then called) came under the control of a private trading company called the British North Borneo Company. The British declared North Borneo and Sarawak to be British protectorates in 1888. During the late 19th century Chinese began to migrate to Malaya. In 1896 the Malay states accepted British advisors and Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Pahang formed a federation. By 1914, Britain had either direct or indirect colonial control over all the lands that now make up Malaysia, which it called British Malaya.

To increase revenues from British Malaya, the British expanded tin mining in the late 1800's. They also introduced rubber trees from Brazil and established rubber plantations in the late 1800's and early 1900's. To provide labour for these enterprises, the British imported Chinese workers for the tin mines and Indian labourers for the rubber plantations. To help feed the rapidly expanding work force, the British encouraged the Malays to farm for a living.

After World War II ended in 1945, the British tried unsuccessfully to organize Malaya into one state and this led to the birth of Malayan nationalism, which opposed a colonial status. In 1946 the United Malaya National Organization (UMNO) was established. Britain dissolved the Straits Settlements in 1946. In 1948, the kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula, plus Malacca and the island of Penang, united to form the Federation of Malaya, a partially independent territory under British protection and Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak became separate crown colonies.

The British relinquished their powers, and in 1957 the Federation of Malaya had gained complete independence from Britain. Singapore, which had a mostly Chinese population, remained outside the federation as a British crown colony. Peninsular Malaysia became an independent nation called Malaya in 1957.

In 1961, the term "Malaysia" came into being after Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak were convinced to join Malaya in a federal union. In the 1960s membership in the federation shifted several times, finally settling into the present pattern in 1963, when Malaysia was established. The Malay majority hoped that including Sabah and Sarawak, which had ethnically diverse populations, would balance the large numbers of Chinese from Singapore. Economic and political disputes soon developed between the mostly Chinese state leaders of Singapore and the mostly Malay federal government of Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore withdrew from the federation peacefully and became independent.

Ethnic tensions eventually triggered racial violence. In 1969, bloody riots broke out after an election on Peninsular Malaysia. The government declared a state of emergency, suspending the Constitution and Parliament until 1971. It was a painful moment in the young nation's history that most Malaysians prefer to forget. Turbulence in the government went on into the early 1970s, when stability returned and the Malaysian economy began to prosper. Despite considerable regional and ethnic divisions, Malaysia has made significant gains in creating national unity. In the last two decades, Malaysia has undergone tremendous growth and prosperity.

Malaysia's economy went on to grow at a robust rate for the next two decades and this rapid economic growth brought prosperity to all racial groups in the country. Government leaders announced a new goal called "Vision 2020," which aimed to make Malaysia a fully developed nation with a high standard of living by 2020. The goal suffered a setback when the economic crisis spread throughout Southeast Asia in 1997 and by 1998, the growth of Malaysia's economy had slowed somewhat. Malaysia took measures to put its economy back on track which to this day have been relatively successful and Malaysia is currently enjoying a period of economic growth and is politically stable.

Visas

Nationals of most western countries, including Australia, do not require a visa to visit Malaysia. You will be granted entry for up to three months on arrival. Oasis accepts no responsibility regarding the issue of visas.

Money

The Malaysian currency is called the Ringgit. Credit cards are widely accepted and Travellers Cheques easily cashed in most banks. ATM’s are prevalent and many debit cards will work, however please check with your bank prior to departure if you are going to rely on ATM’s.

Health precautions

Please consult with your doctor at least 6 week before travel to Malaysia.

Health care in Malaysia is amongst the most advanced in Asia and in many cases the international hospitals in the major tourist areas are as good, if not better, than most you will find at home. Charges are usually settled in advance before any treatment, including for emergency care, so good medical insurance is essential.

Any essential medicines should be taken with you as they may not be available locally.

Australian High Commission, Malaysia

Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Kuala Lumpur

Telephone ++ 21 46 5555
Fax ++ 21 41 5773

e-mail Public-Affairs-KLPR@dfat.gov.au

Electricity

Electricity in Malaysia is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Malaysia with a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. As a norm they use a 3 prong plug the same as in the UK.

Getting there

Non-stop flight time Sydney – Kuala Lumpur approximately 8 hours.

Time difference GMT + 8 hours