Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tips for travelers

When visiting any country, it is prudent to be aware of its native customs and traditions in order to avoid making a faux pas and embarrassing yourself. Malaysia is a vibrant, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country, home to diverse peoples who are friendly and welcoming of tourists. However, here are some tips to keep in mind if you are planning a trip to Malaysia anytime soon.
Visas and passports
Indian nationals require a visa to visit Malaysia. A social or business visa to Malaysia can be obtained at the nearest Malaysian mission. Aside from the appropriate visa, you also need to ensure that your passport has validity for more than six months at the time of entry into Malaysia. Before landing in Malaysia, you are required to fill in a disembarkation card (IMM.26), usually supplied onboard by airline staff. On arrival at Malaysian immigration, you are also required to produce a valid return ticket or a ticket for your onward journey before your visa is stamped for admission into Malaysia.
Recreational Drugs
Never bring any recreational drugs into Malaysia. Possession or even the trafficking of even a minute quantity of narcotics attracts the mandatory death sentence.
Medical care
Tourists can’t avail of public health services in Malaysia. Private medical clinics are however quite widespread though the costs are considerably more than what you pay in India. You should make sure you have appropriate travel health insurance before you embark your trip to Malaysia.
When greeting a Malaysian Muslim, you need to offer your right hand and then bring it towards you as if to lightly touch your heart. This is the traditional gesture of ‘Salam’. While greeting a Malaysian Hindu, a simple ‘Namaste’ or ‘Vankam’(Tamil) should suffice. If your counterpart is Malaysian Chinese, a handshake is quite appropriate. However, don’t offer to shake hands with a member of the opposite sex unless they offer to do so first. A nod or a smile is more acceptable. In a business setting, the exchange of business cards is the norm and you should briefly look at the card being offered before you put it away.
Public Holidays
As Malaysia is home to a multi-ethnic population, festivals are celebrated almost every month.  Public holidays are often declared to coincide with the celebration of festivals, if you need to plan a trip to Malaysia and are unsure of the country’s public holidays, you would do well to check with your local Tourism Malaysia office.  During the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan, Non-Muslims or tourists are exempt from fasting but you should respect the local populace and refrain from eating or drinking in public. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights is usually a public holiday in Malaysia.
It is generally safe to drink water from the tap in Malaysia though bottled water is readily available everywhere.
Electric Supply
Electric supply in Malaysia is 240 volts and 50 cycle system.
Malaysia’s climate is rather constant and unwavering year round. Average temperatures in Malaysia range between 21̊C and 32 ̊C and the country also experiences high levels of relative humidity. The country also experiences two distinct wet seasons, which extend from the months of November to February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and from months of April to May and October to November on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Since Malaysia is bestowed with a year round sunny climate, its best to dress appropriately for the weather in cool, comfortable clothes. Also it is advisable for ladies to dress modestly while entering a mosque or temple or any other place of worship. You should similarly remember to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship.
Tipping is not customary in Malaysia though hotel staffs and taxi drivers do tend to expect a small tip for their services. Most restaurants and hotels advertise their prices as RM++, indicating that sales tax and service charge will be included in the final bill amount.
Although Malaysia is an Islamic state, alcohol is widely available in most states of the country. However alcohol tends to be pricey all over in Malaysia, except in the duty free islands of Labuan, Langkawi and Tioman and the duty free shops of Johor Bahru.
Prices in Malaysia are still quite affordable. The country offers a gamut of shopping, dining and accommodation choices, as it tries to cater to all travel budgets. You can survive on modestly priced hawker center food and vacation in Malaysia, cheaply or then you can splurge on high-end lifestyle choices and enjoy the very best that Malaysia has to offer.
Malaysian etiquette
For its liberal outlook, Malaysia still remains an Islamic country, where public displays of affection are frowned upon. Same sex relationships are considered to be taboo in Malaysia and gay and lesbian travelers should avoid touching each other in public. You should also never eat or give with your left hand or point with your forefinger or touch a person’s head.
A shopaholic’s dream destination
Malaysia offers fantastic shopping options at reasonable prices. All the major global brands have a presence in Malaysia and the country also hosts three mega shopping carnivals every year. These shopping festivals include the Malaysia Grand Prix (MGP) Sale which is held during the months of March and April to coincide with the hosting of the F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, the Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival held during the summer holiday months of  June and July, and the Malaysia Year End sale. All these three sales feature huge discounts offered by numerous retailers all over the country.  So if you love shopping and enjoy bagging a bargain, you should plan your trip to Malaysia during these sales.

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