Traveling Luck for Malaysia

Malaysia is located in Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam.

Malaysia has borders with Brunei for 381km, Indonesia for 1782km and Thailand for 506km.

Land in Malaysia is coastal plains rising to hills and mountains.

Malaysian land covers an area of 329750 square kilometers which is slightly larger than New Mexico

As for the Malaysian climate; tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons.

Malaysian(s) speak Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan.

Malaysian National Map

Malaysian Map

Regions of Malaysia

During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation. The first several years of the country's history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's secession from the Federation in 1965.


Malaysia Country Profile

Malaysia, a middle-income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth was almost exclusively driven by exports - particularly of electronics. As a result, Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001 and 2002. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.5% because of an estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus package equal to US $1.9 billion mitigated the worst of the recession, and the economy rebounded in 2002 with a 4.1% increase. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003, notwithstanding a difficult first half, when external pressures from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community. Growth topped 7% in 2004 and 5% in 2005. As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has profited from higher world energy prices, although the cost of government subsidies for domestic gasoline and diesel fuel has risen and offset some of the benefit. Malaysia "unpegged" the ringgit from the US dollar in 2005, but so far there has been little movement in the exchange rate. Healthy foreign exchange reserves, low inflation, and a small external debt are all strengths that make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a financial crisis over the near term similar to the one in 1997. The economy remains dependent on continued growth in the US, China, and Japan - top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment.

Malaysian natural resources include tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite

strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea

Malaysian religion is Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia.

Natural hazards in Malaysia include flooding, landslides, forest fires.

Travel Advice on Malaysia

Malaysia

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Terrorism section (action taken by Philippines Armed Forces).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Malaysia shares with the rest of South East Asia a threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • We believe that terrorists and criminal elements are continuing with plans to kidnap foreign tourists from the islands and coastal areas of Eastern Sabah.  Action taken by the Philippines Armed Forces in January 2007 against terrorist groups in the southern Philippines may heighten this risk.  Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.  If you wish to visit resorts on, and islands off, Eastern Sabah, you should exercise extreme caution.

  • If you plan to travel over the border to Thailand you should be aware that there has been a resurgence of terrorism in southern Thailand, particularly in the far southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.  We recommend against all but essential travel to these Thai provinces.

  • You should not become involved with drugs of any kind: possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty.

  • Heavy rains in December 2006 and January 2007 have caused extensive flooding in Johor.  You should take local advice before travelling around rural areas of Johor.  The main rail and road links from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore are currently still operating.  See the Natural Disasters section for more details.

  • Around 240,000 British nationals visit Malaysia each year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The majority of incidents for which British nationals require consular assistance are for bag snatches, gambling scams and drink spiking.

  • Malaysia is a multicultural but predominantly Muslim country, and as such you should respect local social conventions at all times.  See the Local Laws and Customs section for more details.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Road Safety
A UK driving licence can be used in Malaysia for three months only.  We therefore advice British nationals staying in Malaysia for longer than three months to get a Malaysian driving licence or an annually renewable International Driving Permit.
Road conditions in Peninsular Malaysia are generally good.  Traffic (particularly motor cyclists) will not always stop at traffic lights or on pedestrian crossings.  Visitors should take care when crossing the street to avoid accidents.  If you are involved in a road accident as a driver, you should not leave the scene until the police have attended.
Sea Safety
There have been a number of attacks against ships in and around Malaysian waters.  Mariners should be vigilant and take appropriate precautions; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.  Vessels which encounter problems at sea should contact the Martime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre on the standard distress channel.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drugs
There are severe penalties for all drug offences in Malaysia, including in cases of trafficking (defined here as the possession of a certain quantity of drugs) a mandatory death penalty, or, in the case of possession, a custodial sentence imposed and possible whipping.  This also includes the possession of or trafficking in Amphetamine-type stimulants.  You could be asked to take a urine test on arrival in Malaysia if you are suspected of having used drugs before your visit.  Should the test prove positive, you could be referred for rehabilitation treatment or be deported.
Alcohol
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence in Malaysia and the traffic police regularly carry out breath tests.  Anyone over the legal limit can face a heavy fine or a jail sentence.
Firearms
The importation of unlicensed firearms and ammunition into Malaysia is prohibited.  Possession can carry the death penalty.
Local Customs
Malaysia is a multicultural but predominantly Muslim country, and as such, visitors should respect local social conventions.  During the fasting month of Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.  You should be particularly aware of offending Muslim sensitivities during this period.  You should also dress modestly in conservative and rural areas, and when visiting places of worship.  Homosexual acts are illegal.

Muslim tourists should be aware that they may be subject to local Shari’a law.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

The Malaysian authorities are currently running a vigorous campaign against illegal immigration and are therefore inspecting immigration documents, such as work permits, very closely.
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Malaysia as a visitor.  You will normally be given permission to stay for three months on arrival.  Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission before travel.  Please contact Malaysian representation in the UK.  It is important that you neither overstay your visa, nor infringe the terms of entry.  Persons doing so (even overstaying for just a few days) will incur a fine and possibly detention and deportation.  Entry to Malaysia is normally refused to visitors holding passports with less than six months' validity.  Dual nationals should also be aware that the Malaysian Government do not recognise dual nationality, so technically you can be refused entry if you are found to be holding two passports of different nationality.  If you are a dual national it is advisable to enter Malaysia on the passport on which you exited your last country of departure.
Under current Malaysian exchange control rules, you may import or export up to 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit per person without prior approval.  There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency (notes and or travellers' cheques) you may import.  Non-residents may export foreign currency (notes and or travellers' cheques) up to the amount they previously imported, provided they have documentary evidence of the amount they imported.  All travellers must complete travellers' declaration forms on entering Malaysia.  Penalties for offences under the Exchange Control Act 1953 are a fine of up to 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit, three years' imprisonment or both.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child.  Malaysian authorities do not normally require such evidence but if you have any concerns please check with Malaysian representation in the UK.


HEALTH

You should take out comprehensive medical/travel insurance covering all eventualities.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.
Medical care in private hospitals can be very expensive.
Malaysia has periodic problems with air quality reaching hazardous levels because of smoke haze.  For more information on the air quality in Malaysia please visit the Malaysian Department for the Environment’s website at: http://www.jas.sains.my/jas/Air+Pollutant+Index.
Since the beginning of July 2006, there have been renewed outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) across Sarawak.  Large-scale outbreaks of HFMD across Sarawak in early 2006 resulted in schools and kindergartens being closed.  HFMD is a communicable disease, which affects all age groups, but children are particularly vulnerable.  The disease usually causes mild illness but may occasionally take a more serious form, sometimes resulting in death.  If you experience the following symptoms - fever, blisters on the hands, feet, buttocks and in the mouth, a sore throat and headaches – you should seek medical advice.  For further information on HFMD please visit the NaTHNaC website..

Some tropical illnesses are prevalent in Malaysia.  Tuberculosis and Hepatitis A and B are common.

There are periodic outbreaks of Dengue Fever for which there is no vaccination or immunisation.  You should be aware of the risk and take preventive measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which transmit the dengue virus.  If you suffer from a fever whilst (or shortly after) visiting Malaysia, you should consult a doctor urgently.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the DoH website at: www.dh.gov.uk.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
In June 2006 Malaysia was declared free of Avian Flu following outbreaks across Peninsular Malaysia in February and March 2006.  No human infections or deaths were reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Heavy seasonal rains have caused extensive flooding in mainly rural parts of Johor.  This has resulted in the evacuation of some areas.  Some roads and communications have been affected.  Travellers should seek local advice before travelling in Johor, especially in rural areas.  The main rail and road links from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore are currently still operating.  You should call (60) (1) 800 88 0000 for further information on Malaysian Highways and (60) (3) 2267 1200 for further information on travel by rail.

Between the months of October to February Malaysia is affected by seasonal storms, which occasionally result in heavy flooding.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
Airport departure tax is included in the ticket price.
Registration
British nationals should register with the Consular Section of the High Commission if they are staying in the country for more than a short period.  This can be done online at: British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur


OTHER

Malaysia Country Profile