When planning a trip to the stunning destination of Malaysia, there are several vital preparations you must make to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. By taking care of these essential details beforehand, you can embark on your adventure with peace of mind, free from worries or complications. There’s no greater feeling than traveling to Malaysia fully prepared. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to what you should arrange before setting off on your Malaysian expedition.
Securing travel documents
Your journey begins with the proper handling of travel documents, which is crucial for seamless entry into Malaysia. Fortunately, Malaysia doesn’t require a visa for many nationalities, but it’s wise to verify visa requirements for all your intended destinations before departure. If necessary, you can apply for a visa well in advance. For instance, obtaining a Visa China is a straightforward process, as China mandates a visa for entry. However, for Malaysia, having a valid passport is essential before your departure, and your passport must remain valid for at least six months after your planned return date. Failure to meet this requirement could result in being denied entry into the country, forcing you to cancel your trip. Therefore, ensure that your travel documents are in order, allowing you to board your flight to Malaysia confidently. If you made sure you’re travel documents are all set, then you can enjoy a great trip to Malaysia.
Plan your ideal route through Malaysia
Planning a perfect and balanced route is something you ideally prepare beforehand. The ideal route depends on your interests, the duration of your stay, and the places you want to visit. Malaysia offers a diverse range of attractions, from bustling cities to pristine natural landscapes, so it’s essential to create an itinerary that suits your preferences. You could start off by making a list of all destinations and attractions you don’t want to miss during your trip. After this you determine which of these destinations are within reach for the duration of your vacation, the others can be considered next time.
Once the main stops are decided, a rough route will become visible. Make sure to look into the available travel options at this stage as well. Then you start with creating a rough day-by-day itinerary, allocating time for each destination. I like planning my trips, so in some cases I even try to find out what restaurants I should consider for lunch and dinner. I pretty much write down everything up front. Always be realistic about travel times. Malaysia is a large country, and travel between regions can take several hours. Of course, some people are fine with spending one full day in Kuala Lumpur, but we on the other hand often rather stay longer to make the most out of our visit. This means we usually stay at least 3 days at each destination and in many cases even longer.
Vaccinations for entry
Another critical consideration is identifying the necessary vaccinations for entering Malaysia. Given its unique environment and climate, different vaccinations are required to ensure a safe and smooth entry. Key vaccinations to prioritize include Hepatitis A, DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis), Malaria, and Bilharzia. Once you’ve received these vaccinations and can provide proof, you can enter Malaysia without any issues. These vaccinations are not only a requirement but also essential for your personal well-being, protecting you from potential health risks during your stay. By getting vaccinated, you can travel without worry, knowing you’re adequately protected and less likely to fall ill during your trip.
Packing your suitcase appropriately is another crucial aspect of preparing for your trip. While Malaysia generally allows freedom in clothing choices on its streets, it’s essential to dress modestly when visiting mosques. This entails covering your arms and legs, with women traditionally covering their hair as well. This respectful attire is an important way to honor the local culture. For the rest of your stay, Malaysia’s warm climate means you can pack your summer clothing. However, remember to check the time of year you’re traveling, as you might encounter the rainy season. In such cases, it’s advisable to include rain protection in your packing list.
Furthermore, since temperatures can be very low within shopping malls, restaurants and other indoor venues, make sure to pack a sweater or fleece. This also applies to buses and domestic flights.
Prepare the ultimate travel kit
Of course, Malaysia is well developed and pretty much everything can be bought on the spot. However, it is sometimes quite the hassle to find the right products, so we usually buy all our stuff beforehand.
Our ultimate travel kit consists of sunscreen, sunglasses, swim trunks/bathing suits, mosquito repellant (DEET), credit card and (backup debit card), torch, power bank, adapters, doctor’s note for prescription medicine, lenses and liquid solution, PADI card, yellow vaccination booklet, spare glasses, sleeping mask, sleep plugs, a first aid kit with stuff like pain relief medicine and antacid medicine to cope with the spicy food, ORS and much more.
Handling currency matters
Unlike Europe and America, where euros and dollars are the dominant currencies, Malaysia operates with the Malaysian Ringgit. Accessing money is easy in Malaysia, as you can withdraw cash from ATMs using your debit or credit card. Nevertheless, it’s wise to carry some local currency for convenience. This will enable you to make payments at restaurants, enjoy exciting activities, or purchase souvenirs for your loved ones back home without any hassle. Be sure to get your finances in order before embarking on your journey to Malaysia.
Book beforehand for best deals
Many travelers travel through Malaysia by rental car. Costs are usually cheapest if you book well in advance, preferably for one full week’s rental or a full month for the best prices available. Not keen on driving yourself? Consider taking the bus for long distance travel (pretty much all destinations are connected by a vast bus network) or a domestic flight. Or take a Grab for short distances (Grab is the local taxi app).
Even accommodation is cheaper when booked up front, especially if you manage to score a nice package deal. Booking sites often have the best prices if you book up to 3 months in advance, depending on the time of the year.
Flight tickets usually are also more affordable when booked about 6 months in advance, or during special fares. Consider a stop over for an even better fare.
Entrance fees are usually quite high at the gate, so do check out sites like Klook.com or GetYourGuide for great deals. For example, a visit to the popular Menara KL (for stunning views over Kuala Lumpur) is much cheaper when booked beforehand.
Get a local Sim Card upon arrival
Once you arrive at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), make sure to buy a local sim card straight away. Usually, you pay for a sim card with data bundle, which allows for immediate connection to the internet. Popular providers are Digi, Maxis, Hotlink, Celcom, U mobile and Tune Talk. Once you walk through immigration and reach the main arrival hall, there are several mobile operators with their own shop where you can buy a prepaid card. During your travels, you can easily top up your sim card at one of many mobile shops in each shopping mall.
Install the most common travel apps
Most important is Grab, the taxi ride app in Malaysia. With this app you can travel everywhere. Install it beforehand so you can set up your account. Do know you’ll need a credit card for the app to work.
Another app is Maps.me, so you’ll have an offline map should you venture into areas with no coverage (for example the thick jungles of Malaysia).
The Touch ‘n Go e-wallet app is quite handy when driving a rental car in Malaysia. Most highways are toll based and with the e-wallet you can easily pay at each toll booth (and also take the quickest lane).
The Klook app is great for last minute tickets. Within the app you can easily buy entrance tickets and save them within the app as well.
GeoSure is a comprehensive safety app that provides location-specific information and safety ratings for neighborhoods worldwide.
Waze is the most used car navigation app. Since almost everyone uses it, you’ll get the quickest updates on the current traffic situation. Since I always use Google Maps in my own country, I usually stick with that.
Foodpanda is the most popular food delivery app. They even deliver to hotels. Many well-known restaurant chains are working with Foodpanda but it’s the lesser-known gems that make this the go to app to use. We had such delicious food delivered during our years in Malaysia.
Things that you leave at home
There’s no need to bring along expensive jewelry, especially the stuff that would otherwise be clearly visible. Same goes for expensive watches. Obviously, you would bring your phone, but make sure to keep it close because snatch grabbing is quite common in the more crowded areas (usually in the bigger cities).
Leave drugs at home. There’s a zero-tolerance policy against bringing (and using) drugs in Malaysia. Prescription drugs can be taken along, but make sure to get a doctor’s note. E-cigarettes (Vape products) are also prohibited in Malaysia, so don’t bring it along.
Big bundles of cash can also be left at home. Sure, a few hundred euros could come handy, but in most cases, you’ll have plenty of ATMs nearby.
In summary, these preparations are fundamental before embarking on your Malaysian adventure. By taking care of your travel necessities, you’ll pave the way for a smooth and memorable trip to this beautiful country. Thoughtful planning and meticulous preparations will allow you to make the most of your Malaysian journey, ensuring you return home with unforgettable memories of your time in this enchanting destination. So, enjoy Malaysia as much as you can!