Malaysia is a Southeast Asian destination bountiful with exotic tales, lush rainforests and tropical beaches. The best time to visit Malaysia depends on the destinations and activities on your itinerary. Find out when to go with this great guide detailing its weather, daylight hours, sea temperatures, flight prices, and annual events.
Weather in Malaysia
Malaysia experiences hot and humid weather year-round, scattered with tropical showers. Its tropical climate offers warm temperatures throughout the year, ranging between 23°C and 32°C. There are two distinct seasons in Malaysia, the wet and dry season. Take note that there is a difference in seasons along the east and west coast as they experience their wettest months at alternate times of the year.
On the east coast, the wet season occurs between November and February, while the west coast experiences dry and sunny weather during this time. Conversely, the west coast’s wettest months are April to October.
December to April (dry season) offers the best weather for the west coast islands of Penang, Langkawi and Pangkor. During the dry season, the weather is particularly balmy in Penang. From December the west coast begins to delight in long, sunny days. Be sure to pack in sunscreen as temperatures average 32°C. The best time to visit Malaysia’s west coast for its driest weather conditions are January and February. February is also the month to catch the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Penang – a must see with music, lights, food and colourful balloons floating in the sky. If you want to spot wildlife, the best time to visit Malaysia is between March and October.
During September and October, the wet season arrives with Penang and Langkawi receiving more rain than usual. During the wet season, sea crossings and rainforest trails are sometimes affected by heavy downpours for a couple of hours a day, which usually happens in the mid to late afternoon. You can expect an average daily temperature of 27°C. If diving is on your list of things to do, avoid visiting the west coast during September and October as seas are rough, causing bad visibility. The southwest monsoon hits from May to October, with the arrival of rains to the lowlands particularly Kuala Lumpur and Melaka.
Shielded by a mountainous valley, the weather in Kuala Lumpur is relatively cooler than most other destinations in Malaysia. May to July is considered the best time to visit Malaysia’s capital city while it experiences a dry spell.
Average Temperatures in Penang:
The east coast is best described as hot and sunny for most of the year with the South China Sea’s warm waters conjuring a breeze that somewhat soothes the humidity. November to February is the east coast’s wet season and the islands are best avoided during this period. Kelantan and Terengganu are very quiet this time of year as the northeast monsoon hits the east coast islands. Some islands close during this period, which means that resorts are closed and boats and ferries do not escort tourists to the islands. Consecutive days of rain can occur during the wet season. You can expect thunderstorms, and if you’re lucky there are occasional days without rainy afternoons.
March is a great time to visit Malaysia, including the east coast islands. Sunny days return to Tioman, Redang and Perhentian Islands as tourists make their way to Malaysia’s east coast.
If you’re looking for the best diving and snorkelling, April to October is the best time to visit Malaysia’s east coast.
Average temperatures in Terengganu
Essentials to Pack
- Loose-fitting and comfortable clothes
- A scarf (for the breeze)
- Light sweatshirt (for air-conditioned places)
- A light raincoat or umbrella
The sea temperatures in Malaysia is warm all year round with temperatures ranging from 26°C to 30 °C. However, the monsoon season may not be the best time to visit Malaysia as it will forbid diving at certain times of the year in some places. The average sea temperature is 29°C during the wet season. You can expect an average temperature of 27°C during the dry season. With vast stretches of coral reef and mindblowing shipwrecks, your diving experience will be nothing short of amazing. The marine life in Malaysia’s waters includes blacktip sharks, nudibranchs, and hawksbill turtles.
The daylight hours do not vary that greatly throughout the year. Malaysia experiences an average of 11 to 12 hours of daylight, with the dry season having up to one hour more of sunshine along the east and west coasts.
How Much are Flights to Malaysia?
Malaysia has two peak seasons: one falls between December and February while the other falls between July and September. You can expect to pay up to 18% more for flights during Malaysia’s peak seasons. Make sure to book your accommodation and flights at least three months in advance.
The weather will play a big role in your holiday plans. Along the east coast, the low season is between November and March when water activities become impossible to do due to the monsoon tides. The west coast’s low season is from April to May, and October to November. For those travelling on a budget, the low season is the best time to visit Malaysia as you can save up to 20% on flights.
Annual Events in Malaysia
Thaipusam – January – February
This festival is celebrated by the Tamil and Malayali communities during the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). Celebrated over three days, devotees give thanks to one of their gods, Lord Murugan, a son of Shiva.
Chinese New Year – February
The Chinese people make up a large percentage of the country, which is why Malaysia is one of the best destinations to celebrate Chinese New Year. It is predominantly celebrated in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Families prepare for reunion dinners and many have huge feasts with lion or dragon dances filling the streets.
Wesak Day – May
Celebrated around May by Buddhists, Wesak Day marks three momentous events in Buddha’s life – his birthday, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana. Devotees gather at the temples to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Chanting and praying are important parts of the Wesak celebration.
Hari Merdeka – August
Malaysia’s Independence Day is celebrated on 31 August. Take part in the festivities in Kuala Lumpur or anywhere in Malaysia where the locals celebrate their independence with fireworks and plenty of flag-waving cheer.
Malaysia Day – September
Held on 16th September, this important day commemorates the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. The Malaysians come together to celebrate and embrace their diverse religions, cultures and languages across the nation.
Malaysia is a beautiful destination brimming with diverse cultures and languages. With its beautiful cityscapes, idyllic beaches, delicious foods and so much more you are guaranteed a life-changing vacation. Now that you’re up-to-date on the best time to visit Malaysia all that’s left to do is pack your bags.
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