Malaysia has a tropical hot and humid climate with fairly uniform temperatures throughout the year. Temperatures range from 32C (89F) during the day to 22C (71F) at night. It can be slightly cooler in the hill country. Rainfall is common throughout the year.
Malaysia has striking climatic variation from east to west. The east gets the full fury of the monsoon between November and February. The west, sheltered by the Barisan Titwansa range, has most rainfall between March and April. Borneo lies between one and eight degrees north of the equator, so is hot and sticky all year round.
The diving regions on Borneo's Eastern coast incl. Sipadan and Lankayan Islands have their driest months between May and October. The third major dive destination in Borneo, Layang Layang Island, is located on the Northwest coast where monsoonal wet and dry seasons are reversed. The best chances of seeing hammerhead sharks on Layang Layang Island are February through April, and the resort closes between August and February.
Visa & Passport requirements
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months from proposed date of departure, and a valid onward air ticket or travel document is an entry requirement. Tourist entry visas are valid for up to 30 days and are issued on arrival at the first Malaysian airport.
No visas are required for citizens of Commonwealth countries (except Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), British Protected Persons or citizens of the Republic of Ireland and citizens of Switzerland, Netherlands, San Marino and Liechtenstein.
Three Months Visa-Free Visit
Citizens of Albania, Austria, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Belgium, Czech Republic, Republic of Slovakia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Spain, South Korea, Republic of Bosnia, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United States of America, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are eligible for three months visa free visit.
One Month Visa-Free Visit
Applicable to citizens of ASEAN countries.
Tourists from other countries should apply for a visa at the Malaysian Embassy before leaving.
IMPORTANT: As regulations may change from time to time, it is advisable to check with the nearest Malaysian Embassy before your departure.
IMPORTANT: West Peninsula Malaysia is NOT a malarial zone. East Malaysia (Sabah & Sarawak in Borneo) is a malaria zone, especially in low-lying tropical rainforest areas. The risk of infection is greatly reduced while staying at island resorts. Please check with your physician or medical centre on the type of prophylactic you should use and specifically discuss any drug's compatibility with diving and possible side effects.
Malaria is transmitted by a certain type of mosquito. Avoidance of mosquito bites (e.g. by wearing long sleeved shirts and trousers at dusk and dawn) should be an important part of your risk minimisation strategy. Places with swampy grounds are more prone to harbour the disease than dry, urban areas.
There are a number of drugs on the market which reduce the risk of infection. Still, there is no known way to exclude this risk 100%. Some popular prophylactics are:
Doxycycline - sometimes in combination with Maloprin is widely prescribed by doctors in Australia.
Malarone - This drug is very effective and more expensive but so far we are not aware of any major side effects reported.
Lariam - was very popular in the 1990s. It should be avoided as it has been proven to cause severe side effects.
With all travels into tropical climate you should have an active immunisation against tetanus and a current polio protection.
The standard of medical facilities is adequate in major cities, but can be limited in rural areas of Malaysia. Decompression chambers are located in Kuantan, Lumut, Ipoh, Semporna and Labuan.
By far the greatest threat to health is sunburn. Give this your most careful attention. Always wear a sunscreen. Sunburn, seasickness, fatigue, coral cuts, fire coral burns, cuts and bruises are health hazards to be anticipated and can be avoided with common sense and care.
Medical kit suggestions
- Insect repellent
- Anti-seasickness medicine
- Suntan lotion
- Sunblock cream
- Band aids (some large ones)
- Ear Drops alcohol/vinegar based. Daily use will prevent outer ear infections.
- Antibiotic ointment for coral cuts. Please your physician.
Official currency is the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR).
Incidental charges can be paid by Visa, Mastercard or cash local currency with most dive resorts and liveaboards. Operators in more remote locations may only accept cash. Some permit fees may only be paid in cash. For credit card payments, service charges will apply.
All departure taxes from Malaysia are included in your international flight ticket.
Malaysia's has only one time zone, which is 8 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), based on the time in Borneo/East Malaysia though the vast majority of Malaysians resides on the West Malaysian Peninsula.
The official language is Bahasa Malaysia (or Bahasa Melayu) which is very similar to Bahasa Indonesia. English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
Electricity is the same as in most of Europe: 220/230V, 50 Hz, with three-pronged flat British plugs. Adapters and converters aren't readily available for photographers with 110V systems, so better bring your own if you need to convert.
Certification requirements & dive gear hire
All scuba divers must carry a PADI open water equivalent certification. Most diving in Malaysia is conducted in small groups with local guides. Limited rental scuba gear is available on request.
Fragile items such as camera, regulator, dive computer etc., should be packed in a small bag and taken as carry-on luggage. Clothing should be packed in one (or if necessary two) suitcases. Be sure your baggage is properly tagged.
All dive operators promoted by Diversion Dive Travel adhere to high safety standards for all their equipment. However, due to their remote location, all liveaboards and most land-based dive operators in Malaysia insist that all divers present current Diver Evacuation & accident cover on arrival. For a nominal yearly membership fee, the DIVERS ALERT NETWORK (DAN) provides year-round diver evacuation and accident cover. For more details on membership and insurance options, please contact your regional DAN office.
In view of the heavy cancellation penalties applied to cancelled travel arrangements, Diversion Dive Travel strongly suggest you consider taking out suitable travel insurance at the time of booking. Travel insurance policies are designed to cover losses such as cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances, sudden illness or serious injury whilst abroad, and lost, stolen or damaged baggage and personal items.
Casual & comfortable clothing including a light jacket is recommended, as evenings can get cool and liveaboards usually keep their airconditioning high in all indoor areas. Please keep sun protection in mind and be advised to respect local customs by not wearing swimsuits, short shorts, or other inappropriate clothing in towns, villages or public places.
No one in Malaysia expects any tips for services. Tips have never been part of the culture, but tourism has changed local customs, and particularly those working in tourism have gotten used to receiving tips and being rewarded for very good service. There are no set rules, give as much as you see fit. On live aboard vessels it is customary to give the tip to the skipper of dive leader and ask it be distributed amongst the crew.
Malaysia's best dive resorts and liveaboards are located in Borneo which is also this country's main tourist region. Many tour and dive operators have set up an excellent accommodation and transport infrastructure, and Malaysian airlines adhere to a high safety standard. There have been some isolated piracy incidents involving boats from the Philippine Sulu Sea in the past, but since the Malaysian Navy began to patrol the waters around all tourist islands, any such disturbances have ceased completely.
Links to more information
The following information is supplied by the foreign affairs section of the relevant country or the tourism authority of the destination. Please check the links for up to date information on visa and safety requirements, embassy and consular contacts, general information: