Malaysia consists of three territories - Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah. The whole of Malaysia has an equatorial climate with high temperatures and wet months all year. The main climatic differences within the country arise from altitude differences and the exposure of the coastal lowlands to the alternating south-west and north-east monsoon winds. The former blow from April to September and the latter from November to February, with a brief period of light variable winds during March and October. Coasts exposed to the north-east monsoon tend to be wetter than those exposed to the south-west version, and parts of Sarawak can have monthly average rainfalls in excess of 600 mm. Rainfall occurs on up to 200 days per year across the whole country, and in most places there is a definite double rainy season with the periods March to May and September to November being the wettest.
Temperatures vary little from month to month, humidity is high and there is little daily range of temperature, leading to oppressive night-time temperatures. Temperatures are distinctly lower in the hills where there are several resorts (typical average daily maxima of 23 °C rather than 33 °C), but the higher humidity, higher rainfall and less sunshine offset this.
The climate of Malaysia is humid and oppressive for the visitor, but heat stress is rare. The worst months are March, April and October when the winds are light with the monsoon direction changeover. During the afternoons, coastal conditions are relieved by sea breezes, and wind speed is the most important influence in mitigating the sultry heat. Daily sunshine hours are inversely proportional to rainfall amount, and range from four to five hours during the wettest months to eight to nine hours in the drier periods. As in most equatorial regions, much of the rain is heavy and thundery.
Singapore is a small island state at the southern tip of the Malayan peninsula. It has a climate very similar to that of Malaysia, being hot, wet and distinctly humid all year. The most unpleasant months are March and September when winds are light.
Last updated: 17 December 2013