Useful background information to help you plan your trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysia Grand Prix.All photos © f1destinations.com. The Editor attended the 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang.
Visa RequirementsNo visa is required for the vast majority of visitors to Malaysia but you should ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your intended arrival. Citizens of Australia, USA, the UK and other large countries automatically receive the right to stay in Malaysia for up to 3 months. Click here for more information.
Country OverviewMalaysia, a constitutional monarchy with a population of 28 million, gained independence from Britain in 1957. The state religion of Malaysia is Islam, though freedom of religion is protected in the constitution. Malaysia is one of the most well developed countries in the region, with GDP of approximately $450bn, the 29th largest in the world.
City OverviewA dynamic Asian city with a growing economy, Kuala Lumpur (population 5.7m) is the capital of Malaysia. KL is the 6th most visited city in the world, welcoming 9m international visitors annually. A cultural melting pot, KL is home to a diverse population and boasts some of the best shopping and dining in Asia. Though the skyline is dominated by the tallest twin towers in the world – the Petronas Twin Towers – the city also retains a reminder of its colonial past in the historic buildings dotted through the old centre.
SafetyKuala Lumpur is a very safe destination for foreign tourists, but vigilance is always advisable in large cities. Look after your belongings on public transport as pickpockets are active, especially on crowded routes. Also be careful not to walk too close to the kerb, as motorcycle bag snatchers are active in the city. Always be extra careful late at night in Kuala Lumpur – take a taxi instead of walking home alone. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe and only carry as much cash as you will need for the day.
MoneyThe Malysian Ringgit (RM or MYR) is one of the stronger currencies in South East Asia. It is relatively easy to find ATMs in Malaysia and most money changers offer competitive rates, with the exception of those at the airport. Tipping at restaurants is not mandatory in Malaysia unless you want to reward really good service. Instead, most restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge (as well as a 5% government tax).
Language & CultureMalaysia has a diverse multicultural population made up of Malays and indigenous peoples with large minorities from China, India, and other Asian nations. Religion is similarly varied, with around 60% of the population practicing Islam, around 20% Buddhism and small but significant Christian and Hindu minorities. The official language is Malaysian (Bahasa Malaysia) though the second language of English is widely spoken.
HealthMalaysia is a well developed country with a good health system. If you are travelling for the Grand Prix only, you won’t need to worry about getting special inoculations for malaria or other tropical diseases. As always, be prepared and ensure you are covered for accident or illness by organizing adequate travel insurance before you travel. Malaysia is a hot and humid sub-tropical country, so drink plenty of water and try to stay out of the hot sun during the day as much as possible. The Malaysian cuisine is spicy, so bring medication for an upset stomach or diarrhea if you are prone to such reactions.
ClimateMalaysia has an equatorial climate, characterised by year-round heat and humidity. The average daily temperature is 27 C and annual rainfall is high. The Grand Prix in March coincides with the wettest part of the year in Kuala Lumpur, where regular monsoon rains fall. If you have watched F1 on television for a few years, you will know there is a very good chance of rain at Sepang. It is also extremely hot, so be prepared! Wear light and loose fitting clothing to the track (jeans are not a good idea!) and take along a rain jacket, as well as a hat and sunscreen.
Need to Know
- Malaysia uses the same three-prong electricity sockets as the UK (though with a bit of trickery, you can make European-style plugs fit). If you are travelling from the US, don’t forget to bring your adaptor with a power converter.
- The timezone in Malaysia is GMT +8 hours (the country doesn’t observe daylight saving time).
- Malaysians drive on the left.
- The tap water in Malaysia is safe for human consumption.
- Useful telephone numbers in Malaysia: Police/Ambulane 999, Fire 994