Most Stunning Facts About Malaysian People

Sunday, November 25, 2018

So you’re thinking of visiting Malaysiainfo-icon, yet you’re not sure what to expect from the Malaysian people?  Well, first, you made the right decision for visiting Malaysia. This diverse country is full of surprises, things that you cannot find from any of its neighboring countries. 

Perhaps, you’ve already been to Thailandinfo-icon and Indonesiainfo-icon, and you’re probably thinking that Malaysia is pretty much the same. But there are numerous that make Malaysia different, especially its people. As a melting pot of culture with influences from Indiainfo-icon, Chinainfo-icon, and Southeast Asiainfo-icon, this fusion of influence is evident anywhere you are in the country. 

So here’s all that you need to know about the Malaysian people, as well as the Malaysian culture and traditions, Malaysian cuisines, and places to see in Malaysia.

Brief History of Malaysia

The various colonial architecture in Malaysia indicates at a long colonial history.
The various colonial architecture in Malaysia indicates at a long colonial history.

In order to fully understand the Malaysian people and their culture, it would help to learn a bit about their history. 

For several centuries, the British colonized Malaysia. In 1941, the Japanese invaded the country, yet after World War II, the Japanese were overpowered. 

While gaining independence, tension built up between the Malays and the non-Malays. This conflict resulted in violence after the May 1969 election, which has triggered the government to declare a state of emergency. This has also suspended the parliament.

Read more: History of Malaysia, Summed Up

In 1970, the government of Malaysia took up a new economic policy that was remarkably successful. This has made the country become agriculturally and industrially developed, which is why the standard of living in Malaysia now is way better than some of its neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Culture of Malaysia

Malaysian people are multicultural, their country is a heritage of many different influences.
Malaysian people are multicultural, their country is a heritage of many different influences.

You sure have heard the phrase, “Malaysia, truly Asia.” But what really makes Malaysia be truly Asia? This Southeast Asian country is, in fact, multi-cultural, multilingual, and multi-ethnic. 

Read more: What To Do in George Town

Malaysia is like a kaleidoscope of heritage and culture, which makes it an even more appealing place to visit. Anywhere you go in the country, you’ll find a hint of Indian, Chinese, Arabic, and Southeast Asian influence. 

The cultural influence in the country is vast and the only way to truly understand the real Malaysian culture is when you come for a visit. To give you a glimpse of what to expect, here are some of the things to know about Malaysian culture and traditions.

Family - Malaysian people are very family-oriented. As a result, Malaysians put emphasis on loyalty, unity, and respect for the elders. The family is also where an individual can get emotional and financial support. For instance, if a member of the family is faced with a financial setback, everyone in the family is expected to help out.

Marriage and dating - Malaysians are more traditionalist when it comes to their view on marriage and dating. In rural areas, dating habits are often more conservative. On the other hand, the dating and marriage practices of the Malaysian people in the urban areas are a bit liberal and are somewhat similar to the West.

Work and business - although punctuality is not really a priority in Malaysian work culture, it’s still expected in any business setting. However, some meetings would often start later than expected even if everyone were already present since people don’t usually rush. 

Greetings - greetings are an essential part of the Malaysian culture and are often seen as a sign of respect towards another individual. When greeting a group of people, the eldest person is usually greeted first. Bowing the head is necessary when greeting someone older.

As already mentioned, Malaysia is a multicultural society, although the main ethnic group is the native Malays and the large populations of Indians and Chinese. When visiting the country, you’ll clearly see that most ethnicities still retain their customs, religions, and traditions.

I had a chance to explore the beauty of Malaysia for some time doing touristic tours, but also exploring off-the-beaten-path around the country. Read more about my Malaysian experience and get some idea of what the country offers!

Malaysian Cuisine

Malay cuisine is a mixture of weird and aromatic, and Nasi Kerabu is a prime example of that wondrous cuisine.
Malay cuisine is a mixture of weird and aromatic, and Nasi Kerabu is a prime example of that wondrous cuisine.

The food is one of the main reasons to visit Malaysia. As a multicultural country, the Malaysian cuisines are often divided among ethnicities, although some dishes are a mixture of different ethnicities. 

Most dishes are strong, aromatic, and spicy, thanks to the rich flavor of the various herbs and spices. With various influences from around the world, sampling a traditional Malaysian cuisine is definitely an exciting and varied adventure. So here is some of the must-try food in Malaysia.

Mee goreng mamak - noodle dish with soy sauce, eggs, veggies, and meat.

Nasi kerabu - blue colored rice topped with fried coconut and bean sprouts.

Ayam percik - barbecued chicken with chili, garlic and ginger sauce.

Nasi lemak - rice cooked in coconut milk with a variety of sides.

Char kway teow – stir-fried noodles.

Rendang - Malaysian curry with coconut milk and spices.

Nasi kandar - rice with different toppings.

Laksa - spicy noodle soup with either prawns or fish.

Murtabak - pan-fried bread filled with minced meat and onions.

Places to Visit in Malaysia

The state of Sarawak is full of lush rainforest that is off the beaten path.
The state of Sarawak is full of lush rainforest that is off the beaten path.

Whether you want to frolic in the beautiful beaches of Langkawi, eat amazing street food in Penang, or perhaps you want to get off the beaten track and visit the jungles of Borneo to explore the Malaysian rainforest, there is definitely a destination that’s waiting in Malaysia for you.

Penang - wander around the beautiful streets of Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and check out the beautiful colonial buildings and amazing street arts. As the food capital of Malaysia, Penang is also the best place to sample traditional Malaysian food. If you're looking for more travel ideas, check out how to spend 2 days in Penang and have a blast!

Kota Kinabalu - Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, located in the northern part of Borneo. It’s a famous destination for mountain climbers who would come there to trek Mount Kinabalu, the country’s highest peak. If mountain climbing is not for you, then visit a Kota Kinabalu beach and the night markets to interact with some friendly local Malaysian people.

Kuala Lumpur - the country’s capital city will probably be your starting point in your Malaysian adventure. If you’re simply passing by, there are plenty of places to visit in Kuala Lumpur in one day before you head out to your next destination. Aside from the iconic Petronas tower, do check out the Batu caves statue, the Merdeka Square, and the street foods at Jalan Alor. Check out the list of stunning places to visit in Kuala Lumpur and around! 

Langkawi - if you’re heading to Malaysia for the beach, then Langkawi is your destination. An archipelago that makes up the 99 islands of Malaysia, some of the country’s most beautiful beaches can be found in Langkawi.

Malacca - this is another charming city in Malaysia that is known for its impressive architecture. This is also the best place to visit if you want to learn a brief history of Malaysia as the city is filled with galleries, museums, and historical sites. Looking for more ideas about Malacca? Check out the list of amazing places and start planning your trip!

Borneo - if you want to venture off the beaten path, then head over to Borneo. This massive island is actually divided into three parts spread across three countries - Bruneiinfo-icon, Indonesia, and Malaysia.  Up for an adventure? trek over to the jungle where you get to interact with orangutans and other wild animals.

Can you find yourself in a description of an adventure traveler? If so, then here's the interesting list of off-the-beaten-path places around Malaysia that will definitely fill your soul with the adventure and crazy good experiences!

Malaysian people are good people, and you’ll feel generally safe anywhere you go in the country. And just like with traveling anywhere else in the world, always have an open mind. Communicate with the locals and listen to their stories. Above all, always respect the local culture. 

Carolyn Boston freelance content writer for
Travelling the world on a budget for several years without having a hefty savings account.

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