A year-round destination, there is no single best time to visit Malaysia. The country has a tropical, equatorial climate; it’s humid and warm with the chance of showers throughout the year. You can experience the white-sand beaches, colonial architecture, Chinese cultural influences, stunning national parks and glorious coral reefs at any time. All you need is some savvy planning and knowledge about the climatic pattern.
This page will focus on the weather in Peninsula Malaysia. You can find out more about the weather in Malaysian Borneo here. For more specific information, read on for our more detailed weather descriptions or get in touch with one of our Malaysia specialists today.
Weather in Malaysia throughout the year
January – March
With the west coast basking in sunshine, it’s a fantastic time to visit Langkawi, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and the Cameron highlands. On the east coast, however, the rainy season ensues so is best avoided.
In April, weather in Malaysia is good across the country. The west and east coasts both enjoy lovely weather. The cultural centres of Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands and Penang might have a few odd showers but not enough to affect your trip; they might even be a welcome relief from the humidity.
May – August
The East Coast enjoys dry weather and glorious sunshine. The sea is relatively calm, perfect for snorkelling explorations around coral reefs. The west coast, on the other hand, is now in its rainy season, so heavy downpours should be expected, albeit short-lived.
September – October
The climate on the east coast remains dry with relatively low humidity, sunshine and little rain. A northeast monsoon begins to blow, bringing slightly rougher sea conditions and a cooler temperature than the summer months. The west coast wet season declines although rain can still come. In particular, Penang and Langkawi can experience heavy storms.
Dry and sunny weather returns to the west of Malaysia marking the start of the peak season. You can expect reliably hot weather, with long periods of sunshine on the west coast throughout this period. On the east coast, however, the monsoon brings heavy rains. Many resorts in eastern Malaysia close during this period, reopening again in March/April time.
As ever, the weather in Malaysia in December is a decidedly mixed bag. It’s excellent on the west coast, with dry weather perfect for a beach stay and the less extreme heat makes it a perfect time for exploring too. On the east coast, however, downpours and storms are frequent and many resorts remain firmly closed.
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The Seasons in Malaysia
Malaysia has two monsoon seasons and therefore its dry seasons are different too. The east-coast dry season runs from March until September, and the west-coast dry season runs from October to April. This means that there is always good weather on at least one side of the peninsula, so you can plan your luxury Malaysia holiday around reliable sunshine.
The levels of elevation in the country also affect the climate. Sea level temperatures in Malaysia range from 21°C to 32°C, though higher ground can get much cooler. For example, the Cameron Highlands, a former British hill station, are over 1000 metres above sea level. This makes it the perfect place to relax, cool off and explore after some time exploring the cultural delights of hotter Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Penang.
Beach season in Malaysia
You can go to a beach in Malaysia at any time of year, from paradise retreats on the mainland to hideaways on nearby islands. However, the beach you choose will depend on when you visit: the east coast has its monsoon while the west sees clear skies and vice versa.
The west of Malaysia, where you’ll find popular beach spots like Langkawi and Pangkor, has heavier rain in September and October. However, it is still possible to experience a lovely beach stay with little more than a short sharp downpour at this time.
The east of Malaysia, including islands like Tioman, Redang and the Perhentian Islands, see heavy rains between November and February. These showers can be longer and heavier than those in the west, so we generally advise travellers to avoid the east of Malaysia at this time.
Key Dates and Festivals
Since Malaysia is such a cultural melting pot, many different holidays occur across the country. For example, February sees both Chinese New Year and Thaipusam, a Hindu celebration of the full moon. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, so holidays such as Eid al-Adha in September are widely observed. Buddhist Wesak Day, or the commemoration of Buddha’s death, takes place in May, and Deepavali, the Hindu festival of light, occurs in October or November.
George Town Festival is a 16-day celebration that takes place every July in Penang. Created to celebrate the city’s UNESCO heritage status, it now represents one of Southeast Asia’s largest cultural festivals. It’s a great time to experience the food, music and performances of Malaysia in an exuberant atmosphere.
When to go to Malaysia: Insider tips
As a whole, we think that March to April is the best time to go to Malaysia. These are the perfect months to take in the entire country and get a sense of its diversity. For a very good value holiday, combine a trip to Malaysian Borneo at the beginning of September, finishing off with some beach time in Langkawi at the end of the month. You’ll benefit from off-peak prices, and you should enjoy very good weather.
Meet the Malaysia experts
Our Head of Travel, Nick loves exploring life in Asia and over the past decade he has spent a great deal of time in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. To add to his impressive repertoire, Nick also pioneered our Indonesia holidays and having done exhaustive tours to Bali, Java, Flores and Indonesian Borneo he is passionate about extolling the virtues of this often overlooked country.
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James didn’t leave Europe until he was 19, first venturing to California for three months and then four months in South America. But it was his first trip to South East Asia, travelling from Hanoi to Bangkok overland, which really captured his imagination. A few years later he embarked on an epic eight-month tour of India which saw him, among other things, working in the holy city of Varanasi and volunteering in a rural development commune in southern Kerala. James has since been back to India over ten times, and travelled to Malaysia and Borneo, becoming obsessed with the street food of Penang in the process. More recently he's been to Bali and Lombok where he particularly enjoyed climbing Mount Rinjani, Sri Lanka where he fell in love with the Mudhouse and back to off-the-beaten track Sikkim in India.
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Holly’s first job in travel was in a marketing role. However, it didn’t take her long to decide to exchange inspecting photographs of amazing destinations for being in them herself.
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