Some of the beginner tips for backpackers in Malaysia.
What to Wear When Backpacking Malaysia
Malaysia has to be one of my favorite places in Asia for shopping and you will find that most people – especially in the busier areas – take a lot of pride in what they wear. The more modern areas of Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur will be a lot more westernized in their dress sense and you can pretty much wear what you would at home on a day-to-day basis, with some exceptions. In the more rural areas, it is a wise to be respectful and dress a little more conservatively, especially if you are a woman.
Malaysia is a melting pot with a mixture of religions, the most prominent practice being that of Islam. Showing a lot of flesh for men or women will attract a lot of attention or worst-case scenario, cause offense. Try to avoid exposing too much flesh. Jeans and a t-shirt, covering shoulders and cleavage is perfectly fine. Try to keep shorts/skirts/dresses at or just below the knee. Tight and fitted clothing will attract attention such as harmless stares if you would rather not have this wear loose fitting clothing, not only will the stares reduce but the sweat stains will be more avoidable!
Entry Requirements when Backpacking Malaysia
As of 2016, the majority of nationalities will be able to get a visa on entry into Malaysia for no cost at all, which is fantastic! For the UK, you will be permitted to stay for a maximum of 3 months on arrival, be careful not to overstay this. Malaysia, unlike many other Asian countries, is having a big crackdown on illegal immigration and overstaying your visa may be a tricky (and expensive) situation to get out of.
If you know you will be staying longer than 3 months in Malaysia it is recommended you visit the Malaysian Diplomatic Mission in your own country to obtain the correct visa. If you are in country head to your local embassy or otherwise just hop out of the country and come back in again.
Once through immigration, Malaysia is a relatively safe and welcoming place to travel. A couple of months is heaps of time to explore this beautiful country. Entering overland into the country you will have your fingerprints taken, passport scanned and you may be asked about your exit plans, especially if you don’t have a flight out of the country booked. Malaysian immigration is not new to backpackers so as long as you have an idea of how you will leave, you should be fine. It’s a good idea to have a rough idea of when/how you will be leaving and someone you can call who will vouch for you, just in case.
Top Tips for Hitchhiking Malaysia
Look like a tourist. People know what hitchhiking is and they are interested in foreign visitors, so make sure you look like a tourist. On busy roads, sometimes the wait time is less than 5 mins.
Don’t hitch right on the motorway. Unlike in other countries in Asia, it’s not advisable to hitchhike right on the motorway. Police won’t bother, but cars are much more unlikely to stop if they are too fast or there is no safe place to stop.
Have a sign with ‘Tumpang’ written on it. This can help especially if you choose to walk on the Expressway.
Learn some useful phrases. Drivers usually speak English and stop easily but its always helpful to know a few local phrases like the ones listed above.
To be continued…
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