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Peninsular Malaysia Travel Guide

When to go
You can dive Peninsular Malaysia year-round, by diving the west coast during the southwest monsoon from November to March, and switching to the east coast from April to October. The climate is tropical, warm and humid at all times. Temperatures rarely drop below 20degC even at night, and are usually around 26-30degC during the day. Although the monsoon winds do affect the climate, extremely strong winds are uncommon, and typhoons rarely pass close to the peninsula.

What to take
Water temperatures are warm enough for most divers to be happy with just a lycra skin. Snorkellers are well advised to wear either a lycra skin or an old shirt and even long trousers as protection against sun­burn. For photographers – who don't move as much – a 3-4mm wetsuit will be fine, though if you're making a lot of dives each day you might get a bit cold on night dives.

If you're planning to dive on the smaller islands, you'll also need to take your own diving gear. Unfortunately, the Malaysian Airlines (MAS) extra baggage allowance for divers was cancelled in 1993.

Now to get there
MAS has direct flights daily from most Asian cities to Subang International Airport, just to the north of Kuala Lumpur. There are also international airports at Penang, Langkawi and Singapore. There is a set departure tax of 5 ringgit for domestic flights and 20 ringgit for international flights. You can also take a high-speed catamaran from Phuket in Thailand to Pulau Penang and Langkawi on the west coast or one of the regular ferry services to Tioman and Perhentian from the mainland.

UK citizens do not need visas. US and Australian nationals can stay for less than three months without a visa, and ASEAN nationals can stay for less than one month without a visa. Visitors' permits issued on arrival must be kept until departure. Visi­tors' permits issued on entry to Peninsular Malaysia are not automatically valid for entry into Sabah or Sarawak.

Jack Jackson's book, The Dive Sites of Malaysia and Singapore, is published by New Holland (Publishers) Ltd., London.

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