Malaysia grants visa-free entrance for a period of 14 to 90 days to the citizens of most countries. Residents of Australia, the UK, the USA, Canada, Argentina, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and some other countries are allowed to arrive in the country without a visa and stay in its territory for three months.
Citizens of most CIS countries, including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, as well as tourists from Monaco, Portugal, Malta, Thailand, Slovenia, Greece, Cyprus, Singapore, Venezuela, Lithuania and Latvia can stay in Malaysia without a visa for a month. Residents of Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Macau are allowed to stay in Malaysia without a visa just for two weeks. On the other hand, visitors from Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, San Marino and Switzerland can enter Malaysia without a visa and stay there as long as they wish: period of stay is not established for them.
Entering Malaysia, travelers from the mentioned countries must have international passport that is valid for at least six month from the moment of crossing the border, immigration card, filled out in English, and provide prints of the index fingers of both hands. The immigration card must be kept until the end of the trip. In some cases, immigration control officers may require to show a return ticket (or reservation) and ask to confirm the availability of sufficient funds for tourist’s stay in the country (usually not less than 500 USD). At the same time, visa-free entry may be denied to pregnant women (six months or more), as well as to people whose appearance and behavior contradicts to conventional norms.
Residents of these countries have to obtain a visa in advance, if they plan to stay in Malaysia more than 14/30/90 days.
An entry into Malaysia is only possible with a visa for the citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Burma and Sri Lanka (regardless of the length of stay in the country).
There are three types of Malaysian visa: single entry, multiple entry and transit.
Single Entry Visa is issued to foreign nationals who come to the country mainly for a tourist visit. It is normally valid for a single entry and for a period of up to three months.
Multiple Entry Visa is intended for foreign nationals whose visit is connected with business or government-to-government matters. It is normally issued for a period from three months to twelve months. Not all Malaysian embassies issue multiple entry visas. For example, CIS residents can receive such visa only in Malaysia, after primary entry.
Transit Visa is intended for those travelers who enter Malaysia on transit to other countries. It is normally issued for 120 hours without extension possibility.
You can find out exact cost of a visa at the Malaysian embassy in your country.
All types of visa are issued by Malaysian embassies abroad. Documents, required to submit a visa application:
- original international passport that is valid for six month from the date of entry;
- two photocopies of the passport;
- two copies of the visa application form, filled out in English, (you can get it at the embassy);
- two passport size (3х4) photographs;
- invitation: in case of a tourist trip – hotel booking; in case of a private visit – invitation letter from Malaysian citizen or foreign citizen, who legally resides in the country, or from a company that is registered in the country;
- original and two photocopies of the air ticket with closed date of departure from Malaysia;
- bank statement confirming sufficient amount of money for the whole period of stay in the country (not less than 500 USD), or traveler's checks;
- confirmation of payment of consular fees (10 USD).
Before submitting a request for a visa, it is advisable to contact the Malaysian embassy in your country and to clarify the full list of required documents.
The decision to issue a visa is usually made within two weeks.
The extension of foreign residents’ term of stay in Malaysia is under jurisdiction of the Immigration Offices. One of them is situated in Kuala Lumpur and the other – in Putrajaya.
In order to extend a visa or a period of visa-free stay in the country, you have to address your request to one of the mentioned offices personally. You need to have original international passport, a copy of the main page with picture and a copy of the page with current visa (or a copy of the immigration card, if you want to extend visa-free stay) with you. Then, you will be offered to fill out the form, which must be given to the Immigration Department’s officer along with mentioned documents. Positive decision about visa extension depends on how persuasively you expound the reasons, why you have to stay in Malaysia for some more time.
Then, you have to pay visa extension fee (50 RM) and wait for an answer from the Immigration Office. It is usually given within a few hours.
It is allowed to extend a single entry visa and visa-free stay in Malaysia only twice for 30-day period.
Currency. You can import up to 1 000 RM and no more than 10 000 USD (or the equivalent of this sum in any other foreign currency or as traveler’s checks) to Malaysia without written declaration. If the imported sum exceeds this limit, you have to declare it at customs control.
Alcohol and tobacco goods. It is allowed to import one liter of strong drinks, one liter of wine or liquors, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 225 gram tobacco duty-free.
Goods. Goods intended for personal use, including perfumery and cosmetics for the sum no more than 200 RM, presents and souvenirs for the same sum, as well as electrical appliances, audio and video equipment (one item per person) can be imported duty-free. You can also import no more than three items of new clothes and one pair of new footwear.
Food. It is allowed to import food that costs no more than 75 RM to Malaysia duty-free.
If the number of goods that you temporarily import to Malaysia exceeds these norms, you have to pay an import duty for them (the so called temporary deposit). When you leave the country, this money will be returned back to you upon showing the goods together with the receipt of payment.
Medicines. All imported medicines must have original packing, original label and prescription from a doctor or medical reference.
It is prohibited to import to Malaysia:
- any narcotic substances (punishment is the death penalty)
- toxic and highly explosive substances;
- pornographic products (including printed materials and videos);
- counterfeit products;
- weapon, including toy weapon that resembles battle one. Knives having a blade that throws out are also treated as cold steel;
- radio sets (68-87 and 108-174 MHz);
- gold (over 100 grams);
- goods from Israel, and Israeli coins and banknotes;
- clothing with printed texts from the Koran on it;
- meat products, fungi, plant seeds.
Currency. It is allowed to export up to 1 000 RM and the equivalent of up to 10 000 USD in cash in foreign currency or the same sum as traveler’s checks from Malaysia. You can also export the currency that you have previously imported to Malaysia. If you need to export national or foreign currency for the sum that exceeds this limit, you have to receive a written permission from the Exchange Control Department of the Malaysia State Bank.
It is forbidden to export form Malaysia:
- drugs (punishable by death);
- toxic and highly explosive substances;
- pornographic products (including printed materials and videos);
- counterfeit products (if you are caught with pirated discs, you will have to pay a fine of 570 to 5,700 USD);
- gold (more than 100 g);
- military uniform;
- seeds of rubber trees;
- wild birds and animals;
- plants, including orchids;
- antiques (to export expensive antiques, you must have an official permission).
It is possible to cash traveler’s checks in most Kuala Lumpur banks and specialized exchange offices, as well in some hotels. But consider that banks charge a fee of 2 - 3 USD for this operation. Therefore, it pays to exchange traveler’s checks for local currency in Licensed Money Changers that, as a rule, don’t charge commission fees. Passport is required in order to cash traveler’s checks.
American Express checks, issued in US Dollar or pound sterling, are normally accepted in Kuala Lumpur.
Credit cards are widely spread in Kuala Lumpur: they are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Almost all major international cards are accepted there: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club.
Important! Consider that many banks treat Malaysia as a high risk country, because of frequent frauds happening there. Therefore, credit cards (especially Visa and MasterCard) are often blocked, when you attempt to make a payment. In order to avoid troubles, inform your bank about the trip, before going to Kuala Lumpur.
It is not a problem to withdraw cash in Malay capital – cash machines are installed literally on every corner: near banks, on bus stations, in the airport and in most shopping malls.
Malaysia’s national currency is Malaysian ringgit (sometimes it is called Malaysian dollar out of habit) that equals 100 sens (cents). International designation is MR or MYR. There are coins at par value of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and of 1 Malaysian ringgit, and banknotes at par value of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 ringgits in circulation.
Attention: Malayans sometimes call Singapore and Brunei Dollars the ringgit as well.
Service prices in virtually all Kuala Lumpur hotels and restaurants include 10% premium for services, therefore tips are not done there. Nevertheless, if you want to tip a chambermaid, a porter and other service personnel, you can do so. Tips usually vary from 2 to 10 RM.
Waiters in small restaurants and cafes also count on tips.
Foreign currency can be exchanged for Malaysian ringgit in banks or in Licensed Money Changers, which can be found in any quarter of Kuala Lumpur. The exchange rate at money changers is more advantageous and, unlike banks, they usually don’t charge commission, at that.
Most banks work Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Keep in mind that some banks don’t exchange currency on Saturdays, though. Licensed Money Changers, located in the airport, in large shopping malls and in Kuala Lumpur ethnic quarters, work longer: usually until 9 or 10 p.m. Be careful and try to exchange money only at official (licensed) money changers.
It is also possible to exchange currency in some hotels, however, exchange rate is less advantageous there than in banks and money changers.
Kuala Lumpur offers accommodation to fit any taste and purse: it has a lot of economy-class hotels for tourists with limited budget as well as luxurious ones. The cost of living in Malay capital is lower than in the neighboring Singapore, but it is still higher compared to the other countries in the South East Asia.
Thus, a hostel costs approximately 13 – 20 USD per night. Double room with breakfast in affordable hotel costs from 30 to 60 USD per night, in a middle-class hotel – from 60 to 130 USD, and the same room in a top-level hotel costs 140 USD and higher.
At the same time, local hotels often offer 25-50% discounts on their services. Therefore, inform yourself about special offers before booking a room. Travelers, who look for good discounts and convenient access to city’s main attractions, usually choose hotels located in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown.
One of Kuala Lumpur’s peculiarities is a large number of public catering centers that offer a large selection of dishes at affordable prices. The most popular ones are Food Courts that can be found at any large shopping mall. A dinner costs from 9 to 13 RM (3 – 4,5 USD) there. A dinner at a fast-food restaurant is somewhat more expensive.
An average bill at economy-class restaurant makes up 40 – 60 RM (14 – 20 USD) per person without drinks, at middle-class restaurant – 60 – 90 RM (20 – 30 USD). The cost of dinner at an elite restaurant is higher: from 100 to 150 RM (35 – 50 USD).
A half-liter bottle of local beer costs from 10 to 12 RM (3,5 – 4 USD), the same amount of imported beer costs 12 – 15 RM (4 – 5 USD).
A taxi is a convenient and relatively cheap mode of transportation in Kuala Lumpur (although it is not the fastest one due to frequent traffic jams in the capital roads). Payment is made only by the meter.
Taxis are conditionally divided in two types: affordable and high-class ones. Cars of the first category are regularly white-and-red. Boarding in such taxi and the first kilometer of a journey costs 3 RM (1 USD) and each further kilometer costs about 0,9 RM (0,3 USD). The cost of ride in the high-class cars (they are usually blue) is higher: 4 RM (1,3 USD) for boarding and a little more than 1 RM (0,4 USD) for each further kilometer. Both types of taxi charge extra price of 1 RM (0,3 USD) for luggage (we are not talking about hand luggage, but only about the overall bags and suitcases). A taxi ride from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city center will cost about 85 RM (28 USD).
One-and-a-half rate is applied at night – from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sometimes a driver may also require an additional pay of 50% to the meter readout, if there are more than two passengers in the cabin, or if the trip takes place during heavy downpour.
It is easy to catch a taxi in the street in Kuala Lumpur – there are special taxi terminals almost near all major shopping malls and hotels – or to arrange it by phone in advance, but this service costs 2 RM (0,7 USD) extra.
It is recommended to use only legal taxis and not to get in a car to the private carriers: it is not just about money, but also about your safety.
The tap water in Kuala Lumpur goes through necessary sanitary treatment, fully complies with the standards set by the World Health Organization, and is good for consumption. Nevertheless, it is advisable to follow the example of local residents and to use boiled tap water or to pass it through filter. It is even safer to buy bottled water; moreover, it's pretty cheap in Kuala Lumpur.
Although, a medical insurance policy is not required at the entry to Malaysia and is not in the list of documents, necessary for visa application, it is strongly recommended to obtain medical insurance for the whole period of stay in Kuala Lumpur.
All health care services in private and state medical facilities are paid, and their cost is quite high. Therefore, it is advisable to obtain a valid health insurance policy with minimum insurance coverage amount of 30 000 US Dollars before a trip.
If you regularly take certain medications, you should take them with in the first place. At that – in order to avoid possible problems at the customs – take special prescription from a doctor confirming the necessity of continued use of these medicines. Otherwise, the most needed medicines – easy analgesics, antipyretics, dressings, as well as much needed in Kuala Lumpur hot climate sunscreens and insect repellents – can be always purchased on-site without prescription.
Branch pharmacies work at hotels, supermarkets and shopping centers.
Sanitary and epidemiological situation in Kuala Lumpur is mostly favorable, and the vast majority of infectious diseases, typical for the South East Asia, are either absent altogether or under control of epidemiological services. However, it is better to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, tetanus, polio and typhoid prior to the trip.
Kuala Lumpur has virtually no insects that carry severe diseases. The most visited areas are always treated with insecticides that are safe for people. The only insects that might cause inconvenience are mosquitoes. In order to avoid troubles, it is advisable to treat open skin with repellents against insects when visiting city parks and reserves. In addition, it is better to put on clothes that fully cover arms and legs, as well as closed shoes, in such places. Moreover, try not to contact any animals, reptiles and insects in the wild.
Stationary connection. Public telephones are widespread in Kuala Lumpur: they are installed in shopping malls, near varied institutions, on the public transportation stops. Such telephones work with cards that can be bought in the offices of the company Telekom Malaysia, at filling stations, in supermarkets and press kiosks. Some Kuala Lumpur public telephones have a system that accepts credit cards. You can also quite often find old versions of public telephones, where you can pay with coins.
It is possible to make both local and international calls from the public telephones. In addition, it is convenient to call abroad from the machines, installed at telephone connection points of the company Telekom Malaysia. They operate throughout the city. In order to make an international call from a stationary phone in Kuala Lumpur, dial 001 (the access code for international line), then dial country code, city code, and telephone number. To make a local call, it is enough to dial a city telephone number.
You may also use international telephone services in your hotel. However, you’ll need to find out an access code for the call and rates separately. In addition, some hotels charge an additional fee for successful connection.
Mobile connection. As a rule, after arriving in Kuala Lumpur, your cell phone will be automatically registered in the network of a local cellular operator. However, considering that roaming is pretty expensive in Malaysia, it is more convenient to buy a local SIM-card.
There are three cellular operators in Kuala Lumpur: Maxis, Celcom (and its virtual colleague – Tune Talk) and Digi. Their SIM-cards are available in the airport, in mobile connection shops, and almost in every shop in the city.
Kuala Lumpur is a rapidly developing capital of the progressive country, therefore, it is not a problem to get an access to the Internet, both wired and wireless one.
Most local hotels have Internet access points that allow using it in halls and in rooms alike. Those guests who don’t have laptops or other devices providing Internet access can use public computers, installed in some hotels. Almost all cafes and restaurants, large shopping malls, clubs and bars offer Internet access for free or for a reasonable price.
You can also access the Internet from your cellphone, if it supports GPRS or one of 3G standards. In order to do so, you need to buy a special SIM-card with mobile Internet from one of Malaysia’s many cellular operators (you will need your international passport to make a purchase).
In addition, many internet cafes offering wired or wireless Internet access work in major tourist areas.
It is recommended to be careful when using public computers, while they are often infected with viruses, may contain spyware and other harmful software. Working on such computers, it is better not to enter confidential data, that is, not to use your user name and password to enter the mailbox, forums, etc.
Malaysia’s leading post operator that provides internal and international postal services is Pos Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur has over 60 postal offices, conveniently located throughout the city. Address of the nearest branch can be found on the official website of Pos Malaysia www.pos.com.my. Most of them are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (some – to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.), and on Saturdays – from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Pos Malaysia is one of the cheapest in the South East Asia. It costs about 2 RM to send a postcard or a letter by airmail anywhere in the world.
In addition, many international courier express-services, including DHL, FedEx, UPS, have their branches in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia is a Muslim country therefore same-sex relationships are banned and can result in punishment including fines, prison sentences.
While in Kuala Lumpur, LGBT travelers should refrain from showcasing love affection in public and obey laws and rules currently in force. Nevertheless, the possibility to face depreciative exclamations and homophobic aggressive acts is quite low – the law enforcement authorities pay more attention to ethnic Malays who are Muslims from birth.
Despite severe laws, Kuala Lumpur boasts of rather vibrant LGBT-life – there are several gay clubs and bars.
Police, Ambulance Service, Fire Brigade – 999
Search and Rescue – 994
Common emergency service number for mobile phones – 112
Touristic Police – 296-590
Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant megalopolis and despite solid Muslim traditions, there aren’t strict laws that dictate public behavior. However, there are some rules that should be obeyed by visitors to Malaysian capital therefore show respect to the local culture and lifestyle.
- It is not advisable to drink alcoholic beverages in public.
- Women should refrain from wearing provocative and too open clothes. Also, it is prohibited to be topless even on beaches.
- It is better to refrain from pointing people and thing with forefinger. It is widely accepted to use thumb instead.
- It is forbidden to take food or pass something with left hand – it can offend a person who is involved in action.
- It is not desirable to touch somebody’s head because it is considered to be sacred in Malaysia.
- It is not appropriate to greet women with handshake.
The voltage in Kuala Lumpur electricity network is from 220 to 240V AC with current frequency 50 hertz. As a rule, three-pole plugs with flat pins, similar to the British ones, are used. If necessary, you can take adapters at hotel reception (this service is free), or buy them at local supermarket.
Officially, Malaysia is one of the safest countries in Southeast Asia, and its capital is the city with low crime rates. However, the safety level of Kuala Lumpur is worse than declared by local authorities.
Usually, tourists are threatened to become a victim of pickpockets, who are newcomers from Bangladesh, India and other poor countries. So, be very watchful while on a walk. Don’t take all your cash with you: count necessary amount of money for one day, and it is better to leave the rest of the precious things and documents in a lock box of a hotel. Be very vigilant in crowded places as railway stations, markets, public transport and popular touristic sights.
It is possible to go out at night without any safety precautions only in crowded Kuala Lumpur downtown; nevertheless, it is better to refrain from walking alone in the city’s outskirts in order to avoid any burglary or robbery.
Moreover, take into account that Malaysia makes the list of countries with high risk of plastic card frauds. Pay with credit card seldom and only at reliable facilities that arouse trust. Don’t cash money in street ATM because swindlers might install special devices that read card secret codes. Use ATM located in bank offices.
Malaysia allows foreign guests to enjoy the benefits provided by the Tax Free (VAT Refund) system. This program lets them receive a partial refund of the VAT tax, which is added to a vast selection of goods. The refund can make up to 5% of the product's price.
In order to enjoy the refund, you have to buy goods at special shopping destinations that take part in this program. Global Blue is the only company that offers such services in the country. Stores that work with it have "Global Blue" or "Tax Free" signs on their windows/doors.
When your purchase is complete, ask the shop assistant to fill in the GTS Refund form for you. It must contain info about the buyer, the sum and date of your purchase, and the amount eligible for refunding. Please note that minimal spend makes 300 MYR in the same store and on the same day.
Your refund awaits in any international airport of Kuala Lumpur. Come to the Custom Validation desk to have your forms stamped before the check-in procedure and baggage inspection. You are obliged to submit the goods (make sure that they are sealed and unused), their purchase receipts, your passport / ID card, flight tickets, and filled GST Refund forms.
You can receive your money at one of the Global Blue refund offices (look for the IRIS sign). The refund is available in cash or the money can be wired to your credit card / bank account. Alternatively, you can receive a check.
Please note that each form must be stamped within one month of the date of purchase. Otherwise, the goods are not eligible for refund.
Miniature figures of the famous Petronas Towers, one of the most impressive and interesting architectural landmarks in the capital of Malaysia, are an extremely popular souvenir. Besides, travelers often buy such things as traditional fridge magnets, decorative plates, trinkets, glass and napkin holders, and much more. There is a gigantic souvenir market found in the downtown of the city, not too far from the railway station. It offers an impressive selection of various keepsakes and souvenirs.
Also noteworthy are different tin items. The region is very rich in this metal and local craftsmen produce interesting things from it. Tin kitchenware is worth checking out. Moreover, tourists often buy wooden and copper crafts, high-quality silk, and battik goods.
Kuala Lumpur has a fine selection of high-grade gold and silver jewelry on offer. It will be wise to buy personal adornments in specialized stores. The majority of these lies around the Central Market. Authentic stuff can be purchased at many antique shops of the capital.
Let us not forget about local cosmetics, including hand-made soap with exotic flavors, creams, scrubs with natural oils, etc. These goods are sold in dozens of department stores and in healthcare shops. Coconut oil is purchased for cooking or as a cosmetic means. It is a high-quality product that is sold at a rather affordable price.
A very popular souvenir is the famous Tiger balm. This medicine was invented by a Chinese apothecary in the end of the 19th century. It can help ease pain in joints and muscles, and is used to deal with various health issues. There are red, blue, and green balms of offer. It is sold freely all around the place, including shops, pharmacies, markets and even gift stores.
Edible gifts include local sweet treats (candies with dried durian, chocolate and so on), spices, coffee, and tea in gift bags.
Tourists often purchase exotic fruit and bring them back home. Noteworthy are starfruit (carambola), jack-fruit, papaya, litchi, mangosteens, and rambutans. Some supermarkets sell these fruits packed in special baskets. However, it will not be a problem to buy a container for the fruits on your own.
The winter season is the chillest period of the whole year. Eventually, only locals think so because the high usually makes +32 °С during the day. Expect up to +23 °С at night. Humidity is high all around the year in this region due to vicinity to the equator. That is why it can be difficult to fight the heat.
The weather is sunny and clear but it can shower after midday. Raining is short and heavy, and brings chill for a short while.
The high is +33 °С during the day in March and April. Expect +23 °С at night. It rains more often in spring. It is considered to be the rainiest period of the year. It usually showers at night. Humidity can reach more than 90%. The weather is very stuffy and the heat is unbearable due to this.
It rains less often in May. It is the beginning of the so-called "dry season" that lasts until the very end of August. The thermometer shows +34 °С during the day (up to +24 °С at night). The level of humidity is quite high.
Expect weak to none precipitation in June and July. The weather is hot, sunny and moist. The thermometer can shop up to +33 °С during the day (around +23 °С at night). However, high humidity makes the weather really hot and stuffy.
The temperature is almost identical in August. It rains more often though. It is the beginning of the raining season that lasts until the end of November.
The raining season becomes stronger in September and October. November is the rainiest month of the year. Expect heavy precipitation. However, this does not mean that is showers every day. It simply rains more often, with squalls and thunderstorms on some occasions. The weather is not very sunny. The level of humidity increases. The high is +32–33 °С during the day (+23-33 °С at night). Raining brings pleasant chill for a short while.