This Southeastern part of Asia is a wondrous world to explore, with much of the natural environment still untouched by human development. Immerse yourself in the cultural environment by respecting traditional customs and practices.
Certain conventions and gestures might be viewed in a positive light, whereas others are better off being avoided entirely. Here is some advice for travellers looking to blend in well while travelling through Malaysia.
1. Mind Your Head and Feet
In Malaysia, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body. It is therefore not a good idea to touch someone else’s head, especially not those of elderly people. In contrast, the souls of the feet are considered to be the dirtiest part of the body. It would be extremely rude to show the souls of your feet to a stranger.
2. Anger Management
Be careful not to lose your temper among locals, as this could land you in trouble with the authorities. The ability to show calm and tolerance in any situation are deeply ingrained within Malaysian society.
3. Bartering and Handling Objects
Bartering is welcome across Malaysia, as long as you don’t seem too desperate, as citizens will easily take advantage of the situation. Try to make more use of your right hand, as handling things too often with your left hand might be seen as a sign of evil spirits or be associated with a lack of trust.
4. Religions and Beliefs
Make sure to respect the traditions and cultural beliefs of the citizens. Religious institutions can easily take offence if their practices are not respected. Learn about what kind of gestures to avoid when visiting a temple or sacred place in Malaysia.
5. Giving and Begging Practices
Don’t give underaged beggars money in the street. Older citizens look down on this practice, as it is seen as teaching them that spending time begging is better than going to school and becoming educated.
Remember to keep these tips nearby and read them again before entering public spaces in Malaysia to refresh your memory. Travellers can check out this guide to get an idea about what to do and what to expect when traversing through the country.