ABOUT MALAYSIA & KL

MALAYSIA is a country in Southeast Asia. It consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea. The Federation of Malaya achieved its independence on August 31, 1957 and together with Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia on September 16, 1963. The country has thirteen states and three Federal Territories with Kuala Lumpur being the Malaysian capital.

KUALA LUMPUR was founded in 1857 at the confluence of Gombak and Klang rivers. In Malay, the name literally means “muddy confluence”. The settlement started when a member of the Selangor Royal family Raja Abdullah opened up the Klang Valley for tin prospectors. Went up the river Klang and began prospecting in the Ampang area, which were then jungle and a thriving tin mine was established. This naturally attracted merchants who traded basic provisions to be miners in return for some of the tin. The traders set up shop at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak and a city was born.

LANGUAGE

Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, although most people in KL can speak fluent English. The different ethnic groups also speak their own languages and dialects.

For example, Mandarin and Cantonese are widely spoken by the Chinese, while the majority of Indians speak Tamil.

RELIGION

Islam is the official religion of the country, although other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity are also widely practised and this is evident from the many temples and churches that are found along with mosques. Most major religious festivals are national public holidays.

CLIMATE

The tropical climate in Kuala Lumpur makes the weather warm and pleasant all-year round with temperatures between 28 and 33 degrees centigrade. Rain occurs occasionally throughout the year.

TIME ZONE

Malaysia is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

CURRENCY

The Malaysian currency is a decimal system, where 100sen make 1 Ringgit. Ringgit is often written as MYR and come in notes of MYR100, MYR50, MYR20, MYR10, MYR5 and MYR1 denominations. Coins come in 50sen, 20sen, 10sen and 5sen denominations.

Money changers are commonly found in commercial areas and accept most major currencies. Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at banks, licensed money changers and some hotels. Most hotels and large retail outlets will accept credit cards and travellers’ cheques.

BUSINESS HOURS

Retail shops are generally open from 10:00am till 8:00pm, while shopping centres are open till 10.00 pm. Government offices operate from 8:00 am till 4:30 pm on weekdays only.

Banking hours are from 9:30am to 4:30pm – Monday to Friday, and Post offices open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm – Monday to Friday.

COMMUNICATION

Post Office and telephone facilities are available throughout Kuala Lumpur. Mobile phones operate on the GSM network and roaming services are readily available.

Internet services are available to the public via internet cafes and at hotels, and many outlets offer free Wi-Fi for their patrons.

CULTURE & ETIQUETTE

Malaysia is a melting pot of different cultures and races is very much liberalized in social etiquette; however it is important to recognize certain different cultural and religious characteristics.

Many Malaysians usually greet each other with a less than firm handshake and may then place their right hand over their heart after greeting you as a sign of sincerity. It is also considered impolite to hand or receives anything to a Malaysian with your left hand - as in most Islamic countries the left hand is considered "unclean" and thus insulting. If this makes the action somewhat cumbersome by having to change hands, take the time to do it anyway.

DRESS SENSE

Wear loose and light summer clothing when going outdoors. Wear cotton materials as they absorb sweat and will keep you cool in the mid-day heat.

Evening wear depends very much on where you plan to go and the setting. Jeans, t-shirts and sandals are acceptable in casual eateries and hawker stalls, but discouraged at fine dining establishments.

If you are visiting religious sites, it is always best to be on the conservative side. Long pants and long skirts are acceptable. Long robes are normally available for visitors at some of the more famous mosques like the National mosque and the Wilayah mosque.