Malaysia

Malaysia

Use Normal Level of Caution
Use High Level of Caution when visiting the following provinces: Sabah

Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia in two main regions separated by the South China Sea: West Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula between Thailand and Singapore, and East Malaysia on the northern third of the island of Borneo. The population is approximately 29 million people.

Malaysia's government is a constitutional monarchy. The chief of state is a king whose position is mainly ceremonial. The king is elected every five years from the hereditary rulers, the nine sultans of the Malay states. The head of government is the prime minister.

Malaysia is a high middle-income economy, and the country has a Vision 2020 plan to have a developed economy status by 2020. Manufacturing is a major sector of the economy.

Malaysia is one of the safest and most stable countries in Southeast Asia. Visitors to Malaysia can enjoy markets, museums, national parks, caves, and beautiful beaches.

Currency MYR: Ringgit
Language Bahasa Malaysia. English is also used for some official purposes.
Capital Kuala Lumpur
Recent Alerts 4
Latest Alert December 09, 2019 - Polio in Sabah, Malaysia

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Malaysia. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Malaria

The World Health Organization states that the risk of malaria exists only in limited forested areas on the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the central areas of peninsular Malaysia. NaTHNaC only mentions the risk of malaria in peninsular Malaysia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that malaria is present in rural areas, but there is no risk in Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur and Penang, including Penang Island.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Malaysia through contaminated food or water. 

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Malaysia.

Japanese encephalitis

In Malaysia, Japanese encephalitis is widespread in Sarawak, Penang, Perak, Selangor and Johor, and cases are reported from all states of Peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah. Outbreaks have not been reported in Kuala Lumpur or other major cities. The risk for travellers of contracting Japanese encephalitis is low, but visiting the listed areas and extensive outdoor activity in rural areas will increase this risk.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Malaysia, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks have occurred in Malaysia, and the risk to travellers is significant.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya is a viral disease that occurs in Malaysia, mainly in Sarawak. Outbreaks of this disease usually occur during the tropical rainy season but can occur during the dry season as well.

Schistosomiasis

The parasite that causes schistosomiasis is found in Malaysia. Areas at risk include the states of Kelantan, Pahang, and Perak, as well as in rural Sabah. There is no risk in urban or coastal areas. Schistosomiasis is acquired through contact with fresh water, such as swimming, bathing, or rafting. Well-chlorinated swimming pools and contact with saltwater in oceans or seas will not put travellers at risk for schistosomiasis.

Scrub Typhus

This disease generally occurs year-round in rural areas of Malaysia.

Tuberculosis

Travellers to Malaysia are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Nipah Virus

The first outbreaks of Nipah virus infection were discovered in Malaysia in 1994.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk for yellow fever transmission in this country. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Cholera

Cholera may occur in this country.

Zika Fever

Zika virus can occur in this country.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Large outbreaks of this disease have occurred in Malaysia in recent years.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Malaysia.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

If travelling to areas where the risk of exposure is high, during October through December, and if engaging in extensive outdoor activities, vaccination against Japanese encephalitis is recommended.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Cholera Vaccine

The U.K. NaTHNaC recommends the oral cholera vaccine for some travellers whose activities or medical history put them at increased risk, travelling to areas of active cholera transmission. These risk factors include: aid workers; those going to areas of cholera outbreaks who have limited access to potable water and medical care; travellers for whom the vaccination would be considered potentially beneficial, such as chronic medical conditions. The U.S. CDC recommends the cholera vaccine for travellers who are 18-64 years of age and who plan to travel to areas of active cholera transmission. CDC notes that most travellers do not travel to areas of active cholera transmission, and that safe food and water practices can prevent many cholera infections.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Malaysia.

Anti-malarial Drugs

In rural areas where there is a risk of malaria, the recommended anti-malaria medication includes atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. Anti-malaria drug resistance for chloroquine is present.

Safety and Security in Malaysia

Emergency Numbers

999
+60 322 662 222 Royal Malaysia Police Operations Centre
+60 321 159 999 Alternate number for Royal Malaysia Police Operations Centre

Personal Safety

Petty crime in Malaysia is common. Ensure your bags are secure and your documents and personal belongings are kept safe at all times. Do not leave your belongings unattended. Credit card and ATM fraud is a problem in Malaysia, therefore, be cautious when using credit cards and only use them at reputable businesses.

Never accept food or drink from strangers, and do not leave food or drink unattended as there have been reports of drink spiking.

Use registered taxis only. There have been reports of robbery, assaults, and overcharging by individuals posing as taxi drivers. Always insist taxis use a meter. To report problems with taxi drivers call SPAD (Malaysian body regulating public land transportation) at 1-800-88-7732.

You will need your passport to travel between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia.

Road safety in Malaysia varies. Motorcyclists can be particularly aggressive drivers. Road signs will be in the local language.

There have been fatalities reported on long-distance tour buses. Always travel with a reputable tour company. If travelling by boat, ensure that there are adequate safety standards. Do not travel by boat when there is overcrowding or poor weather conditions.

Exercise caution when participating in outdoor adventure activities as safety standards may not be adequate. If you choose to participate in outdoor adventure activities, always do so with a group or reputable guide. Consider purchasing travel and medical insurance that would cover these types of activities and emergency medical evacuation.

Exercise caution when visiting national parks. Be respectful towards the ethnic groups living in these areas, as well as the wildlife. Always register your visit with park authorities.

Penalties for drug possession or use are severe, including the death penalty.

Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country. Travellers should take note of whether they will be travelling during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During this time, respect the religious practices of the country and avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. Always dress conservatively to respect local customs. Some states follow Sharia law. Inform yourself as to the laws in the areas you are visiting.

Earthquakes and tsunamis occur in Malaysia. During the rainy season (October-February), flooding, landslides, and damage to infrastructure may disrupt travel plans. Monitor weather reports closely. If a natural disaster occurs, follow advice of local authorities.

Same-sex sexual activity and same-sex marriage are both illegal in Malaysia. Punishment for these offences is severe. LGBTI travellers should reconsider their need to travel to Malaysia.

Areas To Avoid

Avoid travelling to the Sabah province due to a high risk of kidnapping in these areas. This warning also applies to the islands, diving sites and tourist areas. The police and military presence is increased in this province.

There is a high risk of piracy and kidnapping in the waters of south-east Asia, particularly the southern Sulu Sea, including the waters between Sabah, Malaysia and Palawan in the Philippines. Ensure you are aware of the risks before travelling by boat in these waters.

Extreme Violence

There is a risk of terrorism in Malaysia. Terrorist groups have carried out deadly attacks in Kuala Lumpur, and the government has increased its military and police presence in public places. There is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups. An attack by these groups could occur unexpectedly in Malaysia, including resorts along the coast or on islands, as well as boats that carry tourists to resort islands.

Political Unrest

Political demonstrations occur in Malaysia, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. Minimize safety risk by avoiding all public gatherings and protests since even peaceful rallies can escalate quickly and unexpectedly. All public demonstrations require police permission. It is illegal for foreigners to take part in protests and demonstrations.

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