Petty crime is common. 'Snatch and grab' attacks against pedestrians from passing vehicles, such as motorcycles, occur frequently and often result in injury to the victim.
Although uncommon, violent crime against foreigners does occur.
Drink spiking occurs. Victims lose consciousness and have been assaulted and robbed.
Credit card fraud and scams involving gambling are common.
Motorcyclists can be a traffic hazard in Malaysia due to unsafe driving practices, particularly weaving through traffic and failing to stop at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.
If you intend to hire cars, motorcycles, jet skis or any other motorised water sport equipment, talk to your travel insurer to check if it is covered by your insurance policy.
Piracy in south-east Asian waters is an ongoing problem, particularly in the Strait of Malacca, and around Tioman Island off peninsular Malaysia's east coast in the South China Sea, and in the waters between Sabah and the southern Philippines.
Flooding and mudslides are common during the wet season (October to February). Severe rainstorms could result in loss of life, extensive damage to infrastructure and can hamper the provision of essential services. Travellers should check with their tour operators on travel conditions and visit the Malaysian Meteorological Department’s website for the latest weather forecasts and alerts. Travellers should avoid flood-affected areas and follow the instructions of local authorities.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
If a natural disaster occurs, travellers should follow instructions from local authorities, monitor media and weather reports, and check with tour operators before travelling to affected areas.
You are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Credit card fraud occurs extensively. Credit cards are frequently copied in places ranging from small shops to large department stores and hotels for later illegal use. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport.
When you are in Malaysia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh do apply to you.
Travellers should note some aspects of Sharia (Islamic) Law have been introduced by states in Malaysia. You should ensure you are aware of relevant provisions.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.
Homosexual acts between males are illegal and penalties include corporal punishment and long prison sentences. Homosexual acts between women may be considered an 'act of gross indecency with another' and penalties include imprisonment.
The penalty for some offences, including drug offences, commercial crime, rape and robbery, may include corporal punishment.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and penalties are strictly enforced.
Criminal laws, such as those relating to money, laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, applied too.
Some sectors of Malaysian society have conservative standards of dress and behaviour. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Travellers travelling to Muslim countries and countries with significant Muslim communities should take great care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs.
Malaysia does not recognise dual nationality.
The Immigration Department of Malaysia has implemented a new system of biometric registration procedures for foreigners. Under the new system, all foreigners entering Malaysia by land, air and sea are required to provide biometric fingerprints of both thumbs and index fingers at all Malaysian immigration entry points. Children below 12 years of age, visitors with finger disabilities and diplomatic passport holders, are exempt from this procedure.
Particular care should be taken to follow all immigration rules and regulations. Violation of visa conditions and overstaying your visa may result in penalties, including fines, detention and deportation.
Passports are required for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak).
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to your country of origin. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Malaysian immigration authorities may deny entry and deport people arriving in Malaysia with less than six months validity remaining on their passport, even if the person intends staying just a few days.Health Issues
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas.
The standard of medical facilities is adequate in major cities but can be limited in rural areas. Public hospital services can be limited and access slow. Private hospitals with international standard facilities can be found in major cities. Most private hospitals require a cash deposit or a confirmation of insurance prior to admission and expect immediate payment for services.
Malaria is a risk in rural areas but not in urban and coastal areas. Outbreaks of other mosquito-borne illnesses (including chikungunya fever and filariasis) also occur. Dengue fever is prevalent, including in major urban areas, with more serious outbreaks reported from time to time. The risk of contracting these infections rises during the wet season. We recommend that you consider malaria prophylaxis where appropriate and that you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, cholera, and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.