The oval carapace of the Malaysian painted river terrapin is somewhat flattened, and the scutes roughened with growth annuli. Juveniles have a well-developed continuous medial keel and an interrupted lateral keel on the pleural scutes of each side. These keels disappear with age. The adult carapace is light brown to olive with three broad, black longitudinal stripes. The plastron is well developed, but smaller than the shell opening, and has only a shallow posterior notch. The bridge is broad and the plastron extensively sutured to the carapace. The plastron and bridge are uniformly yellow or cream colored. The head is small to moderate in size with an upturned, pointed, projecting snout, and a shallow medial notch on the upper jaw. The back of the head is covered with small scales. The limbs have enlarged transverse scales. There are five claws on the forefeet, and all toes are heavily webbed. The limbs and other soft parts are normally olive to gray. The head of the female is olive, and that of nonbreeding males charcoal gray. During the mating season the male's head becomes white and a red stripe develops between the eyes. Males are shorter than females and have longer, thicker tails.