Travel DO’s & DON’Ts
Things You Should Do
Dress appropriately. Malaysians are generally accepting of hot pants, slippers, and tank tops, but in the right locations for the right occasions.
Shake hands with men when greeting them, but not women unless they offer to do so first.
Do follow simple rules when visiting places of worship. You will usually be required to remove your shoes before entering. Be sure to dress decently for such visits.
Insist on metered taxis, as haggling will usually end up with you paying a heftier price.
Do use your right hand to receive or give something. The right hand should also be used for eating. It is considered discourteous in Malay custom to use your left hand when you hand over or receive things.
Avoid Doing These
Do not use your forefinger to point at things. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred way.
Do not wear hot pants and vests at mainland beaches if you are female. Topless sunbathing is a no-no. Malay women usually go swimming fully dressed and some keep their scarves on.
Do not kiss in public. Public behaviour is important in Malaysian culture. Most Malaysians refrain from displaying affection such as embracing or kissing in public.
Do not discuss ethnic relations or the political system. They are both sensitive subjects.
Do not drink alcohol in public. The country’s large Muslim population is forbidden by law to consume alcohol.
Do not consume food or drinks in front of the Malays during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, to safeguard their sensitivities. It is respectful to eat in private where you cannot be seen unless after sunset or before sunrise.