Customs and Traditions of Malaysia

Customs and Traditions of Malaysia

Population and religion

According to Countryaah, about half of the country’s population is Malay by origin, 33% of the population are Chinese, 9% are emigrants from South Asia and the indigenous population of the Malaysian islands.

The official religion in Malaysia is Sunni Islam. Of the other faiths, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Christianity are common.


The official language is Malay. Part of the population speaks English, Thai, Punjabi, Chinese dialects and other languages. Aborigines speak the languages of the Austronesian group of languages.

Rules of conduct for tourists

Most of the rules are associated with Muslim traditions.

Behavior in public places

  • Muslims and non-Muslims of the opposite sex are not allowed to be in the same company.
  • According to Muslim traditions, the use of alcohol and pork is prohibited in the country, however, in some hotels it is possible for those who do not profess Islam.
  • During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat. It is considered extremely defiant behavior to eat or drink in their presence during this period.
  • Refusing drinks at a party is considered impolite behavior.
  • When invited to dinner, it is not customary to finish the meal first, it is better to wait until the inviter has finished eating.
  • A littering tourist may be subject to a fine.
  • You should know that the use and distribution of narcotic substances in the country is punishable by death.
  • For walks alone, Chinatowns will not be the best place, especially for women.

Gestures and facial expressions

  • When pointing at any object or person, you need to use not the index finger, but the thumb, while the other fingers are bent. Pointing at something with your foot – behaving indecently.
  • The traditional greeting is not a very strong shake with both hands.
  • Female representatives are usually greeted with a nod and a smile. You can only shake hands with a woman if she herself extended it to a greeting.
  • Tourists should remember that in Malaysia you should not take food or pass something with your left hand. Traditionally, this hand is considered “unclean” and is used for hygienic purposes, so passing something to a person with the left hand can be a deadly insult.
  • The head of the Malays is considered sacred, so any touch to it is not recommended.

Behavior in Temples

  • You should come to the mosque in modest clothes with your hands and feet covered.
  • When entering the mosque, you should take off your shoes, the shoes remain at the threshold. The same should be done when entering any house in Malaysia.
  • The country has a ban on photographing Buddha images.

Topics of conversation

  • Not recommended topics: religious issues, discussion of government officials, the problem of the population in Malaysia is a taboo topic for visitors to the country.


When visiting a Muslim country, one should respect the traditions of its inhabitants, including in clothing. Women are advised to wear clothing that covers their knees, shoulders, wrists and head. Lightweight items made from natural fabrics are suitable. Topless sunbathing should not be done on the beach; there are no private beaches in the country.

National holidays in Malaysia

Malaysia is a multinational country, so there are many traditional holidays here: Muslim, Buddhist, Indian and Christian. Check agooddir for recent history of Malaysia.

January 1 – New Year

End of December – beginning of February (2 days) – Hari Raya Kurban, Hari Raya Haji (Muslim holiday)

October-February – Awal Muharam (Maal Hijri), the new year according to the Hijri lunar calendar

January 22 – Birthday of the King

February 1 – Federal Territories Day

Rolling date from January 21 to February 21 (2 days) – Tahun Baru China (Chinese New Year)

February – Thaipusam

Date in spring or summer – Maulid ur-Rasul, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad

April-June – Vesak, Gautama Buddha Day

May 1 – Labor Day

August 31 – Independence Day

October – early November – Hari-Raya-Pussa (Eid al-Fitr), the end of the month of Ramadan, the Islamic holiday of breaking the fast

October-November (5 days) – Deepavali, the festival of lights, the victory of light over darkness

December 25 – Christmas

Customs and Traditions of Malaysia

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