One thing I learned from travelling east to west, south to north, hot to cold is that each country has it’s must pack, absolutely essential, don’t leave home without items. My first tip is don’t travel east to west, south to north, and hot to cold in one trip – packing for that kind of trip sucks (trust me!). However, whatever country I was in there were always a couple items that I was so grateful for no matter how silly or space inefficient, they were… absolutely ESSENTIAL. For packing essentials for other countries I’ve visited check them out here.
Malaysia is hot, like really, really, really HOT! So hot that your sunblock ends up in a hot sweaty mess on the front of your shirt, so hot that you’re willing to pay a couple bucks to go to the most boring museum or worst movie just to indulge in the AC (and maybe, just maybe feel cold), so hot that you actually start using the umbrella to block the sun, YES! That hot. Pretty much all of my Malaysia essentials are for the sole purpose of keeping cool and covered.
1. Bathing Suit. Whether you plan to cool down in a kiddie pool outside the petronas towers in KL or lie on a glorious deserted beach bring your bathing suit, had I had mine packed in my bag while I was in KL there is no doubt I would have waded in and spent the day with a bunch of tots cooling down in knee deep water which I am sure is mostly whiz.
2. Hat. Pack it. Use it.
3. Sunglasses. Same as #2.
4. Sunblock. Despite the fact that my sunblock generally slid off me with my sweat from the intense humidity, had I not brought it I’m pretty sure I would have been a real live walking tomato.
5. Umbrella. Not only is Malaysia hot, and sunny, it is also very rainy (depending on the time of year and coast that you’re on). You should never go anywhere in Malaysia without your umbrella, whether to protect you from the rain, or to help provide a little shade, it is a necessity.
The only other item I would add is a light scarf to both protect your shoulders, and cover you if you decide to venture in any mosques. In the main tourist hubs and major cities you can pretty much get away with wearing what you would wear at home on a scorching hot day, but in the rural areas you should dress conservatively (i.e. light clothes that cover you). I would also recommend bringing a thirst for coconut water, it’s fresh, cheap and will help replace all those electrolytes you lost in your DNA around the city.