19 Things Malaysians Do When Travelling Overseas

We Malaysians love to travel. I suppose that’s a natural consequence of having so many public holidays. But have you ever realised how Malaysians tend to stand out when we’re travelling abroad? There’s just some things Malaysians do when travelling that are simply unique.

I mean, have you ever just looked at someone while overseas and went “this one confirm Malaysian”?  It is not that difficult, actually. I think Malaysians tend to do certain things while overseas which makes us stand out. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of 19 things Malaysians confirm will do while travelling overseas. Let’s see how many apply to you!

1. We get super excited when we see snow

Sometimes, we travel for one simple reason: to escape the Malaysian weather. Panas giler woi! It’s safe to say that most Malaysians prefer to travel to places that have a cooler climate and different seasons. If you ever mention the word “snow” to a Malaysian traveller, you will surely see the key to happiness reflected in their eyes.

2. We make sure we are SUPER prepared for the cold weather

Malaysians who travel during winter, especially first time travellers, tend to bring enough warm clothing to incubate a dinosaur egg. We wrap ourselves up tightly like nasi lemak before we head out into the chilly weather, only to realise, it’s not even that cold!

Despite this, you just know we’ll keep packing layer after layer of winter wear again for our next winter vacation.

3. We pack “rations” and medical supplies

Image credit: Eric Chan

We’ve all done this before. You know the usual things we stuff into our bags: instant cup noodles, cream crackers, MILO and Nescafe sachets etc. Ask any Malaysian travelling overseas and 8/10 times, you will be able to get some of these items from their suitcase.

Don’t worry if you fall sick either! If you have a Malaysian travelling with you, confirm can find basic medicines like Panadol, cough syrups, and remedial oils for joint aches. We’re prepared for everything!

4. We suddenly have a craving for rice

I don’t care how much you like your pastas and steaks. If you’re true-blue Malaysian, then at some point during your travels, you will somehow crave for some rice. It’s been our staple food since we were born, how can we ever live without it? Besides, sometimes having too much “Western Food” just makes us feel queasy and we lose our appetite. We simply must have rice!

5. We start looking for chili or other types of spicy food too!

Malaysians simply adore spicy food. If it doesn’t tingle our tongue, it’s not spicy (or good) enough. That’s why some Malaysian even pack Malaysian-made hot sauce in their luggage! Now that’s commitment!

And here’s a fun tip for you: people in Hong Kong actually DON’T eat their siew mai with chili sauce. So, don’t ever ask for chili sauce at a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

6. We take pictures whenever we see Malaysian brands overseas

Image credit: Rob

When Malaysians see Malaysian brands overseas, we feel a sense of pride. Or amusement. Sometimes both but yes, whenever we stumble upon the odd Proton car or a section in the supermarket dedicated to Malaysia brands (usually Ipoh White Coffee), we can’t help but smile. Though we sometimes don’t even buy any of these said brands back at home, we’ll whip out our cameras and make sure it gets posted to our social media channels. #MalaysiaBoleh

7. (Some people) Insta-Story EVERYTHING

Now, I get that when we travel, we get excited and we take pictures to commemorate our journeys. I understand that you want to remember that epic scenery forever, and some forms of food look so good you just have to take a picture of it before you dig in.

But there’s always that ONE person in the group who will post EVERYTHING about the trip on their Instagram. Do you really need to update everyone about your trip from the moment you board the plane till you get home? DO YOU, CAROL?

8. We don’t always stay in a hotel, but when we do, we look forward to the breakfast buffet more than the hotel itself

Image credit: Pete

Don’t even try to deny this. Malaysians love food, and we live for it. In fact, sometimes what helps us decide which hotel we stay in boils down to whether or not they have a breakfast buffet. Let’s be real: sometimes, we Malaysians think with our appetite. ‘Nuff said.  

9. Sometimes, we will tapao something from the buffet table

Yeah, okay, hands up if you’ve ever taken something from the breakfast buffet table at the hotel. Sigh, I thought so. While we’re not thieves by nature, sometimes we can’t help but nick something off the buffet table. It could be a bun, a muffin, or even an apple. We don’t always know why we do it, we just do it.

Hey, don’t judge me! My appetite isn’t always good in the morning. I’m saving it for later!

10. We even take home the toiletries from our hotel room

Image credit: travel.executive

Don’t try to find a way around this either. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it before, especially when we were younger. Well, if it makes you feel better, the small bottles are perfect for storing shower gels, shampoos and even cosmetic products for your next trip overseas. See, we’re recycling, that’s a good thing!

11. We sometimes “adjust” our accent

Image credit: wifflegif

Make no mistake about it: Malaysians are all linguistically talented people. So much so that when we travel overseas, we tend to mimic the accent of the place we’re in. What? We want to blend in mah!  This is especially true when we travel to English-speaking countries like the U.K. or Australia, and start socialising with the locals.

For some reason, the longer we speak to them, the more our accents start to change. The best-case scenario: we barely pass as a local; worst-case scenario: we start sounding like an extremely confused individual with an identity crisis. Just try not to say stuff like “clever-clever squirrel jump” and make sure to “adjust” your accent back to Malaysian mode before you come back!

12. But no matter how hard we try, some things never change…lah

While we are quite good and imitating foreign accents, there are some things about our style of English that just can’t be hidden away, ever. No matter how good we think we are at speaking like an ang moh, at some point, we will subconsciously blurt out words like “lah, meh, hor, leh, wor”.

That’s when another Malaysian nearby will exclaim “Eh, you Malaysian also ah?”

13. We sometimes make it a point to speak Bahasa Malaysia

Image credit: Uwe Aranas

Despite it being our national language, Bahasa Malaysia isn’t always spoken in everyday life. The different races either use their mother tongue or English. However, strange things start happening when we travel overseas. Either it’s because we’re trying to talk about something behind the locals’ backs or we simply miss the feeling of home, we start conversing in Bahasa Malaysia.

Note: this trick may or may not work in Indonesia.  

14. We give way to cars at pedestrian crossings

The universal law of traffic is as such: motor vehicles (cars, buses, motorbikes etc.) should give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. That law obviously never made it to Malaysia.

Which is why when we’re travelling overseas and we come to a pedestrian crossing, we get a little bit confused. Like, do we cross? Do we give way to the car? Is the car going to slow down? Should I run across? Should I let the car pass first? These are the questions only Malaysians struggle with at a pedestrian crossing.

And then, when a car DOES stop for us to cross, we just feel so amazed that we turn to the driver and raise our hand in thanks!

15. We cross the road wherever we want

Okay, this is one bad habit we should learn to curb.

While we struggle to figure out pedestrian crossings, Malaysians still know perfectly well how to cross the road. Years of living in Malaysia have taught us one thing: if you want to cross the road, just raise your hand at oncoming traffic and cross! Yes, if we Malaysians want to get across, no force in the universe can stop us.

Note: jaywalking is illegal in most countries in the world and quite dangerous. Even if you’re in a rush, it’s best to drop the Malaysian way and use the pedestrian crossings lah. You think your grandfather built this road ah?

16. We convert everything to Ringgit Malaysia…and then we die a little bit inside

Travelling these days can be quite expensive for Malaysians, especially since our Ringgit Malaysia seems to depreciate every other Monday. Naturally, then, when we travel, we convert everything into Ringgit to keep track of our spending. And oftentimes, this just makes us sad, depressed and guilty. Oh, Ringgit Malaysia…why?

17. Despite this, we try to be as “local” as possible

Image credit: Amanda Hiew

Being from a multi-racial, multi-cultural country, most Malaysians are open to new cultural experiences when they travel. We love nothing more than to assimilate into local culture: putting on traditional costumes, tasting local cuisine, even speaking the local language. Despite our unique Malaysian-ness, we try as best as we can to act like a local. And this often leads to deeply-rewarding travel stories.

18. We usually just buy the same type of “souvenirs”

By which I mean food. Think about it, what’s the one thing Malaysians never fail to bring back from a trip overseas? It’s food! It can be chocolate, or packaged snacks, dried herbs and spices, even instant noodles! It’s the easiest thing to bring home and who can ever say no to food? It’s practical and it makes people happy. That’s one thing the world should learn from us, I tell you.

19. Comparing everything to Malaysia

One thing we never fail to do while travelling overseas is to compare everything to Malaysia. Everything is up for comparison, from food, to shopping, public transportation and even the tinder profiles of that particular country (long story, don’t ask)! And although we will almost always find something about Malaysia to criticise, at the end of the day, we’ll still agree that there’s no place like home.

So, how many of these things have you done? Did we miss anything out? I know we Malaysians are a vocal lot, so feel free to shout it out in the comments section!

By Darren

Brand Managers!

Want to see your brand or business in this story?

Talk to us now