Some Practical tips what to keep in mind when riding motorcycle in Malaysia
As a general rule, Malaysians speak very good English and are easy to communicate with. If you have questions, just ask.
Driving License – NOTE!
If you need to use International driving license, it will need to be the one from 1949 Geneva convention, the 1968 Vienna convention license is not valid in Malaysia!!
Rules of the road
Malaysia rides on the LEFT side of the road. Like NZ, Australia, UK, Japan, …
Speed limits generally: Motorways 110 km/h. Smaller trunk roads 80 km/h and passing through villages 50 km/h.
As Malaysia is developing very fast, roads are good but some road works are inevitable.
Lane splitting / filtering is the norm and expected. Filtering is done virtually from any side where there is room. You will quickly get the hang of it by just observing other riders. During rush hour motorbikes are way faster than cars through the traffic.
Traffic in general is rather civilized and predictable. Road surface is good and if you really want, motorways are wide and fast to ride.
Toll Roads are free for motorcycles. You should not ride up to the toll gate but need to prepare for a slip road that passes the toll booths. Slip road may be just a narrow lane past the booths or often a small detour around the toll station, in which case the entry may be quite early before the actual booths.
Petrol pumps operate a strict pay first, then pump -policy. If you wish to fill up your tank and are unsure how much it will cost, just tell the cashier your pump number, leave a high enough value note (or your credit card) to the cashier who will open the pump and then you can pump the petrol. The cashier will take payment from the note (or card) you gave and return your change.
When entering a service station look out for a pump mainly used by motorbikes. Sometimes there is an assistant and they will take the money and pump the bike for you. Quicker this way. Otherwise you can use any pump. The yellow nozzle is for 95 oct and safe to use in most bikes.
What to Wear – Heat and Rain
The weather plays a role in Malaysia. It can be very hot and humid and locals may ride wearing only t-shirts. As you will be riding at relatively high speeds, protective gear is recommended. Definitely you should wear something that does not give you a heat stroke – a mesh jacket with protective pads is a sensible choice.
Sudden thunderstorms and very heavy rain occurs. And I mean it pours! These do not necessarily last for very long but light rain gear should be at hand when it happens. Rain fronts are often clearly visible and give you a warning to dress up. The rain can be so heavy that water on the road has nowhere to drain and can be really deep for riding. Speeds generally fall but cars still throw bucket loads of water on you – no spray, buckets!
Animals on the Road
Animals on the road beside the usual dogs etc include cows in particular. Cows often are calmly on the side of the road but do not be fooled by their apparent calmness, they also gallop across the road and appear suddenly from a bush. Beware.
Monkeys are also quite usual running across the road and a rare sight today are wild elephants. Watch out for elephant dung though!
Taking a break
Smaller roads have stalls set up by locals for food and drink, which I recommend you should sample.
Motorways have big R&R stations – Relax & Recreation areas. These offer full service petrol, food and play areas. Some may have limited facilities though. In any case these are signposted a few kilometers ahead on the road.
Riding in Malaysia is great fun. As a well developed country, it is a good destination if you wish to explore Asia on a bike but do not fancy a too extreme experience. It also offers great opportunities for combining your biking with island / city holidays.