Lifestyle in Malaysia
Updated 2022-05-19 15:21

Malaysia is such a melting pot of geographical, cultural and social diversity that there is something for every lifestyle. Its islands, beaches, rainforests, and metropolises make it an exciting destination for tourists and expats alike. It is quite easy and affordable to travel within Malaysia during weekends and holidays to experience other parts of the country and even neighboring nations.

With the different cultures along with the culinary, religious and architectural diversity visible within its urban centers, Malaysia offers the traveler a multiple and joyful experience where towns are generally felt as true hotspots of racial mixes. One can particularly feel the different cultural, religious and ethnic influences that coexist there. Therefore, exploring the city in which you live is already an adventure in itself.

Your lifestyle in Malaysia can be extravagant or modest, as much as you want. In major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baharu and Penang, there are plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues that will keep you entertained night and day. Large cities also have large expat communities. You will therefore be able to enjoy many events and social gatherings.

The country also offers many affordable and even free activities. Parks, recreation centers, sports centers amongst other exciting spots are booming in Malaysia's urban areas. You can join a sports club or meet up with friends for a hike, bike riding or jogging. You can also dine at a street market or local cafe for a fraction of the price of a Western restaurant.

One thing is sure, you will be faced with a unique lifestyle in Malaysia. It will be up to you to shape it accordingly to your needs, expectations and interests.

Bank holidays

Due to the presence of numerous cultures and religions, Malaysia has many public holidays. The country celebrates religious, cultural, and national festivals such as Eid, Diwali and Chinese New Year, and also Malaysia's National Day. Many holidays are based on the lunar calendar, so the dates change every year. Holidays may also vary by state and community.

Events in Malaysia

Life in Malaysia is punctuated by several events and festivals that aim to preserve local cultures and traditions and celebrate Malaysia's living heritage. Kuala Lumpur and other major cities have a particularly rich cultural, gastronomic, and sporting calendar. It is worth traveling around Malaysia to take part in the various events and discover the remote towns and regions in all their colors.

Thaipusam festival is mainly celebrated in Malaysia by the Tamil community, but it is one of the must-see festivals. It is a fascinating time for foreigners who gather in their thousands to witness the processions in which worshipers pierce parts of their bodies with hooks, spears, and brooches.

Another festival worth visiting is the George Town Festival. It is a cultural and community festival that lasts a month on the island of Penang and is gradually becoming a major artistic festival in Asia. After a two-year shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, since 2020 this highly anticipated event is scheduled to be held again in July 2022.

Before traveling to some places, make sure you check about the period at which you will be visiting the region. For example, in Penang during the Chinese New Year, finding an available hotel and getting around can be very difficult. Moreover, during that period, many shops and restaurants are closed. During Ramadan, it can be difficult to find restaurants open during the day in some parts of the country, and eating in public is not recommended, out of respect for those who are fasting.

Food in Malaysia

Gastronomy in Malaysia is a real melting pot of flavors and colors, a real festival for oriental cuisine gourmets' taste buds. Many locals joke about eating being Malaysia's national sport and foreigners may be surprised at Malaysians' ability to travel far and queue for what they consider to be the best 'char kway teow'. (Fried flat noodle dish) or “nasi lemak” (coconut rice dish). Certain areas in Malaysia, or even specific street vendors, are renowned for offering the best cuisine of their kind. Many locals know where to go to taste the best version of each national dish, and many will be willing to share their little secrets with you if you know how to ask for them. Many Malaysians are proud of their knowledge and love of local cuisine and cannot settle for a substandard meal.

It's also common to eat several small meals throughout the day and even plan your next meal while eating. Expect your time in Malaysia to be a culinary odyssey especially if you're as foodie as the locals.

There are a few small cultural peculiarities that you will have to consider when seated at the table. For example, in some Indian restaurants, you should eat with your right hand rather than cutlery. However, this is not practiced in Chinese restaurants. For a traditional Chinese meal, several dishes are ordered and then shared together using chopsticks, and a fork and spoon if necessary.

A "kedai kopi" literally means a "coffee". This is usually a basic roadside cafe serving local food and drink, whereas the "Mamak" is a local Malaysian or Indian restaurant that stays open 24 hours a day. So, you never have to worry about going hungry in Malaysia, no matter the time!

On the other hand, alcohol is very expensive in Malaysia. It is, therefore, better to buy a tax-free bottle at the airport when arriving in the country if you want to enjoy a drink.

Sports in Malaysia

Thanks to its humid climate and multitudes of pristine beaches and islands, Malaysia is a great place for water sports like scuba diving, kayaking and parasailing. Perhentian and Sipadan Islands are particularly renowned for their incredible diving experiences.

Golf is also a popular pastime among Malaysians and expatriates. There are several international standard golf courses across the country, with some even within residential compounds.

Useful links: - News and sport agenda

Public Holidays - Calendar of national holidays

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