Malaysia travel advice
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MALAYSIA - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Malaysia due to the threat of criminality and terrorism.
East coast of Sabah - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the east coast of Sabah state, due to the risk of kidnapping and violence in the following districts:
- Lahad Datu
Safety and security
Demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur
Due to the ongoing situation in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, calls for protests on Fridays and weekends may continue for the duration of the conflict. Large-scale demonstrations are expected to continue.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. If you're in Kuala Lumpur:
- remain vigilant at all times, especially near embassies, tourist attractions and markets
- monitor local media for the latest information on these demonstrations
- avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings
- follow the advice of local authorities
East coast of Sabah
Eastern Sabah is deemed a Special Security Area by the Malaysian government. Despite increased security in the region, the risk of kidnapping and violence perpetrated by Philippine militants remains, especially in the coastal areas. Tourist resorts, restaurants and watercrafts are targeted as well as resort islands and surrounding waters, including around Sipadan. The risk increases on the water and waterfront after nightfall. Land- and water-based curfews, including a Movement Control Order, are in effect in the coastal areas of Eastern Sabah.
The Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) includes:
- Lahad Datu
Check local media or with local police for the most recent curfew information. Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Violent crime against foreigners is not common. Petty crime, however, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and snatch-and-grab incidents is prevalent, especially in tourist areas and at the airport. Thieves on motorcycles frequently grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians, often resulting in injury. Women walking alone or with children are common targets.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Try to limit the number of valuables you carry
- Wear your purse facing away from the street and don’t put the strap over your shoulder or wrap it around your arm
- Don’t leave valuables unattended in vehicles
Scam artists operate in Malaysia. Male travellers, usually alone, have been approached in public places with invitations to participate in card games offering attractive opportunities for winning large amounts of money. Victims have lost thousands of dollars before realizing they were being scammed. Companies have also been the target of scams. Scammers will often pose as representatives from phony loan companies and fabricate documents, emails and receipts to appear legitimate. They then ask for up-front payments in order to facilitate the fake loans. Don’t enter into agreements without conducting appropriate research.
There are reports of travellers encountering serious problems after responding to advertisements to do volunteer work with some adventure or environmental organizations. If you are interested in doing volunteer work abroad, conduct careful research before making a commitment.
Internet dating and other financial scams are common. Foreigners, including Canadian expatriates, may be targeted.
Credit cards and debit cards should be safeguarded at all times as theft, fraud and skimming does occur. Credit card magnetic strips have been duplicated, even in international hotels. Swiping your own card may not always be possible.
- Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- Use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- Avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- Cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- Check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Terrorist targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
Large-scale demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. Demonstrations are usually accompanied by a heightened police presence and traffic delays. Law enforcement officials have deployed crowd control measures such as tear gas and water cannons, and participants and bystanders have been injured. It is illegal for foreigners to participate in demonstrations.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Touts at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, including at the KLIA2 terminal, attempt to get travellers to take their “taxi” into town. Several incidents of robbery and/or assault have occurred, as well as gross overcharges by such individuals. Take registered airport taxis only: before leaving the customs and arrivals hall, obtain a coupon from the airport taxi stand near the exit.
Many taxi drivers will often refuse to use the meter even though it is illegal not to use it. You should either look for another taxi or agree on a rate before entering the taxi.
If possible, book taxis by phone. Use a taxi desk or a trusted application on a smartphone, and confirm that the identity of the driver matches that of the photo in the dashboard and seatback.
Taxis are not permitted to pick up additional passengers. If they do, disembark when it is safe to do so.
Report any taxi-related problems to the SPAD (Malaysian body regulating public land transportation) at 1 800 88 7732. English-speaking operators are available. Be ready to provide details such as the vehicle number, the taxi company name as well as the time, date, locations and the nature of the incident.
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. Signage is in the local language. In some remote areas, there may be a lack of guard rails.
Be extra cautious when driving in the rain as your visibility may be impaired.
Aggressive driving habits by motorcyclists, including driving between vehicles, may pose a risk to foreign drivers who may not be accustomed to these driving techniques.
Bus accidents have occurred on long-distance tour buses, particularly at night. Choose a reputable tour company and avoid overnight routes.
Boat accidents occur. Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
Pirate attacks and armed robberies occur against ships in and around Malaysia, particularly in the Strait of Malacca and in the waters between Sabah and the southern Philippines. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Malaysian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Malaysia.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays of up to 90 days
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
For stays of over 90 days, you must apply for an extension at any Malaysian Immigration office.
Immigration Department of Malaysia - Government of Malaysia
A special visa is available to individuals who participate in the Malaysia My Second Home or Mm2h program.
Other entry requirements
From December 1, 2023, you must complete a Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC). This is an online pre-arrival form and can be filled in up to three days prior to your arrival in Malaysia.
You must present your passport and a complete MDAC for border officers to validate before leaving the immigration counter.
Malaysia Digital Arrival Card – Immigration Department of Malaysia
Before you apply for an employment pass (at an immigration office or a Malaysian high commission overseas), your prospective employer must apply for approval from the Standing Committee for Malaysianisation or the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority to fill the position with an expatriate. While waiting for the approval, your employer can apply to bring you into the country on a social visit pass (for example, temporary employment). We strongly recommend against this last step: you should obtain your employment pass before arrival because it is very difficult to change visa status once in Malaysia. Foreigners are limited to three visit pass extensions, after which they must leave the country or a fine will be imposed for overstaying.
Foreigners are required to register their biometrics (fingerprints) at their port of entry. Children under 12 years of age and diplomats accredited to Malaysia are exempt from this process.
Malaysian authorities have implemented screening measures in response to various virus outbreaks. Travellers entering Malaysia from Canada may be subject to a body temperature check. In some cases, travellers may be isolated and treated.
Custom officers can subject you to a drug screening test at the point of entry to Malaysia. If you test positive for drugs, you can be arrested and prosecuted, even if the drugs were consumed prior to your arrival in the country.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination.
Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:
• Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.
• Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
• Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
The flu occurs worldwide.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to April.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and October.
- In the tropics, there is flu activity year round.
The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.
The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.
In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals).
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring
Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.
Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
During your trip:
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel.
For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
COVID-19 - Testing
Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.
Good health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Payment is expected at time of service and can be made either in cash or by using a major credit card.
Decompression/hyperbaric chambers are located in Ipoh, Kuantan, Labuan Lumut and Semporna.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Some aspects of Shari’a (Islamic) law have been introduced in Malaysia. Muslim travellers may be subject to these laws. In some states, such as Kelantan and Terengganu, particularly strict regulations on alcohol and public decency can be applied.
Religious preaching to Muslims, including distributing non-Islamic religious materials, is illegal.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can face the death penalty. Possession of as little as 15 grams of some prohibited substances will be considered trafficking.
You must carry photo identification, such as your passport. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.
Traffic drives on the left.
Canadian driver’s licenses are valid in Malaysia and can be used locally for a period of 3 months. After this time, you can either drive with an international driving permit, or apply for a Malaysian driver’s license at a certified driving institute.
Seat belts are mandatory. Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. Convicted offenders can expect fines or imprisonment and could have their driver's licence suspended or revoked.
The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited.
It is common to receive on the spot fines for disobeying traffic laws.
Foreign vessels travelling in the waters off Sabah are subject to Malaysian law and must use routes designated by Malaysian authorities. Vessels must also fly both a Malaysian flag and the flag of their home country.
The laws of Malaysia prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, and transgender individuals have been arrested. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Malaysia.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Malaysia.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Malaysia, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Malaysia.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Malaysia by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Malaysia to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
The majority of the population is Muslim. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and avoid discussions on race or religion.
In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, be discreet when:
The currency is the ringgit (MYR).
Some major hotels don’t accept credit cards. ATMs are readily available across the country.
A special permit is required to bring in more than US$10,000 in the form of cash or other negotiable items. Without the permit, excess amounts are seized upon arrival. Visitors may leave the country with only the amount of currency declared on the Traveller’s Declaration Form on arrival.
Natural disasters and climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from November to March. Severe rainstorms have occasionally caused flooding and landslides, resulting in loss of life and damage to infrastructure. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Unrestricted burning periodically causes atmospheric pollution (haze) to rise to unhealthy levels in various parts of the country, especially from June to October. Levels change quickly and should be closely monitored.
Dial 999 for emergency assistance.
Kuala Lumpur - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Malaysia and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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