Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 28 November 2018, 11:36 NZDT
  • Still current at: 18 January 2020

Related news features

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to coastal areas of eastern Sabah (from Kudat to Tawau, including Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna, including the offshore islands and dive sites) due to the risk of kidnapping.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Malaysia due to the threat of terrorism, crime and the potential for civil unrest. 

View Larger Map Close/Open map

Terrorism is a threat in Malaysia, including in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities. On 28 June 2016, a grenade attack at a bar near Kuala Lumpur injured 8 people. Malaysian authorities have disrupted a number of terrorist plots this year and caution that further attacks are possible. Attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or areas frequented by tourists.

New Zealanders in Malaysia are advised to be vigilant at all times, particularly in public places and areas frequented by foreigners and tourists. We recommend complying with any instructions issued by the Malaysian authorities and monitoring local media to stay informed.

There is an ongoing risk of kidnapping in coastal areas of eastern Sabah.  Terrorist and criminal groups based in the southern Philippines have in the past kidnapped people from these areas for ransom payments and further kidnappings are likely.

On 7 November 2016, a German couple were kidnapped by terrorists in waters around Sabah, resulting in one fatality.

On 14 May 2015, a Malaysian tourist and a restaurant worker were abducted by armed men from a seaside restaurant in Sandakan. The tourist was subsequently murdered by his captors.  Foreigners have also been specifically targeted.

Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are also possible targets. Malaysian authorities have imposed curfews on travel by water at night. We recommend adhering to any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities, including curfews.

Civil unrest
Protests regularly take place in Malaysia and at times have resulted in civil unrest and disruption to transport and public services.  

New Zealanders in Malaysia are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to result in violence. 

Petty crime is common in Malaysia. Incidents of bag-snatching occur and can become violent. Individuals on motorcycles who grab bags from pedestrians have caused injuries, and even death in the past from being pulled to the ground. We recommend you pay close attention to your personal belongings when walking in public areas and travelling on public transport.

Credit card fraud is common in Malaysia. We recommend New Zealanders take extra care when using credit cards and ATMs and carefully check credit card statements for fraudulent charges.

Taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur have committed violent crimes against foreign tourists and local residents. New Zealanders in Malaysia are advised to book registered taxis by phone or online, rather than hailing a taxi on the street.

Piracy is a problem in South East Asian waters, particularly in the Strait of Malacca, and in the waters between Sabah and the southern Phillipines.  Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautionary measures in these waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.

Smoke haze from fires in Sumatra (Indonesia) periodically causes very high pollution readings in Malaysia and in the past has reached levels considered hazardous in some parts of the country. The smoke haze is generally worse between June and October depending on the number of fires lit, wind direction and climatic conditions.

Some of the most common health effects include irritation of eyes, throat and lungs. For people with existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis, breathing in particle pollution can make these conditions worse. For more information on pollution readings in Malaysia refer to Malaysia's Department of Environment.

General travel advice
New Zealanders are advised against crossing the border with Thailand by land due to ongoing politically motivated violence in the southern Thai provinces.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious, social and cultural traditions in Malayia to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Malaysia should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Malaysia are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand High Commission Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Street Address Level 21, Menara IMC, 8 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 50250 Telephone +60 3 2078 2533 Fax +60 3 2078 0387 Email Web Site Hours Mon-Fri 0830am to 1230 hrs (reception); Mon-Thurs 0800-1630 hrs, Fri 0800-1600 hrs (telephone enquiries and pre-arranged appointments)

See our regional advice for South East Asia

Share this page:

Related News features

New Zealand High Commission Malaysia

Street Address
Level 21, Menara IMC, 8 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 50250

Telephone: +60 3 2078 2533

Fax: +60 3 2078 0387



Hours: Mon-Fri 0830am to 1230 hrs (reception); Mon-Thurs 0800-1630 hrs, Fri 0800-1600 hrs (telephone enquiries and pre-arranged appointments)

Related advice from other countries

Share this page:

Other pages in this section: