Regardless of whether you are travelling for business or simply a weekend getaway with your loved ones, it should be fun. To ensure that you can travel safely, arrive at your destination on time and avoid difficulties such as scams and culture shock, learn a little on travel safety tips. Read on for more information.
Tip 1: Keep photocopies of your passport, credit cards and other important documents
It is rather common for travelers to stash and hide their passports on the waist pack to prevent snatch theft. However careful you are, the professional snatch thieves can still get ahold of your important documents. Bear in mind that you are now abroad. To arrive back to your home country, you need to have passport with you. And without a passport, you need to travel to embassy/consulate to get a new one. To convenient the process, it is advisable to keep photocopies of important documents particularly passport and credit cards with you. However, keep these photocopies separately from the original documents. If your hotel room has a safe deposit, then keep the photocopies in it.
Tip 2: Avoid scams when abroad
No matter where you go, street scams and conmen tend to target tourists as their victims. Thus, do not overdress to flaunt that you are a tourist. If possible, try to blend in with the locals in the country. Be alert and watch out from time to time. Among some of the commonest scams worldwide happen when photographers offer to take picture of you. They will then ask for money in return for the pictures taken. Perhaps, in the last trip, you may have stumble cab drivers overcharging you when traveling from one point to another. Therefore, before you get into these public transportations, remember to bargain and confirm on the fare. Do not hesitate to walk away if they refuse to use metre.
Tip 3: Avoid culture shock when traveling
When an Asian travels to Western countries, most probably they feel uncomfortable with the different cultures practiced in the country. And the same applies to Westerners when they travel to Asian countries. No worries. Just take your time to adapt to the changing environment. To cope with culture shock, try to identify the symptoms and overcome it by picking up several common local dialects. You may also establish relationships with the locals to blend in and enjoy their culture. Bear in mind that you will only spend short period of time there, so why not take this opportunity to make new friends?
Tip 4: Coping with Jet Lag
First and foremost, identify some symptoms of jet lag (that way, it is easier for you to deal with it). Generally, jet lag occurs in a time zone with a difference of more than five hours. Individuals usually suffered from sleep disorders, mental confusion as well as stomachache (gastro-intestinal problem). To begin with, if you want to prevent jet lag, then you need to prepare yourself right when you board the plane. Take sufficient amount of fluid throughout the journey. In addition to that, try to move around when you are on board.
Tip 5: Using foreign currency when travelling
When travelling abroad, you should have more than enough foreign currency for emergency use. Try to understand that tourists must use the currency issued by specific country. If you still have currencies from your home country, head down to the nearest bank and buy the local currencies. Buy and sell the amount needed. Remember, try not to obtain more than the amount needed on daily basis as the rate differs day-by-day. Thus, if you acquire more than the exact amount, in the end you need to sell it back for your own currency. If the currency market fluctuates, you have to sell it at a lower price!
Tip 6: Pack luggage wisely
Prior to your journey, prepare a checklist on what you ought and oughtn’t bring. It is advisable to roll your clothes to save space in the luggage bag. Firstly, check out the travel rules and restrictions (liquid security restrictions) before packing your items. Grab a copy of travel book or search online on activities at your holiday destination. It helps you to determine suitable clothing items. Most importantly, bring along comfortable walking shoes as well as sandals. Do not bring fancy clothes that set you apart from the locals as you do not want to attract conmen or street scams.
Tip 7: Practical tips to select hotel room
Basically, it is rather safe if you opt to stay in five- or four-star hotels. You can store important documents in the safe deposit boxes available in the rooms and there are also security cameras along the corridor and everywhere in the hotel to safeguard you. But then again, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you choose to use the electronic safe deposit box in the room, wipe the touch keys before entering your preferred code. If you are travelling alone, be alert with the room security. Once you enter the room, check that it is clear. Besides, you should leave the lights on at night to give the impression that the room is occupied.
Tip 8: Health tips
Before you embark on your journey to other countries, check out useful numbers and addresses of nearest hospitals. You may also enquire the information when you check-in at the hotel. Also, take note on the diseases in your holiday destination to prevent you from getting infected. Look out on the food and drinks you consume. If you have food allergies, prepare a list to remind yourself about it.
After reading all the travel safety tips and secrets, you can enjoy your hassle free holidays!
Phrases you can use when travelling in Malaysia
The main conversational languages in Malaysia are English Language and Bahasa Malaysia, which is the local language. Hence if you are a foreigner coming to the country, it is essential that you have some knowledge of the local language in case you come across situations where the locals do not speak English. This can be quite rare but a few important phrases will surely be helpful in many ways. Malaysians are very friendly people and if you say or use the wrong phrases, they will not feel offended in any way if they know you are trying.
In most cases, English Language is commonly used so it is quite universal in that sense. If you know some Chinese like Mandarin and Cantonese or Tamil, you could also use them with the Chinese and Indian people respectively. The local language, Bahasa Malaysia or BM in short is generally similar to that of the Bahasa Indonesia although the way it is used and applied differs in some ways.
Perhaps the most common phrase that you will use when traveling in Malaysia is ‘How much?’ which a simple ‘Berapa?’ would be sufficient. It is also the word used to count which can also mean ‘How many?’. If you see a product or get into a taxi, you would need to tell the seller what you want and then proceed to ask ‘Berapa’ and they will reply you with the amount.
‘Saya’ is the word used for ‘Me’, or ‘I’. The modern BM have incorporated ‘I’ into its conversational methods and hence you can use ‘I’ if you are unsure. Eat or eating would be ‘Makan’. If you want to eat you can say ‘I nak makan’ or ‘Saya nak makan’. ‘Nak’ here is the lingo for ‘want to’ or ‘would like to’.
‘You’ is represented as ‘Awak’, ‘Kau’, or ‘you’ will do. ‘She’, ‘he’, ‘them’ are all represented with ‘dia’. ‘Money’ or ‘cash’ in BM is ‘Duit’ or ‘wang’. ‘Price’ is ‘harga’. So if you would want to ask the price of an item you could say ‘Berapa harga?’. Another common word which you will come across is the word ‘Please’ or ‘Help’ which in BM is ‘tolong’. Take note that Malaysians use the word ‘Lah’ in a lot of their everyday language. Here is where ‘lah’ is used at the end of a sentence and does not mean anything. It is somewhat similar to a comma or a full stop like ‘I do not want to eat lah…’.
Below are some of the common phrases that you will find useful.
Welcome – Selamat Datang
Good Morning- Selamat Pagi
Good afternoon -Selamat tengah hari
See You again – Jumpa lagi
No – Tidak
Thank you- Terima kasih
Please – Sila
My name is – Nama saya ialah ..
Please stop here- Sila berhenti di sini….
Can you reduce the price – Boleh kurang?
Wait a minute – Tunggu sekejap
Where is the toilet – Di mana tandas…?
What time is it – Pukul berapa sekarang?
beef- daging lembu
coffee – kopi
tea – teh
Shopping and bargaining goes hand in hand. If you are in Malaysia and you are in a night market or any of the flea markets, you will find that the prices of items are usually different among the stalls. The rule of thumb here is that if you are shopping in a market and not an official retail store, then you will need some bargaining skills to help you. The whole concept of bargaining in Malaysia is not to try and keep the price as low as possible but you will need to do this so that you do not overpay or get cheated by the sellers.
When do you actually bargain? The first thing you must know is that if you are in a shopping mall, the prices are usually fixed, so you can actually enquire if they offer discounts while bargaining will not do you any good. If you are in a market where sellers offer their products in makeshift stalls and such, then these are where your skills will be extremely useful.
If you are in Petaling Street or Chinatown, this is where you will find a lot of things that you can buy from the sellers there. As it is one of the major tourist destinations in Malaysia, you will need to be very tactful when buying anything there. At Chinatown, the common practice is to push the value down to at least half of the asking price before moving your way up.
In night markets and such, you will need to compare prices. There are many repeat stalls in these markets where you will most likely find the same product sold in different stalls and in different prices as well. So you must shop around and ask before deciding to buy. Unless you cannot find another stall that sells the item that you want, you will then need to start the bargaining process.
First of all, you must have a price range or a maximum cap of how much you are willing to pay. NEVER ever pay the price offered to you in the first instance even if it is lower than you expected. If your price range is US10 and they offer you at US6, don’t jump at the chance. You could get it for US4 which is way lower than you expected. Sometimes they will ask you to name your price and if that happens, you should start at US5 and then work your way up. If they do not bulge from the price you want, you can say that you don’t want it and walk away. In most cases, they will chase after you and make another offer. If they don’t then that item is not worth buying and chances are you would come across it again later. If you don’t and you really want that particular item, then you can come back at a later time of the day or another day if time permits. Don’t worry about being rude or anything because the sellers face these situations every day.
Tips on bringing cash into Malaysia
In terms of money, Malaysia is governed by the Malaysian Currency Exchange Control Order (Import and Export)(General) 1998 which stipulates that foreigners and tourists are allowed to bring in up to RM1,000 into the country while anything below USD10,000 should be declared regardless of they are foreign currency or traveler’s cheques. In most cases, you will not be questioned by the immigration when entering Malaysia but declaring how much you are carrying would be advisable. If you are not carrying too much cash, then it is considered alright not to declare your currency.
What is your best option?
One thing you must bear in mind is that changing your currency to the Malaysian Ringgit is very easy and readily available around the country. So you can easily bring in your own foreign currency and then convert them to local currencies here. Furthermore they usually have the different denominations in most of the banks and licensed moneychangers which can be found in most major shopping malls, airports and commercial areas.
Most moneychangers do not impose any charges for changing so it is very convenient. Your best option is to bring in major currencies like the British Pound, the US Dollar, Australian dollars and such because they usually accept them. That which you must know is the rates here are usually slightly better than changing Ringgit back in your home country. As mentioned, it is best to bring cash and change them in Malaysia. Moneychangers would always welcome most denominations although there are certain instances when they do not accept loose change and small notes. In most cases, they do not take coins as they are usually difficult to get rid off.
If you are doing this, then you should change about RM500 when you touch down at the airport which is quite sufficient to get you around to the cities. Once you are there, you can then find the shopping malls where the rates are better than that found in the airports. Bank notes which are damaged will not be accepted so you must ensure that your notes are in good condition. You can use your ATM cards to withdraw cash from the machines which are easily found in most places but the rates are usually higher so it is usually not advised for you to do so unless it is absolutely necessary. Change your Ringgit back to your own currency before leaving because the rates are always better here.
What to do during emergencies?
In most countries, the number to call during emergencies is 999. It is basically the same in Malaysia. However, you have to be aware that due to vandalism and sometimes poor maintenance, some of the public phones are usually damaged or not in working condition. Hence, it would be recommended that you actually bring your own cell phone in case such emergencies happen. If necessary, it would be very useful if you have some basic first aid experience as it would come in handy when needed.
Emergencies could range from accidents to theft and such and if you managed to get hold of a public phone which works, then you can dial 999 which is free of charge. However, if you are using your own mobile phone, you will need to dial 112 instead of 999 and this is possible even if are at a place with no service. What the phone will do is to tap into any available line and then connect you to the police or the relevant authorities. Most phone manufacturers allow the number the dial even when the keylock is activated.
If you need manual help, Malaysians are known to be very helpful where they can assist you in several ways. Tourists who come from countries which adopts left hand drive lanes might find it difficult to cross the road and any passer-by will be happy to help you if you need to. If in doubt, and you have access to the police officer, you can always ask them for assistance.
In a situation where you lose your belongings due to theft, burglary or misplacement, you would need to report it to the police. If you can find the station, you only need to walk right in and make your report. Otherwise, you can hail a taxi to bring you to one and inform the police that you have lost your belongings and they will settle it with the taxi driver. If you try to get help from people to bring you to the police station, it might be a bit challenging as not everyone would be that kind in fear of their own safety. In the police station, do NOT attempt to bribe the officer in any way as it is a serious offence to do so.
Certain phone manufacturers actually make their phones with hidden battery power. If you are carrying Nokia phone, pressing the key *3370# would activate the reserve battery power which is very ideal during emergencies and when the battery power is weak. When you charge your phone, the reserve power will be recharged. Do not however use this function too much as it is known to be damaging to the battery’s working life.
Is it a common practice to tip?
Tipping in Malaysia is not very common which means that in most situations, you need not tip for services offered. This is mainly because you will usually be charged a 10% service charge at places like restaurants, services and such. The most common places where tipping are practiced are at restaurants, pubs and cafes. Where this is concerned, take note that the 10% service charged are usually imposed and are absorbed into your bill. If you are paying cash, it is usually common to leave the loose change or RM1 on the bill jacket before leaving. Tips will then be accumulated during the day and then divided equally among the waiters and waitresses on duty that day. However, this is not mandatory although you will be considered to be extremely generous if you do. In most cases, RM5 to TM10 would be more than enough and is considered very generous.
The 10% service charge is actually used to cover the tipping and other miscellaneous charges so no one will fault you if you do not tip them. Furthermore, you might come across situations where you are not happy with the services that were offered. The rule of thumb to practice when tipping is to take the notes and leave the coins.
In the hotels, the common places to tip is first the staff who will bring your bags to the room. They will not stand around waiting for the tip so you would need to give them tips with your own accord. In these situations, you should pay them around the likes of RM5 or RM10 and that will do. It is also very kind to put a small token with a note for the housekeeping staff before you leave the room. This practice will ensure that they make your room better and provide you with better services. If you like to visit the swimming pool and the facilities in the hotel, it is also advisable to bring along some small notes to tip the staff working there and you will be remembered the next time you go there again.
When taking the taxi, you can choose to tip them if they follow the taxi meters. This can be done through rounding up to the nearest Ringgit and they will be very appreciative. However, if you are taking a taxi which does not follow the meter, then there is no need to tip the driver. This is where you get into a taxi and the driver offers you a price to take you to the destination. While this is not allowed, it is commonly practiced and the drivers usually target foreigners and those who need to get to the places fast. So if that is the situation, just pay the amount agreed and alight when you arrive.
Tips for Women Travellers
If you are a woman and travelling in Malaysia, there are a few things which you must consider. Depending if you are travelling alone or in a group, there are certain mannerisms and factors which you must be aware of so that you do not offend anyone or trample on anything which can be regarded as insensitive.
This is because, first and foremost you must be aware that a large population of Malaysians are Muslims and hence women are treated very conservatively, especially around states which are religiously strong like Kelantan and Terengganu. On the contrary, you will be able to find that in most major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown, the people there are more open minded. At these places, you can pretty dress up anyway you like especially if you are at the entertainment areas like pubs and clubs.
Dressing is very important among women so you might not want to under-dress when you are in public. Depending on where you are going and what you are seeing, be aware that people are looking and that some might not be too appreciative of you showing off too much. There are no beaches in Malaysia that allow people to dress skimpily. You can however wear bikinis and such when visiting the beaches if you are perfectly alright with people looking at you all the time.
When entering temples and places of worship, ensure that you have your chest, arms and legs covered which is deemed to be conservative and most appropriate. Check with the locals here where you might need to don a scarf. T-shirts, jeans and pants are considered acceptable but you might want to wear skirts which are too short. As certain parts of Malaysia are still very much conservative, some might regard smoking as indecent as well.