MALAYSIA, including BORNEO
Malaysia is one of the most interesting countries you can visit. Located in southeast Asia, the country lies on the peninsula mainland, as well as across many islands, the largest of these being Borneo, a paradise for nature lovers. It is bordered by Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei an Indonesia. Its vibrant capital Kuala Lumpur is one of the most advanced in the world and you can marvel at the juxtaposition between old and ultra-modern. Whereas you can you back to basics in the country’s tropical jungles and amazing nature reserves. With a history of local monarchs, the country came under British colonial rule in the 18th century and only gained independence in 1857. During this time, as part of the commonwealth, the country saw a large immigration of Chinese and Indian workers, who have shaped Malaysia into what it is today. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society and is one of the most visited in south east Asia.
One of the main reasons in the host of wildlife on offer to visitors! In Borneo, you can see Orangutans, monkeys and turtles amongst others on this Adventure
Your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Malaysia and must have at least 1 blank page for entry stamps. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
U.S., Canadian, Australian and European citizens may enter Malaysia for up to 90 days for tourist purposes without a visa, nevertheless permission to enter and remain in Malaysia is at the decision of and discretion of the Malaysian Immigration Department. Malaysia is very strict on its immigration laws and routinely fine and deport passengers who overstay visas or infringe the restrictions. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in Kuala Lumpur, including those for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. However, embassies for other countries are located in other Asian cities, offering coverage to Malaysia. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour. Please come prepared with your insect repellent spray/plug-in just in case.
Health authorities have classified Malaysia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission and dengue, malaria and mosquito borne diseases are present all year round, even now in Kuala Lumpur. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and check the recommendations for vaccination
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints, but please note, whilst in rural areas, doctors and medical supplies are few and far between. If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Malaysia and Borneo Tour is an Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations however please take note of the malaria information below:
Yellow Fever Certificate. Depending on the area you are visiting, or areas you have previously travelled to, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Tuberculosis, Rabies and Malaria may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/countries
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
This tour to Malaysia and Borneo is quite a contrast, so will require a number of outfits. From the big city to the equatorial jungle, from beaches to temples. We would recommend comfortable clothes and a good pair of walking shoes for this tour. Easy-care, light summer clothing is best and bring enough underwear and socks so that frequent laundry is not necessary. Feel free to include a few smart-casual outfits and a pair of dressier shoes for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code. The weather should largely be warm and sunny throughout the journey, however it is always good to be prepared for every eventuality, so make sure you pack a light jacket in case of rain and the fact that it may be cooler in the evening. It will of course be more humid in the jungle, and appropriate clothing should be worn for walking there. Dress should be modest with upper arms and legs covered, especially if entering religious premises such as temples and pagodas.
A good day bag should be big enough to hold your valuables, camera, and the things you need while you are out and about. Insect repellent and sun cream are also essential items and it is a good idea to include a travel umbrella, tissues and antibacterial wipes. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Borneo Tour – This tour includes an internal flight in Malaysia. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight.
Luggage handling is not included in our Malaysia tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of Malaysia is Malay, though English is spoken widely across the country and remains an active second language.
The time zone in Malaysia is GMT+8, 8 hours ahead of London GMT.
The weather in Malaysia in hard to describe, given the size of the country and varying topography – but expect it to be hot and humid! Malaysia enjoys tropical weather all year-round and as so much of it is close to water, it is often humid. Thankfully, due to this, temperatures generally range from a 20-30°C throughout the year.
Almost half of the country’s land is on the Asian peninsular, a large percentage on the island of Borneo, and rest of thousands of islands.
The weather on Borneo is warmer than the mainland, with temperatures there averaging 27-32°C, and humidity usually at around 80%.
In Malaysia, the standard voltage is 240V and the frequency is 50Hz. You will need a UK-style (Type G) plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Malaysia has a good communications infrastructure, especially in the cities, but less so in the jungle. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate and be patchy. It may be better to purchase a local SIM card; your guide can help with this. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Vietnam with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive. Please note, there will be no internet access on boats nor at remote homestay locations.
The currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian ringgit (RM). Older Malaysians still refer to ringgit as ‘dollars’, so it is advisable to check if they mean US dollars or ‘Malaysian dollars’, ringgit.
Whilst larger institutions in the cities are starting to become a more card-based society, it remains a predominantly cash society especially in the countryside. It is advisable to carry a good number of smaller notes when travelling to the countryside, as often it is difficult to get change for notes larger than RM20. ATMs are widely available in cities but not so in smaller villages. Withdrawal charges may be high! If visiting more remote areas of the country, please ensure you have sufficient cash with you to cover necessary expenses.
Credit cards are becoming more accepted at mid-high range establishments in the cities, but less so throughout the rest of the country. Therefore, it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at large banks or bureau de changes in the major centres, but generally not in hotels. In cities, it is often best to exchange them at bureaux de change over banks, however, outside of the cities, rates at the bureaux de change are not favourable and may not be accepted.
Malaysia is still generally relatively inexpensive for western travellers and you can pick up some good bargains along the way.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Malaysia are usually open 10am – 3pm Monday to Friday, with some open for a few hours on a Saturday morning. Bank hours will be significantly reduced during Ramadan.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Malaysian food is well known around the world. It is a mixture of the traditional Malay foods, along with heavy influences from the immigrants who came to Malaysia from China and India. Street food is a must try whilst there – you will find independent traders lining the streets, selling freshly cooked local dishes. As with most of the South East Asian nations, the diet is built around noodles and rice, but you will also find an abundance of fresh and colourful fruits and vegetables.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in Malaysia is generally not safe to drink. Drink only bottled water and use bottled water to clean your teeth. Refuse ice if you do not know whether it has been made from bottled water. Bottled water and mineral water are widely available and can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Malaysia offers lots for visitors to buy. There’s many large malls and international shops to be found in Kuala Lumpur and other big cities. However, in the countryside you will find a host of traditional gifts and souvenirs. The most famous are probably the multicoloured batik prints. You can also pick up woodcarvings and baskets, and many other pieces of bright and intricate handicrafts and jewellery.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 9am – 6pm Monday–Sunday, though large malls and street vendors can stay open for many hours more. Shopping hours will be significantly reduced during Ramadan.
• VAT/Tax Refund:
Numerous shops in Malaysia offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Malaysia are generally low. However, there’s a high risk of petty theft, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards, especially in the bigger cities where pickpocketing and bag/camera snatching is not uncommon. Snatch thieves are known to use motorbikes to grab valuables and make a quick getaway, so make sure you keep a tight hold of your personal belongings. Keep large amounts of money out of sight and consider using a money belt; in your hotel room keep your valuables locked in the room safe and when out and about keep an eye on your bag and other personal effects. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. Take extra care at night and in isolated areas. Credit card and ATM fraud is widespread. Take great care when using your card.
Malaysia has sadly been the target of a number of terrorist attacks in recent years and there is the threat of future attacks. Protests may occur and it illegal for foreign nationals to take part in demonstrations. Please ensure you carry photographic ID with you at all times and present it if requested by the police or other official authorities.
Malaysia is a multicultural, majority Muslim country and local traditions, customs, laws and religions should be respected. This is especially prevalent during the holy month of Ramadan, other religious festivals or when visit religious sites. Modest dress should be worn in conservative and rural areas and when visiting places of worship.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia and punishable under federal law, and in some states, shari’a law. Behaviour which could attract unwanted attention including public displays of affection should avoided.
Most visits to nature reserves are trouble-free. However, as you can imagine, with wildlife, there is always an inherent risk associated. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Smoking is banned in a number of indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited in all restaurants and within 3m of the building or outer tables. However, enforcement of the rules is lax.
Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, with over 60% of the population following the faith, the majority of these being the original Malay population. Almost 20% are Buddhist, close to 10% Christian mainly from Chinese immigrant communities and 6% Hindu, predominantly Indian immigrants.
Malaysia offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card! Please remember to be courteous when taking photos at temples or religious sites.
ARRIVAL IN MALAYSIA
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in other South East Asian countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2019