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Major hotel chains represented in Malaysia include Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Le Meridien, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Melia, Mercure, Renaissance, Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, Sheraton, and Westin. KL has the highest concentration of international business hotels, but a few operate luxurious resorts in other parts of the country as well, most notably on Penang and Langkawi.

Peak months of the year for hotels in western peninsular Malaysia are December through February and July through September. For the east coast, the busy times are July through September. You will need to make reservations well in advance to secure your room during these months.

Taxes & Service Charges -- All nonbudget hotels levy a 10% service charge and 5% government tax. As such, there is no need to tip. But bellhops could be tipped at least RM2 per bag; I give RM5 per bag in very expensive hotels and resorts.

Homestays

There are now over 100 operators offering homestays in virtually every Malaysian state, including Sabah and Sarawak. Through a homestay experience, travelers immerse themselves in local culture in meaningful ways, exchanging stories with local people and exploring their unique lifestyles in ways that a typical tour or holiday would never afford. In a homestay, a traveler will sleep with a local family in a village home, interact with the community to prepare and share local food, and engage in traditional cultural activities, including farming or fishing. The Sabah Tourism Board promotes homestays through its website, www.sabahtourism.com, listing reputable homestays across the state. Sarawak's Ministry of Urban Development & Tourism helps to organize homestays with indigenous communities, promoting packages on their website at www.right.sarawak.gov.my/Homestay.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.