8 Malaysian traveler stereotypes that will make you go “That’s so meeeee!”

No matter where we go or when we travel, we bring along our own quirks and idiosyncrasies – and Malaysians are no different. Here are a few unique mannerisms that we’ve noticed among Malaysian travelers… Sound familiar to you? 😛  

1. Never forgets to pack instant noodles/sambal

Instant Noodles

When you hail from one of the best foodie nations, it’s no surprise that sometimes you’ll miss the food you’re used to eating. For those who find that the local food is never spicy enough when they’re traveling, they’ve learned to always pack enough sambal to add a fiery kick to their meals.

Ah, instant noodles – the ultimate cheap Malaysian comfort food. Who hasn’t brought along a few handy packets for a late-night snack when all the restaurants and shops have closed? They’re also perfect for cutting down the cost of eating out when you’re on a tight budget.  


2. Whips out the strong-smelling oils and balms

There you are, in your seat, trying to while away the hours until you finally arrive at your destination… Then your nostrils flare as you detect the distinctive medicinal scent of Minyak Angin Cap Kapak or Tiger Balm, often used by aunties and uncles suffering from nausea, headaches, colds and most ailments you can think of.  

For some, the smell of eucalyptus, menthol, camphor and other essential oils can be soothing or invigorating, but for others, it’s, er… an olfactory nightmare due to the pungency of the odor.


3. Keeps a water bottle or wet wipes on hand

Water Bottle
^ A lifesaver in countries with no pipes or bidets in public toilets.

In Malaysia, most public toilet stalls are fitted with water hoses or bidets, but that’s not always the case in foreign countries, especially Western ones. (*cue cries of “Aiya, how can you feel clean though?? 😱”*)

The usual Malaysian solution to this dilemma? Bring along an empty water bottle to fill when you need to use the bathroom or an easy-to-carry pack of wet wipes. It’s not quite the same, but it’s better than nothing. 🤷


4. Always tries to get a discount

"If I buy more, can I get it for less ah?"

Seeing someone haggling for a lower price is a typical scene in our markets, but Malaysians love hunting for great deals when they’re overseas too, especially at souvenir shops, where they buy things in bulk. So don’t be surprised if you witness a thrifty Malaysian expertly negotiating for a better price when you’re browsing the shops in another country.


5. Abruptly switches to their mother tongue in public

"Walaoooo got leng zhai kat meja sebelah"

You could be happily chatting away with your friend at a coffee shop when you spot a cutie nearby, but you don’t want them to know you’re talking about them. Or maybe during your travels, you bump into another Malaysian and you find yourself automatically switching to Bahasa Malaysia without blinking an eye.

Sometimes it’s simply easier to express ourselves in that lovely hodge-podge mix of languages we’re so used to in Malaysia. (It’s also easier to ‘membawang’ in public when the locals don’t know what you’re saying. 🙊)


6. Swipes all the hotel goodies

"Must take all the hotel freebies!"

Hotels usually provide complimentary items and services for guests, and you’re not alone if you have the tendency to pack any unused freebies into your bag just before checking out. Hey, who doesn’t like free stuff, amirite?

However, be careful not to bring back anything you shouldn’t – or you may receive a hefty bill from the hotel! Shampoo bottles, sachets of instant coffee and pens are fine, but some of the contraband things that end up accompanying some guests home include cushy bathrobes, artwork, clothing irons and TV remote controls.



“No rice? Eww, what are you talking about??”

Ever traveled with a friend or family member that got really cranky because they couldn’t find any rice to eat? Or maybe you’re a rice-reliant individual yourself? Some people have stomachs that are so used to eating rice all day, errday that they can’t not have it. Other carbs are just not as filling.

But beyond Asia, rice isn’t as much a staple part of the local diet, so you may find yourself eating anything but rice.


8. Suddenly develops an odd accent

When you’re in Malaysia:

"Wei, nak makan mana malam ni, bro?"

When you’re overseas:

"Where shall we dine this fine evening?"


Malaysians have a weird relationship with accents, which is probably due to our beautifully diverse society. Depending on who we’re speaking to or the situation, many of us have different ways of speaking, accents included. With our friends, it could be a casual mix of Manglish, and during an office meeting, it could be fluent Queen’s English.

But it doesn’t just happen in Malaysia – for some, the moment they’re on foreign soil and speaking to non-Malaysians, out comes the accent, which can sometimes sound like a weird mixture of Malaysian and American/British/Australian. Perhaps we use an accent in an effort to be better understood?

These unique habits may be weird to some, but it’s thanks to them that we usually have no problem spotting another fellow Malaysian, even when we’re thousands of miles away from home. ❤️️

Malaysians are also known for having a keen eye for bargains, so head to Traveloka to get fantastic deals on flights and hotels!

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.

Leave a Reply