Nature Escapes

Tropical Malaysia Weather Can Change From Sunny to Stormy Fast

Malaysia weather is fairly predictable. However, that doesn't mean you won't get wet. It rains nearly 200 days out of the year.

Rainfall patterns are usually consistent enough that you can decide when to go out and when to come back from a nature outing.

I actually adore the torrential thunderstorms, horizontal lightning and thunder that cracks right over your head. Rain is life-giving, cooling and makes for great green rainforests.

But never underestimate the power of a tropical storm and always be prepared to abort a trip, shorten a hike, take suitable cover and keep alert for quick weather changes.

When out in the wilds of Malaysia weather, it's a constant duel between protection from the harsh equatorial sun and avoiding being drenched by curtains of pouring water.

Mostly it's in the timing: rainy versus dry season by month or morning versus mid-afternoon by day.

Malaysia Weather: Monsoon Seasons

Season Months Peninsula Malaysia
Northeast Monsoon Nov-Dec to March heavy rainfall, flooding
Southwest Monsoon June to Sep-Oct less rain, dry in June-July
Intermonsoon Period Apr-May light winds, clear mornings, thunderstorms in afternoon
Intermonsoon Period Oct-Nov light winds, clear mornings, thunderstorms in afternoon

Malaysia Weather: Temperature

On average, any destination in Peninsular Malaysia gets a dose of 6 hours of superb sunshine everyday. Both temperatures and humidity normally run high.

Jungle Trekking

This potent tropical combo not only drains your energy sooner but causes heat stress, so regulate your own body temperature with plenty of water, shade and a pleasant pace.

Average temperatures range from 21 C to 32 C (70 F to 90 F) in the lowlands, so escape to a highland destination for a refreshing cooler range of 16 C to 24 C (60 F to 75 F).

Humidity is constant and falls within the 70% to 90% range. There are two key ways to combat humidity: showers and fans.

When out in the jungle you will be sweaty all day long, so enjoy a cleansing shower (more like a splash) as often as the schedule permits. When looking for lodging, check to make sure the hut or chalet has a fan (ceiling, wall or standalone). Keep heat and humidity bearable with light breezes.

Plus, fans help to dry out clothes for another jungle run the next day. If you are suffering, get an air-conditioned room and play polar bear. But remember, outside it's a sweltering transition to the heat and water heavy air.

Kuala Lumpur
Month Rainfall(mm)

Ave monthly Ave no of days with 1mm

Average daily
Lowest recorded Highest recorded
min max
Jan 163 10 22.1 31.9 19 35
Feb 145 11 22.3 32.8 21 36
Mar 218 14 22.8 33.1 20 37
Apr 285 16 23.4 33.0 21 36
May 184 13 23.1 32.8 22 35
Jun 127 9 23.1 32.5 20 36
Jul 129 10 22.7 32.1 19 36
Aug 146 11 22.7 32.2 19 36
Sep 192 13 22.7 31.9 20 35
Oct 272 17 22.9 31.8 21 36
Nov 275 18 22.9 31.4 21 35
Dec 230 15 22.5 31.5 19 34
Source: National Environment Agency, Singapore

Malaysian Weather: Safety Tips

Keeping on top of the weather is part of any jungle journey. Knowing what to do in case of a weather emergency helps to keep everyone calm and in relative comfort. Train yourself to monitor clouds on the horizon or notice sudden gusts of wind anytime out on the trail.

Learn local weather patterns to anticipate normal occurrences from rare outbursts of bad weather. Getting wet from light rain episodes is not uncommon and not a problem if the sun comes back out.

Extreme Malaysia Weather Conditions

Severe weather presents a danger to you, your family or companions. Go over some of these basic wilderness safety tips before a problem becomes a catastrophe:

  • Keep everyone dry and warm. Wet clothes are not only miserable but cold conditions can lead to hypothermia (dangerously low body temperatures).
  • Find a temporary shelter between rocks or make a lean-to out of plastic or vegetation.
  • Stay together and share clothing or sleeping gear to ensure everyone is warm and accounted for.
  • Maintain your spirits by passing around food to restore energy levels and body temperature.
  • Be patient to wait out heavy storms and strong winds before hiking out for help.
  • Be wary of hazards such as dead trees and branches and relocate to a safer shelter if exposed.
  • If lightning strikes nearby, disperse the group to separate areas. Try to sit in a crouch position on a backpack, or other insulating material, but not on the ground if possible.
  • Count the number of seconds between a lightning flash and it's thunder. Divide by 3 to get how many kilometers away; or divide by 5 for miles. If lightning is within 10 km or 6 miles, then you are in the danger strike zone and need to take action.

Lightning Strike Protection

Sometimes you just get caught in the wrong location - mountain peak, ridge, hilltop. To minimize risk from lightning strikes try the following:

  • Get off high ground - summits, pinnacles, ridges - immediately.
  • Avoid tall trees and seek out a clump of smaller trees when in the rainforest.
  • If exposed in an open field, find a low-lying area and sit in the lightning position described above.
  • Stay out or off the water and get to land.
  • Drainage ditches and gullies with water do not offer suitable protection.
  • Stay off high slopes and proceed to well-drained mid-slope areas.
  • Avoid caves and overhangs if small and/or wet with possible ground currents. Only access if very large and dry.

Source: Adapted from The Backpacker's Field Manual, Three Rivers Press, 2005.

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