Taboos when coming to Malaysia

With a diverse culture, multi-language and ethnicity, many distinct codes of conduct, Malaysia is becoming a favorite destination for tourists.

When visiting Malaysia, you should avoid such intimate hugs in public, whether you are traveling with your significant other, or going on a honeymoon with your spouse.

Same-sex relationships are still taboo, and the law doesn’t allow it, so third-sex visitors should avoid showing affection to their friends, even holding hands in public. .

Malaysians often avoid contact with strangers of the opposite sex. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a handshake from someone you don’t know here. Do not shake hands with a Malaysian woman first to say hello, unless she extends her hand first.

According to the concept of Malaysians, the head is considered the most sacred place on the body and should be respected. Malaysians abstain from others touching their heads, or putting things over their heads, as it shows disrespect.

Moreover, women are not allowed to touch the monk, even if it is accidentally touched, or give something to the monk, then they must fast and perform a cleansing ritual.

Taboos when coming to Malaysia
More than 60% of Malaysia’s population is Muslim. (Photo: Onemoderncouple.).

Malaysia is a Muslim country, so visitors here should dress politely. People must wear long pants, long skirts, covering their shoulders. Women here are also cautious when choosing swimwear, many of them wearing full suits including headscarves to go to the beach. They are not allowed to expose their breasts when sunbathing, except for some tourist sites where bikinis are allowed. Visitors are advised to bring a towel to wrap around themselves and a swimsuit if you plan to go swimming or bathing in Malaysia.

Bloating after eating is acceptable and is a common practice when dining in Malaysia. ​You are not allowed to wear shoes into the house, mosque, temple, because it shows disrespect.

Malaysians always use their right hand to eat, because the left hand in Malaysian culture is often reserved for activities related to physical hygiene. If you are left-handed and cannot use your right hand to eat, use chopsticks, spoons, or forks instead.

Use your right hand to receive and give things to others. If you use your left hand, this behavior is considered rude.

If you are invited to dinner at a local’s house, you should bring a gift (cake or chocolate) and say it is a gift for children. Don’t bring alcoholic beverages or anything made of pig skin. Do not give animal-shaped toys (dogs, pigs) to children. Do not give knives or scissors to the landlord, because it means severing the relationship. Do not give flowers, except for visiting sick people or going to funerals.

Taboos when coming to Malaysia
Respect monks when visiting Malaysia. (Photo: Snipview).

You should follow the rules when visiting temples in Malaysia. Show respect when visiting these sacred places: take off your hat and shoes when entering, dress politely and discreetly. When sitting, do not let your feet point towards other people or towards Buddha images or statues. Stand up when the monks and nuns enter. Enter temples and pagodas with your left foot first, and exit with your right foot. This action represents completeness.