Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Malaysian weather - monsoon seasons

The Water Dragon this year may be true to its word. Some days, like yesterday, Kuala Lumpur skies can be as blue and beautiful as this, the image below. If you stand back a little, with some imagination, you may even spot a face or two smiling down at you.

Other days, like today, the sky can be this grey and unfriendly.

Everyone says the weather nowadays is not what it used to be some years ago. Temperatures can go so high that people flock to shopping malls and complexes to get some respite or it can get so cold with hours of rain that you don't feel like venturing out.

And talking about the rain, Ipoh was flooded yesterday after a six-hour downpour. Ipoh is a city in the northern part of Peninsula Malaysia in the state of Perak. Water overflowed river banks flooding villages and schools. Evacuation had to be carried out in places badly affected. Residents said the water reached waist level at the height of the floods which started at about 4am yesterday according to The Star.

Source: The Star

If you are visiting Malaysia for the first time, it would be good to know a little about the Malaysian weather. Malaysia being in the tropics, and just above the Equator, goes through two different monsoon seasons.

The Southwest Monsoon is from late May to September, and the Northeast Monsoon from November to March. The Northeast Monsoon is characterised by heavy rainfall, particularly in the north-eastern states of Peninsula Malaysia (viz., Kelantan and Terengganu) and western Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

The Southwest Monsoon is milder with winds coming from the south west and normally signifies relatively drier weather. Heavy downpour is also expected which may cause flooding in low-lying areas. The intermonsoon period is the transition period between the monsoons.

A point to remember when visiting Malaysia is to time your visit away from monsoon months especially if you are visiting the east coast where there are many resorts popular with foreign tourists. These resorts include the islands of Redang, Perhentian, Tioman including Club Med Cherating in Kuantan as well as the beaches of Terengganu where watching greenback turtles laying eggs is a popular activity.

However, if you are visiting the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia, anytime of the year is a good time. As the weather changes without warning sometimes, it would be advisable to pack an umbrella or a raincoat. Timing your visit to coincide with major festivals may allow you to enjoy the country more. Major festivals here are Aidil Fitri, Chinese New Year, Thaipusam, Christmas, Dragon Boat festival (Penang), Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the latter to witness the fire-walking ritual.

Malaysia is a paradise for shopping, everyone knows that. For a greater shopping experience, visit during the months of July and August. This is the period of the annual Malaysia Mega Sales Carnival with discounts as much as 70% off the usual price.

Oh, but I digress. What can I say, Malaysian weather may be hot and humid but I wouldn't trade it for any other. Psst.. if your winter is too cold and dreary, come on over. We've got plenty of blue skies and all things nice.


  1. I never notice when is the Mega Sale because seems like we have sale every day of the year. Especially at Jusco. xD

  2. Oh! This is perfect timing! I was wondering about Malaysia's climate after reading a post about cold rain on Lina's blog. (Cold? Malaysia?!)

    Two monsoons? You have two? This is mind-boggling info to a person from a semi-arid region like South Africa.

    I also didn't realize that weather patterns would be so different on your east and west coast.

    Thanks so much for this!

    PS: Nine Emperors God Festival? Wot's that? :D

  3. I'm only happy when it rains

  4. Oh! It's about the same thing down here.

    I do agree with what you said in the end. People who get really tired of the freezing snow should pack and get down here for some sun and fresh rain which should feel 'warm' to them ahaha

  5. yes, very true!! and i think it's slowly becoming the weather like England - so unpredictable that people use to joke about the weather.. so it rains everyday recently while was so hot before that~~

  6. Malaysia truly Asia <3

  7. Lina, I'll have to agree that Jaya Jusco does have sale very often but nothing beats the annual Mega Sale in which shoppers can realise some substantial savings.

  8. Rurousha, yes, it can get cold after a heavy downpour or in the mornings if one lives on a higher elevation and near a forest reserve. We do have residences that fit the latter.

    Yep, two monsoon seasons with two different weather patterns different times of the year.

    Nine Emperor Gods festival. This is a Taoist/Buddhist festival that takes place from the first day of the 9th lunar month. It runs for nine days culminating in a fire-walking ceremony participated by temple devotees and mediums, the latter normally going into a trance whose physical self is taken over by a deity.

    This is a spiritual affair in which temple devotees (those who are helping out in the temple) will have to refrain from eating meat (full vegetarian) and having sexual relations.

    All nine Emperor Gods will descend to earth, received with nine individual sedan chairs carried by temple devotees and accompanied by mediums. They will be occupying their place in the temple for nine days where they will be worshipped. At the end of the nine days, they will be sent off the same way they are being welcomed. I have seen both the arrival and sendoff ritual on numerous occasions in the past. A very heart-thumping experience every time.

    It is believed that this festival is associated with rain. We see more rainy days the days leading up to their arrival and the entire nine days.

    Wikipedia has more info if you are interested.

  9. Oh, it involves legends about the Big Dipper! Since I'm from way down south, I didn't know anything about the Big Dipper and the North Star until I came to Japan. Now I'm hearing so many interesting stories. Thanks for writing this very nice explanation for the nuisance in Japan! ^^ (Yours is better than Wikipedia's.)