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17 Top Malaysia Packing List Items for 2022 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to bring to Malaysia
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Southeast Asia is a backpacker’s haven for good reason, as it is filled with beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and friendly people. This is especially true of Malaysia, which is often an overlooked gem of the region and deserves just as much attention as its neighboring countries.

While there is a wide variety of activities available throughout the country, Malaysia is most famous for its outdoor activities including trekking, rafting, and watersports. To prepare for your outdoor adventure, it’s important to come well equipped! Here are some of the most useful items for any trip to Malaysia, along with tons of information about what to expect and some answers to frequently asked questions.

What to Pack for Malaysia – 17 Essentials

  • 1. Quick-Dry Travel Tower

    Whether you’re swimming in the jungle or are caught out in the rain while in the city, having a towel on hand can be a lifesaver. On a trip that will almost certainly have you outdoors, this is simply a must-have, and trust us, you’ll find yourself using it plenty!

  • 2. Elephant Pants

    Did you really visit Southeast Asia if you weren’t wearing a pair of elephant pants? Not only does this single piece of clothing make you instantly feel like a real backpacker, but it is also one of the most comfortable items to wear in the region. And on top of being comfortable, its light and airy nature will also save you room and weight in your luggage.

  • 3. Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes are a must-have for the organized traveler and make packing and unpacking easy. They are probably the most important item to save yourself time and frustration from beginning to end of your trip. Packing cubes make planning simple and make the unexpected opening of your luggage go from a total nightmare to a small inconvenience.

  • 4. Sunscreen

    If you’re taking a trip to Malaysia, chances are that you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the sun. On the beach, out on treks, or exploring cities and villages, it’s crucial to protect your skin. Especially near the equator, the sun can be harsh, so take precautions and regularly apply sunscreen while you’re out and about.

  • 5. Neck Wallet

    While Malaysia is far from a dangerous country, even in the safest places it’s a good idea to protect your most important items, which are typically your wallet and its contents. A neck wallet allows you to keep these close to your person, making it much more difficult for thieves and pickpockets to ruin your trip in an instant.

  • 6. Deet-Free Insect Repellent

    Welcome to the jungle! All the beauty and splendor of the Malaysian jungles come with a price, and that price is insects! Save yourself from nights of itching and pain by bringing along some insect repellent. We strongly suggest making use of some Deet-free repellents, as these are safer alternatives to those containing more harmful chemicals.

  • 7. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    If it wasn’t obvious already, Malaysia is a wet place! Any and all water protection will be to your benefit, and this definitely includes an umbrella. It’s important that your umbrella can fare the potentially windy weather, all while being convenient to store and carry day to day.

  • 8. Brimmed Hat

    While sunscreen is certainly a must, it’s not the only thing you should be using to protect your skin. To protect your scalp and add protection to your face, a brimmed hat is an extremely simple and useful piece of gear. On top of this, it also provides much more protection from pesky insects.

  • 9. Universal Travel Adapter

    Unless you’re planning to put away your phone, computer, tablets, and all the rest, you’re going to need a travel adapter. We recommend purchasing a universal adapter, rather than several individual adapters for each different type of outlet. That way, you’re good to go for not only your trip to Malaysia but for all your future adventures too!

  • 10. Water Sports Shoes

    Exploring the jungles, rivers, and beaches of Malaysia often involves walking over some tough terrain. To protect your feet while still enjoying the water, we recommend bringing a pair of water sports shoes. This way, you can focus on taking that photo or climbing to the top of that waterfall, without worrying about hurting your feet.

  • 11. Cooling Towel

    In the hot and humid climate of Malaysia, towels are for more than just drying off after a swim. A cooling towel can stay many degrees cooler than the air temperature and only requires a quick dip in water to bring it back to life. For those who can’t stand the heat, we strongly recommend making this a staple of your travel-time everyday carry!

  • 12. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Even at home, protecting your digital safety is more important than ever, and it becomes more important still while abroad. From train stations and airports to hostels and hotels, connecting to public networks poses many risks to your digital security. To protect yourself, we recommend using a virtual private network (VPN), to mask your IP address and assure your information is kept safe and secure.

  • 13. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Most of us bring our phones just about everywhere we go, and this only becomes truer when on a trip. To catch those photos on the beach, near the waterfall, or out in the jungle, your phone is one drop away from being damaged, broken, or soaked. Protect your phone with a universal waterproof phone case, and assure your lifeline stays safe and dry.

  • 14. Waterproof Dry Bag

    Just like the dry towel, this one can be a lifesaver. Whether you want to protect your expensive and water-sensitive electronics from an afternoon downpour or while wading through rivers on a trek, a waterproof dry bag has too many functions to name and is perfect for the wet climate in Malaysia.

  • 15. Travel Insurance for Malaysia

    Whenever leaving the country it’s important to protect yourself in case you get sick or injured. This is especially true when on a trip where you’ll be exposed to the elements and to wildlife. Thankfully, travel insurance is readily available and can assure you that you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg even if you break them! TravelInsurance.com is great because you can compare policies from top companies to find the best one for you and your travel plans.

  • 16. Portable Charger

    Let’s face it, we’re all dependent on our phones and computers. From taking pictures to communicating with friends & family, and utilizing various other applications, having access to our electronic devices is paramount. This is why we suggest bringing along a portable charger so that you don’t lose your safety net or miss the opportunity to take that perfect photo!

  • 17. Life Straw Water Bottle

    The most important thing to bring along when spending extended periods in the outdoors is water, but it’s often difficult to make sure that you have enough. Especially in case of an emergency, it’s critical to ensure your water supply before all else. Play it safe and make use of a water bottle that can double as a water purifier.

What to Wear in Malaysia

Choosing what to wear during your trip to Malaysia is easier than for most places, as even in the winter, temperatures are considered quite warm compared to the rest of the world. Besides, it’s likely you’ll be planning your visit for the Spring and Summer when you’ll be able to make the most out of Malaysia’s outdoor wonders.

In general, you’ll want to prepare to wear lightweight outdoor gear. This includes items for the beach, pool, and jungle, such as bathing suits, hats, and athletic clothing. While this will suit you for most of your trip, you’ll also need to bring more modest clothing suitable for temples and mosques. Lastly, for those looking for a night out, we recommend bringing some suitable clothing ready for that fancy meal or night out on the town.

What Should Women Wear in Malaysia?- (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

When visiting Malaysia, we recommend women bring a wide variety of clothing options to accommodate cultural norms and avoid being restricted from various sites based on dress. This is because most of the more practical clothing suitable for outdoor activities won’t work well for many cultural attractions throughout the country. To feel both safe and respectful, we recommend bringing a little bit of everything, with an emphasis on the comfortable and athletic.


What Should Men Wear in Malaysia? - (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Choosing clothes for your trip to Malaysia is certainly easier for men than women, as women might want to bring a wider range of clothing options due to cultural norms. For men, typical beach and city gear is all that’s really required, except for perhaps some additional athletic clothing and some long pants in case you can get yourself off Malaysia’s stunning beaches!

Packing for the Seasons in Malaysia

Warm Season – May, June, July, August, September, October

Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is typically hot and humid for most of the year. While it can get a bit chilly in the winter, even then the temperature is considered reasonably warm. For this reason, we generally recommend travelers to wear light and airy clothing, with a bit more variety than you might bring to your other tropical holidays. Items like Sunscreen, Brimmed Hat, and Deet-Free Insect Repellent are crucial to staying safe and making the most of your trip! Especially because summer temperatures are typically 80°F to 90°F (~27°C to 32°C)!

Cool Season – November, December, January, March, April

Don’t let the word “winter” fool you, as it’s almost certainly not what you’re used to. While it’s definitely worth bringing along a jacket and some long pants, this is about as warm as you should be prepared to dress. Being so close to the equator, temperatures remain largely the same, with only the precipitation and humidity really changing throughout the year. This leaves the cooler month at roughly the same temperatures, typically in the high 70°F to low 80°F (~27°C).

Dressing appropriately for the activity– (Click to expand)

Hiking & Trekking: First and foremost, for everything you’ll be carrying like water, sunscreen, and some snacks, you’ll need a durable and comfortable backpack. We recommend wearing moisture-wicking or especially light clothing, as the heat and humidity can pack a punch. This includes items such as athletic t-shirts, shorts, and hiking shoes that will help you manage the often intense climate.

Beaches & Pool: Going to the beach and pool should be relaxing, and we don’t want to overcomplicate anything with too much gear. This is why we recommend bringing only simple and important items including a bathing suit, towel, sunscreen & sunglasses, as well as a place to store all of your other personal items safely such as a dry bag or waterproof backpack.

Dining Out & Nightlife: Everybody has a different way of pursuing a good night out, but everyone can agree on safety first! This is why we recommend wearing comfortable clothes that are easy to get around in, and only bringing items that you absolutely need, like your phone and wallet. Unless you specifically need your passport, we recommend leaving it back at your accommodation, along with any jewelry or electronics.

What NOT to Bring to Malaysia

  • 1.DON'T Bring Non-Waterproof Electronics

    With so many watersports and aquatic activities, as well as a wet and rainy climate, it’s best to only bring along what can survive to get wet, just in case.

  • 2.DON'T Bring Too Many Electronics

    Unless you’re a digital nomad, we recommend keeping your unnecessary electronics safe at home, and only bringing what you need.

  • 3.DON'T Bring Very Warm Clothing

    It’s always good to bring along a light jacket. That being said, that is about as warm of clothing that you’ll need the vast majority of your time in Malaysia. So enjoy the warm weather and take the opportunity to live in your bathing suit!

  • 4.DON'T Bring Immodest Clothing

    As we’ve touched on already, Malaysia’s predominantly Muslim population prefers a more modest dress. For this reason, we recommend prioritizing athletic and comfort-focused clothing.

  • 5.DON'T Bring Expensive Outdoor Equipment

    With so many tools available to you in Malaysia, there’s no need to bring any personal equipment along. From diving gear to wakeboards, you’re best off bringing the basics on this trip.

  • 6.DON'T Bring Winter Gear

    Even when visiting in the dead of winter, you’ll find Malaysia still resembles Hawaii more than most other winter destinations. You won’t need your snow boots, skis, or anything of the sort.

What NOT to wear in Malaysia – (Click to expand)

In general, we recommend not bringing too many warm clothes, even in the winter months. Of course, it’s always good to bring along a light jacket just in case, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself without touching it even once. And in any season, it’s important to plan to dress modestly, as to avoid any restrictions in entering various sites and attractions, as well as to respect the locals. That being said, Malaysia is still a very open and friendly country, so you don’t have to worry in the event you are underdressed.

FAQs about Traveling to Malaysia

  • 1. Is Malaysia a safe country?

    One of the many reasons that Malaysia and Southeast Asia, in general, are backpacker havens due to its safety. While rules of common sense apply, and it’s always best to be careful and aware of your surroundings, you shouldn’t have to worry much about the safety of yourself and your possessions. As you would anywhere, it’s always best to be cautious with your belongings and when and where you go.

    Is Malaysia a safe country?
  • 2. What is there to eat?

    The food in Malaysia is about as good as it gets, with famous dishes including Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng Mamak, and Ayam Percik to name a few. The options are almost limitless, with Malaysian cuisine being the perfect intersection of Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian flavors.

  • 3. What language do they speak?

    In Malaysia, they speak a language unsurprisingly called Malay, which is the mother tongue of the majority Malay ethnic group. However, English is relatively common among the locals, so you should have no problem getting around with English alone.

    What language do they speak?
  • 4. Are there any important traditions to be aware of?

    Malaysia has rich history and culture, with many unique traditions. Modern-day Malaysia is predominantly Islamic, so it’s important to understand the social expectations around their beliefs. This includes assuring you are in a suitable section while on the train (where applicable), as there can sometimes be gender-specific carriages.

  • 5. Are the locals friendly?

    Malaysia has some of the friendliest people in the region and embodies the kindness and hospitality that Southeast Asia is known for. Across this beautiful country, you will find yourself making friends at every corner! You’ll find that when you try and speak the local language, people tend to be even friendlier. So make an effort to interact with locals in their language. That’s a sure way to have a friendly interaction.

    Are the locals friendly?
  • 6. What is there to do aside from outdoor activities?

    Malaysia has many lively big cities and cozy villages, both with tons to do and see. This includes Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city, and a modern metropolis with delicious food, exciting nightlife, and vibrant history. There are also more backpacker-centric destinations, such as Penang, located along the northwest coast of the country and famous for its street food & art, as well as its incredible markets and nightlife.

  • 7. Is Malaysia Expensive?

    Malaysia is an inexpensive country where you can get an incredible meal for only a few dollars. This value extends to accommodation, excursions, and tours! So take advantage of the affordable prices, and indulge in experiences that will make memories for life. It’s a great option for those that are traveling on a budget. And for those that aren’t, you’ll quickly see that your money goes farther here than a lot of places.

    Is Malaysia Expensive?