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Malaysia is generally a safe country to travel in and compared with Indonesia or Thailand it’s extremely safe. Theft and violence are not particularly common, although it pays to keep a close eye on your belongings, especially your travel documents (passport, traveller’s cheques etc), which should be kept with you at all times.

US State Department travel guidance.


For the latest health advice for visitors to Malaysia go to the CDC website:

Malaysia Health Care and Vaccinations

TitleSpecial precautions
Hepatitis AYes
Yellow FeverSometimes***
RabiesYes **

* Malaria is only a risk in certain regions of Malaysia. Urban and coastal areas are usually safe.

** Vaccinations are only recommended for travellers spending extended periods in rural areas.

*** A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age arriving within six days from infected areas.

Malaria and Hepatitis A and C are present in Malaysia and Hepatitis B is also widespread, though the risk to travellers is low. Outbreaks of dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and meningococcal meningitis occur in both urban and rural areas but are rare in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and coastal resorts. Rabies is present; if bitten by monkeys or dogs, seek immediate medical attention.

The Zika virus is endemic in Malaysia. The mosquito-borne illness can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact. Travellers to Malaysia should protect themselves from mosquito bites and wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, sleep under mosquito nets and use repellents that contain DEET.

Health insurance is recommended. Government and private hospitals are found in all the main cities and can deal with major medical needs, but all charge for treatments. Standards are generally higher at private hospitals.


Food is one of the highlights of any trip to Malaysia, but a little caution is required as standards of hygiene can vary. Restaurants are usually one, and you should also be safe at street stalls and night markets where the food is prepared freshly on the premises. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish and avoid places where food has been left lying around in the open air. Avoid ice cream and other unpasteurised dairy products as they may have been defrosted and refrozen.

Tap water in larger cities is usually safe, but most people prefer to drink bottled water. Elsewhere, all water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated – stick to water that has been boiled or sterilised.

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