Malaysia is a go-to destination for anyone who wants to visit a country that has a lot to adventures to offer. From the skyscrapers, tea plantations, colonial architecture and beaches of the peninsula, to the highlands, wildlife and dive spots of Borneo, the bold flavors of Malaysian cuisine, and the colorful cultures of its tribes and peoples, this country offers a myriad of experiences to delight the senses of any tourist or traveler.
If you are asking the best time to visit Malaysia, the answer is pretty simple: weather-wise, any time is a good opportunity to visit. Just like its Southeast Asian neighbors, Malaysia enjoys a wet tropical climate – which means it’s hot and humid all year round.
Temperature ranges from 21 to 33 degrees centigrade, with about 90% humidity. However, just like its neighbors, it al so experiences monsoon season from August to September and November to February, and, being part of the West Pacific, some of its regions such as Penang and Langkawi, are also visited by typhoons now and then (usually from April to November).
But if you’re not new to traveling, you’ll know that weather is not everything. You might also want to take into consideration the activities that you intend to do while visiting, the cultural celebrations of the places that you plan to go to, as well as your personal convenience and comfort. In this case, we will break down the recommended time to visit based on the general preferences of travelers.
Tourist Peak and Off-Peak Season
December to February are the peak months for tourists, both local and international. These months mark the end of school season for most countries and long holidays for many Asian countries.
Locally, this is when Malaysians celebrate Chinese New Year; this indicates that many hotels will be full, travelers will be coming in hordes, and the prices are relatively high. On the flip side, being the festival season means that this is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Malaysian culture.
If you’re not into crowds, March to June may be a better time to visit Malaysia. Not only is this the off-peak season when there are fewer tourists and hotels are cheaper, but it is also the dry season, so monsoon and humidity are not felt much. The only downside is that the streets would be quieter due to the absence of events and the daytime temperatures are high.
If you’re a culture buff, the best time to visit Malaysia is during one of their major festivals where they serve diverse cuisines, bring out their colors on parades and show off their traditions. In this case, January to February is a prime time for you, as two major National Holidays — the Chinese New Year and Thaipusam — are both held during this time. Expect to see a lot of red, fireworks and food on Chinese New Year, and catch body piercing rituals and Tamil traditions on Thaipusam.
Wesak Day, another National Holiday usually held in May, features the celebration of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. Buddhists go to temples at dawn and adorn their houses with flags of Buddha. This day ends with floats or processions.
For Muslims and those interested in their culture, Hari Raya, which is celebrated around June, offers an excellent opportunity to see Muslim traditions and sample traditional Malay food such as lemang, rendang, curry and satay in Ramadan bazaars.
Being in Sabah in May is a good idea, as this is when they hold Sabah Fest – a celebration of the region’s culture. June is an excellent month to visit Sarawak because of the Gawai Festival; this is an event of merriment, music, and lots of food.
If you are someone who likes roughing it out or being one with nature, there are also some recommended months to visit for you. Snorkeling and diving season starts in May on the east coast, and this peaks in June.
Planning to go on a hike to see the tea plantations, strawberry farms and mossy forests of Cameron Highlands? The best time to visit is during the off-peak season, as monsoons and light rains are almost constant in this area anyway. The dry season is from February to April, but if the cold is what you’re after, it’s best to go in December to early February.
Malaysia is also known for bird watching, and whether you’re a budding birder or an enthusiast, you can find joy in one of the many nature parks or reserves, as there are more than 40 documented endemic bird species in this country. Migrating birds of prey between September to November and March to May. On the other hand, you can catch the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race in Pahang between May and June.
January to July are the best months to visit Kota Kinabalu where you can go to Lok Kawi National Park and bask in Sabah culture. If you’re planning to climb Mt. Kinabalu, though, the best time to climb is from February to April as this is the dry season.
Months to Avoid Per Area
If you are traveling to the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia (Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Rendang, Cherating, etc.) for some laid-back island experience and underwater activities, try to avoid going from November to March, as the monsoon season may bring some flash floods. Not only that, but some accommodations may also be closed due to bad weather and rough waters.
From September to October, Penang, and Langkawi, known for their UNESCO Heritage Sites and beaches, usually get torrential rains. Sabah and Sarawak, on the other hand, experiences heavy rainfall in January.
There you go! These are our recommendations regarding the best time to visit Malaysia. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a country you can visit any time of the year, as long as you are informed of the weather beforehand. At the end of the day, it’s still a good practice to check the weather forecast and prepare for your trip. Happy traveling!