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Packing Essentials for Malaysia

Malaysia packing essentials

I spent three months traveling in Southeast Asia and frequently wore the same outfits every day, namely athletic shorts, grubby t-shirts and flip flops.

But on my most recent trip to Malaysia, I wanted to pack differently. I knew I’d be visiting mosques, as the country is primarily Muslim, and wanted to be respectful.

I have a handful of things that I’m definitely glad I packed.

Modest Clothing

Putrajaya Mosque
Putrajaya Mosque

In much of Southeast Asia, you can get away with wearing tank tops, shorts and flip flops unless you’re in a temple. This is where Malaysia differs, as it’s a majority Muslim country.

In cities like Kuala Lumpur, the standards aren’t as strict, but further out, you may get stares if you wear the typical Southeast Asia backpacker uniform. Be sure to pack a few items that cover your shoulders and always bring a scarf for when you want to check out a mosque or go to the Batu Caves to keep you from having to buy or borrow a robe or sarong.

Breathable Fabrics

Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

The humidity can be oppressive in Malaysia, so the more breathable fabrics you wear, the better. This can be tricky when you’re trying to cover up, but stick to materials that wick sweat. This will be especially beneficial if you’re going jungle trekking.

I ended up packing a lot of ExOfficio gear for this trip, particularly their Dryflylite shirts and the Go-To dress.

Sandals

Sandals and slip ons

Apart from jungle trekking and other activities, sandals are best, especially for walking around shorter distances. They can be slipped on and off easily while entering holy sites and dressed up to go to one of Kuala Lumpur’s rooftop bars.

I got a pair made in Vietnam, pictured above, that I bring everywhere. Many travelers swear by active sandals like Chacos or Keen Whispers.

Zoom Lens

A zoom lens is important for wildlife photography.
A zoom lens is important for wildlife photography.

Malaysia has so many amazing animal encounters that it’s a shame to have blurry pictures. If you’re going to be spending any time at animal habitats, specifically the orangutans or Proboscis monkeys, invest in a quality lens for your camera with high zoom ability so that you can snap them even if you’re not up close.

Carry On Bag

src=”https://herpackinglist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Caroline-packing-light.jpg” alt=”Caroline packing light with a carry-on bag.” width=”390″ height=”640″ class=”size-full wp-image-8501″ /> Caroline packing light with a carry-on bag.

If you’re exploring Malaysia extensively, you’ll likely be taking a regional flight between the peninsula and the island of Borneo. Packing light is the best way to avoid costly fees on budget carriers like AirAsia. You can also throw away unnecessary clothing or under pack to buy more when you get there.

If you find that you don’t have the right bag for the trip, I recommend browsing in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown for cheap luggage and bags.

Rain Gear

Rainy Malaysia

If you’re traveling during November and the rest of Northern Hemisphere fall and winter, prepare yourself for the rainy season. Heavy storms come out of nowhere and you don’t want to be caught in one. Equip yourself with either a rain jacket, cheap poncho or umbrella and bring it with you even when it doesn’t look cloudy.

What are some Malaysia packing essentials you’d stress packing?

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Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Bronica says

    I lived in my 3/4 Nike Dri Fit pants while we were there. They were great as you could give them a quick wash in the hotel sink and they’d be dry by the next day, ready to go again. As a slightly larger girl, they also eliminated any ‘chub rub’ and helped me feel more covered up than shorts. Would highly recommend pants made of a wicking material such as these as on our previous trip I wore cotton 3/4 pants and felt gross and damp most of the time.

  2. Elizabeth Smith says

    I would also recommend bringing small packs of Tissue to use in the restrooms. Sometimes you’re required to pay for toilets so small change is essential when going about town. Also, frequently throughout Southeast Asia there is no tissue paper, so you may have to bring your own Kleenex Tissue Packs.

  3. Omaira says

    Great blog, thank you for the advises, I was hesitant if I should bring skirts when visiting mosques. I like to pack very light.

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