Moving to Malaysia

Here’s all you need to know for travelling and working in Malaysia

Written by Jeni Murrin


Malaysia's a great place to travel to: it's hot, so much cheaper than home, the people are friendly, and there’s a load to see and do. Malaysia is located in South East Asia and surrounded by lots of other countries for you to visit. It's about 12 hours from home and you get to watch movies and get fed on the plane over which is always good.

You don't need anything special to enter Malaysia, just your passport. An Irish passport gets you a 2 month visa. And if that's not long enough for you, you just have to fly to another country before it runs out, come back in and they give you another 2 months, handy.

It's very hard to get work in Malaysia if you have nothing sorted before you get out there. If you're sent by your company from Ireland to work here for a few months or longer the company here still has to get you a work visa and explain why a Malaysian couldn't do the job you’re doing.

So to get any job, majority of the time the employer is going to hire a Malaysian over you because it saves him or her a lot of paper work. I do know of a few people who work here and still have to go out of the country to get extensions on their visas, there's a way around most things! I'm okay though; I have just taken on the role of a ‘professional traveller'.

If you find yourself living here for a while and not able to get work, just manage your money well, and pass the time doing courses, like a PADI scuba diving course (so much cheaper here) or travelling around: internal flights are a great price so see as much as possible while you're here.

Once you get to Malaysia or any country really, find out where the Irish embassy is and register with them. They're there to help so if you have any questions they're the ones to ask. The guys at the Irish embassy in Kuala Lumpur are really nice and helpful too.

So as not to offend anyone, never point with your index finger here- it is offensive, point with your right hand using your thumb. Don't hand anyone anything with your left hand either, basically concentrate on using your right hand.

The first time you need to go to the loo here, don't panic, what you see is the loo; it’s just very low and you'll need to squat. There is usually one or if you're lucky 2 of the ‘normal' toilets in there too, just check all the cubicles. Oh and they don't all have toilet paper, there's usually one big roll near the sinks for everyone to share. You'll find a wee hose in there too, I haven't used it myself but I was told it's for cleaning your bottom!

Don't stay in a hostel unless it has been recommended by someone you know: the majority of hostels double up as places to pick up prostitutes. Hotels range from €20 or less to €80 or more a night and standards are pretty good.

In the capital Kuala Lumpur, the LRT (light rail transport) is brilliant, cheap, and easy to get around. Taxis are also a great way to get around, you could get across Kuala Lumpur for RM 15 (€3), and I love chatting to them (if they have English that is), you find out a lot of local knowledge from them. I even met a guy who was in my hometown in Ireland a few years ago (small world). Don't use a taxi unless the driver is using the metre though, they'll just do you on the price.

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