Tourism Malaysia 34 Littlebrook Rd
Sale Mnchester M33 4WG, UK
Tel: 0161 976 3159, Fax: 0161 969 8110

Physical geography

Southeastern Asia, peninsula and northern one-third of the island of Borneo bordering the Java Sea and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Total area: 329,750 sq km, land area: 328,550 sq km. Land boundaries: total 2,669km, Brunei 381km, Indonesia 1,782km, Thailand 506km. Coastline: 4,675km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068km, East Malaysia 2,607km). Coastal plains rising to hills and mountains. Natural resources: tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite.


Tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons. Temperatures range from 20 to 32°C.

Economic geography

The Malaysian economy, a mixture of private enterprise and a well managed public sector, showed a remarkable record of nine per cent average annual growth in 1988-94. This growth has resulted in a substantial reduction in poverty and a marked rise in real wages. Manufactured goods exports expanded rapidly, and foreign investors continued to commit large sums in the economy.

Exports: $56.6 billion (f.o.b., 1994). Commodities: electronic equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles. Imports: $55.2 billion (c.i.f., 1994). Commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, food, petroleum products.


Population: 18.2 million.

A brief history

Aboriginal Malays (Orang Asli) began moving down the Malay peninsula from southwestern China about 10,000 years ago. The peninsula came under the rule of the Cambodian-based Funan, the Sumatran-based Srivijaya and the Java-based Majapahit empires, before the Chinese arrived in Melaka in 1405. Islam arrived in Melaka at about the same time and spread rapidly. Melaka's wealth soon attracted European powers, and the Portuguese took control in 1511, followed by the Dutch in 1641. The British established a thriving port in Penang in 1786 and took over Melaka in 1795.

The British colonised the interior of the peninsula when tin was discovered. East Malaysia came into British hands via the adventurer Charles Brooke (who was made Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after suppressing a revolt against the Sultan of Brunei) and the North Borneo Company (which administered Sabah from 1882). Britain took formal control of both Sabah and Sarawak after the Second World War. The indigenous labour supply was insufficient for the needs of the developing rubber and tin industries, so the British brought large numbers of Indians into the country, altering the peninsula's racial mix.

In the Second World War the Japanese overran Malaya. Communist guerrillas, who fought the Japanese throughout the occupation, began an armed struggle against British rule in 1948 and Malaya achieved independence in 1957. Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore combined with Malaya to establish Malaysia in 1963, but two years later Singapore withdrew from the confederation. The formation of Malaysia was opposed by both the Philippines and Indonesia, each having territorial claims on East Malaysia. Tension rose in 1963 during the 'Confrontation' with Indonesia. Indonesian troops crossed Malaysia's borders but were repelled by Malaysian and Commonwealth forces. In 1969, violent riots broke out between Malays and Chinese, though the country's racial groups have since lived in relative peace together. The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has been in power since 1974.


Peninsular Malaysia: Muslim (Malays), Buddhist (Chinese), Hindu (Indians). Sabah: Muslim 38 per cent, Christian 17 per cent, other 45 per cent. Sarawak: tribal religion 35 per cent, Buddhist and Confucianist 24 per cent, Muslim 20 per cent, Christian 16 per cent, other five per cent.

Languages spoken by nationals

Peninsular Malaysia: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil Sabah: English, Malay, numerous tribal dialects, Chinese (Mandarin and Hakka dialects predominate), Sarawak: English, Malay, Mandarin, numerous tribal languages.


One ringgit (M$) = 100 sen.

What one should not fail to see

Kuala Lumpur: Merdeka Square - The site where the Malaysian flag was first raised in 1957. Aptly, today it's where the tallest flagpole in the world stands. Masjid Jamek - KL's oldest mosque - sits right at the point where two rivers, the Kelang and Gombak rivers, meet - the birthplace of Kuala Lumpur. Sultan Abdul Samad Building - KL's most famous landmark bears testimony to the intricacies of Moorish design and architecture. Taman Tasik Perdana - the city's most popular park includes the Orchid Garden, the Bird Park, the Hibiscus Park, the Butterfly Park, the Deer Park and Memorial Tun Razak. Petaling Street - KL's original Chinatown. Central Market - Formerly a wet market, this building was spruced up as a retail gallery for budding craftsmen and artists; National Museum, National Planetarium, KL Tower, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial.

Melaka - The most imposing relic of the Dutch period in Melaka is the massive pink town hall, Stadthuys. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in the old part of the city is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia. St Paul's Church, built by the Portuguese over 400 years ago. Historic buildings include Hang Li Po's Well built in 1459; Porta de Santiago, part of a 16th Century Portuguese fortress; 18th Century Dutch-built St John's Fort and a 147-year-old Catholic church.

Georgetown - Fort Cornwallis, one of the many clan houses. Pulau Tioman is the most popular travellers' destination on Tioman Island.

Malaysia is a country of vast beauty from towns like Kuala Kangsar, which has fine mosques and palaces, to the Niah Caves, Turtle Islands and Tunku Abdul Rahman National Parks.

Main holiday sports

Trekking, fishing and bird-watching, jungle treks, canoeing and fishing, cycling, cave exploring.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

Malaysia is hot and humid all year. It is, however, best to avoid the November to January rainy season on Peninsula Malaysia's east coast. The time to see turtles on the east coast is between May and September.

How to dress

Light, cool and casual clothing is recommended all year round.

What to eat and drink

Satays (meat kebabs in spicy peanut sauce) are a Malaysian creation and are found everywhere. Other dishes include fried soybean curd in peanut sauce, sour tamarind fish curry, fiery curry prawns and spiced curried meat in coconut marinade. Muslim Indian dishes have developed a distinctly Malaysian style. Sweet concoctions include cendol (sugar syrup, coconut milk and green noodles). Generally more spicier Malay and Indian cuisines tempt palates along with milder Chinese dishes. Buddhist vegetarian or South Indian Banana-Leaf restaurants cook up meat-free food. Seafood dining nets locally caught fish, squid, shellfish and unusual delicacies like sea cucumbers. Many fruits available include the sumptuous durian - that tastes like heaven but smells like hell.

What to buy

Handicrafts of local origin range from intricate silver, brass and pewter items to pottery, rattan and wickerwork. Batiks of silk and cotton come in tantalisingly vivid hues. Malaysian Batik, songket. Art objects and curio items from the orient or carpets and rugs of silk and fine wool in traditional designs of intricate geometric motifs or patterned in beautiful flowery designs of pastel hues. There's ready-to-wear apparel of every design and colour and trendy shoes and handbags. From the fashion centres of the world come designer collections, elegant footwear, exclusive watches, optical items and quality fabrics.

Frontier formalities

No visas are required for citizens of Commonwealth countries (except Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), British Protected Persons or citizens of the Republic of Ireland and citizens of Switzerland, Netherland, San Marino and Liechtenstein.

One month visa free visit applicable to citizens of ASEAN countries.

Fourteen-day visa free visit: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Yemen.

Seven-Day Visa Free Visit: Bulgaria, Romania, Russia.

Main travel routes

Twice daily London Heathrow-Kuala Lumpur flights are offered by Malaysia Airlines jointly with Virgin Atlantic Airways. British Airways operates direct London Heathrow-Kuala Lumpur services five times weekly. Airlines operating indirect flights to Kuala Lumpur from London Heathrow include Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.

Internal flights are relatively cheap compared to UK equivalents. Malaysia Airlines operates an extensive internal network and other domestic carriers also serve popular tourist destinations.

Representatives abroad

AUSTRALIA: 56, William Street, Perth, WA 6000. Tel: -09-481-0400, Fax: 09-321-1421
- Sydney 65, York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. Tel 02-299-4441/2/3, Fax: 02-262-2026

CANADA: 830, Burrard Street Vancouver, B.C V6Z 2K4. Tel: 604-689-8899, Fax: 604-689-8804

FRANCE: Office National du Tourisme de Malaisie, 29, Rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris. Tel: 331-4297 4171 Fax: 331-4297 4169

GERMANY: Rossmarkt 11, 60311 Frankfurt Am Main. Tel: 069-283 782/783, Fax: 069-285 215

HONG KONG: Ground Floor, Malaysia Building. No. 47 - 50, Gloucester Road. Tel: 2528-5810 / 2528 5811 Fax: 2865-4610

ITALY: Secondo Piano, Piazza San Babila 4/B, 20122 Milano. Tel: 02-796-702, Fax: 02-796-806

JAPAN: Osaka: 10th Floor Cotton Nissay Building 1-8-2, Utsubo-Honmachi Nishi-ku, Osaka 550 100, Tel: 06-444-1220, Fax: 6-4441380
Tokyo: 5F Chiyoda Building, 1-6-4 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100. Tel: 03-3501-8691, Fax: 03-3501-8692

SINGAPORE: 10, Collyer Quay, 01-06 & 18-02, Ocean Building, Singapore 049315. Tel: 02-532-6321/6351, Fax: 02-535-6650

SOUTH AFRICA: 1st Floor, Hutton Court, CNR Jan Smuts Avenue & Summit Road, Hyde Park 2196, Johannesburg. Tel: 2711 -327-0400/040 1/0206, Fax: 271 1-327-0205

SOUTH KOREA: 1st Floor. Han Young Building, 57-9. Seosomun-dong, Chung-ku, Seoul. Tel: 02 779-4422/4251, 779-4253 (DL) ) Fax: 02-779-4254

SWEDEN: Sveavagen 18, Box 7062, 10386 Stockholm. Tel: 46-8249900 Fax: 46-8242324

TAIWAN: Unit C, 8 th Floor, Hung Tai Centre No 170, Tun Hwa North Road, Taipei R.O.C. Tel: 02-514-9704/9734, Fax: 02-514-9973

THAILAND: Unit 902, 9th Floor Liberty Square, 287, Silom Road, Bangkok 10500. Tel: 631-1994/1995/1996/1997, Fax: 631-1998

UNITED KINGDOM: 57, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DU, UK Tel: 071-930-7932, Fax: 071-930-9015

USA: Los Angeles 818, Suite 804, West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 900l7-3432, U.S.A. Tel: 213-689-9702, Fax: 213-689-1530
- New York: 595 Madison Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10022, U.S.A. Tel: 212-754-1113/l114/1115 212-754-1117 (DL) Fax: 212-754-1116

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Malaysia thanks to the co-operation of Tourism Malaysian in the UK