Fire and rescue services
Call 999 or contact the Royal Malaysia Police Operations Centre on 321 159 999 or 322 662 222.
Exercise normal safety precautions in Malaysia.
Higher levels apply in some areas.
Exercise normal safety precautions in Malaysia.
Higher levels apply in some areas.
Reconsider your need to travel to the coastal region of eastern Sabah, including the islands, dive sites and associated tourist facilities.
Reconsider your need to travel to the coastal region of eastern Sabah, including the islands, dive sites and associated tourist facilities, due to the high threat of kidnapping. The risk of kidnapping increases on the water and waterfront after nightfall and is highest in the area between the towns of Sandakan and Tawau.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Terrorist attacks could happen in Malaysia. Attacks could be random and may affect locations popular with Westerners or during major events or holidays that attract large crowds.
Malaysian authorities have arrested people for planning terror attacks. This includes attacks against entertainment venues in Kuala Lumpur.
Other possible targets include:
To stay safe:
If there's an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Read our travel advice for Thailand if you're planning to go there overland.
Avoid travelling to or through the far southern provinces of Thailand.
There's an ongoing high threat of kidnapping in the coastal areas of eastern Sabah, including islands, dive sites and other tourist facilities.
Extremists based in the southern Philippines are active in the area between the towns of Sandakan and Tawau in eastern Sabah.
Foreigners have been kidnapped from the nearby islands of Sipadan and Mataking and surrounding waters.
Some attempted and successful kidnappings have happened in coastal areas of eastern Sabah in recent years.
Malaysian authorities increased security in the region in response to kidnapping incidents. The Sabah Government has restricted the use of waterways.
There's a 6pm to 6am curfew on water travel in 6 coastal districts of eastern Sabah state. This includes offshore areas up to 3 nautical miles (5.5km) from the coast.
All vessels travelling in the waters off Lahad Datu and Sandakan in daylight hours must get a permit or permission from police.
Vessels must travel only on designated routes.
There's a ban on resort-organised water activities at night. This includes diving and fishing.
Authorities established the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone), which includes the regions of:
There's an increased presence of security forces in the ESSZone.
Authorities may extend the water travel curfew each fortnight. If you travel by water during curfew hours without permission, authorities could fine you or jail you for up to 6 months.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
If you decide to travel to eastern Sabah despite our advice:
You could encounter protests or demonstrations on the streets or at certain venues.
Protest activity could lead to violence and disrupt public services, including public transport, and cause traffic congestion. However, this is rare.
Police permission is needed for public gatherings and demonstrations. If you take part in a protest or demonstration, authorities could arrest and deport you.
Avoid protests and demonstrations.
During periods of unrest:
If civil unrest disrupts your transport plans, contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for help.
Petty crime is common.
Opportunistic pickpocketing and snatch-and-grab robberies happen often where thieves snatch handbags, shoulder bags, jewellery, mobile phones and other valuables from pedestrians.
Hotspots include busy pedestrian crossings near major shopping malls, including within the KLCC area.
Motorcyclists, and sometimes thieves in other moving vehicles, pull bags from victims. This often causes injuries.
Smash-and-grab attacks against slow-moving and parked vehicles also happen.
To avoid petty crime:
Handbags, expensive watches, jewellery and cameras are tempting targets for thieves.
Many travellers have lost passports and other valuables to thieves on trains and at airports.
Carry only what you need and leave other valuables, in a secure location.
Thieves sometimes work in groups at busy shopping centres. One or more may approach you with stories of distress or warnings for your safety. When you're distracted, others steal your belongings.
Watch your personal belongings, especially:
Be wary of approaches from strangers, especially in shopping centres.
Credit card fraud is common.
Credit cards are often copied for illegal use. This can happen anywhere, from small shops to large department stores and hotels.
Always keep your credit card in sight.
Online scams have increased in recent years. Scammers often pretend to be people in need of financial help.
They prey on people looking for companions on online dating websites.
To protect yourself from being scammed:
Scams involving gambling are also common.
You could experience violent crime in Malaysia. Australians have been victims of violent crime in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and other areas of the country. You should exercise vigilance and take sensible precautions. If you're a victim of crime, inform the local police and get a police report.
Criminals have assaulted and robbed travellers after spiking their drinks. This can even happen at places with a good reputation.
To protect yourself from drink spiking:
To stay safe while using taxis:
If you're alone in a taxi, sit in the back seat. Keep your belongings with you in the taxi.
If your taxi stops to pick up other passengers, get out of the taxi when it's safe to do so. Taxi drivers aren't allowed to pick up extra passengers, but it sometimes happens.
E-hailing services are available. Use the same precautions as taxis.
You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you’re connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth.
Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions, or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media.
If there's a natural disaster:
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
Earthquakes can happen in Malaysia.
In 2018, a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit Sabah. No deaths or injuries were reported. The earthquake's tremors were felt and climbing activities were suspended.
Coastal regions of the world can experience tsunamis. Malaysia and its neighbours are vulnerable to earthquakes, which make destructive tsunamis more likely.
Flooding and landslides are common during the wet season which is usually from October to February.
Severe rainstorms can result in deaths and extensively damaged infrastructure.
Essential services can be interrupted.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators aren't always met. This includes for adventure activities, such as diving.
Operators may not provide enough safety equipment. They also may not pay attention to maintenance standards and safety precautions.
If you plan to do a tour or adventure activity:
If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Piracy in South-East Asian waters is an ongoing problem, especially in the:
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issues weekly piracy reports.
Avoid travelling by boat in the southern Sulu Sea. This includes waters between Sabah, Malaysia and Palawan in the Philippines.
If you decide to travel by boat in these regions:
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave.
Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
You'll probably need a specialised insurance policy that covers travel to high-risk destinations if, despite our advice, you're travelling to the coastal region of eastern Sabah.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
If you have immediate concerns for your welfare or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Malaysia. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Strict rules control the importation of prescription and non-prescription medication. Contact the high commission or embassy of Malaysia to check what documentation local authorities may need you to have. Further information can be found on the Pharmaceuticals Services website.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Smoke haze often happens from June to October, but it can happen at any time.
Check the haze situation and any health warnings the Malaysian Government issues.
When haze levels are high, authorities recommend limiting outdoor activity. Get your own medical advice.
Dengue is common, including in major urban areas. Sometimes serious outbreaks happen.
There's no vaccination or treatment available for dengue fever.
Zika virus is a risk. There's no vaccination for it.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you:
The Zika virus bulletin includes advice on how to minimise Zika virus risks.
Malaria is a risk in rural areas. It's less common in urban and coastal areas. Consider taking medicine to prevent malaria.
Reported cases of Japanese encephalitis have increased in recent years. Get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel
The risk of contracting insect-borne diseases increases during the wet season.
To protect yourself from disease:
Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease. It's found in dogs, monkeys, bats and other mammals.
The most recent cases were reported in Sarawak. It was transmitted through feral dog and cat bites.
Rabies can also be contracted when a rabid animal's saliva gets directly into your eyes, nose, mouth or broken skin.
Avoid direct contact with dogs and other mammals.
If a dog, monkey or other mammal bites or scratches you, use soap and water straight away to wash the wound thoroughly.
Get urgent medical attention.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are common.
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical attention if you suspect food poisoning, or if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have increased in Sabah since the beginning of 2023. If you're planning to travel to Sabah:
Stings from jellyfish and other marine animals can be fatal.
Ask local authorities, your tour operator or hotel about:
Avoid temporary black henna tattoos as they often contain a dye that can cause serious skin reactions.
You can find private hospitals with international-standard facilities in major cities.
Public hospitals in major cities have a good range of medical services. However, access can be slow. Services are more limited in rural areas.
Most private hospitals need a cash deposit or a confirmation of insurance before they will admit you. They also expect immediate payment for services.
You need to pay up-front for treatment at government hospitals.
There are decompression chambers in:
Medical tourism, including for cosmetic surgery, is common.
Standards at discount and uncertified medical facilities can be poor.
Serious and possibly life-threatening complications can result.
Before travelling for medical tourism:
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
If you're suspected of using drugs before you visit Malaysia, you may be required to take a urine test on arrival. This includes if you're travelling from a country where possession and use of drugs such as cannabis is legal.
Penalties for drug offences are severe, including drug possession and the presence of drugs in your bloodstream. Malaysia still carries the death penalty for drug trafficking.
Malaysian civil law applies to everyone in Malaysia. Under this law, it's unclear if surrogacy is legal and what conditions apply.
Under sharia law, surrogacy is illegal. However, sharia law only applies to Muslims.
Surrogacy isn't practised openly in Malaysia. If you want to pursue surrogacy, it's mostly a private arrangement between you and the surrogate.
Get independent legal advice before entering into a surrogacy arrangement.
Malaysia enforces some aspects of sharia law. These laws apply to all Muslims, including those from Australia.
Research laws that apply to you before you travel.
Crimes that may attract corporal punishment include:
Same-sex sexual relations are illegal.
Punishment can include whipping and up to 20 years in prison for same-sex acts involving either men or women.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offence, which can result in fines and/or a jail sentence. Authorities strictly enforce these laws.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Malaysia is a multicultural but mostly Islamic country.
Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in many areas. This includes at religious sites.
Always respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions.
Learn about customs at your destination. If in doubt, get advice from locals. Take care not to offend cultural or religious beliefs.
The Islamic holiday month of Ramadan is observed in Malaysia. Respect religious and cultural customs and laws at this time.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking may be illegal in public during the day. If you're not fasting, avoid these activities around people who are. Seek local advice to avoid offence.
Explore our Ramadan page to learn more, including dates for Ramadan.
Malaysia doesn't recognise dual nationality.
If you're a dual citizen, this limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
Always travel on your Australian passport.
If Malaysian authorities find out you hold both Australian and Malaysian citizenship, you may need to renounce either your Australian or Malaysian citizenship straight away, or you may not be permitted to depart Malaysia.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering.
In most circumstances, Australian passport holders can get a 90-day tourism visa on arrival.
Arrange a visa before you travel if you're visiting for:
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest high commission, embassy or consulate of Malaysia for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
If you breach your visa conditions or overstay your visa, authorities may fine, detain or deport you.
Always check the correct dates are on the visa stamp placed in your passport.
Follow immigration rules, including your visa conditions.
Malaysia has an auto gate facility for visitors from several countries, including Australia. The option to use the manual counter for a visa is still available. To use the auto gate facilities, Australian visitors must have a passport valid for at least 6 months and must complete and submit their Malaysian Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) 3 days before arriving.
The auto gate facility is unavailable for Australian passport holders with Malaysian permanent residency or a long-term pass. This auto gate facility is available at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 1 and 2. Further information can be found on the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card website.
Entry requirements may change at short notice. Monitor the websites of the Malaysian Department of Immigration, My Safe Travel, the Malaysian Ministry of Health, and social media for any changes. Before travel, confirm entry requirements with the Malaysian High Commission or Consulate-General in Australia.
You should ensure you keep your visa up to date.
Foreigners need to provide biometric identification (fingerprints and/or face) on arrival.
Children aged younger than 12 years and visitors with finger disabilities don't have to do this.
Malaysian law requires that you carry identification, such as your passport or a Malaysian Immigration Issued Card (IKAd), with you at all times. If you are asked by police and are unable to provide it, you may be detained until you can present valid identification.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can’t guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the nearest embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers.
The official currency is the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR).
When you depart, declare any MYR over MYR30,000, $US10,000 or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
You can take larger amounts out of the country if you declare it when you arrive.
ATMs are widely available.
If you travel between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, you need your passport. East Malaysia includes Sabah and Sarawak.
Check if your travel insurance policy covers you for any related damage and injuries if you plan to hire:
To drive in Malaysia, you need both:
Get your IDP before you leave Australia.
If you don't have both, you need to apply for a Malaysian licence.
Motorcyclists are a common traffic hazard. They often:
Motorcyclists have been increasingly confronting drivers who shout, gesture or toot their horn at them. They sometimes assault drivers.
You're more likely to die in a car accident in Malaysia than in Australia.
To stay safe, drive carefully and avoid road rage.
On a motorcycle, always wear a helmet.
Some taxi drivers, especially in tourist spots or when roads are jammed, don't use their meter. This is illegal.
Malaysia's taxi regulator has an English-language hotline for reporting problems. To make a report, call 1 800 88 7723 and provide the:
Always ask if the driver will use the meter, or agree the fare, before you get in a taxi.
At the start of your trip, take note of the vehicle number, the taxi company name and the name of the driver.
There have been fatal and other serious accidents involving long-distance tour buses. This often happens at night or in bad weather.
If you plan to travel by bus, choose a company with a good reputation and avoid overnight travel.
In recent years, several passenger boats have sunk due to overloading and poor maintenance.
Before booking tickets on a passenger ferry, speedboat or other vessel, check there is appropriate safety equipment available.
Don't travel on any vessel that looks overloaded or in poor condition.
When you board, confirm there are enough life jackets for all passengers. Know where they are.
In bad weather, wear a life jacket, even if others don't.
There is a curfew on travel by water from 6pm to 6am in the coastal districts of eastern Sabah. See Safety
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Malaysia's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
National parks are protected areas, and some are home to ethnic minority groups.
Be respectful of the law and customs in these areas. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Don't remove any wildlife or plants from the park.
Before entering a park, register your plans with park officials and let someone you trust know where you're going.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 999 or contact the Royal Malaysia Police Operations Centre on +60321 159 999 or Royal Malaysia Headquarters (Bukit Aman) +603 22662 222.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
6 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: (+60 3) 2146 5555/2146 5575
Fax: (+60 3) 2141 5773
Facebook: Australia in Malaysia
Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
You can get limited consular help, including lodging Australian passport applications, at the following Australian consulates headed by honorary consuls:
Phone: (+60 4) 226 8955
Fax: (+60 4) 228 3366
Lot 01-05, 11th Floor
Jubili Tower (Menara Jubili)
53, Jalan Gaya
88000 Kota Kinabalu
Phone: (+60 88) 267 151
Fax: (+60 88) 266 509
E39 Level 2
Taman Sri Sarawak Mall
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman
Phone: (+60 19) 898 9787
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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