An Introduction to Malaysia
Malaysia is situated seven degrees north of the equator in Southeast Asia. The northern part of Peninsular Malaysia borders Thailand. To the east is the South China Sea, to the south is Singapore and to the west are the Straits of Melaka.
Malaysia has a warm and humid climate. The humidity is about 80% all year round and temperatures range from 21 to 32°C. The climate is affected by the northeast and southwest monsoons, tropical winds that alternate during the course of the year.
Much of Malaysia is mountainous and they include two of the highest mountains in south-east Asia. Dramatic limestone outcrops, fascinating caves and spectacular waterfalls can also be found.
About four-fifths of Malaysia is covered by tropical rainforest, one of the most complex and rich ecosystems in the world. It is home to about 15,000 species of flowering plants and trees, 600 species of birds and 210 species of mammals. The Malaysian government has set aside more than 1.49 million hectares to protect them from development and has enacted legislation to save Malaysia's precious rainforest and its rare wildlife.
Malaysia plays host to an amazingly diverse range of scuba destinations, from cavorting with turtles and swirling tornadoes of barracuda in Sipadan Island to the pristine coral atoll and hammerhead sharks in Layang Layang. You can find migrating whale sharks around Lankayan and macro diving in Mabul and Kapalai islands. Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) is the basis of Malaysia's claim as home to world class scuba diving. If you're looking for a memorable break on beautiful equatorial islands with pristine white sand beaches coupled with outstanding underwater marine beauty and diversity, then scuba diving in Malaysia is bound to have something for you. Just budget plenty of spare time - there are so many outstanding opportunities on offer.
Malaysia is a land of fascinating sights and attractions. Rich in color and contrasts, her multi-faceted charm provides intriguing images that leave visitors with memories to cherish.
What to expect in Malaysia:
- Normal banking hours in most states of Malaysia are Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm and Saturday 09:30am to 11:30am.
- Authorized money changers in hotels often stay open 24 hours a day.
- Credit cards are widely accepted in Malaysia and many ATM machines accept Visa and MasterCard if the card has a Pin number. Major credit cards are accepted at up market hotels, shops and restaurants. ATM’s allow travelers to withdraw money from their overseas savings accounts or credit cards.
- In addition, Foreign Currency Changing Machines are located mainly at airports. These can be convenient when changing foreign currency.
- The unit of currency is the Malaysian Ringgit indicated as RM.
- USD1 is roughly equivalent 3.17 RM’s using mid April 2008 conversion rates.
- Malaysia's position in the equatorial zone guarantees a classic tropical climate with relative humidity levels usually around 90%. Weather is fairly hot and humid all year round (with the exception of the cooler climes of the central highlands) averaging 86ºF in the daytime, with short intense showers almost daily. Malaysia's climate is dominated by the effect of two monsoons or "rainy seasons", which affect different parts of Malaysia to varying degrees.
- The north-east monsoon blows between October and March and from May to September Malaysia is affected by the south-west monsoon. Heavier rainfall is experienced in spring and autumn when the monsoon changes direction, however this increased rainfall should not spoil a visit to west coast Malaysia or the hill stations. Mornings are usually hot and sunny with showers in the afternoon.
- Try to avoid east coast destinations and Island Malaysia between November and January. Otherwise, Malaysia can be enjoyed at any time of year as the weather is generally hot, sunny and fairly uniform; it's rare to have a day without showers and unusual to have a day without sunshine. Take light summer apparel; carry an umbrella and an extra warm sweater if visiting the hill stations. Slightly thicker clothing may also be worn in air-conditioned spaces like cinemas and meeting rooms.
- Departure tax applies on both international and domestic flight. The international departure tax is approximately 40 US dollars and often included in the ticket price. Please check with your airline or ticketing agent for details. If not included, it is normally payable upon check-in for your flight home.
- Tap water is generally safe to drink in the major towns or cities but many visitors prefer to drink filtered or bottled water. In rural villages it is recommended to drink only boiled, sterilized or bottled mineral water.
- Most national driver’s licenses (including U.S) are accepted in Malaysia providing that they have been held in excess of 12 months.
- Power supply is usually Voltage is 220 – 240 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Normal outlets are 3-pin square plugs and sockets. However, it is advisable to check electricity supplies before using any appliances.
- All visitors must be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and have proof of onward passage.
- U.S citizens do not need a visa for tourism or business purposes. Other foreign nationals entering Malaysia for “social” purposes (including tourism) must obtain a Social Visit Pass at the point of entry on arrival.
- The duration of and ability to extend a Social Visit Pass is dependent upon the nationality of each visitor and details are available from the Consular Section of your nearest Malaysian Embassy.
- Passports are required for travel between Peninsula Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak).
- The diving season in Malaysia runs all year round in most locations. However, our agents will be able to proffer advice in more detail on specific destinations and requests as seasonal migrations may apply.
- Recommended vaccines are largely dependent upon your destination within Malaysia and the length of stay. We therefore suggest that you speak to your family physician or specialized travel clinic for a personal recommendation. As most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they are given, allow sufficient time for consultation before departure.
WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS:
- Water temperatures are normally between 75F and 86F. Most divers find a skin – 3mm comfortable.