What to Wear In Malaysia (Plus: What To Pack)

The abundance of contrasts and diversity in every aspect makes Malaysia an enticing travel destination for both seasoned travelers and novices alike.

In addition, Malaysia will appeal to adventurers, nature lovers, and those who love urban travel.

Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia, and the South China Sea divides it into West Malaysia and East Malaysia.

While West Malaysia (which includes the capital Kuala Lumpur) occupies the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, East Malaysia is located on the island of Borneo, which it shares with Brunei and Indonesia.

In addition to these two mainland parts, Malaysia includes numerous small islands surrounding them.

Malaysia consists of 13 federal states and three federal territories.

It is a country where many cultures meet. The majority of the population are Malays, followed by Chinese and Indians. The most represented religion is Islam.

Climate in Malaysia 

Malaysia is located north of the equator and has an equatorial climate.

In most of the country, the weather is hot and humid all year round, but it is more pleasant at higher altitudes. Considering the weather, summer clothes are appropriate all year round.

However, due to regional differences and cultural norms, you will need long-sleeved clothing in some situations.

Throughout the year, the temperature varies minimally, with highs ranging from around 29°C (84°F) between November and January to about 33°C (91°F) between March and August.

Average night temperatures throughout the year are approximately 24°C (75°F) and rarely fall below 20°C (68°F). At high altitudes, the annual daily average is between 18.5°C (65°F) and 20°C (68°F).

Malaysia is affected by two monsoon seasons. The Southwest Monsoon lasts from June to September, and the Northeast Monsoon lasts from October to January.

The climate in West Malaysia and East Malaysia is different, so consider this when preparing for your trip.

While the wind from the land influences the peninsula’s climate, East Malaysia is influenced by its proximity to the ocean.

By this, the seasons in which it is best to visit different parts of the country also differ.

For example, in West Malaysia, the season lasts from November to April, and in East Malaysia from March to October.

Malaysia – Destinations and Attractions 

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is an unmissable destination when visiting this country.

In this exciting city, you will see luxury hotels, impressive skyscrapers, colonial architecture, but also traditional wooden houses.

One of the main sights of Kuala Lumpur is the Petronas Twin Towers, among the most famous buildings in the world.

Kuala Lumpur is known for its rich gastronomic offer, nightlife, and shopping.

A well-known destination in Malaysia is the Langkawi archipelago, which consists of about a hundred islands. You should take advantage of this place if you enjoy snorkeling, diving, and beautiful beaches.

Among the favorite destinations in Malaysia is George Town, located in the state of Penang.

The old part of this city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Apart from its architecture, George Town is also known for its excellent food offering, and people often call it “the food capital of Malaysia.”

The must-visit places in Malaysia include Rawa Island, Johor Bahru, Malacca, and many other places.

What to Pack for Malaysia? 

The list of items to pack when traveling to Malaysia will vary depending on your planned activities.

If you plan to travel cross-country, a duffel bag or soft backpack will be much more practical than a hard suitcase.

Also, in addition to the main luggage, bring a light daypack. It will come in handy for various outdoor activities, walks around the city, and beach time.

Don’t pack too many things; remember to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs.

What to Wear in Malaysia? 

Appropriate clothing for Malaysia also depends a lot on which part of the country you are traveling to.

Kuala Lumpur is a big, cosmopolitan city. You can wear whatever clothes you want here. The weather is warm all year round, so T-shirts and shorts are perfectly acceptable.

The situation is similar in other big cities and tourist destinations.

On the other hand, the population is more traditional in rural areas and outside tourist destinations.

Modest and decent clothing is expected here. Don’t wear anything that reveals too much skin.

Also, if you plan to visit mosques and other places of worship, cover your arms and legs.

In some places of worship, you are expected to cover your hair, so bring a scarf just in case.

But don’t worry if you do forget it. You can buy it in many places in Malaysia, and in some mosques, you can even rent it at the entrance.

You can dress for the beach as in any other part of the world, but remember that topless sunbathing is absolutely unacceptable for women.

Most of Malaysia is warm or even hot all year round. Therefore, light, breathable clothes made of natural materials are the best option.

However, shopping malls, restaurants, and many other places are often air-conditioned, so the difference is significant compared to the temperature outdoors.

That’s why you should always carry a light sweater in your bag.

It is usually a bit colder in mountainous areas, so you’ll need slightly warmer clothes there. In the evening you may also need a light jacket.

It rains a lot in Malaysia, so clothes made of quick-drying materials are the best option.

In addition, carry a light raincoat and an umbrella, especially if you are traveling during monsoon seasons.

Most restaurants in Malaysia do not have a strict dress code, but in the evenings, you can choose dressier clothes if you wish.

Dressing Tips for Women 

Outside of tourist areas, choose modest clothing. Maxi skirts and dresses, light long pants, and shirts are recommended.

You can wear T-shirts, but avoid tank tops, crop tops, and open-back tops.

In big cities, you can choose a little looser clothes like shorter dresses and shorts.

However, ensure these combinations are decent if you want to avoid unwanted attention.

Beachwear is acceptable on the beach, but you shouldn’t wear it anywhere else.

A pashmina or sarong is a handy item of clothing when traveling in Malaysia.

You can use it to cover yourself when entering religious places, in air-conditioned rooms it can protect you from the cold, and on the beach from the sun.

Natural materials are essential. Choose cotton, linen, silk, or bamboo to keep you cozy in hot and humid weather. Merino wool clothing is also an excellent choice as it is unsurpassed in absorbing sweat.

For rainy days, don’t forget a light raincoat.

Dressing Tips for Men 

Considering the climate, choose light and breathable clothing. T-shirts, polo shirts, Khaki shorts, cargo pants, or trousers are good choices for most occasions.

However, for visiting places of worship, men will need long pants and shirts with sleeves that reach the elbows or, even better, long sleeves.

If you are traveling during the rainy season, bring a raincoat.

At higher altitudes, you’ll need slightly warmer clothing. It would be best to dress in layers to adapt to the different temperatures.

A light jacket can be handy in air-conditioned rooms. If you choose a model with many pockets, the jacket can also be convenient for storing small items.

Footwear for Visiting Malaysia 

Remember that you will take off your shoes in many places in Malaysia. It’s not just places of worship and homes.

Taking off your shoes is part of the culture in Malaysia. Given this, slip-on shoes are a good solution.

Flat sandals or flip-flops are suitable for the beach, and you can wear them during other activities as well if you are okay with getting your feet a little dirty or wet from time to time.

Keep in mind that you will likely be doing a lot of walking in Malaysia, so the comfort of your footwear is more important than style. So choose flat shoes instead of high heels.

If you plan to go to the mountains, comfortable sneakers or waterproof flat shoes might be a good choice.

What Else to Pack for Malaysia? 

When packing for a trip to Malaysia, there are several things to consider: weather conditions, safety, and comfort.

As the weather in most of Malaysia is hot and humid all year round, it is essential to prepare for sun and rain.

You can buy sunscreen in Malaysia, but if you already have a favorite that you always use, it’s better to bring it with you so that you don’t have to look for it in local stores.

You’ll also need sunglasses year-round.

Bring a cap or hat with a wide brim to protect your head, face, and neck. All these things will be necessary for you for the beach, but also all other activities outdoors.

A cooling towel is a convenient accessory in the heat. These towels are small and easy to pack in a bag or daypack, and always have them on hand to cool off.

If you’re traveling during the rainy season, it’s safest to bring both a raincoat and an umbrella. Rain in Malaysia falls throughout the year but is more frequent and intense in the monsoon seasons.

A good option is a windproof travel umbrella because it is easy to pack and protects you even from stronger showers accompanied by wind.

It’s a good idea to pack a rain cover for a backpack or a dry bag so that important items like technical devices stay dry if you get caught in a downpour.

Also, bring a waterproof phone case to protect your phone from rain or accidents at the beach.

When it comes to security, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Along with a standard first aid kit, pack mosquito repellent. Although Malaysia is not among the countries where mosquito-borne tropical diseases are prevalent, it is not entirely safe in this regard either.

Don’t rely on buying insect repellent when you land. These products are usually expensive in Malaysia and often less effective than those sold in the West.

Water is also on the list of things you will need to consider. Tap water in Malaysia isn’t drinkable. You should also refrain from brushing your teeth or washing fruits and vegetables with this water.

Bring a water bottle to fill with bottled water or a bottle with a built-in filter that you can fill directly with tap water.

Malaysia is considered quite a safe country for tourists, and the locals are generally polite and friendly.

However, when traveling anywhere, you should take care of important items like documents, money, and cards. To keep it safe, pack a neck wallet or money belt.

Finally, when it comes to comfort, the most important tip is to pack light so your luggage doesn’t weigh you down on the road.

If packing is not your forte, packing cubes can be handy for making the most of the space in your suitcase.

You can also save space in your luggage by taking a quick-dry microfiber towel instead of a standard thick towel.

Pack a portable charger and a travel adapter plug so that all your technology is available and ready to use.

What Should You not Bring to Malaysia? 

In the first place, do not wear provocative clothes and clothes with offensive prints.

Local customs and beliefs may differ from what you’re used to, so think carefully about any clothing that someone might find offensive before you pack it.

You also won’t need too warm clothes. Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring a thin jacket just in case, but don’t be surprised if you don’t end up using it, either.

The climate in Malaysia is too hot for jeans, so it’s best to leave them at home too.

What to Wear in Malaysia in January? 

The average January temperature in most of Malaysia is around 30°C (86°F).

Expect sunny weather and very little rainfall in West Malaysia. It’s the perfect time to visit Kuala Lumpur or enjoy the beaches of Langkawi.

On the east coast, many resorts are closed at this time. The Northeast Monsoon influences this part of the country, so the level of precipitation is high.

It would be best if you packed T-shirts, breathable shirts and light pants. Women can enjoy wearing their summer skirts and dresses, but the length should be below the knee.

If you’re traveling to East Malaysia during January, gear up for the rain.

What to Wear in Malaysia in February? 

In Kuala Lumpur and the central part of the peninsula, the average temperature in February is 29°C (84°F). Although the weather is mostly sunny, short tropical showers can be expected in the afternoon.

For the west coast, this is one of the driest months, and the days are warm, averaging around 30°C (86°F).

It’s still rainy on the east coast, although the Northeast Monsoon period is mostly over at this time of the year.

Gear up for warm, sunny weather unless you’re heading to the east coast. Bring T-shirts and shorts, and airy shirts and pants for going to more conservative areas. Also, pack rain gear, just in case.

If you are staying in the mountains, add a few warmer garments and a thin jacket. In this part of the country, average daytime temperatures in February are around 20°C (68°F), while at night, they drop a few degrees lower.

What to Wear in Malaysia in March? 

During March, the sky clears over East Malaysia, so the whole country is an ideal destination during this month.

Average temperatures are around 30°C (86°F), and precipitation occurs but is short-lived and less frequent.

Choose clothes made of natural materials that will protect you from heat. Don’t forget long sleeves for visits to places of worship.

What to Wear in Malaysia in April? 

April is in the dry period. Although this doesn’t mean there is no rain in Malaysia at this time of year, showers are rare, pass quickly and bring welcome relief from the heat.

On the beaches and in big cities you can enjoy yourself in T-shirts and shorts. But, protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high protection factor.

Carry a light sweater in your bag, as indoor spaces are likely to be heavily air-conditioned.

If you plan to go to non-touristy regions, bring modest clothing and cover your legs and arms (at least up to the elbows). Airy linen shirts and pants are great for these occasions.

What to Wear in Malaysia in May? 

The east coast becomes a favorite destination during May because the rainfall decreases, and the conditions for both snorkeling and diving are perfect.

Winds and short-term showers begin on the west coast.

The whole country is warm, about 30°C (86°F) on average, except at higher altitudes where temperatures are more pleasant.

Choose materials that keep you cool and won’t sweat, such as linen, thin cotton, or merino wool. Be prepared for sudden showers.

What to Wear in Malaysia in June? 

The east coast is also a perfect destination in June because the days remain sunny and dry.

The Southwest Monsoon season begins, which affects the west coast, so frequent storms are expected in these parts. Regardless of rainfall, temperatures remain high, around 32°C (90°F).

Suppose you’re looking for refreshment from the heat, head to higher altitudes. There, the average in June is around 20°C (68°F).

Women can enjoy long summer dresses, while men are most comfortable wearing airy T-shirts and shorts.

If you’re going to the west coast, gear up for the rain.

What to Wear in Malaysia in July? 

July is the peak season for the east coast. The weather conditions are perfect, and the only thing that can be taken as a drawback is the slightly larger number of tourists.

On the west coast, the weather is humid and hot.

Not much rainfall is expected in Kuala Lumpur and the central peninsula, although brief showers are likely in the afternoon.

If you’re traveling to the east coast, you’ll probably spend most of your time on the beach.

In addition to beachwear, bring long sleeves for occasions that require more conservative dressing. Some restaurants have a smart casual dress code in the evening, so prepare a more elegant combination.

For traveling to other parts of Malaysia, don’t forget a raincoat.

What to Wear in Malaysia in August? 

On the east coast, the weather is still ideal. Days are dry and warm, averaging around 30°C (86°F).

You can also travel to the west coast if you don’t mind the heat and heavy showers. However, it is even hotter than the east at this time of year, so prepare for heat and rain.

Choose clothes that provide comfort but do not reveal too much skin. Maxi dresses, linen tops, and airy, baggy pants suit these conditions.

What to Wear in Malaysia in September? 

At the end of September, the weather changes. Temperatures in the east are on a slight decline. In the west, the monsoon season is ending, and the sky is clearing.

You’ll still need light clothing and a sweater for air-conditioned rooms.

If you are traveling to mountainous areas and higher altitudes, bring slightly warmer clothes and long-sleeved pajamas because it gets a bit cold at night.

What to Wear in Malaysia in October? 

While the rainy season ends on the west coast in October, strong winds and heavy rainfall begin to blow on the east coast. Regardless of the rain, most days are still hot.

Bring summer clothes and rain gear, even if you are traveling to the western part of the country.

Choose clothing that protects you from the heat but doesn’t violate local dress codes.

What to Wear in Malaysia in November? 

Most hotels and resorts on the east coast close in November, but on the west coast, it is peak season.

On the west coast, the daily average is 29°C (84°F), with frequent brief tropical showers during the day.

Wear clothes that dry quickly and keep you fresh.

You can enjoy your usual beach wear on the beach but change into something more modest when you go on city walks and tours.

You can wear sandals or comfortable sneakers, but the most practical are slip-on shoes because you will be taking off your shoes in many places in Malaysia.

What to Wear in Malaysia in December? 

Similar to November, there are frequent storms on the east coast in December, so most accommodations are closed.

In contrast, the west coast is warm and clear, with averages around 30°C (86°F).

If you spend the Christmas holidays in Malaysia, expect to wear summer clothes.

However, along with simple and modest wear, you can also bring some more elegant pieces for evening outings.

A Few Additional Tips 

Although welcoming and open to foreigners, Malaysia is still primarily conservative.

Therefore, exchanging affection, such as kissing and hugging in public, is unacceptable in Malaysia.

If you’re looking for a party that involves drinking, ask where it’s allowed. Many restaurants and clubs do not serve alcoholic beverages.

As in other Eastern cultures, the head is considered sacred in Malaysia.

Therefore, do not touch anyone on the head, even children.

Although most people in Malaysia shake hands, be aware that some Muslims don’t want to shake hands with women.

For some Muslims and Indians, it is impolite to use the left hand when eating or giving something to someone.

Removing shoes is mandatory before entering most places of worship, homes, or other rooms with carpet.

If you need more clarification about the rules, ask or follow the example of the locals.