Always remove your shoes, socks and hat and wear long trousers and long sleeves prior to entering a Mosque, or Temple in Malaysia. Women entering a mosque must wear a long cloak and head covering, which are usually provided at mosques for the purpose. Non-Muslims may not enter a Mosque during times of prayer. Footwear should also be removed before entering a Malaysian home. 

Women travellers, particularly if alone, need to exert especial care travelling around Malaysia. While not generally unsafe, dressing conservatively will avoid potential pitfalls, especially in Kelantan State. 

Because of the multicultural nature of Malaysia, the type of greeting may depend on ethnicity. However the handshake is widely recognised as the main greeting. However, it is not generally acceptable Malay women to shake hands with a man, though she may with another woman. The proper form for a man to greet a Malay woman is to place his hand on his heart and bow slightly.

In Chinese culture, handshakes are light, and it is acceptable for a man to shake hands with a woman, but the protocol is for the woman to offer her hand first. Indians normally handshake only with their own sex, and a smiling nod is the acceptable greeting between sexes.

Never point. If you need to attract attention, motion with the palm of your hand. Never touch anyone on the head. It is a common gesture in many societies to affectionately ruffle the hair of children, but the head is considered sacred in Asian cultures and such gestures will not have the intended effect.

Visitors to Malaysia should be aware that it is highly likely that they will witness attitudes towards animals, which may distress, and prepare themselves in advance to deal with these matters with calm and sometimes considerable restraint.

Overt public displays of affection between couples is frowned upon, particularly in traditional areas, and shows disrespect to the native culture. As homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, same sex couples need to be particularly careful in this area.

Tipping for services in Malaysia is in general unnecessary but will be accepted by Taxi drivers, tour guides, restaurant and hotel staff.  

When dining among the Malays, eating with the hand is common and care should be taken to use only the right hand and never the left, which is considered unclean. Never lick your fingers afterwards. If eating with a fork and spoon, the fork is used for prodding and manipulating food on the plate but eating should be performed with the spoon. 

If dining among Chinese, Chopsticks should be used only for eating and never employed as a means of gesturing, drumming or placing in your hair. When you have finished your meal place the implements together level across the top rather than leaning into the bowl, and on no account leave the chopsticks pointing straight up as this is traditionally interpreted as either obscene or even a curse or omen of death.

It is not the practise in Malaysia, especially for women, to touch a monk, or even their robes.

 

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