When visiting a foreign country, it is always important to gain an understanding of their culture and to respect it all times.
Malaysia is an Islamic state but it also has an extremely multicultural society as the predominant cultures are Malay, Indian and Chinese. This means it is a melting pot of ethnics and religions and can make it difficult to know how to behave with members of each culture.
However, good etiquette is often simply a combination of common sense and a basic understanding and respect for the local culture.
Here are some etiquette tips to ensure you are aware of yourself and don’t offend anyone whilst travelling in Malaysia.
Respect of Local Religion / Local Cultures in Malaysia
- Tourist that visit Malaysia should dress in a proper and conservative manner.
- A headscarf can be worn to show respect for the culture especially when entering into worship places.
- In Malaysia, pointing with finger is considered rude so directions are often shown by using the open hand or most commonly by using the thumb.
- Also, it is considered rude to sit opposite a person with your legs crossed especially when sitting across someone who is older to you or someone who is in a higher position.
Introduction and Greetings
- In Malaysia, introductions are commonly acknowledged with a handshake.
- In the Muslim culture, handshakes are generally exchanged between people of the same gender. Most Muslim ladies may acknowledge an introduction to a gentleman with a nod and a smile.
- The custom Malay welcome or salam takes after a handshake, however with two hands outstretched and without the grip. The man offers two hands, softly touches his companion’s hands, at that point takes his hands back to his chest to signify, “I greet you from my heart”. The guest ought to respond the salam.
Food and Beverages
- Muslims in Malaysia consume only halal food which is allowable by the Muslim law. They will only dine in restaurants that is certified Halal and also has the halal logo. Pork and alcohol are not consumed by the Muslims too, therefore offering them with this is strictly prohibited in Malaysia and is also considered disrespectful.
- Just like the Muslims, the Hindu community in Malaysia do not consume beef.