Muslim-Friendly Malaysia: Perfect Destination for First-Timer or Seasoned Muslimah Solo Travelers

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Glorious twin towers, tantalizing Halal Malaysian cuisine, home to trendy Modest fashion, diverse Malaysian culture and breathtaking nature, easy access to masjid throughout, and a safe destination for Muslim women… it is no wonder Malaysia is high on the list of Muslimah Solo Travelers.

A question often asked in our Muslimah Solo Travelers Community is: “Where should I go for the first time on my solo trip?”. While many factors can come into this, such as the language you speak, your cultural worldview, and your comfort and budget level, if you want a destination that provides all the checklists for Muslim women, Malaysia is your answer.

Whether on your first solo trip, or your 10th solo trip, now seeking a much more adventurous experience, this country provides everything for all kinds of Muslimah Solo Travelers.

In this guide, we will be sharing how Halal-friendly it is, the safety when traveling alone, a rough idea of what to do, and more.

About Malaysia

Some facts about Malaysia that you should be aware of:

  • It is located in Southeast Asia, between Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand for its Peninsular counterpart; Brunei and Indonesia for its Bornean counterpart of Sabah and Sarawak states.
  • The country’s tourism slogan, “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” is what makes it a destination that keeps on surprising you. The country is made up of a diverse population – Malay, Chinese, and Indian together with the ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak.
  • Despite the multicultural and multi-religious population, Islam remains at the forefront as it is the nation’s official religion. This is reflected in the overall of the lifestyle, which we will share in the Halal section below.
  • The country is sunny all year round, with monsoon season ranging from the end of October till February (sporadic, heavy thunderstorms happening in intervals). Regardless, the country’s climate makes it a perfect destination for all kinds of activities.
  • Most Malaysians are bilingual, and some trilingual, speaking various languages and dialects. While the Malay language is the nation’s tongue, English is widely spoken, and you won’t have trouble conversing in significant cities throughout.
  • The country’s alluring rainforest is home to the world’s oldest jungle ecosystem and most significant caves.

Is Malaysia Halal-Friendly?

For those who have never stepped foot in Malaysia, it is natural to ask this question.

But if you have explored the country and entered its supermarkets, or eaten at its food stalls, you’ll immediately understand why Malaysia has certainly put Halal on the world map.

The country’s official Halal logo, certified by its authority body of JAKIM is a robust and recognizable brand in the food consumer and beverages product. This easily recognized logo has made many visitors, particularly Muslim travelers to visit Malaysia because of the “ease of not spotting for ingredients”, and

Halal is not only in the food. It is the epitome of lifestyle in Malaysia that this voluntary exercise has trickled into many sectors, such as:

  • Modest Fashion: The country’s capital Kuala Lumpur, is a booming hub! 
  • Halal Travel: Malaysia is an eight-time consecutive winner when it comes to the most comprehensive travel research done worldwide, the Global Muslim Travel Index, taking the top spot since 2015
  • Segregated transportation: It is easy and safe for Muslim women to ride their transportation as ladies-only sections are available on their trains.

Traveling Alone as a Muslim Woman in Malaysia – Is it Easy & Safe?

A common preference for the Muslimah Solo Travelers among conversations in our Community Group is that ‘Muslim-majority’ countries quickly take the top spot when it comes to their choice of countries for their first-ever solo trips.

Not only is it easy and safe in general for Muslim women to explore, discover, and feel secure when it comes to their faith, privacy and security as a Muslimah,

If you wonder, “can I travel to Malaysia alone?”

As a winner of CrescentRating’s Best Muslim Women-friendly Destination in 2023, Malaysia only reaffirms its credibility why it is an excellent first-timer destination for Muslimah Solo Travelers.

Besides the ladies-only seats provided in the trains and buses, riding alone as a visible Muslimah in a taxi or ride-share is nothing to be worried about. But if you would like more tips on traveling alone in the country, do ask our Community members here about their experiences traveling alone in Malaysia. Or if you want an answer directly from the authorities, the Islamic Tourism Centre will happily guide you via its Facebook or Instagram at @itc_my

Places to Visit in Malaysia as a Muslim Solo Traveler

You’ll find lots of places to visit in Malaysia as a Muslimah Solo Traveler.

If you were to explore the country alone, a month maybe would not be enough as each region and state has its own beauty.

It all depends on what it is that you prefer and would like to experience. In general, here are some cities and states that you can consider, according to one’s preference in Muslim-friendly Malaysia

Perak, Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak for the Culture and Heritage

For an unexpected surprise in Malaysia, these states contain a rich, diverse culture that you couldn’t possibly find elsewhere in the world.

As 2023 and 2024 mark Visit Ipoh and Visit Perak Year, naturally, Perak state should be on your #MuslimFriendlyMalaysia and #MuslimSoloTravel bucket list, as the country offers only the best tourism experiences that you can find from mystical nature sites, delicious kopitiam culture and even the Malayan tiger!

  • Penang: for the local hawker street food, UNESCO heritage sites, and laidback lifestyle in an island city.
  • Malacca: Also for its UNESCO heritage sites that are influenced by its eclectic mix of diverse cultural experiences from Baba Nyonya, to Chetti people and heritage of Dutch and Portuguese influence
  • Sabah and Sarawak: for the local ethnic tribes in the Bornean parts of Malaysia. Home to tribes of Dayak Iban in Sarawak and Murut in Sabah who once practiced headhunting, the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak are home to many indigenous tribes that will change the way you think of Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur for The Southeast Asian City Life

Lovingly known as KL, KL is the getaway to Malaysia and is the center for the city life experience. Shopping, Museums, Top-notch events, you can get it in KL. One spot in particular.. is Bukit Bintang for all kinds of happening that you can think of!

  • Bukit Bintang, in literal translation, means “Star Hill” and is usually dubbed as Asia’s New York City. Is full of shopping from global brands, together with Halal international experiences from the Mediterranean to Japanese establishments and all kinds of cafes that you can think of!

Besides that, you can check out

  • The National Museum or Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia showcases the history, and arts according to various civilizations. 
  • Cafe-hopping and cultural arts scene in Pasar Seni (Central Market)

Interiors of Selangor, Kelantan and Terengganu for the Traditional Malay Life

Going into the interiors of Selangor in Sekinchan, Terengganu, or Kelantan is something we would only recommend for the seasoned Muslimah Solo Travelers or those who are comfortable enough to travel long distances.

The country’s interior parts, are usually village settlements that still retain the olden-day life of the local Malay community. These days, you can still experience what life originally was back then amidst Paddy fields in the wooden Malay traditional stilt home.

Here, activities like Batik painting, riding a bike amidst paddy fields, and wearing the traditional cloth while having the ability to converse and observe old Malay grandmas will give you a much deeper understanding of traditional Malay Muslim life.

Rainforest Jungle Experience 

Once you’re bored of the city, the rainforest is where you should head in to.

The rainforests in Malaysia, particularly in Taman Negara, located in the Peninsular and Borneo Lowland Rainforest in East Malaysia, are among the world’s oldest rainforests, aged around 130 million years old.

The easiest way to experience rainforest in the country is via its designated national parks

Top national parks are:

  • Taman Negara National Park in Peninsular Malaysia for endemic flora and fauna spotting, Orang Asli tribe encounter and river rapid shooting splash of a lifetime
  • Mulu and Niah National Park in Sarawak for cave exploration, Orang Utan spotting, and a glimpse into the nomadic Dayak Penan tribe
  • Kinabalu National Park in Sabah for scaling the highest mountain in Borneo

Depending on where you want to go, the rainforest offers a little bit of something for the Muslimah Solo Travelers such as trekking in search of Orang Utan, birdwatching, jungle adventures like flying fox, spotting for rafflesia, visiting the ethnic group tribes (Orang Asli in Peninsular and Dayak community in Sarawak), cave exploring, or shooting the rapids, or simply just forest bathe on the canopy walks.

P/s: If you don’t have time but still want to experience rainforests within the city, KL Forest Eco Park has a canopy walk that allows you to forest bath in the urban jungle! Green, fresh, and relaxing is what this experience is all about!

Islands of Malaysia – Island hopping in Sabah, Langkawi, Terengganu & Pahang

As a destination that celebrates sun all year round with sporadic thunderstorms on interval days in between November and February, the islands of Malaysia are a treat for Muslimah Solo Travelers looking for the warm sun, and clean white sands, while at the same time sporting their burkini freely without the extra gaze!

Langkawi takes the top spot for Malaysia’s international island destination. It has an international airport making travel within and outside easy. And according to us, this should be what Muslims first consider before going to the Western-friendly island of Bali.

Besides Langkawi (which has all the island attractions you can possibly think of), some top-notch Muslim-friendly islands are:

  • Perhentian and Redang Islands of Terengganu – for a luxurious and budget experience with access to extensive water sports activities like snorkeling and swimming with turtles.
  • Gaya and Manukan Islands of Sabah – for luxurious, and budget experiences with access to various water sports activities like parasailing, scuba diving, island hopping, and ziplining and close by encounter to the water village community, the Bajau tribe of Sabah.
  • Tioman Island of Pahang – a preferred diving destination on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Depending on what it is you prefer, snorkeling, diving, island hopping, or simply relaxing at a private enclave, the islands in Malaysia have it all!

MST reminder: Islands are best to visit between March and October as this is when the islands are open to the public. Outside of this period is the monsoon season and the weather usually does not permit island activities for safety and is subject to heavy downpours.

Highlands and Mountain Foothills of Malaysia

Some Muslimah Solo Travelers may prefer the mountains and the highlands more than the beaches. If this is you, then destinations like Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, Kundasang in Sabah, or Fraser Hill would be your cup of tea.

All highlands have their own specialty but to us,

  • Cameron for the strawberries, tea lovers and the general highland Malaysian life
  • Genting Highlands for the premier adventure theme park fun, up in the cooling Titiwangsa Mountains
  • Kundasang in Sabah for scaling the Mighty Kinabalu Mountain and a glimpse of New Zealand’s cows.

Hijab & Modest Fashion Markets in Malaysia

It is without a doubt that Muslimah Solo Travelers would want to visit the hijab and modest fashion markets in the country and… splurge!

You can easily find them according to the price range and quality:

  • Low to Mid quality: in markets throughout the country (Night markets, Sunday markets, Pop-up markets)
  • Mid to High quality: within established boutiques or department stores in the country. In KL, nearby Jakel Mall, Female-centric level in department stores like Sogo, Parkson, Isetan and individual boutique malls in KL East Mall.

Check out this article for an in-depth Local’s Guide to the Best Muslimah Stores in Kuala Lumpur for Your Modest Fashion Needs

Finding Halal Food in Malaysia

With the easily recognized Halal logo in the country, one can easily find Halal food and spot non-halal establishment in the country.

If you’re wondering, is it easy to dine alone in Malaysia? This depends on your comfort level, but take it from us, you will be fine as you’re bound to meet many ladies who would dine alone too!

For a more in-depth understanding of how to navigate Halal, non-Halal, and some alcohol terms to know in the country, this article will make you a savvy traveler when ordering food among the many options, especially when traveling alone.

Prayer Spaces & Mosque Tourism in Malaysia

Wherever you go in Malaysia, finding prayer spaces in the country is not that difficult. Be it on the train or bus station, the mall, major rest stops, hotels and some private restaurants; you’ll find prayer rooms in the country so you don’t really have to schedule your itinerary around the prayer times.

Unlike Western countries where the Muslim population are minority, your travel schedule can be constrained around prayer times.

You can simply explore the country solo, and when it’s time to pray, locate the nearest prayer room and worship freely! Then voila, it’s time to continue where you left off…

The prayer rooms in Malaysia mostly have prayer garments and facewash on standby if you need to clean your makeup before worshipping so everything is easy.

Surau is “prayer room” in Malay language. You’ll be able to find them everywhere in major buildings

Malaysia – World Pioneer in Mosque Tourism

Did you know that Malaysia is a pioneer in ‘Mosque Tourism’?  

While you can take the opportunity to pray at the many beautiful mosques in Malaysia (expect only indescribable spiritual moments!)…

We recommend you do so at the ones that have been recognized as “Tourism Mosques”, whereby you can experience worshipping in Malaysia’s beautiful mosques, and at the same time, sign up for mosque tours!

Some mosques even provide guided tours by trained and skilled storytellers to share the history, stories of the mosque’s distinct architecture and its role in the community with the visitors.

To know exactly which mosque to visit, check out this list of Mosque Trails in Malaysia! Otherwise, join the upcoming Mosque Open Day soon!

Islamic Tourism Month 2023
Check out our full What To Do Rundown for Islamic Tourism Month 2023 to know the dates of each of these Mosque Open Day!

Best Areas to Stay in Malaysia as a Muslim Solo Traveler

Our recommendations for Muslimah Solo Travelers who want ease of accessibility to food, transport, and attractions would have to be central districts of any destination in Malaysia.

But when in doubt, look for these MFAR logo as they will save you the hassle of calling the receptionist for sajada or a bucket!

Here is an article that highlights some of best Muslim-friendly hotels that should be immediately on your #MuslimFriendlyMalaysia list when traveling alone to the country.

Getting To and Around Malaysia as a Muslimah Solo Traveler

Like any destinations in this world, getting to and around Malaysia is the easiest in the capital city, followed by major cities and premier tourist destinations like Langkawi Island or Genting Highlands.

Here are some ways you can get to and around Malaysia as a Muslimah Solo Traveler

Plane

via its international airport terminals:

  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport 1 (KLIA 1) – for national carrier of Malaysia airlines and major carriers of this world
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) – for the nation’s low-cost airline Air Asia and major low-cost carriers of this world.
  • Kuching International Airport – gateway to the country’s Sarawak state in its Bornean Island counterpart
  • Kota Kinabalu International Airport – gateway to the country’s Sabah state in its Bornean Island counterpart

There are smaller airports that can cut back your travel timings in the country, but you might want to check and compare with bus travel.

Taxi

There are several types of taxis, but the red one is the most common one. Depending on the destination that you’re going to, if it’s a central transport location, and the taxi is not using it’s meter, be sure to negotiate earlier.

  • Red (standard)
  • Blue (premier)
  • Black Limo – usually for KLIA1 airport

E-hailing or Ride-sharing

For the ease of everything, with the convenience of our phone’s technological capabilities, Grab is the go-to for ride-sharing or e-hailing.

Do note that most buildings and complexes in Malaysia have a designated e-hailing spot that is separated from where the taxi stands are.

So if you see the signs “grab”, or “e-hailing” at the mall, or serviced residences or airports, those are where you should catch your rides. Or, just ask the security guards you’ll see at the sides of the big entrance doors and you’re good to go!

In Big Cities: LRT, MRT, Tourist buses.

You’re bound to see tourist buses in cities like Kuala Lumpur, greater Selangor cities, Sarawak’s Kuching, or Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu. Some of them are FREE!

These buses are usually parked in central tourist landmarks or nearby tourist offices.

In Kuala Lumpur, KL Sentral is your hub for all kinds of long-distance train, intercity trains and buses, taxis, and so much more. There’s also a Tourism Malaysia office for your assistance on anything in Malaysia.

So if you’re confused, go back to KL Sentral and you’ll surely be bound to be on track to your itinerary and make your way to your next or original destination.

Best Time To Visit Malaysia

Now, when should someone visit Malaysia as a Muslimah Solo Traveler?

According to us, here are some times that you should visit:

ITM Month

Keep a lookout for Islamic Tourism Month when the country showcases its Muslim-friendly travel experiences. 

Check out our TikTok for an idea of what you can do throughout ITM Month

From halal travel talks to entrepreneurs, Halal staycation, spa and retreat offers, and Mosque Open Days, there’s so much to do!

Also – that trip you’ve been wanting to take? We bet it’s on offer throughout ITM month, all you need to do is check here!

Ramadhan (Bulan Puasa) & Eid (Hari Raya Aidilfitri)

As Muslims, Ramadhan and Eid are special times of the year that we look forward to the most. And let us tell you, Ramadhan and Eid in Malaysia are on ANOTHER LEVEL!

Throughout the Ramadhan month (Bulan Puasa in Malay), you’ll get to explore the country’s Halal gastronomy in its bazaar, which is practically everywhere in the nation.

Our favorite, is definitely the country’s flagship Bazaar in Jalan TAR (Tuanku Abdul Rahman).

Roti John, Murtabak, Bubur Lambuk, and all kinds of Halal hawker street food goodness, you’ll find it there!

Eid (or Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malay), on the other hand, is also an experience that you do not want to miss out on in Malaysia.

Unlike in Muslim-majority countries in the Gulf region, Eid (Raya) in Malaysia is celebrated for one month straight. 

On the weekends and public holidays, local Muslims invite everyone to their “Open House” for some Ketupat (sticky rice in rectangle-shaped leaf), Rendang, and Raya cakes and cookies.

So if you’re able to enter a fellow local Muslimah Solo Traveler’s house during Eid, you’ve made it! That is seriously the most prized experience ever, according to us.

MST Tip: A hack that may help you to do this is to go to the local masjid during Eid morning, maybe have a small chit chat with a Muslimah sitting next to you in prayer congregation, and who knows, you’ll soon make your way to their house for Eid! Wheeee.

If this does happen to you, do share your tales with us at @itc_my @muslimsolotravel.

Festivities & Events

Since Malaysia is multicultural, Eid and Ramadhan are not the only two big festivities celebrated here. There’s also Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Gawai Dayak Harvest Festival, and so much more…

The country also has many events that might interest you like Dragon Boat Festival, Hot Air Baloon, Spartan Trail, Beach Festivals, and so much more!

Check out this page for a full list of festivities you can experience in the country throughout the year.

Can you do Malaysia without a tour?

With the advent of technology these days, and the rise of online travel communities like our Muslimah Solo Travelers community, it is possible to do Malaysia without a tour!

Plus Malaysia’s accolade as a Top Muslim Friendly and Best Muslim Women Friendly Destination also prove that traveling within the country, in sha Allah, is easy and safe for Muslimah Solo Travelers who are vigilant and mindful in their travels.

Again, if you need guided or organized tours in Malaysia, check out #HalalTravel offers here on the Islamic Tourism Month site.

Visiting Malaysia as a Muslim Solo Traveler – FAQs & Some Practical Tips To Know

Language & Cultural Nuances

  • While English is commonly spoken, Manglish (Malaysian – English) is how the locals would primarily communicate with you, so don’t be surprised to hear “lah” at the end of sentences or the interchange usage of “got” for “have”. When the locals say “got”, it means “they have it”.
  • Useful local phrases are “terima kasih” (thank you), “selamat pagi” (good morning), and “berapa?” (how much?), “selamat malam” (good night), “ya” (yes), “tak” (no) can go a long way to win the hearts of local Malaysians along the way.
  • Being a Muslim-majority country, Islam is the way of life here, so sensitive issues that can disrupt societal order and spark religion sensitivities are something anybody should be mindful of in communication, or behaving throughout.
This means “Closed every Fridays” from 1-2pm because of prayers

Currency

Safety

  • The country would barely scam you as Malaysia is known to be home to one of the friendliest people in the world. Usually, you can ask, and people would answer your question without expecting anything in return, as that’s how the country folks are.
  • However, do remain vigilant, and for extra safety, if you need to ask, ask a fellow Muslim lady, or ladies in case you need reassurance on which directions you should head to.
  • Avoid going out late at night to dodgy areas. In KL, do avoid Chow Kit or Bukit Bintang area, especially late at night. The rest – follow your hunch!

Travel Restrictions & Security

We know how long immigration can take so if you want ease of entry and exit, consider applying for the Autogate system if you are eligible! That way you can enter #MuslimFriendlyMalaysia multiple times, woohoo!

Staying connected

  • Staying connected in major cities and towns in Malaysia would be easy. You can purchase an ESIM, turn on roaming, or buy a local SIM card. However, when traveling into the interiors of the country, be prepared to go off the grid.
Expect no coverage if you’re deep within the cooling streams of Malaysia

Extra FAQs about Traveling Alone in Malaysia as a Muslimah?

If you have some questions about traveling alone in Malaysia as a Muslimah, do reach out to:

Muslim-Friendly Malaysia: Perfect Destination for First-Timer or Seasoned Muslimah Solo Travelers

There you have it, our guide for First-Timers and Seasoned Muslimah Solo Travelers regarding Muslim-friendly Malaysia!

For the first-timers, stick to major cities like Kuala Lumpur (KL), Penang, Malacca, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu or Langkawi Island.

For the seasoned Muslimah Solo Travelers, how about exploring the interior parts of Malaysia this time, like Taman Negara, and Sekinchan in Selangor, or underrated islands like Kapas in Terengganu?

We hope this has inspired you to book your (first, or fifth) trip to the Land of Truly Asia Diversity and Halal in Southeast Asia in the upcoming months. Until then, check out the Muslim-friendly solo travel female packages and activities on offer this #ITM2023 month in Malaysia here

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