Quick Glance At Malaysia
( My Home Country!! )
Travel Cost : ★★★☆☆
31 million. While there are tons of ethnic groups in Malaysia, the three main ethnic groups are Malay, Chinese and Indian. Malays make up half the population in Malaysia, with Chinese occupying 22% and Indian 6.5%. Variety of religions are practiced in Malaysia by different ethnic groups, with Islam being the majority and national religion.
Malay is the national language in Malaysia. English is widely understood by Malaysians but not always well-spoken. Youngsters usually have no problem understanding English, just don't speak too fast.
Malaysian Ringgit. 1 US Dollar is approximately 4 Malaysian Ringgit.
Type G socket. Standard voltage in Malaysia is 240V, standard frequency is 50Hz.
In Kuala Lumpur, the public transport system is reliable but will be crowded during the peak hours. Railway systems in Kuala Lumpur is not difficult to navigate, as your destinations are shown at the railway map in every station. Outside of Kuala Lumpur, the public transport system is a mess. Don't rely on it, the schedules are never obeyed.
For intra-city transport, use Grab mobile app to get yourself a ride or take a taxi, if you want to save time. In cities like Penang and Johor Bahru, the transport system is "better" compared to other smaller cities, if you're willing to spend some time and patience.
The thing I noticed about hotels in Malaysia is that, the professionalism of hotel receptionists are poor. Which is why you rarely see hotel ratings of 4.0 stars and above in Google Maps. It's not difficult to find cheap beds in Malaysia as long as you use online booking platform instead of booking directly. $8 can get you a decent dorm bed in Kuala Lumpur.
The great thing about having so many ethnic groups and religions in a nation is that many festivals are celebrated annually. Here are the rundowns of major festivals celebrated by Malaysians. Mark your calendar! 1 January - New Year's Day (Not celebrated widely by every states. I had my university final exams on 1st January last year in Johor.)
January or February - Thaipusam. Biggest festival for Hindus after Deepavali. Day of thanksgiving and paying penance for Lord Murugan. Be in Penang to catch a glimpse of the traditional parade. Thaipusam Parade in Penang is considered the largest-scale in the nation and attracted thousands of visitors every year.
January or February - Chinese New Year. Biggest festival for Chinese in Malaysia nationwide. Fireworks lighting up the sky almost every day from Day 1 to Day 15 in Chinese Calendar.
May - Wesak Day. Sometimes referred to Buddha's Birthday, celebrated by Buddhists worldwide. Thought a lot of nations celebrate the day at different date, Wesak Day in Malaysia tends to fall in May. Watch the parade in Penang or Kuala Lumpur if you're interested in cultural parades involving thousands of devotees.
June (varies every few years)- Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Muslims from every corner of the world celebrate this big day, marking the end of the Ramadan holy month of fasting. During the holy month, Muslims have to fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food, drinks and sexual relations. Since Malaysia is a Muslim country, this festival is celebrated nationwide, probably the largest one in Malaysia. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is considered a merry celebration as it marks a person's triumph and success on discipline and self-resistance.
August (varies every few years) - Hari Raya Haji. In tradition, Muslims who are financially and physically affordable are required to visit holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia at least once in their lifetime for the haj pilgrimage. Title of "haji" will be given to men and "hajjah" to women. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated to mark the end of the pilgrimage.
31 August - National Day of Malaysia. Malaysia obtained independence in 31 August 1957. Since then, Hari Merdeka is celebrated every year to mark the majestic event. In the morning, National Day Parade will kick off at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. The parade will be showed live in several television channels, marking how important the day is to Malaysia.
September - Mid Autumn Festival, one of the largest festivals in China, celebrated by most of Chinese in Malaysia as well. During that day, the full moon is said to be the largest and brightest compared to other months. The celebration is accompanied by moon cakes, lanterns and gathering of family members.
November (varies every few years) - Deepavali, one of the most important festivals of the years for Hindus. This festival is celebrated by performing traditional customs at home. Like other major festivals, family members will go back to their hometown for a grand gathering.
25 December - Christmas Day. Although Christianity is a minor religion in Malaysia, Christmas is celebrated merrily all over the major cities, like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru. All shopping malls will be well-decorated based on Christmas theme to welcome the day. (And the decorations are sometimes not removed for months in smaller rural shopping malls)
Food in Malaysia
Malaysia is called the food paradise by many, often featured in food magazines and shows. You might not want to consider Malaysia if you're on a tight diet routine, as food in Malaysia is generally not healthy, at all. All those MSG, oil, salts and sugar, hmm. But if you're hyped to taste few of the best food in the world, here's a list for you to tackle on.
Char Koay Teow - Ricecake strips stir-fried with egg, soy sauce, bean sprouts, cockles, and eggs. The art of stir-frying this dish is hard to master, therefore it's not easy to locate hawkers selling delicious ones. Picking a random stall might have you ended up with disappointment. Might.
Penang Laksa - It hardly made it on travelers' list but once it did, it will be at top. Penang Laksa is made up of white rice noodle mixed with shredded fish soup and several greens. The distinctive heavy flavor of this dish might be a little too much for some but people like me loves heavy flavor. Yep, typical Penang boy.
Roti Canai - This traditional Indian food is somehow different from those in India. It's been tweaked and twisted over generations to suit the local flavors. In Malaysia, roti canai is comparatively more oily. A lot more oily. But it tastes great so never mind. A plate of curry will be served together with roti canai for dipping before throwing it into your mouth.
Nasi Lemak - National dish of Malaysia. It's the most heavily-promoted dish by Malaysia and can be found in every corner of Peninsula Malaysia. The nasi, which refers to rice, is cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it the seducing fragrant. There are basically two version of nasi lemak, a local, cheap one and a restaurant version one. The former one can be found as cheap as RM1 at roadside or small stalls, served with egg, ikan bilis or fried fish with curry. Don't expect to find it so cheap in Kuala Lumpur, it's the capital after all. In restaurants, you will have a nice piece of fried chicken, fried peanuts, curry and greens accompanying your "nasi" in most occasions. Nasi lemak was listed as one of the 10 most healthy international breakfasts by TIME Magazine, which I still don't understand how and why.
Things to Do
Kuala Lumpur - Pay a visit to Batu Caves for the golden giant Lord Murugan Statue. Show off your bargaining skills in Petaling Street Night Market. Take a photo with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in KLCC at night.
Penang - The food. All the food. Then, visit the UNESCO Heritage Site in Georgetown, which will occupies half of your day exploring around. Go sunbathing in the sandy beach of Batu Feringghi. Inject some adrenaline dose and happiness into yourself in Escape Theme Park. Spend some time with the butterflies and insects in Entopia on the way back. Take the train to the peak of Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) and enjoy the city view like a boss.
Pulau Redang - One of the largest island in the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Crystal clear water and white sandy beach, it's not to be missed by lovely beach goers. Go snorkeling and swim with the turtles. Pay a visit to the Marine Park.
Sabah - Climb Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia. Interact with the Orang Utans in Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Go snorkeling at the beach and explore the coral reefs.
Tasik Biru Kangkar Pulai is yet another viral attraction in Johor, Malaysia. If you’re living nearby or you’re a UTM student, here’s how you can visit it! Note that this post is a guideline instead of an absolute spoonfeeding guide. 3 routes are provided, you gotta decide what’s for you.
Need a DIY guide for getting from Kuala Lumpur to Penang? Look no further, these 5 options are easy to follow and packed full of details. Follow these ways and travel like a local Malaysian!
Planning a trip and not sure where to stay in Penang? I got you covered! Find out the best places to stay in Penang from a Penangite here, and why you should stay in either of them.
Pantai Kerachut in Penang National Park is my top recommendation in Penang for my foreign friends visiting Penang Island! Learn more about this amazing beach here!