You may have heard of Malaysia having a reputation as being one of the more unsafe countries in Asia and often tourists and expats are advised against visiting. While you should always be aware of the latest travel advice informed by your government, generally Malaysia is a relatively safe country.
Malaysia is split into 13 different states, all with their own unique culture and infrastructure. Living in Malaysia will be a unique experience from one state to the other. In terms of crime rates, violent crime is considered low in Malaysia whereas pickpockets and scams are a common occurrence. Most expats and locals spend their time in Malaysia peacefully without any major concerns. It is still important to constantly keep yourself informed and being aware of the potential dangers to reduce the risks of coming into harm.
Crimes in Malaysia
Crime rates in Malaysia are pretty high, particularly in urban areas. Pickpocketing and scams are common occurrences. To avoid becoming a victim of such crimes, you can take extra precautions such as carrying a secure bag which can reduce the odds from being easily snatched and be more skeptical towards individuals that wants you to send money or give out personal information.
Credit card fraud is also an issue and it is recommended to use cash or e-wallet wherever possible. You should take more caution in monitoring your account and inform the bank immediately for any unauthorised transactions.
To contact Emergency Services:
- Police: 999 from a landline, 112 from a mobile/cell phone
- Fire Department: 994 from a landline, 112 from a mobile/cell phone
- Tourist Police: 03 2149 6590
Road safety in Malaysia
Road accidents are one of the major causes of hospitalisation and death in Malaysia. Currently, Malaysia has the 3rd highest fatality rate from road traffic accidents in Asia and Southeast Asia, behind Thailand and Vietnam.Traffic is busy and chaotic, especially in urban areas or during the festive breaks. Traffic rules are not fully enforced and roads tend to be overcrowded and it is common for motorcyclists to overtake other vehicles. Weather conditions, particularly in the rainy season and poor road conditions adds on to the poor state of road safety in Malaysia.
If you are unfamiliar with driving in Malaysian roads, you should consider utilising the nearest public transportation. Malaysia public transport is well developed and quite practical in urban areas and will save you the trouble from driving. KTM Komuter, KLIA Ekspres, KLIA Transit, LRT, MRT and Monorail systems are the rail-based transport available in Kuala Lumpur. Bus services in Kuala Lumpur include Rapid KL and Metrobus. In Penang city, buses are the most viable and affordable way to travel around the island.
Taxis and E-Hailing rides are a viable personal transport services in Malaysia as well. Taxis in Malaysia do not always use a meter and it is best to look for another taxis or you will end up getting overcharged. If you wish to make a complaint, write down the taxi number, your pick up/drop off points and file a complaint at 1 800 88 9600. Grab Malaysia is the main e-hailing service provider in Malaysia, other alternatives to consider include MyCar, Dacsee, JomRides, EzCar, Mula, Riding Pink, PicknGO and Diffride.
Natural disasters in Malaysia
Malaysia is generally spared from severe natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and typhoons. Flash floods and landslides can occur during the rainy season which falls on the month of October to February. Smoke haze is a common occurrence most parts of Malaysia. When haze levels are are reported high by local authorities, it is best to limit outdoor activities.
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