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Home > Malaysia Hotels > Malaysia Customs and Etiquette

Malaysia Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations


Discount Hotels in Malaysia : Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Cameron Highlands, Sarawak, Melaka, Kuantan, Kota Bahru, Johor, Perak, Terengganu, Genting Highlands, Sabah


Malaysia Customs and Etiquette – with Wired Destinations

How to behave in Malaysia

Malaysians smile a lot, and are more often than not polite and helpful. Cities and entrenched tourist areas have a more liberal atmosphere, but if visiting rural areas, and especially someone's private home, it helps to know something of local norms.

Seniority is much respected. The oldest male member of a family is greeted first, often sits in the best and highest seat, and is consulted first on any matter.

If you are a man, greet the men first, then the women. Women usually greet other women first. It is common for women not to shake hands with male strangers. Although handshakes are frequent, particularly in the cities, do not be offended by what is a limp handshake by Western standards. The Malay style of greeting is to touch the other's palm and then his heart, "I am pleased to meet you from the bottom of my heart."

Hugging and kissing are foreign among non-family members, so except for children, refrain from doing so, no matter how fond you become of someone. Necking or fondling each other in public is a no-no, too, particularly in rural areas. In traditional homes, it is rude to cross your legs when you sit down in front of the host, particularly for women.

Drinks and snacks are always served to guests. Never refuse! At the very least, take a nominal sip or one biscuit. Use the right hand to pass or accept anything. The left is traditionally "dirty" because of its washroom connections.

Pointing with the finger is considered very rude and a whole hand is used to indicate a direction but never a person. To point to a person, close the right hand into a fist with the thumb on top and then aim it at the subject.

Malaysians remove their shoes at the door to keep the house free from dirt. You can always tell if there is some kind of get-together at someone's house by the number of shoes and sandals scattered around the front door.

Tipping in Malaysia

In most Malaysia hotels and large restaurants, a 10 percent government tax and 5 percent service tax is added to the bill, so tipping is not obligatory. However, it is appreciated and is common but only in the cities and major Malaysia travel spots. In large hotels, bellboys and porters usually receive tips from RM2 to RM5 depending on the service rendered. In smart restaurants you can just leave behind the loose change. Malaysia tourist guides expect a tip. Otherwise, a simple thank you (terima kasih) and a smile will do.

Malaysia culture and other intersting Malaysia travel info can be found with our  Malaysia Travel Guide, also recommendations for the finest Malaysia hotels and Kuala Lumpur hotels, Sarawak hotels or Melaka hotels. For  Malaysia Tavel Tips on Malaysia Dining, Malaysia Beaches and Malaysia Sightseeing or to find out about the metropolis Kuala Lumpur check out Kuala Lumpur Travel info, Kuala Lumpur Culture and Kuala Lumpur Sightseeing.

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