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What to wear in Malaysia (Year Round)

What to wear in Malaysia (Year Round)

Are you wondering what to wear in Malaysia? Malaysia has pretty constant weather year-round but the combination of heat and humidity can make it a tricky place to pack for. In this guide, we will cover what to wear in Malaysia on the mainland in Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall as well as for specific destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown, Penang and beyond.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Please note: this guide is designed as a packing list for mainland Malaysia. If you plan on visiting Borneo to see the orangutans then please check out our specific Borneo packing list.

Weather in Malaysia

No matter what time of year you are visiting Malaysia you can expect quite consistent temperatures. In fact no matter the month you visit the average highs in Kuala Lumpur are pretty consistent at around 33C/91.4F.

However it is also worth nothing that there are two distinct seasons in Malaysia – the wet season and the dry season.

There are actually two rainy or monsoon seasons in Malaysia depending on where you are visiting. The first is the Southwest Monsoon which hits in April, May, June, July and September and the Northeast Monsoon which runs in October, November, December, January, February and March.

However no matter when and where you are in Malaysia there is always a chance of tropical storms. For this reason we always recommend packing some lightweight waterproofs and clothes made of quick dry fabrics.

Are you traveling elsewhere in Asia? Check out our other guides:

Malaysia Dress Codes

Woman with back to camera hand on hat with temple in Malaysia in backgorund
What to wear in Malaysia (Outfits and Dress Codes)

Most places in Malaysia do not have a formal dress code. There will be some more upscale restaurants in the cities that may have smart casual dress codes, but for the most part dress codes shouldn’t be your primary concern when packing for Malaysia.

However, if you plan on visiting temples you will want to have one more conservative outfit with you that doesn’t bear a lot of skins. Also, it is worth remembering that the cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown are far more liberal than in the countryside so you may want to edit your outfit depending on where you are going.

Tips for how to dress in Malaysia

Anyone who has lived in or visited Malaysia will tell you that heat and high humidity have to the primary concern of your packing list. For this reason, you should stick to lots of natural fabrics such as linen, silk and cotton to help cope with the weather conditions. Man-made fabrics will not be your friend in Thailand.

It is also a good idea to have a top layer with you for going inside restaurants and malls where there is likely to be fierce air conditioning. Also I always recommend dressing more conservatively outside of teh cities.

And finally, it is worth always having some waterproof shoes and a very lightweight waterproof jacket with you in Vietnam during the wet season.

What to wear in Malaysia Year Round

Woman with back to camera in a swimming pool looking at Kuala Lunpur skyline
What to wear in Malaysia (Outfits and Dress Codes)

So what should you wear in Thailand year round?

Maxi Dresses and Skirts

A Maxi dress is a staple of my Malaysia packing lists. I try and pick one made of a natural fabric such as cotton or linen so it is more breathable.

Also, I usually pack a dress that doesn’t have a slit and has cap sleeves to make it suitable for visiting religious attractions such as temples as well as for using on beaches.

Click here to shop Maxi Dresses


It might sound strange to be heading to a country that is renowned for hot and humid weather daytime but I recommend taking a cardigan but I am.

The reason is because the indoor venues in Malaysia have strong air conditioning. I like a crochet cardigan that is useful for beaches too.

T Shirts / blouse

A T Shirt /blouse made of natural fabric is a great staple, especially for days when you will spend lots of time outside such as on the beaches around Langkawi, and Penang for instance.

Linen Trousers

If you do plan on going to some more upscale restaurants we recommend packing a smarter pair of linen trousers to pair with a blouse. These will keep you cool but also be stylish enough for places with dress codes.


With the heat and humidity a dip in a pool can be a great way to cool off after a day of sightseeing. Personally, I prefer to wear a one-piece or a bikini rather than a thong-cut bikini especially outside of the resort hotels.


Shorts are a good pick for beaches and for days exploring outside. Running shorts and quick dry shorts are a great pick in the heat. I personally try and avoid denim shorts as they are uncomfortable in the heat.

Hiking Trousers and long sleeve shirt

If you want to go hiking in one of the national parks we recommend packing some hiking trousers and a long sleeve top that will protect you from insects.

I like to have convertible hiking trousers that can be worn as both trousers and shorts.


Sandals are a great pick for Malaysia both in cities like Kuala Lumpur but also for beaches around Penang and Langkawi. I like to pick a pair that are good for walking but can also be used in more upscale restaurants and bars where you may need a smart casual outfit.


Our go to brands are:

  • Hoka,
  • Sketchers Go Walks or
  • All Birds

Click here to shop good sneakers

We recommend sticking with a lightweight pair of sneakers that will cope well with the heat.

Flip Flops

Although the most important shoes for Malaysia are definitely sandals and sneakers, you may also want to pack a pair of flip flops with you for wondering around the pool and beach.

Click here to shop flip flops


This goes without saying.


For any trip to Malaysia whatever time of year you are traveling we recommend taking a pashmina as it is a handy extra layer if you are somewhere with lots of air con.


Sun hat

The sun is very strong in Malaysia all year round so to protect your face from the sun while walking around the city and for hanging out on the beach.

Click here to shop sun hats


Sun safety in Malaysia is very important so be sure to pack a good pair of sunglasses that have good UV Protection.

What to Pack for Malaysia for Men

If you are a man traveling to Malaysia then you will want to pack:

Cotton / Linen Pants

These are better for dealing with the heat

T Shirts

T Shirts are appropriate throughout Malaysia for men.


Shorts are great for anyone who wants to spend time outdoors in Malaysia.


While T shirts are appropriate in most public places, button down shirts should be added to your packing list if you plan on eating at some of Malaysia’s fine dining establishments.

Hiking Outfit

If you plan on visiting a national park or do any hiking in Malaysia we recommend having some long hiking pants and long sleeve tops with you that will protect you from bugs.


Sandals are appropriate for men as well as women.


Sneakers are great for the days you plan on doing lots of walking in Malaysia.

Flip Flops

Again if you are at the beach and hotel, you may if you have room want to add some flip flops to your packing list too.

Malaysia Packing List (non clothing)

Woman and boy on motorbike street art in Georgetown, Penang in Malaysia
Malaysia PAcking List

Now we have covered the clothes you should pack for Malaysia, we will look at the non-clothing items to put on your Malaysia packing list:


What to wear in Kuala Lumpur?

There aren’t many dress codes in Kuala Lumpur outside of temples. However, you will find lots of long loose clothing made of natural fabrics are best for the weather.

What to wear on beaches in Langkawi and Penang?

Penang and Langkawi are renowned for their beautiful beaches. The resort beaches are pretty liberal so you can wear the style of swimsuit you are most comfortable in.

What else would you add to this Malaysia packing list?