CFA Institute Recommendations for Visitor Etiquette in Kuala Lumpur
- Do not accept an unmetered taxi. Either buy taxi coupons at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (lookout for the “Airport Taxi” signs) or make sure the taxi meter is on before riding.
- Travel in KL can be quite difficult due to traffic, we recommend allowing yourself an hour of travel time from the city centre to the airport during off-peak hours and at least two hours during rush-hour (especially Friday evenings).
- If you need to use a hand gesture, using your whole hand to point is more respectful.
- Do not use any obscene hand gestures.
- Being drunk and disorderly in public is unacceptable
- Photography should be done with care, and be sure to ask first before snapping a photo of a national or a resident, especially if the subject is a woman.
- Public displays of affection should be minimal – holding hands is acceptable but kissing and hugging in public is not considered appropriate.
- Avoid expressing strong political beliefs, bad language, making obscene gestures or showing disrespect in any way to any of the region’s religions or its leaders.
Invitations and Interactions
- Tipping is not obligatory, although tourist guides will expect a tip.
- If you are sharing a meal with your host, accept food and refreshment before moving on to matters of business.
- It is important to stand up for new guests and older or higher-ranking people, and men are expected to stand when a woman enters the room.
- When greeting a member of the opposite sex who is Muslim, it is important not to offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first – both men and women (more commonly women) may prefer not to shake hands with the opposite sex due to religious reasons.
- It is customary to accept food and drink with your right hand; this is also the hand with which you should eat.
- Avoid showing the soles of your feet, or pointing your foot at anyone.
- Visitors should be mindful to dress modestly. Kuala Lumpur is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city but it is always encouraged to respect to local traditions, particularly if you plan to visit rural conservative areas outside of Kuala Lumpur or religious sites.
- Swimwear is acceptable at private beaches or around private swimming pools, but visitors should cover up elsewhere.
- Women will usually be required to wear a headscarf when entering mosques.