A Foreigner’s Guide to to Malaysia

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Malaysia is made up of 2 parts namely Peninsular and East Malaysia comprises of 13 states and 3 Federal Territories. Each of these states and territories have their own set of cultural differences and unique characteristics but collectively, they speak the same language, use the same currency and very much have the same common understanding although they come from different ethnic backgrounds and religions.

Peninsular Malaysia – Peninsular Malaysia is made up of a collection of states like Perlis, Perak, Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Johor. There are 2 Federal Territories here which are Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. All the states and territories here are connected by air and land while Penang is connected via a bridge and ferry services.

Meanwhile, Peninsular Malaysia is connected with Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south. Over in the east is Sumatra island which is part of Indonesia.

East Malaysia – As the name implies, this is the eastern part of the country which is made up of Sabah and Sarawak together with the Federal Territory of Labuan. In between Sabah and Sarawak is the country of Brunei while Kalimantan, a region belonging to Indonesia covers the largest land area of the east.

In between the 2 lands is the South China Sea. The Malacca Straits divide Peninsular Malaysia with Sumatra island while Sulu Sea is on the eastern most side of Sabah.

Climate – The entire country experiences tropical weather all year round. Malaysia is considered to be one of the safest places in the region as it is protected against hurricanes and floods due to its strategic location. It is hot and humid all through the year with the rainy season coming in during the year end.

Time – Although Peninsular and East Malaysia reside on different lands, they practice the same time zone which is UTC +08:00.

Nature – Malaysia has one of the most complete natural resources in the world. It has islands like Manukan, Langkawi, Perhentian and Pangkor. Highlands like Gunung Kinabalu and Gunung Tahan are popular mountain-climbing spots while Malaysia is home to some of the oldest rainforests in the world like the Taman Negara National Park. Besides that, Malaysia’s coral reef is among the most well-known in the world in places like Sipadan and you could visit the largest caves in Mulu, Sarawak.

Culture – If you like traditions and culture, Malaysia has a lot to offer where there is a healthy blend of Malays, Chinese and Indians as well as at least 40 indigenous people mostly in Sabah and Sarawak. As such, there will constantly be events, festivals and cultural activities taking place around Malaysia throughout the year. This will give you a lot of opportunities to savour different types of food and cuisines as well.

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