As a nation, Malaysia has become a valuable partner for many businesses. Being a country that likes to stay current while maintaining pride in their culture and customs, there are things you need to know before you travel there. Generally, Malaysians like to impress and, in return, they like to be impressed. With that in mind, here are some things you should pack.
In most cultures, when you’re not sure what to wear to an event, the norm is to dress smart-casual. However, in Malaysia, it’s actually better to be overdressed than underdressed. First impressions are very important here; it’s all about image, image, image! If you’re going to an event where you’re unsure of the dress code, it’s best you don’t wear short-sleeve shirts, chinos, or even loafers (even if they’re branded). However, do keep in mind that it’s considerably hot and humid in Malaysia, so pack some light summer clothes for those moments in between business engagements!
Considered to be a sign that you’re a successful business person, a good quality real leather briefcase will further add to your corporate image while in Malaysia. Don’t be tempted to use the old worn out satchel that was passed down to you by your father! Sentimentality is not big in this country. The same goes for women – a quality lady’s briefcase or branded handbag is the way to go.
Ever on the lookout for marks of success, an expensive watch will be noticed by the locals here. Being savvy shoppers, Malaysians are excellent at differentiating between real and fake, so be careful not to overuse imitation items. For more formal occasions, women should wear a fair amount of gold jewellery – at least 18 carats. Silver or anything less than 18 carats isn’t highly regarded.
Corporate Credit Cards
There’s a phrase you’ll hear often in Malaysia: “If anyone needs me, I’ll be at my club.” Country club, that is. Business is almost always conducted in 5–star hotels or country clubs as a demonstration of prestige (and memberships don’t come cheap!) Known for their generosity, the locals are ever ready to foot the bill when out at a restaurant, sometimes even fighting over who gets the privilege of paying! So, in order to present your company as successful and financially able, it’s a good idea to have a reliable corporate expense account and offer to pay too.
Some Handy Phrases
While most Malaysians speak English, they’re always impressed when you can speak a few words in their language. A phrase book or language phone app will be handy. A selamat pagi (good morning) or terima kasih (thank you) will be sure to come across well, but don’t overdo it to the point of appearing disrespectful.
For even more advice about what to pack, consult with experts like Corporate Traveller, where travel managers will be able to give you all the information necessary to have a great business trip. Your time in Malaysia will certainly be a pleasure, with its immense cultures and traditions with a modern twist. Now you know what to pack, all you have to do is think business – and remember to have fun while you’re at it!