Banks are open from 10am to 3pm Monday through Friday and 9:30 to 11:30am on Saturday. Government offices are open from 8am to 12:45pm and 2 to 4:15pm Monday through Friday and from 8am to 12:45pm on Saturday. Smaller shops like provision stores may open as early as 6 or 6:30am and close as late as 9pm, especially those near the wet markets. Many such stores are closed on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons and are busiest before lunch. Other shops are open 9:30am to 7pm. Department stores and shops in malls tend to open later, about 10:30 or 11am till 8:30 or 9pm throughout the week. Note that in Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu the weekday runs from Saturday to Wednesday.
Dentists & Doctors
All hotels and resorts have qualified physicians on call who speak English. These doctors will come directly to your room for treatment. If your condition is serious, he or she can help you to check in to a local hospital. Call tel. 999 for emergencies.
The death sentence is mandatory for drug trafficking (defined as being in possession of more than 15g of heroin or morphine, 200g of marijuana or hashish, or 40g of cocaine). For lesser quantities you’ll be thrown in jail for a very long time and flogged with a cane.
The voltage used in Malaysia is 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles). Three-point square plugs are used, so buy an adapter if you plan to bring any appliances. Also, many larger hotels can provide adapters upon request.
While in Malaysia, should you need to contact an official representative from your home country, the following contact information in Kuala Lumpur can help you out: United States Embassy tel. 03/2168-5000; Canadian High Commission tel. 03/2718-3333; Australian High Commission tel. 03/2146-5555; New Zealand High Commission tel. 03/2078-2533; and the British High Commission tel. 03/2148-2122.
Service is available to the entire nation, and I have found Internet cafes in the most surprisingly remote places. Although the major international hotels will have access for their guests in the business center, charges can be very steep. I used to recommend Internet cafes in each city but found that these small places came and went overnight, making it impossible for me to provide accurate information for this book. Wherever you are, your best bet is to ask your concierge or the local tourism information office for the best places close by. Usage only costs about RM5 to RM10.
The national language is Malay, or Bahasa Malaysia, although English is widely spoken. Chinese dialects and Tamil are also spoken.
Liquor is sold in pubs and supermarkets in all big cities, or in provision stores. If you’re going to an island, your resort will have limited alcohol selections, otherwise bring your own. In Terengganu and Kelantan, liquor is strictly limited to a handful of Chinese restaurants. A recent ruling requires pubs and other nightspots to officially close by 1am nationwide, but there are places in KL that stay open until later.
Newspapers & Magazines
English-language papers the New Straits Times, The Star, The Sun, and The Edge can be bought in hotel lobbies and magazine stands. Of the local KL magazines, Day & Night has great listings and local “what’s happening” information for travelers.
Post office locations in each city covered are provided in each section. Overseas airmail postage rates are as follows: RM0.50 (15 ¢) for postcards and RM1.50 (40 ¢) for a 100g letter.
Hotels add a 5% government tax to all hotel rates, plus an additional 10% service charge. Larger restaurants also figure the same 5% tax into your bill, plus a 10% service charge, whereas small coffee shops and hawker stalls don’t charge anything above the cost of the meal. Although most tourist goods (such as crafts, camera equipment, sports equipment, cosmetics, and select small electronic items) are tax-free, a small, scaled tax is issued on various other goods such as clothing, shoes, and accessories that you’d buy in the larger shopping malls and department stores.
To place a call from your home country to Malaysia: Dial the international access code (011 in the U.S and Canada.; 0011 in Australia; or 00 in the U.K., Ireland, and New Zealand), plus the country code (60), plus the Malaysia area code (Cameron Highlands 5, Desaru 7, Genting Highlands 9, Johor Bahru 7, Kuala Lumpur 3, Kuala Terengganu 9, Kota Bharu 9, Kota Kinabalu 88, Kuantan 9, Kuching 82, Langkawi 4, Malacca 6, Mersing 7, Penang 4, Tioman 9), followed by the six-, seven-, or eight-digit phone number (for example, from the U.S. to Kuala Lumpur, you’d dial 011-60-3/0000-0000).
To place a direct international call from Malaysia: Dial the international access code (00), plus the country code of the place you are dialing (U.S. and Canada 1, Australia 61, Republic of Ireland 353, New Zealand 64, U.K. 44), plus the area/city code and the residential number.
To reach the international operator: Dial tel. 108.
To place a call within Malaysia: You must use area codes if calling between states. Note that for calls within the country, area codes are preceded by a zero (Cameron Highlands 05, Desaru 07, Genting Highlands 09, Johor Bahru 07, Kuala Lumpur 03, Kuala Terengganu 09, Kota Bharu 09, Kota Kinabalu 088, Kuantan 09, Kuching 082, Langkawi 04, Malacca 06, Mersing 07, Penang 04, Tioman 09).
Guests in larger hotels will sometimes get satellite channels such as HBO, Star TV, ESPN or CNN. Another in-house movie alternative, Vision Four, preprograms videos throughout the day. Local TV stations TV2, TV5, and TV7 show English-language comedies, movies, and documentaries.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich mean time (GMT +8), 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time, 13 ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 2 hours behind Sydney. It is in the same zone as Singapore. There is no daylight saving time.
People here don’t really tip, except you might want to give your bellhop something. In a nicer hotel, at least RM5 per bag should be fine. In a budget hotel, they’ll probably be shocked.
To find a public toilet, ask for the tandas. In Malay, lelaki is male and perempuan is female. Be prepared for pay toilets. Coin collectors sit outside almost every public facility, taking RM0.20 per person, RM0.30 if you want paper. The best toilets are in hotels, upmarket shopping malls, and restaurants.
Water in Kuala Lumpur is supposed to be potable, but most locals boil the water before drinking it — and if that’s not a tip-off, I don’t know what is. I advise against drinking the tap water anywhere in Malaysia. Hotels will supply bottled water in your room. If they charge you for it, expect inflated prices. A 1.5-liter bottle goes for RM7 in a hotel minibar, but RM2 at 7-Eleven.
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