Malaysia Country Guide

Stay Safe


While the crime rate is higher than in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia is still a safe country. Crimes towards tourists rarely happen and most crime reports are either from newspaper or "friends of friends". Local people sometimes tend to be scaremongering but when asked if they have experienced any of them, most will laugh and give a relieving "no". Generally, if you avoid deserted areas, get back to your hotel before midnight and use your common sense, you'll be fine. 

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Police station in Melaka
Police station in Melaka

Reports on pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves have been sometimes heard in large cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Georgetown and Johor Bahru. As a general precaution, never carry your bags on the side facing the road and always walk facing the oncoming traffic. Additionally, walk a few feet deeper away from the roads. Women travelers should take extra precautions at night.
Credit card fraud is a growing problem and only use it in reputable establishments.

Johor Bahru is generally safe to visit but the city is known for having a relatively higher crime rate compared to the rest of Malaysia. Common crimes in Johor Bahru include armed robberies and snatch thefts, which often happen at night especially in the run-down areas of the city. Travel documents and valuables are best deposited in a hotel safe and stay away from secluded areas especially at night.

Traffic police

Traffic police

Punishment for Crimes
Do note that in Malaysia, certain crimes are punished with caning. Being convicted of rape, vandalism, illegal entry, bribery, overstaying your visa, and other certain crimes could get you caned. This is no slap on the wrist! Strokes from a thick rattan cane is very painful and can take weeks to heal and even scar for life.
Never bring any recreational drugs into Malaysia, even as a transit passenger. Possession of even minimal amounts can lead to a mandatory death sentence.

Traffic Safety
Drunk driving is a serious offense and breathalyzer tests by the police are common. You should not offer bribes at all - if found guilty you can be sentenced up to 20 years in jail! You should just accept whatever traffic summons you are being issued.
Do not let this dissuade you from requesting help - generally Malaysian police are helpful to tourists. Be careful when walking across the street since some motorists often ignore pedestrian (zebra) crossings but most Malaysians have learned to respect the pedestrians. Reports of road bullying during accidents is still common so if you are involved in an accident be very careful when negotiating or dial 999 for help.
Country Guide
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