15 Ways To Celebrate Malaysia Day

Two Celebrations for Independence.

Not to be confused with the recent Malaysia Independence Day celebration (31st August), the Malaysia Day marks the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963. It was when Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore joined together as one nation. Although we acknowledge this day in the history books, it was never declared as a National celebration until the year 2010. This is why we now have two celebrations related to the company’s independence.

So on this special day, I’d like to share with you how we can all celebrate it like a Malaysian. If you happen to be traveling in our country on this day, you can always try one of these tips for a truly Asian experience.

1. Watch the morning parade.

Catch the state level parades in Kuching, Sarawak this year with many cultural performances. There’s nothing like a night of fireworks on the eve of Malaysia followed by a walk of all colors the next morning. Bring a hat, water and a selfie stick (if you must) to catch these wonderful scenes.

2. Eat Malaysian food for the next 24 hours.

Start the morning with steamy dim sum, followed by spices of banana leaf rice and sop tulang (bone marrow soup) for dinner. There’s also plenty of kuih muih for teatime and hot nasi lemak close to midnight.

Something cold to soothe you on a hot day, the popular ice kacang ice cream.

3. That means eating like a Malaysian too.  

Be adventurous and using your fingers when eating rice or roti canai, or pick up the chopsticks for that hot wantan noodle soup. Either way, you’d be enjoying your meals in a satisfactory Malaysian way. It’s alright if things get a little messy at the table as you’ll most likely to be forgiven for your first try.

4. Have a picnic spread with friends. 

We have plenty of parks in the city and the evening weather is just nice for a picnic session with friends. Places like Titiwangsa Park, Kepong Park or any other parks nationwide have lots of green grass, kite flying activities and bubble blowers.

5. Enjoy the evening beach stroll. 

Beaches like Pantai Cahaya Bulan or Port Dickson have a good view of the ocean with stalls selling local ice creams and snacks. I love to spend my evenings here and just look out at the sea as it’s one of the most relaxing thing to do on any Public Holiday.

6. Wear the traditional cultural costumes.

Since we are a multicultural lot, there’s a few traditional costumes that one can wear for this celebration. There’s the baju kurung (female), baju Melayu (male), cheongsam, Punjabi suit or colorful sari to choose from. Pair it up with a comfortable shoes for a day out and don’t be nervous when someone comes up to for a photo. We locals find any tourists wearing our traditional costumes cute and friendly.

7. Dance to the rhythm of your heart.  

Join a traditional dance class for the day or during the cultural performance at Saloma Bistro. Follow the steps or include one of your own. Dances such as the zapin, the Chinese fan dance or the Indian classical dance comes with folklore stories.

8. Visit heritage landmarks around the country. 

Beef up on Malaysian history by visiting popular heritage landmarks from Penang Island to east Malaysia. There’s the National Museum, the Blue Mansion in Penang, the Cultural Village in Sarawak or the Sultan Abdul Samad buildings which is open to the public.

The photo that has been made famous in Lonely Planet magazine.

9. Throw a gasing or fly a wau bulan. 

Growing up in Malaysia meant spending time playing outdoor games. One of favorites is the teng-teng or hopscotch with numbers and rocks. Travelers and tourists usually try a hand at making the large traditional kite called wau bulan, paint a batik fabric and throw a traditional top called gasing. Either one of these will make you sweat a little while having fun.

10. Support the local markets and businesses. 

Make your way to the morning market or night market where plenty of local snacks, vegetables, fruits can be found. You could also visit the small businesses which consists of cafes, restaurants, art galleries with your friends. Either way you’d be supporting to a good local cause.

11. Practice a local language. 

We’re lucky to having so many cultures and languages as it gives us opportunities to use it daily. Try learning a few common phrases and then practicing it as you go about your day. It’s also a good ice breaker with strangers you meet at the parade or during one of the activities.

12. Visit the towns hidden alleys.

Behind the century old shops lies small kopitiams with the best local coffees and fried kueh teow (flat rice noodle). Sometimes you can spot the street art and installations like the ones on Penang Island. Be adventurous and follow your instinct when you feel like there’s a gem of a place somewhere ahead.

13.  Swim under the waterfalls. 

Spend the day outdoors, under a falling waterfall and forget about the city life for a day. Places like Taman Rekreasi Ulu Bendul has such lovely green trees with a river flowing in the middle of it. If you prefer something warm (and still outdoorsy) there’s the Sungkai Hot Springs for your tired feet and body. Bring a picnic basket, a mat and you’re set for an enjoyable day with nature.


14. Watch a patriotic film. 

Catch up on old movies with friends and families watching the heroic Sarjan Hassan movie by the late P. Ramlee or anything from Merdeka to historic documentaries. Some scenes will make you tear up, smile and feel thankful to live in a blessed country like ours.

15. Do a #RoadTripMY with your loved ones.

Say yes to packing light and traveling with your best mates to the next city, exploring the smaller towns for authentic food along with beautiful sceneries. Venture outdoors and be one with nature, enjoy an evening sunset by the beach or learn how to cook a traditional dish. For more road trips in Malaysia, read here. 

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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