Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur are considered safe for travelers and ex-pats. It is known as one of Asia’s most friendly and welcoming countries.

Every year, The Economist publishes a list of cities regarding their safety and security.

Here are Kuala Lumpur’s ratings in the 2021 Safe Cities Index:

Overall ranking: 32

Digital security: 35

Health security: 38

Infrastructure security: 37

Personal security: 33

Environmental security: 10

These ratings reflect a city that is safe and clean for ex-pats. However, as in any major city, it is up to the individual to use common sense always. Don’t forget that Malaysia is a predominately Muslim country, and it is required to dress respectfully, or you may receive some unwelcome looks.

Drinking Water

The tap water in Malaysia is unsafe to drink, and you are recommended to drink bottled water.


Malaysia does not allow books, DVDs, or magazines containing nude images. Pornography is illegal and could attract a fine of RM 10,000 (2,500USD) and up to 3 years in jail.

Homosexuality and transgender

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Malaysia. If charged, it attracts a jail sentence of up to 20 years and whipping. The gender expression of trans people is also banned. Unfortunately, LGBT community face discrimination and violence often.


Malaysia has strict drug laws. It enforces the death penalty for trafficking drugs. Using drugs or being caught in possession of drugs attracts a lengthy jail sentence. Being caught with seven ounces of cannabis is seen as trafficking and attracts the death sentence.


While acts of terrorism are not frequent in Malaysia, you should always remain vigilant. There have not been any terrorist attacks in Malaysia in recent years, however it is believed to be a transit point for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al- Qa’ida.

Malaysian Police

The Royal Malaysian Police are the uniformed national and federal police force of Malaysia. They significantly keep crime at a minimum in Kuala Lumpur and are there to protect you if need be.

However, they have been known to be heavy-handed at protests and it is advisable to not get caught up in local protest marches and unrest.

It should also be noted that all forms of public indecency and drunken behaviour are not tolerated and you will be arrested.

Road checks are frequent. If your car is stopped, always be respectful when dealing with Malaysian police and have your identity papers on hand.