Malaysia's equatorial climate makes for hot and wet weather throughout the year, so the best time to visit Malaysia depends on which coast you'd like to visit.
While you can plan for a beach holiday at any time of year, the east and west coasts have their wettest months at alternate times of the year.
From April to October you can expect wet weather and afternoon thunderstorms along the west coast. From November to February, you’ll find those weather conditions have shifted over to the east coast where they may have become a little more intense.
When to Visit for...
Festivals and Celebrations
Chinese New Year usually falls in January February, and many Malaysian towns and villages celebrate with fireworks and festivities. Also in January or February is the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam which sees devotees performing the Kavadi ritual. Metal hooks and spikes are pierced through the skin, and some temples hold fire walking ceremonies. The best place to witness the procession is at the Batu Caves in Gombak, where there are a series of cave temples. Later in the year, Buddhists and Taoists celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. During this celebration, devotees remember and pay homage to their ancestors.
If you’re visiting between November and February and you want to spend some time on the coast, then aim for the blue skies and sunshine on the west of the peninsula. The islands in the east are generally lashed by rain and wind at this time of the year. With March comes an end to the monsoon in the east, meaning that islands like Tioman, Perhentian and Redang are popular spot again. Incidentally, there’s a short period before the weather turns on the west coast, so you can happily spend time on the beaches of Langkawi and Penang in March as well. By May, however, you’ll want to avoid the western shores.
Diving and Snorkelling
Along with the sunny and dry weather on the east coast of the peninsula, you’ll find conditions perfect for diving around Tioman Island, Terengganu, Redang Island and the Perhentian Islands from May to August. Visitor numbers are high in July and August since it is peak season. The seas start to get rougher in September as the winds pick up. Many of the hotels and resorts on the east coast close around November and only reopen in March.
Trekking in the Highlands
The best time to visit the beautiful Cameron Highlands is in the dry season, February to April, but even the cooler months from December to February can be rewarding. Make your way along hiking trails to temples, hill stations and tea plantations. Tackle the Gunung Brinchang Trail for wonderful views from the highest point in the region.