Tourism picks up in certain parts of Malaysia from December; while the east is drenched in rain, the west is quite dry. This is an excellent time of year for a beach vacation or to explore the cultural and historical attractions of Penang, Melaka, and the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Read on for more tips on where and what to do in Malaysia in December.


As a tropical country, Malaysia has two main seasons, the wet and the dry, but these don't fall in all areas simultaneously. December is the start of the dry season in western Malaysia, which includes the capital Kuala Lumpur, but the wet season is in full swing in the east, including Borneo. Temperatures don't vary much and sit between 71°F (22°C) and 91°F (33°C) throughout the year, but December is on the lower end of this range, and places at higher altitudes are usually cooler. 

Crowds & Costs

Malaysia sees a steady stream of visitors year-round as different parts of the country peak at separate times. While December is the start of the high season for travel to western parts of Malaysia, particularly the Langkawi Islands, it is the low season for Malaysian Borneo. Resorts in western beach destinations will be crowded toward the end of the month, with many travelers from Europe, North America, and Australasia coming for their Christmas and New Year vacations. Expect to pay peak-season prices, although Malaysia is always quite affordable. Yet in Borneo and the eastern islands, accommodation costs remain low due to the heavy rainfall.

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Where to Go

Stick to western Malaysia in December (the western side of Peninsular Malaysia). Head to Langkawi in northwestern Malaysia for a beach vacation with other outdoor activities that will appeal to everyone in the group. The beaches here are fantastic, with white sand and turquoise sea: Pantai Cenang and Tanjung Rhu are good options. To get active and take a break from the beaches, spot wildlife such as pythons and macaques on a mangrove tour in the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, or hike up Gunung Raya, Langkawi's tallest peak.

Alternatively, the island of Penang offers fantastic cultural sightseeing as well as some beaches and jungle hiking opportunities. Spend at least a couple of days based in historic George Town, touring the old Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) mansions, eating the famous street food, and checking out the colorful street art. Then head north to Batu Ferringhi, a strip of beaches on the north coast. Further west is Penang National Park, good for day hikes that lead to look-out spots and beaches.

What to Do

Travelers who make it to Langkawi shouldn't miss riding the cable car up to the SkyBridge, a pedestrian bridge suspended by cables atop Gunung Mat Cincang peak. The temperatures are cooler at 2,170 feet (660 meters), and you can enjoy views back down to the beaches that you'll probably spend most of your time on.

Foodie travelers to Penang shouldn't miss a visit to the Tropical Spice Garden, between Batu Ferringhi and the national park on the north coast. Penang was once at the heart of the spice trade, and you can learn more about this history on a tour of the plantation. Peranakan cooking classes here also let you know more about Penang's unique culture through its food. Learn new skills while having fun and enjoying a good meal after. 

Events in December

Christmas, nationwide. While you'll probably see Christmas decorations all over the country, this Christian holiday is most fervently celebrated in parts of the country with Christian populations: Penang, Melaka, and Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak). Christmas is a public holiday throughout the country, so expect business closures on December 25.

New Year's Eve, nationwide. While Malaysia's different cultures have their new year festivals, New Year's Eve on December 31 is celebrated with parties, concerts, fireworks displays, and the usual fanfare in most cities.

More Helpful Information

Malaysia in November
Malaysia in January
Best Time of Year to Visit Malaysia
Malaysia Tours & Itineraries