Climate & Weather in Malaysia

Climate & Weather in Malaysia.

Situated just north of the equator, Malaysia has a strong tropical climate that results in year-round heat and humidity. With just two distinct seasons – wet and dry – it's an interesting destination for visitors accustomed to the standard four seasons of the temperate world. Despite this, Malaysia is a fairly easy country to get accustomed to due to its relatively consistent temperatures and weather.

Thanks to its near-equatorial location and constant tropical temperatures, Malaysia is one of the world's hottest countries. Daytime temperatures in excess of thirty degrees celsius are common, even during the cooler months of the year. As with other Southeast Asian countries, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures can often be fairly minimal.

Malaysia has two distinct seasons: dry and wet. The wet season lasts from November until April, during which daytime rain is common and sunshine becomes significantly less frequent. During the wet season, it's common for very heavy rain to occur for several hours in the afternoon and early evening, bringing entire cities to a standstill as residents rush for shopping malls and offices.

From May until October, Malaysia experiences a period of relatively dry weather, with less rainfall than in the wet season and slightly lower temperatures on average. Despite being known as the 'dry season,' there is still a reasonable amount of rain in Malaysia during this period, particularly in the less-visited eastern areas of Malaysia.

While Malaysia is consistently hot throughout the year, not all of the country experiences the often relentless heat of the flatlands. The highlands of Peninsular Malaysia are cool and surprisingly crisp for a tropical area, with limited humidity and modest daytime temperatures. Because of their cooler weather, many Malaysian residents escape to the highlands for weekend vacations.

Weather is generally consistent across Peninsular Malaysia, with warm, dry weather in centers like Kuala Lumpur often translating into warm, dry weather across the whole peninsula. However, in the more mountainous Malaysian Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah, weather can vary dramatically in small areas – while one town may be sunny, another may be experiencing torrential rain.

In fact, the eastern states of Malaysia – Sarawak and Sabah, both in Borneo – are the country's rain capitals, clocking in twice as many rainy hours as the rest of the country. Visitors to Borneo should remember that the region's wet season is most intense from November until early February, which is the same time that Peninsular Malaysia is typically covered in rainclouds.

Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital, is hit by flooding during the wet season, and visitors should be ready to change their plans on occasion should flooding or heavy rain hit. Rain is generally only an issue during the afternoon and early evening, although heavy daytime rain is not unheard of. Other major centers in Peninsular Malaysia, such as Johor Bahru, are also hit by occasional flooding.

Due to Peninsular Malaysia's mountainous geography and basin-like settlements, air pollution can be an annoyance for visitors, particularly during the dry season. In Kuala Lumpur, and to a lesser extent Penang, daytime smog and air particles can obscure otherwise sunny weather. Wet season weather tends to be clearer and less smoggy, if only due to the much more frequent rain.

Finally, Malaysia's coastal weather can vary from one side of the country to the other. The eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia tends to be calm, with minimal surf and clear water. The less guarded west coast is hit by occasional storms and rough weather, making its beaches less of an attraction for visitors.

From tropical storms to dry, summer heat, Malaysia's weather can be a little bit of an adjustment for visitors from the cooler parts of the world. Despite this, it's one of the most manageable climates in the region – hot, but rarely unbearably hot; rainy, but rarely oppressively so; and packed with cooler highland regions that are perfect for escaping the heat and humidity of the major cities.