The term ringgit is used for both singular and plural sums of this same currency in Malaysia. It is issued by their official bank, the Bank Negara Malaysia. The ringgit is a very colourful currency in terms of the banknotes. As far as the unusual name is concerned, the word means jagged edge. This was the word used to describe the Spanish dollars that were once used here, because the dollars had edges just like this. Once the currency was officially introduced the name stayed in place and is still used today.
The ringgit, in common with most other currencies today, is a decimal currency. It is divided into one hundred sen, which basically means cents. There are four coins that are often used in daily life, which are the 5 sen, the 10 sen, the 20 sen and the 50 sen coins. There are also six banknotes in use, which are all ringgit banknotes. These are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 ringgit. When a sum of money is written down it is generally indicated with the letters RM for Ringgit Malaysia before the sum, so you can see what the price is in that currency.
The currency is a fairly modern one when compared with a variety of other currencies. It was only introduced in 1967 and back then everyone used the dollar symbol to represent the currency. It was only during the Nineties that they decided to get rid of the symbol and use the letters RM instead.
Before the ringgit was brought in the country used the Malaysian and British Borneo dollar as its chosen currency.
There are a few things you have to bear in mind when travelling to Malaysia. Firstly it is very strict about what you can and cannot take into the country with you and what you can take out. For instance the amount you arrive with is the maximum amount you can leave with. This shouldn’t be a problem if you arrive with spending money and you end up spending most of it, but it is worth bearing in mind if you arrive with little cash and then take some out at a cash point while you are away.
You will be issued with the required traveller’s declaration form when you arrive in the country, very likely before you leave the plane. You will have to indicate exactly – and we do mean exactly – how many ringgit you have with you to take into Malaysia. This should be a maximum of RM10,000 per person. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency you have with you or on traveller’s cheques if you decide to use them. However in the unlikely event these total more than $10,000 in US dollars you would have to declare these as well.
Just remember that whatever you put down to take in, you cannot export more than that amount when it is time to leave Malaysia. In practice few people are stopped and questioned when going through customs but it is not worth fretting over getting it wrong just in case.
Now, when it comes to getting the ringgit before you go, you can do this via an exchange service. Look for the bureau de change that provides the best deal and go from there. You can also get cash out in the normal way via an ATM when you arrive in Malaysia, although it is usually helpful to let your card issuers know you will be travelling to the country. This will help prevent your cards being stopped because they might think they have been misused.
You can also use your cards to make direct payment at many outlets. Always check this is acceptable before you try buying anything though; some smaller outlets may prefer cash.
You can simply use a currency converter to get this information. You will be prompted to choose your own currency to start with, plus the amount you wish to get a conversion for. You can then choose the Malaysian ringgit to complete your conversion to see how far your own currency will go once you get to Malaysia.
If you are thinking about visiting Malaysia and you want to know more about what to expect and whether you need advice about visas, you can visit the official website for the High Commission of Malaysia in London. This can be found at http://www.kln.gov.my/web/gbr_london/home.
For the most part it is safe to visit Malaysia, although it is always advisable to check the latest travel information prior to leaving for the country. Some areas, such as Singamata Island and Eastern Sabah, have been the targets for violent crimes against tourists, even when staying in recognised resorts. Check whether you intend to visit safer areas before you book anything.
For the majority of the time though, visitors to Malaysia don’t run into any problems at all. Some pickpocketing and similar opportunistic crimes take place, but if you take measures to ensure you remain as safe as possible and don’t present an obvious target, you should be okay.
Malaysia is rather unusual in that it is split into two sections. The first part is on the tail end of the land bordering Thailand, while the second part is on another land mass altogether. This part of the country takes up most of the northern edge of the land, aside from Brunei, while Indonesia takes up the rest of it.
Kuala Lumpur might well be the most familiar area of Malaysia to many people. It is the federal capital of the country and boasts such sights as the Petronas Twin Towers, a thoroughly modern skyline and of course the famous Chinatown. It is a wonderful place to shop and also to sample many tasty local dishes such as barbecued fish. Look out in particular for Petaling Street, one of the most famous parts of Chinatown.
The great thing about Malaysia is that it offers beach holidays, city based holidays and everything in between. For example if you want great beaches you should think about visiting the Perhentian Islands. They look superb and offer plenty of water sports as well as the opportunity to settle down and do as little as possible other than sunbathe if that takes your fancy.
If you want to get into the greenery of the country there is no better place to go than Taman Negara. This is one of the national parks the country has to offer and many people agree it is the best one. You may need a head for heights if you want to try one of the treetop walkways but the views you will get if you are up for it are nothing short of amazing. You don’t have to set out on your own either because there are countless guided tours and walks you can try.
Another national park is called Gunung Mulu National Park and it is quite striking as it has lots of so called karst formations. It is no surprise to find the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves alone are well worth the trip to see it.
If you are in the part of Malaysia that borders Thailand, make sure you don’t miss the amazing Kota Bharu, which has a central market that you have to see with your own eyes to believe. There are huge stalls, each of which is packed with all different kinds of food. Fresh and enticing, it is well worth a look.
Speaking of food you will no doubt get the chance to try some street food while you are there. Some of the food in the country is distinctly Malay in origin, but there are Chinese influences as well, just as much as Indian ones. Rice is the main ingredient in many dishes here, and you will find lovely street food options that cost just a few ringgit as well as restaurants that are more expensive. Whatever you are in the mood for, the Malaysian menu will have something to appeal to you.
As you can see Malaysia has a diverse nature and a diverse mix of places, destinations and activities to enjoy. It appeals to those who love beach holidays but it also appeals to people who want to make the most of exploring countryside quite unlike anything they have seen before.
With the time to explore and a little advance knowledge to ensure you see the highlights, Malaysia is a very rewarding country to visit. Where will you go first and which destinations will prove to be your favourites?