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Tap water is safe to drink in some areas.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Malaysia

Malaysia Health & Safety

  
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Health

Tap water

Tap water is drinkable in some areas and not others, but even locals boil or filter it first just to be on the safe side. When travelling it is best to stick to bottled water, which is very inexpensive.

Ice in drinks might be made from tap water but nowadays, most restaurants and even roadside stalls use the cylindrical variety with a hollow tube down the middle that are mass-produced at ice factories and are safer to consume.
Heat exhaustion is rare, but do consume lots of fluids, use a hat and sunscreen and shower often!

Malaria

Peninsular Malaysia is largely malaria-free, but there is a significant risk in Borneo especially in inland and rural areas. Dengue fever occurs throughout Malaysia in both urban and rural areas, and can be avoided only by preventing mosquito bites. The mosquito that transmits dengue feeds throughout the daytime, and is most active at dawn and dusk. If you experience a sudden fever with aches and lethargy, seek medical attention immediately. Aspirin and ibuprofen should not be used until dengue fever has been ruled out. Mosquito repellents (ubat nyamuk) are widely available. Be careful with mosquito coils, which can easily start fires: set them on a plate or other non-flammable surface and extinguish them before going to sleep.

Haze

Haze from burning vegetation in neighbouring Indonesia may come and go without warning from the months of May to August so travellers with respiratory ailments should come prepared.

Public washrooms

Most public washrooms make a small charge (generally between RM0.20-RM2.00, usually depending on the standard of the facilities) so keep some loose change to hand. If the condition of the sitting toilets is questionable, use the squatting toilets instead - both are usually available, and some believe that the latter are more hygienic and (if you can get used to them) are just as easy to use as sitting toilets.

Natural disasters

Malaysia is largely free from earthquakes as there are no nearby faultlines, though tremors can occasionally be felt when a major quake occurs in neighbouring Indonesia. Typhoons also generally do not occur. However, the Nov-Jan monsoon season often results in flooding due to torrential rains, and landslides are known to occur, most notably on the East Coast. Tsunamis are a rare occurence, though Penang and a few islands on the north of the West Coast were hit by the famous tsunami in 2004.

Care facilities

Government health care facilities are cheap but good, but many visitors prefer to seek out private medical care. Private medical costs can be high and having travel insurance is a very good idea.

Safety

While the crime rate is higher than in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia is still a safe country. Crimes towards tourists rarely happen and most crime reports are either from newspaper or FOF (friends of friends). Local people sometimes tend to be scaremongering, but when asked if they have experienced any of them ever in their life, most of them will laugh and give a relieving "no". Generally, if you avoid deserted areas, get back to your hotel before midnight and use your common sense, you'll be fine.

Crime

Reports on Pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves have been sometimes heard in large cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Georgetown and Johor Bahru. As a general precaution, never carry your bags on the side facing the road. Women travelers should take extra precautions at night.

Johor Bahru is known for having a relatively higher crime rate compared to the rest of Malaysia, and armed robberies and snatch thefts could happen at night in run-down areas of the city. Travel documents and valuables are best deposited in a hotel safe.

Credit card fraud is a growing problem. Use it only in reputable shops.
Never bring any recreational drugs into Malaysia, even as a transit passenger. Possession of even minimal amounts can lead to a mandatory death sentence.

Traffic safety

Drunk driving is a serious offense and breathalyzer tests by the police are common.

Traffic police in Malaysia are known for asking for and accepting bribes. A fair amount of traffic violations will be ignored for a fee (usually between RM 50-200 depending on severity). Do not be alarmed if you are asked for money, but if possible let your host do the talking. It is best practice to pay the officer what they want and not ask any questions, as a disgruntled officer can create issues for you and your host. Note that this is generally restricted to traffic stops/offences only, and you should not offer bribes in other situations, especially with government officials or customs & immigration agents. Do not let this dissuade you from requesting help - generally Malaysian police are helpful to tourists. If however, you feel morally wrong about bribing, you should just accept whatever traffic summons you are being issued.

When on foot, be careful when crossing the street. Vehicles will often ignore pedestrian (zebra) crossings but most Malaysian motorist have learned to respect the pedestrians. However, reports of road bullying during accidents is still common so if you are involved in an accident be very careful when negotiating or dial 999 for help.

Other

Many taxis will refuse to use the meter, even though the official rate has changed recently and most taxis now have a sticker on the rear door that informs tourists that haggling is prohibited. Be aware that taxi drivers, sensing that you are a tourist, may drive around and take a very long route to reach your destination.

If using a taxi late at night, it is best to use the dial-a-taxi service as there have been incidents where taxis flagged down during those hours being fake/unregistered. The unregistered taxi driver might then rob or assault their victims with the help of assailants. You are also more likely to get a metered taxi by flagging one at a street than a taxi stand.

Public demonstrations are uncommon in Malaysia, but a number of anti-government demonstrations have been held recently. Should one occur it may be dealt with in a heavy-handed manner, so avoid them at all costs.

Clinics in Malaysia

Doctor Tekek Community Polyclinic
The community clinic is located left after exiting the jetty and opposite the road from Vision Commerce. The clinic is closed on weekends - stay out of trouble then, or go to Berjaya Hotel, which has a clinic as well.
in Tekek
 





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