Local Etiquette and Advice

While visiting any venue where you meet local people, do be respectful of local customs and traditions; a friendly smile will never go wrong and just ask someone if you’re unsure

1. Handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, but observant Muslim ladies or even men may acknowledge introductions to the opposite gender simply by nodding and smiling. A Malaysian welcome greeting is the right palm placed over the heart with a slight nod and the reply is the same. The more traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake but uses both hands without the grasp. After the hands touch, they are lightly brought to the chest to mean the greeting is heartfelt.

2. Footwear must always be removed when visiting homes or places of worship such as mosques and temples. Most mosques provide robes and scarves for ladies, and sarongs for men wearing shorts. When sitting on the floor, men sit cross-legged while women normally sit with their legs tucked to either side.

3. To eat and also to give or receive something, the right hand is always used (unless it is a large item where both hands are needed).

4. When pointing, it is preferable to use the right hand’s thumb with the other four fingers folded under, rather than the forefinger especially when pointing to a person. Always ask for permission before taking photographs of someone or when inside someone’s home.

5. The country’s Muslim majority (about two-thirds of the population) does not consume pork or any porcine products nor liquor or alcoholic beverages. Thus, toasting is not a common practice.

6. The weather is generally quite warm with occasional torrential showers. Cotton or light clothes, rubber shoes and hats are suitable. Note that some establishments such as upmarket restaurants may not allow slippers, shorts or sleeveless.