Things to remember when traveling to Malaysia.
1. Everyone can fly
AirAsia led the way for low-cost travels in the Southeast Asia, and Malaysia's where it all started.
Between the "Apprentice Asia" bossman Tony Fernandes' airline and Penang-based Firefly, some 18 domestic destinations across peninsular and East Malaysia are interconnected with scheduled flights.
Breakfast in the UNESCO-listed world heritage city of Georgetown, lunch in Kuala Lumpur and asleep in the Borneo rainforest by nightfall? Travelers can now live the jet-set lifestyle, no-frills edition.
2. Fair taxi fares? You probably won't find them
Kuala Lumpur taxis consistently rank on world's worst lists.
Their notoriety isn't helped by comments made by a minister who said the attitudes of the cab drivers were "worse than our filthy public toilets." (A comment later is withdrawn with an apology.)
Savvy visitors insist on meter usage, haggle or, if they have time, use local public transportation. Many of the new taxi booking apps are helpful: Easy Taxi and My Teksi are good.
3. It's always Milo time
Somewhere between 1950 and now, Malaysia became the world's largest consumer of the famous cocoa and malt drink. The country also has the world's largest Milo factory.
It's sold everywhere from KFC to kopitiams (coffee shops), McDonald's to mamak stalls.
You can enjoy it hot or iced, with Nescafe (aka Neslo), with a heap of powdered Milo on top (aka Milo Dinosaur) or a dino on steroids -- Milo Godzilla, with additional whipped or ice cream to top it off.
4. The word "bacon" is used loosely
For the third year running, Malaysia has topped the list of the world's most Muslim-friendly holiday destinations, according to Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy Crescent Rating.
One of the criteria used for the survey was access to halal-compliant food.
This means there are large voids left by pork sausages and bacon at most hotel breakfast buffet lines.
If your definition of bacon extends to rashers made of chicken, turkey or beef, you'll be fine. Otherwise, you're gonna have to keep your bacon mania in check (yes, apparently there is such a thing).
You'll find pork in the country at Chinese-run restaurants, especially in destinations like Penang, but overall the pig pickings are slim.
5. Greatest Guinness outside Ireland
Claims like this don't come without medals and trophies to back them up.
For five consecutive years, Malaysia has won the coveted Guinness League of Excellence Award and bragging rights for brewing the velvetiest Irish stout beyond the popular black nectar's home turf.
6. Duty-free islands
If hedonistic pursuits put large dents in your travel budget, then consider this -- the excise rate paid on beer in Malaysia is the second highest in the world.
Luckily, islands such as Langkawi, Tioman, and Labuan are all designated tax-free zones, so you can stock up on quality booze and smokes.
Government tariffs are also waived on hotels and selected retail goodies.
Hope you enjoy your time in Malaysia!
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