There is no optimal time to visit Malaysia due to its diverse climates across two landmasses. From Kuala Lumpur in Peninsular Malaysia to Sandakan in Malaysian Borneo is like New York City to Miami.
The climate can vary even over shorter distances depending on the coast or island. It’s only 122km (76 miles) from Langkawi to Penang, but weather can vary daily.
Overall, Malaysia has two seasons: dry and hot and wet and hot. Malaysia is humid year-round and always rains, despite its ‘dry season’. Only upcountry areas like the Cameron Highlands may feel cold, with temperatures ranging from 14ºC (58ºF) to 24ºC (76ºF).
The wet season is marked by monsoon rain, mostly in the afternoon. The northeast monsoon from mid-October to March brings the most rain to the eastern side of the peninsula, while the southwest monsoon from May to October brings more to the west coast. It rains in Borneo from November to February.
Malaysia has no low season because tourism never stops. The busiest times Malaysia tourist visa of year are school holidays, when many European, Gulf, and Asian families visit.
West coast of Peninsular Malaysia is best visited in December–February high season.
The northeast monsoon floods the east coast of the peninsula from October to March, with the heaviest rain in December and February. West coast, facing Andaman Sea, is dryer. Enjoy tropical island beaches like Langkawi or explore George Town in Penang’s narrow alleyways through shophouses. In contrast, this is the wettest season in Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.
Good weather in the west brings crowds and higher hotel rates. However, Chinese New Year and Thaipusam are held in late January or early February. Traveling to Sarawak lowers hotel rates in Kuching, but the hinterland has bad roads and mud.
Visit Kuala Lumpur and the east coast in June–September for peak season.
In tropical Malaysia, ‘dry’ is relative, but the Northern Hemisphere summer months are the driest. Expect humidity, especially in Malaysia’s cities where buildings block breezes. The east coast of the peninsula and much of Borneo are also dry.
This season is popular for Gulf States tourism, and dive resorts on the drier east coast see more visitors as underwater visibility improves. Rains return in August, building toward the northeast monsoon.
Most of Malaysia has the best weather in March–May.
From March to May, the Northern Hemisphere spring brings relief from rain and humidity to much of Malaysia. If you want beaches and warm but not sweltering weather, this is your best bet. This is also a good time to see wildlife in Malaysia’s beautiful national parks.
Consider visiting Sabah in April for its dry weather, ideal for outdoor activities like diving and hiking to Mt Kinabalu. However, April is one of Kuala Lumpur’s wettest months due to regional variations.
Melaka and the Cameron Highlands are best visited in October–November.
October to November bring heavy rains to the Peninsula, but Melaka is spared. Since the northeast monsoon brings rain, the Cameron Highlands’ flora blooms, making it a good time to visit.
Find affordable hotels and an umbrella in other states now. If you like malls, museums, and other indoor activities, this is a good time to visit because shops will have sales and big cities have plenty of indoor fun.