Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place. However, we do have our own customs and visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:
Although handshakes generally suffice for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge an introduction to a gentleman with a nod of her head and smile. A handshake is only to be reciprocated if the lady offers her hand first. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The man offers both his hands lightly touches his friend's hands, then brings his hands back to his chest to mean. "I greet you from the heart". The visitor should reciprocate the salam.
Public behavior is important in malaysian culture. Most Malaysians refrain form displaying affection (i.e. embracing or kissing) in public. It would be appropriate for visitors to do the same.
Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors. Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but request for permission first.
Before visiting a home, it is polite to call and inform of one's arrival. Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home. Drinks are generally offered and it would be polite to accept.
Dress neatly when traveling around It is advisable for women not wearing hot pants and vests on the islands where Malaysians are used to foreigners is fine, but it may invite harassment elsewhere. At mainland beaches, bring a wrap-around as well as a swimsuit so you will not feel conspicuous; Malay women usually go swimming fully dressed and some keep their scarves on, while you would not be expect to do the same.
Illegal drugs are very seriously taken in Malaysia. Decades in prison or the death penalty can be the result for trading drugs.
Do not engage in purchase of wild animals whether protected or not. Aside from the moral issues, punishments are very harsh.