Being away from your loved ones can be overwhelming, although it would be more soothing if you acclimatise to your new home-away-from-home quickly. Adjust to the new life in Malaysia by exploring nearby amenities and familiarising yourself to the local language, culture and customary practices. We have broken down everyday tips into the 6 different categories below to help you navigate the dynamics of Malaysian cosmopolitan cities!
A potpourri of diverse cultures and a nation unabashedly known for its fabulous food, Malaysia certainly packs a punch in terms of its endless offerings. Indulge in the best of Malaysia’s culinary options, drawing influence from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and other native cultures. Malaysia’s diversity ensures that you will be able to find a 24-hour ‘Mamak’ stall that sells halal local Malay and Indian dishes like Nasi Lemak, Rendang and Nasi Kandar with a beverage for as low as USD $3. Fret not, Chinese stalls hawking dim sum and noodles at all hours are available too.
If you are working hard for exams or completing your academic assignments, food delivery services would save time which you would otherwise spend heading out or cooking. Foodpanda is one of the best-known online food delivery services partnering with close to 800 restaurants. Delivery costs around USD $2 and your food usually arrives within 40 minutes upon order confirmation. Other services like Dahmakan, GrabFood and DeliverEat also offer a selection of dishes with various deals to choose from.
From great bargains at Petaling Street to international luxury brands at Suria KLCC or Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping centres, Malaysia is known for its bustling retail tourism. You can hunt for good deals at your neighbourhood thrift shop or check popular retail stores which generally open from 10 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.
Some of the shopping malls around KL city centre provide free shuttle bus service. Malls like 1 Utama Shopping Mall provide complimentary shuttle bus service from nearby MRT stations and Mid Valley Megamall to Bangsar MRT Station, so do check with the mall’s information counter. In addition, most shopping malls have many modern amenities including handicapped toilets and prayer areas for those who require them. If you are looking for something with a little more local flavour, you can explore farmer’s markets for local produce. Night markets are also popular and sell all kinds of knick-knacks and finger food.
Duty-free shopping is also available at all major airports, so do not forget to check out your favourite brands for deals! Speaking of duty-free, Mitsui Outlet Park, a factory outlet shopping mall located near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) offers discounted, off-season branded products. Genting Highlands Premium Outlets near Kuala Lumpur, Freeport A’Famosa Outlets in Melaka and Johor Premium Outlets near the Singapore border have similar offerings. Shop to your heart’s content!
If you prefer to shop from the comforts of your home, online retailers like Shopee and Lazada are for you, and some of them offer same-day delivery! Whether you are looking for fresh produce or buying a special item from Hong Kong or China, everything is available at your fingertips. Single-brand or international retailers carrying many brands like Zalora and ASOS also ship to Malaysia.
Telecommunication and Internet Services
Maxis, Digi, U Mobile, Celcom and redONE – these are some of the popular teclos that can keep you connected at great speed, especially in urban areas. Please note that network coverage and performance depends on specific geographical locations, and one provider may perform better than others in certain areas. When making comparisons, do check each company’s performance on download speed, upload speed, latency and reliability.
- Check out this table for an in-depth price comparison for post-paid plans from different service providers. Fees range from USD $20 to USD $50 per month.
- Check out this table for price comparison for pre-paid plans from different service providers. Fees range from USD $5 to USD $50 depending on the amount of data purchased.
- Check out this site for price comparison for broadband providers in Malaysia. Fees range from USD $20 to USD $100 per month.
Naturally, fixed-line (landline) phone and wired internet are relatively cheap compared to mobile services. However, the flexibility and mobility that mobile services offer might be better for road warriors.
Sport & Outdoor Activities
Blessed with a tropical climate that allows many activities to flourish all year round, Malaysia is also known for its spectacular geographical formations that lure tourist from all over the globe. From bird watching and trekking in Sabah’s rainforests, to rock climbing Bukit Takun’s limestone ridges, or even diving around Sipadan island, you are not short of activies to explore!
If an urban adventure is more up your alley, there are some great running groups at trails like KLCC Park, Perdana Botanical Garden and Rimba Kiara. One can easily find a park for a jog or to walk your pet. Interest groups for many sports like rock climbing, canoeing, tennis and football are thriving so do search around for something that suits your passion!
Check out the local basketball court for games or even a badminton hall nearby for friendly matches or just to sweat out. Those thinking of something more adventurous can try out these nature trails or even the take a short vacation to the famous Batu Caves. Trekking trails can also be found in places like Bukit Gasing Forest Reserve, Broga Hill for beginners, and at Kutu Hill in Kuala Kubu Bharu for advanced enthusiasts. National parks like Mount Tahan, Bako and Mulu also provide their own uniqueness to discover.
For those more competitive souls out there, competitive race like the Standard Chartered KL Marathon and Malaysia Women’s Marathon are for you. If you’re signing up with a group of friends, team races like Spartan Malaysia Obstacle Race are available as well. For those who want to test their mettle, the IRONMAN triathlon take place every year with a large international field. Making new friends and conquering that gruelling race are enough for some, while others can dream and train for a podium finish.
Within its borders, most prefer travelling by ground due to its affordability. MyRapid and other bus services are available for inter-state, inter-city and intra-city connections. Bus travels to surrounding countries like Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia are also abundant. Please visit here for more details on public transportation.
With a well-connected transportation network, exploring cultural and geographical wonders such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Melaka, George Town or even Kota Kinabalu is a breeze.
If the hot weather is getting to you, take a bus up to Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands for a cooling experience. If you are in the mood for some cultural immersion, try Melaka for its Peranakan culture where East meets West. George Town, Penang is also on the list for its unique history and cultural significance as it evolved from a port city to the cultural gem it is today.
Feel free to search for world-class diving spots like Pulau Redang, Perhentian Islands, or Sipadan. If hiking is more to your liking, take a short trip to the iconic Mount Kinabalu, the tallest in Southeast Asia. You can also spend a few nights at the Kinabalu National Park to enjoy the breathtaking scenery during daytime, admire the dazzling stars at night, or simply experience its tropical rainforest’s rich biodiversity.
If you are more of a jet-setter, flying in and out via Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA and KLIA2) or Subang Skypark to regional destinations are really cheap. Local flights with budget airlines like Air Asia, Malindo, Fireflyz can be as low as USD 5. For those who travel further, regional flights to China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and India can start from as little as USD 50 if booked at the right time. Check out local and international air carriers, including our national pride – Malaysia Airlines – for great deals.
Here are some prices* that you may find:
- To Bangkok, Thailand: From USD $50 one way
- To Singapore: From USD $20 one way
- To Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: From USD $180 one way
- To Perth, Australia: From USD $250 one way
*Prices are based on prevailing air rates
Key Calendar Events
As a city that never sleeps, Kuala Lumpur joins the ranks of cities with events catering to a variety of interests. Check out sites like Timeout KL for hottest events for the week or do a quick search for upcoming concerts to sing your heart out. Looking for some local experience? Search for festivals like the Putrajaya hot air balloon fiesta, (Chinese) Lunar New Year celebrations and Ramadan bazaars where all are welcome regardless of religion, ethnicity or language
If immersing yourself in the local culture is your cup of tea, the award-winning Rainforest World Music Festival, a three-day music festival celebrating the diversity of ethnic and folk music from around the world is held in Kuching annually. On a more modern stage, international stars like Bruno Mars, Jay Chou, Ed Sheeran and K-Pop stars like BLACKPINK and EXO also perform regularly. Whatever your interests are, Malaysia will surely surprise you.
Malaysia is generally open every single day of the year, even during Christmas, Easter and new year seasons (we have a few), especially for malls, cinemas and major stores.
However, some local shops may close during major communal festivities like Eid (Hari Raya for Malay-Muslims), Lunar New Year (for ethnic Chinese) and Diwali (known locally as Deepavali). You may want to check with your university’ international office or directly with shops that you frequent to see if they are taking any time off to visit their families during any of the festivities.