An ex-British colony, Malaysia, located in Southeast Asia, is made up of three federal territories and is divided into two regions: Malaysian Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia, which are separated by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand. The country has put itself on the map in terms of economic growth, which became objectively discernable with the building of the Petronas Towers in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The towers are so architecturally (as well as culturally) significant that the National Geographic Channel featured a special on its building process. Coupled with its architectural splendor, beaches and plush landscapes, its peaceful political environment makes Malaysia one of Asia´s most popular tourist destinations.
Medical Tourism Fame
Malaysia is a popular destination for medical tourists because of its low cost, efficient staff and medical facilities that are on par with western standards. Some hospitals even offer luxurious accommodations with personal butlers and full-time nurses. Popular medical procedures include eye surgeries, orthopedics, cosmetic, urology, neurology, rheumatology, endocrinology, obstetrics & gynecology, oncology, and cardiology.
The Joint Commission International has accredited three hospitals in Malaysia, two are in Kuala Lumpur and one is located in Jalan Burma (Pulau Pinang) located on the west coast of Malaysia, 230 miles (370 km) north of Kuala Lumpur.
The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia but many people speak English and Chinese dialects.
Malaysia is near the equator so its climate is tropical minus the extremely high temperatures. During the daytime it is usually warm and humid while the nights are cool. The temperature is fairly stable year round with an average daily temperature in Kuala Lumpur at 82oF (27oC).
It is advised that one should bring rain gear.
Visa / Entrance Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid passport (good for at least 6 months from the date of entry) and return ticket, but no visa is required if staying for less than 90 days.
Airlines Servicing this Destination
Malaysia has two international airports:
- Kuala Lumpur: KUL
- Pulau Penang: PEN
- Singapore (airport code: SIN) is also a convenient arrival/departure point because it has more international connections and is only a short trip to the Malaysian border. There are also buses and trains that connect Singapore to Kuala Lumpur which is a distance of 280 miles (450 km).
The following airlines have flights to Malaysia:
- Air Asia
- Air India
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- China Airlines
- Garuda indonesia Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Royal Brunei Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways International
- Vietnam Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Budget travelers will enjoy Malaysia for its inexpensive dwelling options. A private room in a hostel or a guesthouse cost $5-15 USD per person per room with the majority being less than $10. Three star hotels range from $30 to $75 USD while 5 star hotels (& spas) range from $91 to $524 per night. Other luxury options include beach villas and resorts that range from $80 to $187 per day.
The currency of Malaysia is the Ringgits (MYR)
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Malaysian ringgits is $1 USD to 3.53 MYR (exchange rate subject to change).
The international access code for Malaysia is 60.
In order to call Malaysia from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code) then 60 (country code for Malaysia), then the area code (1-2 digits), then the phone number (6-8 digits).
To call the U.S. from Malaysia you must dial 00 + 1 + area code + phone number
To call a cell phone in Malaysia from the U.S. and Canada you must dial 011 + 60 + 1 + the area code + the seven digit phone number.
The area code for Kuala Lumpur is 3.
The area code for Pulau Penang is 4.
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Larger hotels and most private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur: 60-3-2168-5000.
Malaysia is a diverse country with a 60% Muslim and 19% Buddhist population. The nationalities that make up the country are Malays, Chinese, and East Indians. A diversity in cultures generally translates to a diversity in cuisines and Malaysia is a gastronomists´ paradise specializing in traditional Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, French, Italian, and Japanese cuisine. If adventures in food consumption are not your thing, then Malaysia offers tranquil beaches that stretch for miles, national parks, and other ecotourism sites. The Travel Channel even featured Datai Beach on its best beaches in the world list. For the architectural connoisseur, Malaysia offers an array of Buddhist temples, Islamic mosque, colonial edifices and modern structures including what many have hailed as an architectural masterpiece: the Petronas Towers. A trip to Kuala Lumpur´s Chinatown and Little India are also a must.
Malaysia offers a varied shopping experience from shopping for quirky trinkets and handicrafts at the Central Market to beautifully woven silk fabrics at the Sutera Asli. The Wau Tradisi features kites and the House of Silver specializes in, of course, anything made of silver from jewelry and antiques to tea sets. One can find saree shops, Indian jewelry, and Indian food in Little India, while carpets can be purchased at Udani Carpets and Shalini Carpets. At the base of the Petronas twin towers is the Suria Shopping Complex for those looking for an upscale shopping experience.
Nightlife and the Arts
Like the food and culture in Malaysia, the nightlife is also diverse. What Pulau Penang lacks in scale it makes up for in variety. It offers a interestingly juxtaposed saloon style, East Indian bar, a venue featuring Chinese artists, and a disco featuring techno and drum -N- bass music. Kuala Lumpur offers not only a variety of entertainment venues but also a high number of them. Jazz clubs, reggae venues, trendy clubs, a Hard Rock Cafe, bars, pubs (including British and Irish), karaoke bars, clubs that cater to an older crowd, and many, many more.
For those seeking a more cultured experience, a trip to the Dewan Filharmonik located inside the Petronas Towers, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center, the Sutra Dance Theater (featuring classical Indian dance), and the Istana Budaya national theater are a must.
There are multiple English language newspapers in Malaysia including:
The Sun: daily paper
New Sabah times: local paper in Sabah
Malaysian Today: tabloid
Star Online Malaysia: has two regional editions