Malaysian Culture, Explained: What to Know Before You Go

The world is a big place, and every country has its own set of traditions, beliefs, and values. When planning your next trip, it’s important to take note of any unfamiliar social norms so that you can avoid unintentionally offending your hosts. In this blog post, we offer an overview of Malaysian culture as it pertains to etiquette and social conduct. Whether you’re just beginning to plan a trip or are simply looking for more information about travelling to Malaysia, this article is sure to be helpful. Keep reading for advice on how to behave in public during your time there so that you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting this beautiful country.

Etiquette for Dining Out in Malaysia

When you’re out eating at a restaurant in Malaysia, you’ll want to keep in mind a few things. First, dining times in Malaysia are a bit different from those in other countries. In general, restaurants don’t get busy until late in the evening, and many close their doors at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. If you arrive at a restaurant early in the evening, you may be the only customer there, so feel free to speak at a normal volume.

If you find yourself eating at a restaurant during a busy time, it’s good to keep your voice down so as not to disturb other patrons. Most restaurants are casual, and you’ll see diners wearing a variety of different outfits. Wearing nice clothing is a good idea for fancier restaurants, but for the most part, you can wear whatever you’d like. If you’re eating at a nicer establishment, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make a reservation.

Etiquette for Hotel Stays in Malaysia

When staying in a hotel in Malaysia, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Most hotels expect you to arrive at a set time, and if you show up earlier than that, they may not let you into your room until the check-in time has arrived. And since most hotels don’t have 24-hour reception desks, you’ll need to know when the right time is to arrive so that you don’t get in trouble for showing up early. When you get to your room, you may notice that many hotels in Malaysia have pictures of Hindu deities or images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in their rooms. You don’t need to be worried or offended if you see these — simply be respectful when handling the items and don’t do anything to intentionally disrespect them.

Public Behaviour in Malaysia

If you’re travelling to Malaysia on business or pleasure, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in public at some point during your trip. It’s important to know how to act in public so that you don’t offend your Malaysian hosts. In general, Malaysians tend to be reserved people who aren’t big on public displays of affection. If you’re meeting people, you should wait to be introduced before shaking hands. When you’re eating out, you’ll want to try to finish your meal before going to the bathroom. If you need to go, try to hold it in until you can get back to your table, as it’s considered very rude to leave the table while you’re eating. If you’re on the road, you may notice that many Malaysians don’t wear seatbelts in their cars. When you travel, it’s always best to follow the local laws, so buckle up even if nobody around you does.

Travelling in Malaysia

If you’re travelling within Malaysia, you may want to consider taking a bus. Buses in Malaysia are very cheap but also very safe, making them a great option for those on a budget. Typically, you can purchase a ticket, take any seat you’d like, and decide on a departure time once you get to the station.

If you’re travelling with a large group, taxis are a great option, as there are lots of taxis in Malaysia that can take you where you need to go. When you’re travelling by air, you may want to allow extra time for checking in and going through security at the airport. You may notice that the lines are often long at the airport, due to Malaysia’s strict security measures. Make sure to arrive at the airport early so that you have plenty of time to get through security and make it to your gate in time.


Malaysia is a beautiful country with diverse and interesting people. When you’re planning your trip, it’s important to do your research and understand their culture and customs so that you can avoid offending your hosts. In this blog post, we offer an overview of Malaysian culture as it pertains to etiquette and social conduct. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting Malaysia.