The best time to visit
Diving is possible throughout the year with visibility at 20m and above most of the time. The best time is from April to June, with visibility above 30m and up to 50m around Sipadan. From May to August, you may also be lucky enough to spot turtles laying their eggs on the beaches.
Equatorial with fairly uniform temperatures year-round, ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF). Humidity is high (85-95%). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm and most rain can be expected between November and February.
Very casual. There are no dress restrictions on the islands and light cotton clothing, t-shirts and shorts would be suitable.
Currency and credit cards
The Malaysian currency unit is Ringgit (RM) and sen, where 100 sen equals one Ringgit. US$ 1 is roughly RM 3.20 (Check www.oanda.com for up to date exchange rates). Foreign currency can be converted at banks and money changers at the airport and in Semporna.
- Visitors are not permitted to take more than RM 1000 in Malaysian currency out of the country and no more in foreign currency than was brought in
- There are no banks or ATMs on the islands
- VISA and Mastercard are accepted at all resorts
All resorts have a small boutique offering t-shirts, sunscreen and postcards, batteries and some other essential items.
Telephone and Internet
All resorts have telephone facilities, including facilities for international phone calls. The access code for making international calls from Malaysia is 00. For more information, dial 103. Most resorts have a fairly stable Internet connection available for guests.
Photo processing and video editing facilities are available at most of the resorts. A professional videographer is also on hand to make diving videos for guests and the DVDs can be purchased.
Tap water is safe for drinking in Malaysia, provided that it is boiled first. Hotels usually provide bottled water for guests in their rooms. Enough fresh water is available on the islands with no restrictions for use and freshwater bins are provided for rinsing cameras and dive gear.
Available 24 hours a day. 220V, 50 cycles using a plug with three rectangular prongs similar to UK plugs. Adaptors for other plugs can be purchased at airports and some stores elsewhere.
Health and medical services
While still listed as a malaria-infected country, most literature states that malaria has been widely eradicated from most parts of Malaysia. Discuss your needs with an experienced travel doctor. Warning: divers should never take Lariam because of common side-effects including nausea and vertigo. Discuss alternatives with your doctor. The only vaccination requirements are yellow fever for those from infected areas.
Resorts have basic first-aid services while the closest hospitals and clinics are in Semporna and Tawau on Malaysian Borneo.
Bahasa Malaysia is the official language but English is widely spoken and understood.
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time.
Visitors will need an international driving licence. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and it is advisable to observe the speed limits, which are generally 50km/h in the city or residential areas and 80km/h or 110km/h on the highway and expressway.
Police and the Law
There are police and/or army bases on all the islands.
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam but there is freedom of worship.
Tipping is not mandatory but is widely practised. RM2-RM5.
Visitors to Malaysia are advised that the trafficking of drugs in the country is an offence punishable by the death penalty.
Citizens from the following countries are required to have a visa to visit Malaysia : North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. Nationals other than those stated will receive a visa upon arrival or are allowed to enter Malaysia without a visa for a visit not exceeding one month. However, it is recommended that visa enquiries are made at the Malaysian embassy or Malaysian consulate closest to you, as regulations are subject to change. Also check http://www.imi.gov.my/ for updated information.
Tourist Information Centers
Please contact the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board for tourist information. (http://tourism.gov.my)