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Malaysia
Malaysia has a population of over 25 million people who reside in the Peninsular and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the Borneo Island. The country prides itself on the harmonious existence of various races as a nation. While the majority are Malays; Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazan, Dusuns and other ethnic groups make up a colourful and vibrant society. Malaysia’s official language is Bahasa Malaysia, but English is widely spoken. The official religion of Malaysia is Islam, and the nation comprises Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and followers of other religions. The various ethnic groups, cultures and languages make Malaysia, Truly Asia.
brief history
getting here
entry
custom regulations
language
society & culture
religion
climate
time
money matters
dress code

Brief history/ Legend/ Myths
Malaysia’s recorded history dates back to the first century BC. Located strategically at the crossroads between the East and West. Peninsula Malaysia had attracted early travellers from different parts of the world. Evidence of ancient civilizations such as tomb stones can be found in Bujang Valley and Merbok Valley in the state of Kedah, as well as Hindu-Buddhist influences from India and China.

Islamic influence came during the Melaka Sultanate in the 1400s with traders from the Middle East and India. It spread across the nation when the Sultan of Melaka embraced the religion and personally helped spread it across the nation. The reign of the Sultanate also created trade ties with the Kingdom of China.

Melaka’s spice trade led to its attack by the Portuguese in 1511, resulting in the fall of the Sultanate. Together with their conquest, the Portuguese brought in Catholic Christianity to the locals. But in 1641 the Dutch took over control of Melaka. The British came at the end of the 18th century in the wake of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. They formed crown colony states of the Peninsular called the Straits Settlements and subtly intervened in the administration of the previously independent states.

In East Malaysia, Sabah became a British protectorate under the Chartered Company, British North Borneo, whilst the Brooke family ruled Sarawak as the White Rajah, meaning the White King, for 100 years. In 1941, the Japanese invaded the country and ruled for about three years before their surrender to the Allied Forces after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The end of World War II was the beginning of the birth of nationalism in the country. Independence was proclaimed on August 31, 1957 at 9.00 am, Tunku Abdul Rahman (who became the first Prime Minister) read the Proclamation of Independence. It marked the birth of a new nation, the Federation of Malaya. In 1963, Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined hands to form Malaysia. Singapore, however, withdrew herself from the Federation in 1965 to become an independent government.

 

Getting Here
Malaysia has well-developed air and sea connections. It is also accessible by road and rail through Thailand and Singapore on the Peninsular. More than 25 major airlines service the international airports throughout the nation. Port Klang and Penang in the Straits of Malacca link the country to the rest of the world by sea.

Internal travel is relatively easy, comfortable and cheap. The major towns and cities are served by air-conditioned trains and buses and also by regular scheduled flights. Travelling by road in Peninsular Malaysia is popular as it has a well-developed network of roads.

In Sabah and Sarawak, traveling by four-wheel drive is recommended on unpaved roads, and many remote areas can only be reached by air or river boats. Travelling by rail is also highly recommended as you get a panoramic view of the countryside. To get value for money when traveling by rail, plan your journey in advance.

 

Entry
A valid passport (and visa if applicable) is required for all persons entering Malaysia.

A passport is also necessary for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as between Sabah and Sarawk.

 

Custom Regulations
• Dutiable goods brought into the country may be imposed a refundable deposit of up to 50% of its value
• Non-dutiable goods allowed include cameras, cassette players, cosmetics, lighters, pens, perfumes and watches
• For resident and non-resident travellers, approval is needed for carrying more than RM1,000 in cash
• While resident travelers require permission to take out of the country amounts equivalent to more than RM10,000, non-resident travellers are not allowed to do so

• Bringing in items such firearms and pornographic materials are strictly prohibited

 

Language
The national language is Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) but English is widely spoken, being a compulsory subject in schools and the main Primary 6, Lower Secondary and the local version of 'O' Level examinations.

Other major languages used are Chinese and Tamil. The government has also been encouraging the frontliners of hotels and tourism-related business people to learn other international languages.

 

Society & Culture
Malaysia has a population of about 22 million. It is a multi-racial country whose social integration has become a model for the rest of the world. Almost 80% of the total population occupy the Peninsular. There are three main races in the country. The Malays, who are Muslims, form the majority in the country. The other two main racial groups are the Chinese, who are mostly Buddhists and the Indians, who are mainly Hindus. Others who make up the population include the Eurasians and the more than 50 indigenous groups from Sabah and Sarawak like the Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts, Ibans, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Bidayuhs, Penans, just to name a few. The different races have their own traditions and customs which gives Malaysia a colourful heritage. The important festivals of each race is a public holiday in the country and celebrated by all regardless of race and beliefs.

In terms of dressing, most Malaysians, regardless of their race, wear Western clothes. However, during special occasions and festivals, many will don traditional costumes complete with their elaborate accessories.

 

Religion
The official religion of the country is Islam, which is synonymous with the Malays. Other races are free to profess and practice any religion in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance. The other main religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity.

Most religious festivals are public holidays and celebrated nationwide regardless of race or belief. There are many fascinating observances in this culturally-rich land of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The festivals and new years do not have fixed dates as Christmas does. They are determined by calculations on the lunar calendar which means that no dates are the same from year to year.

 

Climate
Hot and humid all year around, Malaysia enjoys an equatorial climate of temperatures ranging from 22 to 32 degrees Celcius in the lowlands. However, it is cooler in highland areas. The annual rainfall here averages 200 – 250 cm. Dressing in clothing of breathable and light material is advised. Comfortable and warm garments need be worn only at hill resorts.
 

Time
The standard Malaysian time is eight hours ahead of GMT.
 

Money Matters
Money exchange facilities are available in all major towns. The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) comes in denominations of RM1, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100, and coins from one sen (cents), 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen and RM1. All major credit cards are accepted in most establishments.

All commercial banks are authorised foreign exchange dealers and open from 9.30 am to 4 pm on weekdays, and 9.30 am to 12 noon on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays, the first and third Saturdays of the month, and public holidays.

However, the banks in Kelantan and Terengganu close on Fridays. They are open from 9.30 am to noon from Saturdays to Thursdays, except on the first and third Thursday of the month. Other licensed moneychangers operate in key entry/exit points and shopping malls. Most hotels exchange foreign currency and accept travellers’ cheques.

 

Dress Code
Since Malaysia enjoys a tropical climate which is hot and sunny, lightweight clothing, as well as cotton, is ideal when going for sightseeing or traveling around town. Generally, t-shirts and shorts are acceptable.

However, do dress appropriately when dining out in restaurants or going for a night out, particularly in cities. Certain establishments also have a dress code. It is also important to dress decently (no shorts) when visiting villages and also any places of worship.

 

Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur
2 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel : 60-3-2144 2200 Fax : 60-3-2144 1628
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