Malaysia is a fascinating and enchanting nation of different races, cultures and religions, co-existing in harmony in a tropical paradise in the heart of Southeast Asia. Malaysia comprises two distinct land areas, West Malaysia and East Malaysia. West Malaysia is a peninsula, flanked by the South China Sea on the east and Straits of Malacca on the west, with Thailand as its northern neighbour and Singapore sitting at the south. West and East Malaysia cover a total land area of about 329,758 km2 and are separated by approximately 40 miles of sea.
East Malaysia consists of a federal territory and two large states, namely Sabah and Sarawak, which occupy the north of Borneo Island. West Malaysia consists of 11 states and 2 federal territories, all of which have their own distinctive attractions.
The country is 8 hours ahead of the GMT and 16 hours ahead of the US Pacific Standard Time. The climate is warm and humid throughout the year. Malaysia is a physically blessed country which does not experience drastic weather changes or natural calamities. Temperatures are around 30°C during the day and 22°C at night. Light, cotton, cool and casual clothing is recommended all year round.
Food & Culture
Malaysia is a haven for food and cultural activities. The races which make up the Malaysian population provide excellent and diverse cuisines. Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes are easily and cheaply available at most restaurants and hawker stalls, whilst fast-food restaurants and western food are easily found too. In addition, various other delectable cuisines are also available, such as Middle Eastern and Thai food. Malaysia is popularly known as Asia’s Food Paradise.
Culturally, Malaysia presents a kaleidoscope of colours and diversities as different races exhibit their individual traits and traditions through festivals, songs, dances and traditional attire. Bahasa Malaysia is the official language, but the races also speak their own ethnic dialects. English, being taught as a second language in schools, is widely used in the higher learning institutions, for daily communication and business transactions.
Dubbed as ‘Mini Asia’, Malaysia is a multiracial country with a population of more than 26 million which consists of Malay, Chinese and Indian as many other indigenous races, all coexisting in harmony. There are also people of other nationalities studying, working and doing business in Malaysia. Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, but English, Mandarin and Tamil are widely used too. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, but the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship to all races, so faiths like Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions are freely practised. This politically stable nation emphasises the sharing of power among the races, which ensures a peaceful and harmonious environment. As a result of this, Malaysia has gained recognition and acknowledgement as a model multicultural society.
Economy & Education
Malaysia takes pride in being one of the world’s largest exporters of palm oil, natural rubber, natural gas, timber, cocoa beans and pepper. It is also one of the leading exporters of manufactured products such as semiconductors, audio-visual products, electrical goods, rubber-dipped products and oleo chemicals in the world.
Education is another growing industry where Malaysia is gaining acceptance as a reputable study destination in the region. The education sector offers a variety of higher educational programmes as well as professional and specialised skill courses that are competitively priced and of excellent quality. Underlying this is the current trend of setting up branch campuses in Malaysia by reputable universities from the UK and Australia. Furthermore, various universities from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany and New Zealand are offering twinning, franchised and external degree programmes in partnership with Malaysian educational institutions.
Whether it is land, sea or air, Malaysia has one of the most developed infrastructures in Southeast Asia, comparable to that of developed nations. There is an impressive network of roads and rail links, while the international airport, KLIA, provides world-class facilities and services, as well as hosting airlines from every corner of the world.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is also becoming a formidable force in sea related activities by having some of the best ports in the world. Port Klang, a transhipment hub, is positioning itself as Malaysia’s sea gateway to the world and together with Northport and Southport, offers impressive multipurpose port facilities which have encouraged many shipping lines to increase their calls at these ports.
Places of Interest
The capital city, Kuala Lumpur, offers a large variety of activities, from gastronomic delights to shopping and museums to parks and local theatres. In addition, the federal government’s administrative centre in Putrajaya, located to the south of Kuala Lumpur, is a lure for tourists because of its excellent Islamic-inspired architecture and its huge areas parkland and lakes.
Other must-do activities are visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin-building in the world, trekking through the tropical jungle and nature park in Taman Negara, basking in the pristine beaches of Pangkor and Langkawi and getting up close with the wild flora and fauna in the rainforests of Sabah. For those who prefer shopping and good buys, Malaysia offers a variety of shops that sell handicrafts as well as international branded goods.
Malaysia is well connected in terms of transportation and communications, both within the country and with the rest of the world. It also provides easily available medical, banking, telecommunication (telephone, Internet cafes) and postal services, which can be conveniently accessed in towns and cities. In addition, police stations are often found in busy areas and there is also a tourist police force ready to assist visitors. Furthermore, as serious crime rates in Malaysia are low, it is a relatively safe place to travel in.
The local currency is the Ringgit, which is made up of 100 sen. Credit cards are accepted in most commercial businesses, while Travellers’ Cheques can be changed at any of the numerous commercial banks, hotels and authorised moneychangers.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) has been widely embraced in many service sectors in both urban and rural areas. With the increase of online services being made available, all Malaysians are able to benefit from the new technology.
Cost of Living
Another attraction for international students to study in Malaysia is the relatively cheap cost of living. The total cost of expenditure for accommodation, either oncampus or off-campus, is reasonable and within many budgets. Depending on the location and choice, the average monthly rental for a single room (twin sharing) per student is between RM300 – RM450 (USD86 – USD129). Other expenses such as food, transportation, laundry and other essentials, based on an ordinary lifestyle are mated between RM700 – RM950 (USD200 – USD270) per month. Therefore, the average total cost of living will range from RM 12,000 to RM17,000 (USD3430 – USD4860). per year.