Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 8 July 2016, 13:44 NZST
  • Still current at: 22 September 2017

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High Risk

There is a high risk to your security in 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 and we advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel to these areas. 

Some Risk

There is some risk to your security elsewhere in Malaysia due to the threat of terrorism, crime and the potential for civil unrest and we advise caution. 

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Terrorism
There is a heightened threat of terrorism in Malaysia, including in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities. On 28 June, a grenade attack at a bar near Kuala Lumpur injured 8 people. Malaysian authorities have confirmed that the attack was carried out by Islamic State affiliated terrorists and cautioned that further attacks are possible. Attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or areas frequented by Westerners. 

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

There have been a number of recent disrupted plots and arrests of individuals for terrorism-related offences.  Some of these individuals were believed to be plotting to conduct attacks against targets in Kuala Lumpur. 

Kidnapping
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 and we continue to receive reports that these groups are planning kidnappings and incursions.  

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 and further kidnappings are likely.  

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.  

Crime
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 in the past.  We recommend you pay close attention to your personal belongings when walking in public areas and travelling on public transport. 

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

Health
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 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 nzhcklenquiries@mfat.govt.nz Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/malaysia 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

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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

Email: nzhcklenquiries@mfat.govt.nz

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/malaysia

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

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