How to Dress in Malaysia
Malaysia, as most Southeast Asian countries is a hot, humid, and rainy place. If your traveling to this area and aren't sure how to dress here are some tips.
Shorts or lightweight pants. Shorts are the most comfortable and cotton is probably the coolest fabric.But if you prefer long pants stay away from heavy denim. Since the humidity can be quite high evaporation cooling doesn't really work here. So the synthetic materials that are supposed to keep one cool and dry...don't.
Short sleeved shirts. Short sleeves are the most commonly worn, and again loose cotton is the most comfortable choice. However if you're sensitive to the sun loose long sleeves may be a better option.
Shoes and socks. As with any travel destination wear something comfortable. Here sandals or slip on shoes are king, because as in most Asian countries people remove their shoes when entering a home or religious place and these types are the most convenient.
Headgear. If you are fair skinned or just don't like the sun bring a hat. As with the other items mentioned a light breathable material is practical.
Coats. You may need a light coat, sweater, or wrap for some indoor places like malls and theaters which can get quite cold. Other places are the highlands i.e. Cameron, Genting and Bukit Tinggi where it's a lot cooler and gets chilly (by local standards) in the evening.
Rain. Being a tropical continent it rains frequently especially November to January. The most practical protection is an umbrella, rain gear can be too hot as the humidity rises dramatically just before it rains and can stay high while raining. You may end up just as wet from perspiration as the rain. One good thing is the rain rarely last longer than an hour and there are many covered shelters when there aren't any buildings to duck into.
- Remember this is a Muslim country. Most locals aren't too concerned with the way tourists dress, However if you are visiting a Mosque or a Malay family's home dress conservatively.
- If you don't want to pack an umbrella you can buy them practically anywhere here.
- If you really pack light and need to buy clothes Malaysia has some great choices. With three main ethnic groups Malay, Chinese, and Indian the different styles of clothing (especially for women)can be a great addition to your wardrobe. While most Malaysians often wear their own traditional clothing for their respective festivals they often wear the clothes from the other races at other times.
- If you are planning to spend any time longer than a month be aware shoes without stitched soles don't last very long from the heat, humidity and moisture. The jungle takes an even faster toll than the cities. Also things will mildew if put away damp.
- Crime. Like all big cities tourists are the target of criminals like pick pockets and con artists. One threat here is motorcycle born snatch thieves, who ride by and grab bags, jewelry,and cameras from the unwary. When walking keep away from the edges of sidewalks and keep an eye on your bags.
- Mosquitoes. In the tropical climate mosquitoes are ever present, so long sleeves and pants can offer protection. But with Dengue a threat a good repellent is advisable except at altitudes above which are the Cameroon Highlands, Genting Highlands, some mountains on Langkawi, and Mount Kinabalu.
- Leeches. If planning to visit the jungles you will probably encounter leeches. Most cotton or woven socks won't protect you unless it's a very tight weave. Anti-leech socks which go to the knee are available in some outdoor shops and Ace Hardware here. Some insect repellents with high concentrates of DEET will help too. When you walk in the jungle tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into the tightly woven socks.