My boyfriend and I are going to be in Malaysia for Christmas but really have no idea where to go. we are looking for somewhere with a lively atmosphere and other travellers rather than just being on our own. We have heard that the Monsoon is around that time, but don't know how badly that will affect us? Lonely Planet seems to say that alot of Malaysian islands shut down for the monsoon, is that the case? Also, we need somewhere we can access from Singapore as we fly into there on 20 Dec.
Starting from the north and working south, the islands that probably shut down are Perhentian and Redang. Call any of the hotels there to find out for sure. Monsoon affects quite severly the northern half of the east coast, and most islands in that area do close for the season.
Having said this, my friends say it is raining there everyday now (probably for a few hours per day monsoon style), and that is early, so it is quite possible that December will be okay. Global weather is hit-and-miss these days I find, and this unpredicability isn't spared on Malaysia.
Island wise that leaves Langkawi (northwest) of Penang and Tioman in the south. You mention lively atmosphere and other travelers, and both Langkawi and Penang/Langkawi will have this but it's not going to be as lively as say Thailand. It hasn't been my experience that partiers choose Malaysia; it's more a kick-back-and-relax setting there, no doubt you'll meet other travelers too however.
If you're starting in Singapore, I say try Tioman first; you can take a bus up to Mersing town to access Tioman. Some more info at: http://www.angelfire.com/cantina/mycar/tioman/tioman.html
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Thanks for the information, do you think that we should book in advance somewhere for Christmas? We are a little concerned about being able to get to the islands if the weather is too bad? Is there anywhere on the coast on the mainland you could reccommend? Outside of the rainy times is the weather still quite nice?
if you would like to visit island i will suggest you go to the island at west coast. like for example Langkawi and Penang, because for those island at east coast, if you would like to go for water activity, it will be dangereous, you can still see the beauty of the island but not much activity you can do, you can't get into the water, you can just sit near by the beach, and most of the time raining or cloudy. the weather is still ok if you don't mind rainy day. you can go to those island which near by city area, and you can move around and enjoy the food and culture there. i will suggest you book your hotel or resort before you reach the place, because it is holiday and also school holiday in Malaysia, many local people will go for holiday as well. unless you go to those place which most of the local people will not be going, like for example those island at east coast. because really not much you can enjoy in those island in east coast, people go there for diving or enjoy the beauty of the island and beach, but now due to raining and monsoon, heavy sea not allow you to go out for diving or even take a small boat go out to enjoy the beauty of island, basically you can't enjoy much there. i will suggest you come back next year, the best time to visit the island at east coast of Malaysia is Mar to Aug every year. for local, we won't visit those island during the monsoon period. for Tioman you can check from the hotel, as they might have other activity, the island is quite big, they have village, probably you can enjoy the village live there. and there is a local fly to Tioman, so that people can visit anytime even monsoon time. because taking boat is kind of dangerous, the boat is not a big boat. that's all i know. enjoy your holiday.