The turn of the year, around late November, December, January and early to mid-February, finds the worst of the weather on the Malay Peninsula’s east coast as well as around the westerly shores of Sarawak.
On the flip side, the rainy season for Sabah and mainland Malaysia's west coast, tends to take place around September and October with sea crossings and rainforest trails sometimes affected by heavy downpours for a couple of hours, usually in the mid to late afternoon.
Sandwiched between February and September, just after the rainy season, is the best time to visit Malaysia; with less rain and an abundance of tropical foliage making March, April, May and June much drier and less busy months to visit.
The best time to spot wildlife on the Malay Peninsula, in places like Taman Negara, is the dry season from March to October, with March and July the best months for bird watching, in general, and Aug/Sept the best time to see thousands of hornbills around Temenggor Lake in Perak.
July, August and September can get hot and humid with the threat of forest fires from neighbouring Indonesia starving some city streets of sunlight and fresh air. Best advice is to head to the Cameron Highlands or escape to the west coast to avoid the summer haze.
Around the start of the year, Jan and Feb, Chinese New Year gets into full swing with Petaling Street in KL alive with red lanterns and the occasional fire cracker. This time of year is also when Hindu and Tamil communities celebrate Thaipusam with the temples at Batu Caves, just outside KL, and around Penang, attracting large crowds for the national holiday.