11 Malaysian Lifestyle Practices You Should Know
Your Malaysian lifestyle can be as extravagant or as modest as you like!
Welcome to a country where every Malaysian loves to drink Milo and respects their elders, and PDA is frowned upon.
Plenty of shopping malls and entertainment venues keep you entertained in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baharu, and Penang.
Larger Malaysian cities have expat communities where you can mingle and enjoy many events and social gatherings.
With its different cultures, culinary, and religious diversity, Malaysia offers the intrepid traveler multiple experiences.
One can experience the different cultural, religious, and ethnic influences that coexist there.
Exploring the city, urban center, and rural villages is an adventure in the diversity of her people.
Malaysia offers many affordable and even accessible lifestyle activities that include public parks, recreation, and sports centers in urban areas.
You make friends with friendly Malaysians for a hike, bike riding, or jogging.
You can dine at a local hawker center, cafe, or Kopitiam for a fraction of the price of a Western meal at a hotel’s restaurant.
The Malaysian Lifestyle
The Malaysian lifestyle is diverse, with influences from the Malay, Chinese, Indian and other cultures that make up the population.
This unique blend of cultures has created a unique way of life that is both modern and traditional at the same time.
The Malaysian lifestyle revolves around family values and strong community ties.
Indeed, you will be faced with a unique lifestyle in Malaysia.
You can shape it accordingly to your needs, expectations, and interests.
To befriend a Malaysian is simple as they are friendly, and most can communicate in English or Manglish.
1 Malaysians Speak Manglish
You may expect a former British colony to speak in the Queens English, but Malaysian claim they speak English – then they lapse into Manglish.
Malaysians also have their unique language, Manglish.
Manglish is a unique form of communication that combines English and local dialects to create informal yet expressive communication.
The English-based creole is principally used in the country and with heavy influences by the dominant languages of the country, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. It is not the official language of Malaysia.
Manglish is often used in everyday conversations, as well as in the media and advertising.
Manglish has become so widespread that the Oxford English Dictionary has even recognized it.
It is widely used in Malaysia and is becoming increasingly popular among younger generations.
One of the activities that Malaysians like is going to the beach and hiking.
Don’t be surprised to hear the phrase ‘why you bo jio?’ if you don’t invite your Malaysian friends out to hang out!
Bo Jio is a Hokkien word meaning ‘never invite.’
Malaysians love using this word in jest when referring to friends who didn’t invite them to an outing or gathering.
‘Never mind, I jio you. Don’t mind the rain, OK boh?’
2 Malaysian “Rain.”
Even if there’s thunder, lighting, and a heavy downpour that sounds like bullets are hitting and pelting the roof of Myvi – Malaysians refer to it as “rain.”
As the wind howls, the thunder claps, and the lightning cracks the sky in half.
Through it all, Malaysians will cooly wait for the rain to stop.
Going outdoors to exercise in the evenings?
Your Malaysian friend is as apt as checking their mobile phone for the weather and looking up at the skies above.
So if everything is under the weather – what do Malaysians do? They head to the malls where it is nice cool air-conditioned and covered.
3 Malaysia Boleh
Malaysia Boleh, “Malaysia can [do it],” is an expression of patriotism or national pride.
Superlatives are a common thing in the nation.
Malaysia is all about the tallest, biggest, highest, and longest.
From the tallest twin towers and the third largest sleeping Buddha in the world to the longest bridge and the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Malaysian culture revels in its superlatives.
While Malaysia has the seventh tallest freestanding telecommunications tower in the world, the internet is slower here than in other countries.
Malaysia scored 62% in helping strangers, 58% in donating money, and 37% in volunteer services.
4 Shopper’s Paradise
Malaysians love to spend their weekends at shopping malls.
Typically the malls and hypermarkets stay open until 10 PM on weekdays and even later on the weekends.
It’s common to find certain malls closing at midnight.
Restaurants and cafes close late too.
If you are up for more shopping, several convenience stores stay open 24 hours.
You can get your Maggi Noodles, Can Coffee, and yes, Milo, too, no matter the hour.
If you’re invited to eat with a Malaysian, you’ll likely be treated to a meal.
Malays are more likely to invite a new friend home.
If you find invitations from the Chinese are hard to come by – don’t worry about it. Chinese generally prefer to entertain in restaurants.
They are more likely to invite you to a restaurant than dine at their homes.
So if you are invited to a Malaysian home, remember the no shoes indoors rule.
5 Shoes off in Malaysian homes
Malaysians are known for their hospitality and generosity, often going out of their way to help others in need.
The tradition is rooted in Malay culture but has become standard practice in Malaysia as a sign of respect and politeness.
Shoes should be removed before entering any Malaysian home, regardless of whether a Malay, Chinese or Indian family owns it.
Wearing shoes indoors is considered rude, offensive, and just plain dirty.
As a westerner, the worst thing you can do to offend your host is to wear your outside shoes indoors and on the bed!
6 How Do Malaysians Eat?
Food plays a vital role in the Malaysian lifestyle as well.
Traditional dishes such as Nasi Lemak (coconut rice) and Rendang (spicy beef stew) are popular among locals while eating out at hawker centers is also expected due to its affordability.
In Malaysia, eating with your bare hand is as normal as using your fork, spoon, or chopsticks.
Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, local cakes, and Crisps are all good to use only with the right hand.
Even if you are left-handed, the left hand is used for personal hygiene.
7 Malaysian Fusion Food
If Malaysia is renowned for its cultural diversity, then Malaysian cuisine is the epitome of creativity with the profusion of ingredients available.
From noodle dishes to bread and sides, sweet desserts, unique Indian spices, Malay herbs, and Chinese cooking styles, Malaysian fusion cuisine is born.
Malay Meals: Eating with one’s right hand or with a spoon and fork is standard practice. For Muslims, the holy Qur’an prohibits pork consumption and all pork products.
Chinese Meals: Common eating utensils are chopsticks, and some eateries provide spoons and forks.
Sticking your chopsticks vertically in the center of a rice bowl is incredibly taboo.
It reminds Chinese people of funerals, where a bowl of rice is left with two chopsticks standing vertically in the center and supposed to bring bad luck.
Indian Meals: Eating with a spoon or one’s hands is common.
Hindus avoid eating beef because cows are traditionally viewed as sacred.
For Malaysian buffets, the most common meats acceptable by all are Chicken, Fish, and Shellfish. Pork is never served in hotels.
Dishes containing meat are labeled appropriately, as most Chinese do not consume beef or mutton.
Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam.
Only the Chinese, Indians and other races in Malaysia who are not Muslim consume alcohol.
So apart from Coffee, tea, and fruit juices, the foremost drink that all Malaysian love is Milo.
8 All Malaysian drinks Milo
Malaysian love Milo (pronounced ‘my-low’).
Everyone in Malaysia has a tin of chocolate-and-malt drink in their kitchen.
Milo is so integral to Malaysian existence that local food courts, coffee shops, Kopitiam, and Warung will serve Milo, but not hot chocolate.
The versatile drink comes in various forms, too — from hot and ice to a Milo Dinosaur!
9 Squat Toilets Exist in Malaysia
Not every home in Malaysia has seating toilets.
You will likely encounter a squatting toilet if you visit the village and some homes.
Most Western adults cannot place their heels on the ground when squatting.
This is due to shortened Achilles tendons, perhaps caused by habitual sitting in chairs.
If you travel to Asia, you’ll even encounter squat toilets in shopping malls!
Some places only have squat toilets, so we hope you’ve been exercising your knees and thighs.
You will notice two types of WC at shopping malls or any R&R pitstop along the north-south highways.
10 What is the dating culture in Malaysia?
Traditional dating culture in Malaysia has long held conservative views on romance, marriage, and family.
Most other Malaysian dating and marriage practices in urban areas are relatively liberal and similar to Western standards.
Malays may be more traditionalist about relationships and marriage.
It is common for them to seek to marry immediately after finishing their tertiary studies as a precursor to finding a job.
In Malay Marriage traditions, parents traditionally set up their children in marriage.
Malaysia is a conservative country, so a public display of affection (PDA) is largely inappropriate.
11 What’s PDA?
Public affection between partners is typical in Western society but not in a conservative community like Malaysia.
It is common to see signs in public places that forbid it.
A small hand hold or kiss on the cheek is OK, but avoid too much kissing, amorous embraces, hugging, and touching in public places.
These may warrant a check by the police.
Is it illegal?
The short answer is yes – Acts of public indecency will get you in trouble with the law.
In Malaysia, there are laws governing indecent acts.
Penal Code Section 377D (Malaysia)
Any person who, in public or private, commits or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
If you want to get intimate with your beau, it’s best to keep it in your room.
A marriage certificate is required if one or both are Muslims if the couple wishes to stay together in a hotel room.
Traveling to Malaysia?
Remember to drink Milo, take selfies with the Twin Towers, and don’t kiss your girlfriend.
Before Travelling to Malaysia
Due to numerous cultures and religions, Malaysia has the highest number of public holidays worldwide, including National, State, and Federal Territories holidays.
The country celebrates numerous religious, cultural, and national festivals such as Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and Malaysia’s National Day.
Many holidays are based on the Lunar and Islamic calendars, so the dates change yearly.
Holidays also vary by state and community.
Before traveling to Malaysia, make sure you check the dates when you are visiting the region.
During the Chinese New Year, finding an available hotel and getting around can take a lot of work.
Moreover, during that period, many shops and restaurants are closed.
During Ramadan, finding restaurants in some parts of the country open during the day can be challenging.
Eating in public is not recommended out of respect for those who are fasting.
Events in Malaysia
Life in Malaysia is punctuated by several events and festivals that aim to preserve local cultures and traditions and celebrate Malaysia’s living heritage.
Kuala Lumpur and other major cities have rich cultural, gastronomic, and sporting calendars.
Traveling around Malaysia to participate in various events and discover the remote towns and regions in all their colors is worth traveling.
Malaysia is a geographical and cultural melting pot with much diversity that has something for every lifestyle.
Its islands, beaches, rainforests, and metropolises make it an exciting destination for tourists and expats.
Public displays of affection are generally not accepted in Malaysia, while rice cookers are an essential part of every kitchen.
Finally, rain is expected in Malaysia during the monsoon season, and it is crucial to take necessary precautions when traveling on rainy days.
The Malaysian lifestyle is a vibrant mix of cultures that visitors should respect and embrace.
Traveling within Malaysia during weekends and holidays is easy and affordable to experience other parts of the country and neighboring nations.
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