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Money & costs & other in Malaysia


The Malaysian ringgit (RM) consists of 100 sen. Coins in use are one, five, 10, 20 and 50 sen, and RM1; notes come in RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100. Locals sometimes refer to the ringgit as a ‘dollar’.

The ringgit, pegged to the US dollar until 2005, now floats against an undisclosed basket of currencies. At the time of writing, US$1 was RM3.50.


Business hours

Usual business hours in Malaysia:

Banks 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 11.30am Saturday

Department stores 10am to 8pm

Government offices 8am to 12.45pm and 2pm to 4.15pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 12.15pm and 2.45pm to 4.15pm Friday, 8am to 12.45pm Saturday

Shopping malls 10am to 8pm

Shops 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday

In the more Islamic-minded states of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu, government offices, banks and many shops close on Friday and on Saturday afternoon.

Exceptions to these hours are noted in ¬individual reviews.


Year-round travel is possible. Rain falls fairly evenly throughout the year and the difference between the main October to April rainy season and the rest of the year is not that marked. The exception is the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which receives heavy rain from November to mid-February. During these months many east-coast resorts close and boat services dwindle or stop altogether. Travel along the west coast is not affected. The states of Sabah and Sarawak receive high rainfall throughout the year, but it is heaviest from October to March.

Wildlife Malaysia’s ancient rainforests are endowed with a cornucopia of life forms. In Peninsular Malaysia alone there are over 8000 species of flowering plants, including the world’s tallest tropical tree species, the tualang.

In Malaysian Borneo, where hundreds of new species have been discovered since the 1990s, you’ll find the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia, measuring up to 1m across, as well as the world’s biggest cockroach.

 Mammals include elephants, rhinos (extremely rare), tapirs, tigers, leopards, honey bears, tempadau (forest cattle), gibbons and monkeys (including, in Borneo, the bizarre proboscis monkey), orang-utans and scaly anteaters (pangolins).

Bird species include spectacular pheasants, sacred hornbills and many groups of colourful birds such as kingfishers, sunbirds, woodpeckers and barbets. Snakes include cobras, vipers and pythons. Once a favourite nesting ground for leatherback turtles, recorded landings now hover around 10 per year.