Best Time to Visit Malaysia: When to Go & Weather Guide

If you’ve heard anything about the weather in Southeast Asia, you’ll know that choosing the best time to visit Malaysia isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. As much as the tourist brochures love to parade picture-perfect sunny beaches and blue skies, the reality of weather in Malaysia is far different.

Despite not seeming to take up much room on a map, choosing when to go to Malaysia can be surprisingly complicated. While one side of Malaysia enjoys happy-go-lucky sunny days, the other could be perpetually drenched in downpours more suitable for a disaster movie than a blissful vacation.

Don’t want to let the weather ruin your travel plans? Choose find the best months & times of the year to travel to Malaysia with this complete Malaysia weather guide…

When to go to Malaysia: A weather overview

Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, not far from the Equator, Malaysia sports a hot and humid climate all year round.

Temperatures are fairly steady throughout the year, sticking around the 30ºC range. But that doesn’t mean that it’ll always be the ideal place for you to escape your winter blues!

Unexpectedly for its size, Malaysia experiences noticeable regional variations throughout the year. The country’s constant high humidity means that can count on rain falling just about anywhere, at any time of year, on any given day.

Showers throughout the year generally come in short but strong afternoon bursts. The rain, however, gets a little worse at times depending on where you find yourself in the country.

Kemasik, Terengganu

For example, as Penang and Langkawi on the west coast and Sabah see a torrent of rain in the fall months of September and October, the east coast finds itself in relative calm.

As the northeast monsoon rolls in come November, however, the tables turn, leaving Sarawak and east coast destinations like the Perhentians, Tioman and Kuala Terengganu in their own rainy season.

Lowlands & Highlands (Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Cameron Highlands)

Throughout the year, lowland destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Melaka are hot and humid. You’ll witness temperatures ranging anywhere from the mid-twenties into the thirties on any given day.

Expect consistent rainfall year round with slightly heavier showers between October and April.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur

Even when the lowlands are getting blasted by heat and humidity, the Malaysian highlands can be surprisingly comfortable.

In destinations like the Cameron Highlands, daytime temperatures average in the low-twenties with cooler nights. Just as in the lowlands, afternoon showers are common.

West Coast (Penang and Langkawi)

The peninsular west coast sports a tropical climate that’s hot and humid throughout the year. In destinations like Penang and Langkawi, expect showers all year round with a rainy season that rolls in around September and October.

Beach in Langkawi

East Coast (Kuantan, Tioman, Redang and Perhentian Islands)

Like the west, the east coast experiences hot temperatures throughout the year. The humidity is, however, a little less intense due to the South China Sea breeze.

From November to February, when the northeast monsoon hits, the east coast gets soaked in a torrent of rain. The rainy season here is Malaysia’s most intense, and unlike Penang or Langkawi where it’s somewhat tolerable, you’d be best to completely avoid the east coast during this time.

Redang Island

On the flip side, once the monsoon season waves goodbye, the east coast is one of the country’s driest destinations. And with some of the best beaches in Malaysia, it’s no wonder why travellers love to flock here during its dry season.

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Malaysia Weather By Season

Seasons in Malaysia don’t follow quite the same pattern as elsewhere in the world. Compared to most European countries or even Asian countries like Japan, Korea and China, there’s less seasonal variation here.

Mostly, the change in weather splits into two distinct seasons: rainy season (monsoon) and dry season. Nonetheless, I’ve broken the seasons down into our usual familiar four-season format to help you best plan your Malaysia itinerary

Spring

  • When is spring: From March until May
  • What to expect in spring: Spring is generally one of the most pleasant times of the year to travel to Malaysia. By March, the northeast monsoon starts to dissipate and dries up East Coast destinations like Tioman and the Perhentian Islands. The southwest monsoon doesn’t begin until the end of May leaving other destinations drier than normal. Compared to the busy summer months, spring is a relatively quiet time to travel around , particularly before mid-May when Singaporeans start their school holidays and come in droves.
  • What to wear in spring: As Malaysia is hot as always during spring, summer wear is best at this time. Lightweight quick-drying and moisture-wicking travel pants and travel shirts are great to stuff into your travel backpack at this time of year. With the relatively dry weather, you’ll want to pack a pair of lightweight hiking shoes or walking shoes to make the most out of your time outside. Be sure to pack a good travel umbrella and loads of sunscreen.

Summer

  • When is summer: From June until August
  • What to expect in summer: Like most of Asia, summer in Malaysia is hot and humid. Oddly enough, unlike elsewhere in Asia, destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Penang are drier in summer than in the spring or fall. Summer is one of the busiest tourist seasons, so plan ahead accordingly.
  • What to wear in summer: The hot temperatures necessitate lighter clothing to deal with the heat. In the ever-changing summer weather, a travel umbrella rarely goes unused. Be sure to stock up on sunscreen for those sunny summer days.

Sunset on Borneo

Autumn

  • When is autumn: From September to November
  • What to expect in autumn: Autumn marks the beginning of the rainy season rolling in. West coast destinations like Penang and Langkawi see their wettest days during September and October. In November, the east coast gets hits—even harder—by the northwest monsoon. School holidays starting in mid-November in nearby Singapore bring a barrage of Singaporeans to Malaysia’s resorts and beaches. Even despite the rain, daytime average temperatures around the country still sit around a balmy 30ºC with nighttime averages in the low-twenties.
  • What to wear in autumn: With temperatures still warm, you’ll still want to wear summer attire to keep cool. As always, an umbrella and a rain jacket will be your best buddies.

Winter

  • When is winter: From December to February
  • What to expect in winter: With the northeast monsoon in full force, winter isn’t necessarily one of the best seasons to travel to Malaysia. The east coast beaches experience their worst weather of the year at this time with high winds creating even more havoc than usual. West coast destinations like Penang and Langkawi are the better choice this time of year. Between December and the end of January is also a particularly busy time with holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Chinese New Year.
  • What to wear in winter: As temperatures hold steady, the usual fashion advice will suffice. You’ll definitely want to carry a sturdy travel umbrella and pack a good lightweight rain jacket in one of these top day trip backpacks, especially if you’re throwing the east coast into your itinerary.

Malaysia Weather By Month

January

  • Overview: It’s a bit of mixed bag of weather in January. While some destinations like Penang are at their driest and sunniest, the east coast is deep into the ravages of the northeast monsoon. Overall though, Malaysia is fairly sunny and relatively cooler than normal during January. With the holidays, especially Chinese New Year, make sure you plan ahead.
  • Where to go: Avoiding places like the Perhentian Island or Tioman is a good idea during January. Cities like Melaka, KL, and George Town are great to visit at this time of year as are the beaches of Langkawi. Unlike in other parts of Borneo, January is also among the most pleasant months to travel to Sabah, especially Kota Kinabalu as it begins its short & quick dry (or, rather, dry-ish) season.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 22ºC / 72ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 239 mm
Penang 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 70 mm
Perhentian Islands 29ºC / 84ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 26ºC / 79ºF 225 mm
Kota Kinabalu 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 163 mm

February

  • Overview: February is one of the best times to visit Malaysia. With sunny days, lower rainfall throughout much of the peninsula, and lower tourist numbers, you’ll find fewer hassles and better deals on your hotels. The exception is the east coast of Malaysia where the rainy season is still in full force.
  • Where to go: The west coast is a great place to find yourself in February. Penang and Langkawi are at their sunniest and driest, and KL has lower average rainfall than in January or March. Even Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, one of the wettest cities in the country, is relatively dry in February, making it one of the best months to climb Mount Kinabalu or tour the Kinabatangan River. Avoid east coast destinations like the Perhentian Islands and Tioman due to high winds and heavy rain brought on my the northeast monsoon.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 23ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 200 mm
Penang 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 70 mm
Perhentian Islands 30ºC / 86ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 103 mm
Kota Kinabalu 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 85 mm

Pulau Sibu

March

  • Overview: The month of March starts to bring wholesale changes to the east coast as the monsoon gives way and the islands prepare for their best times ahead. Overall, March is hot and humid throughout Malaysia. (Not much of a surprise, right?)
  • Where to go: With the monsoon on its way out, the east coast, including Tioman and the Perhentian Islands, opens back up. Both Langkawi and Penang are excellent choices in March. The tail-end of northeast monsoon drags along heavier than average rainfall in lowland and highland destinations like Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur, and Melaka. Hardly enough to completely discourage a visit though. May is also a fantastic time for undertaking a Borneo itinerary as it’s, on average, the driest time of the year and fall firmly within the island’s tourism shoulder season.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 33ºC / 91ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 260 mm
Penang 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 120 mm
Perhentian Islands 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 116 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 94 mm

April

  • Overview: The month of April, particularly the latter half, sees an increase in rainfall along the west coast as it begins to enter the rainy season. The east coast is much the opposite with dry season in full swing. Although there’s a bit of spike in wetness, April is warm throughout the country. April rain showers tend to be heavy and quick, leaving much of the day to explore unimpeded. Overall, since neither the east nor west are fully into their monsoon season, April is one of the best times to explore Malaysia.
  • Where to go: April is a good time to visit most places in Malaysia. With the west coast seeing increasing rainfall, the east coast surges in popularity. April is a good month to check out Tioman, Terengganu, Kuantan or the offbeat Redang Island at their driest. Peninsular destinations like KL, Melaka, and Cameron Highlands are still popular despite the slightly wetter conditions. Penang and Langkawi see lower rainfall at the beginning of the month.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 240 mm
Penang 31ºC / 88ºF 25ºC / 77ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 240 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 25ºC / 77ºF 29ºC / 84ºF 80 mm
Kota Kinabalu 33ºC / 91ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 29ºC / 84ºF 151 mm

Pak Thong Ah Kay in George Town, Penang

May

  • Overview: The weather along Malaysia’s west coast continues to take a turn for the worst with high winds and rain blowing in. During May it’s hardly unusual to see more rainy than sunny days here. The east coast, on the other hand, is fully in the throes of their tourism apex.
  • Where to go: You’ll want to avoid much of the west coast including Penang and Langkawi due to heavy rains and thunderstorms. Destinations on the east coast are perfect this time of year. May is an excellent time to go diving in the Perhentian Islands, Tioman, Redang or Tenggol!
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 190 mm
Penang 31ºC / 89ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 240 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 25ºC / 77ºF 29ºC / 84ºF 111 mm
Kota Kinabalu 33ºC / 91ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 29ºC / 84ºF 265 mm

June

  • Overview: Weather-wise, there’s a lot to like during June. The east coast is still relatively dry, and there’s a definite dip in the rainfall throughout the west coast and peninsular Malaysia. The school holidays though start to usher in high tourism season. You’ll want to plan ahead from now until the end of summer to snag the best accommodations deals.
  • Where to go: Although the west coast is still relatively wet it shouldn’t be enough to stop you from considering adding Penang, Pangkor or Langkawi to your itinerary. Visiting the capital in June isn’t a bad idea as its one of the driest and coolest months in KL. The east coast—particularly Tioman, Redang and the Perhentians—are where it’s at though. The scuba diving here is at its best, and if there’s any time of year to do it, it’s June.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 160 mm
Penang 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 170 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 131 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 293 mm

River in Melaka

July

  • Overview: With its dry season in full form in July, the east coast of Malaysia buzzes with visitors while the west coast experiences another uptick in rainfall. Temperatures remain hot throughout Malaysia with the western peninsula showing high levels of humidity. Tourist numbers in July are high throughout the country, especially along the eastern coast.
  • Where to go: For the best weather in Malaysia, head for east coast destinations like Tioman, Terengganu, and the Perhentians. Don’t mind the crowds. If you decide to visit west coast islands like Penang, Pangkor or Langkawi, prepare for quick and strong afternoon rain and thunderstorms.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 150 mm
Penang 30ºC / 86ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 210 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 120 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 264 mm

August

  • Overview: With its better than average weather, the east coast continues to see massive tourism numbers into August. Western Malaysia trudges along with hot and humid conditions along with heavy showers. Despite the not-so-pleasant weather conditions in much of the country, tourism’s still alive and kicking. Be sure to book far in advance wherever you decide to go.
  • Where to go: East coast destinations like Tioman and Redang are excellent at this time of year, if a little busy. Peninsular destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Melaka are at their driest. This is a good time to visit them, although with the summer holidays still in session you may find higher than normal prices and lower availability of accommodations. You’d best avoid west coast islands like Penang due to the heavy rains brought on by the monsoon.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 32ºC / 90ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 160 mm
Penang 30ºC / 86ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 190 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 183 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 268 mm

Perhentian Islands

September

  • Overview: The pleasant weather on the east coast finally begins to break in September as the winds pick up in anticipation of the monsoon. Along the west coast, heavy rains continue to ramp up. Unsurprisingly, September isn’t one of the better months to visit Malaysia.
  • Where to go: KL is relatively dry in September. The beginning of September is still a great time to visit Tioman, the Perhentians, Redang, Terengganu or Pulau Besar, one of Malaysia’s best kept secrets. And with visitors heading back home for school, you might even score some good deals. For the next two months, you’d be wise to avoid Langkawi and Penang unless getting absolutely soaked to the bone is in your daily agenda.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 31ºC / 88ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 200 mm
Penang 30ºC / 86ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 330 mm
Perhentian Islands 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 208 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 301 mm

October

  • Overview: You won’t find much relief from the rain on the west coast until closer to the end of October. Meanwhile, the east coast’s string of luck finally breaks as the monsoon rolls in, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rainfall.
  • Where to go: If we’re being honest, October’s not a great month to visit Malaysia. It’s one of the wettest times of year in destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Kota Kinabalu. Even east coast destinations like Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan start to witness worse conditions. If you simply must travel in October, wait until the end and stick to places like Penang and Langkawi whose fortunes will soon be on the rise.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 31ºC / 88ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 280 mm
Penang 30ºC / 86ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 340 mm
Perhentian Islands 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 288 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 346 mm

Pulau Mabul in Sabah

November

  • Overview: Along the west coast, you’ll finally find a break from the heavy rains of the wet season in November. There’s still the odd torrent of afternoon rain and thunderstorms, especially in Penang, as would be expected with the hot and humid conditions. The east coast’s a completely different story; it’s all but a ghost town in the islands as they brace for the monsoon.
  • Where to go: As life returns to the west coast, November’s a great time to launch a Penang itinerary or explore Langkawi. With the northeast monsoon blowing in, most of the east coast island resorts like Tioman and the Perhentian Islands begin to shutter up starting in November.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 31ºC / 88ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 290 mm
Penang 30ºC / 86ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 230 mm
Perhentian Islands 29ºC / 84ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 577 mm
Kota Kinabalu 32ºC / 90ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 306 mm

December

  • Overview: There’s some good news in December if you’re planning to visit the west coast. Sunnier days and drier conditions than in the autumn months are bound to put a smile on your face. Expect the odd quick and heavy rainstorm to release some of the humidity. By this time, the nasty northeast monsoon has already made the east coast more or less off limits into December and beyond.
  • Where to go: December is an awesome time to explore Western Malaysia with its hot and sunny weather. Spend time in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Penang and Langkawi to make the most out of your trip. Don’t even think about visiting the east coast. If possible, avoid the end of the month when holidays are in full swing; this one of the busiest times of year in Malaysia for tourists.
City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Precip.
Kuala Lumpur 31ºC / 88ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 250 mm
Penang 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 140 mm
Perhentian Islands 29ºC / 84ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 26ºC / 79ºF 619 mm
Kota Kinabalu 31ºC / 88ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 28ºC / 82ºF 252 mm

The verdict: When is the best time to visit Malaysia?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to give a cut-and-dry answer on exactly when to visit Malaysia. Finding the best time to visit Malaysia really depends on where you’re planning to visit.

If we simply had to choose just one time of the year: The best month to visit Malaysia is April.

Sarawak River Kuching

In general, visiting destinations along the west coast (e.g. Penang & Langkawi) is best between December and April when they are at their driest. On the east coast (e.g. Tioman, Perhentians & Kuala Terengganu), you’ll find April to November is the best weather-wise. Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo are oddballs in the mix. As Peninsular Malaysia’s west coast gets a soaking, Borneo’s east coast get theirs—and vice versa!

Peninsular destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Melaka or the Cameron Highlands are a little less extreme with the differences between their wet and dry seasons. Realistically, you can visit these places all year round as long as you’re prepared for the ever-lingering possibility of short tropical bursts of rain and thunderstorms.

Why visit in April?

What’s nice about April is that it’s the only month that straddles the two monsoon seasons. The west coast is still yet to enter its rainy season fully while the east coast is just climbing out of theirs. Even if just for a short period of time, you’ll be able to experience all of Malaysia in April without the usual weather restrictions.

That’s not to say the weather in Malaysia is perfect in April.

Like most of the year, the possibility of rain always lingers. While Penang and Langkawi see fairly consistent weather in April, peninsular destinations like KL, Melaka and Cameron Highlands are slightly wetter. As expected in a humid country like Malaysia though, the rainfall comes hard and quick. Certainly not crazy enough to keep you from making the most out of your trip!

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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