Kuala Lumpur ~
Kuala Lumpur Insights
VISITORS GUIDE > KL INSIGHTS
Kuala Lumpur is a
generally safe place for all. However, there is no harm practising common
sense and precautions like you would do at home. Violent crimes involving
tourists in Malaysia is relatively uncommon, petty theft, particularly purse
snatching and pick-pocketing are the most common criminal activity directed
against tourists. Walking in the city is usually fine but, as anywhere,
caution must be exercised, especially if alone.
Do not leave your valuables, passports, important documents, camera,
jewellery unattended EVEN if its in your hotel room.
Lock up your valuables in your room safe
or at the reception safe. Do not keep all your money or credit cards in one
place; split your cash and cards up in different places and do not bring too
much money in your wallet. Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth like
wearing a huge Rolex gold watch or a thick gold chain. You will only be an
easy target for criminals.
Two men on a motorcycle would speed up from behind a victim and the
passenger on the back snatches the handbag or anything they can get
their hands on including necklaces, bangles, watches, chains etc. These
thefts can occur ANYTIME and ANYWHERE even in upscale neighbourhoods or
right in front of the crowd outside a crowded shopping mall. Women
walking by themselves or with small children are the most common
AVOID becoming victim of the snatch thieves:
Be alert at ALL times and be aware of your surroundings. DO NOT wear Bling Bling
huge gold jewellery even if its gold-plated or a pair of expensive
sunglasses with diamonds on the side. Statement jewellery is pretty yes;
but it will attract snatch-thieves.
Walk facing traffic and keep a
close eye on on the traffic esp on motorcyclists and cars with the
windows down. Walk on the sidewalk away from the curb and KEEP YOUR BAGS
on the other side, not on the side of the road.
Avoid walking down poorly lit
streets, shortcuts, and narrow alleys.
Keep your bags closed and tucked
under the arm. A huge bag with small handles might be stylish but they
are easy targets for snatch thieves.
Be very careful of pickpockets while in crowded places or on public
transport. The modus operandi of the crooks is to look out for travellers.
Travellers with backpacks are a prime target. They are very visible, tired
and distracted in a new city. They watch for where you put your
wallet/phone/valuables after using and then proceed to lift your
They work solo or in groups
and use diversionary tactics to distract victims. This includes bumping on
you, dropping coins or feigning argument or fights. Please make sure that
you keep your wallet in front of your pockets and secured or somewhere hard
Points to Note
Do not play with your hand phone while waiting for the commuter/bus/train.
Sort out your money and cards. Bring an extra pouch for all the coins and
split your money up into a mix of cards, cash and travellers cheques. Do not
leave everything in one purse or one bag and do not bring too much money in
Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth like wearing a huge Rolex gold watch
or a thick gold chain. You will only be an easy target for criminals.
Ensure that you hold on tight to all your belongings once inside (or while
entering) the commuter/bus/train especially when theres a mad rush and
people are bumping against one another.
Ensure that you do not carry too many shopping bags with you if youre
planning to board a commuter (or any other mode of public transportation)
during rush hour (this means that youre most probably too occupied with
taking care of your shopping bags and less occupied to pay attention to your
Do not carry a cloth bag that can be easily slit
Use a waist bag to keep your wallet, passport, hand phone, etc.
Do not venture into lonely and dark places and alleys
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud continues to be a problem in Malaysia, although enhanced
technology has somewhat reduced reported instances of fraud. Keep an eye on
your cards and keep all the receipts in case something happens and you can
clarify it with the bank. When dining in the hotel, try to keep the bills on
a tab and charge everything to your room and pay when you check-out instead
of swiping your cards every night.
Beggars & Donations Scams
There have been cases of people and even monks asking for donations. If you
feel that its not for a genuine cause, walk away and don't even say
anything. Keep silent as if you didn't understand them and mutter some
foreign language so they will go away. You might get pestered by beggars
when dining along the roadside like at Jalan Alor or Petaling street. Give
them a few coins so they will leave you in peace or just keep silent and
continue ignoring them.
Public toilets in Malaysia are improving but most are still very unfriendly
for women; esp Western women. You may still come across squatting-type
toilets. If you find a sitting toilet bring disinfecting baby wipes (you can
buy them in Malaysia) and wipe before you sit. Many public toilets won't
have toilet paper, so please bring your own.
Taxis are generally safe, but many often refuse to use the meter and a few
cabbies will gouge tourists mercilessly. If they won't use the meter, then
don't take that taxi, as by law they are required to use the meter. However
if you are desperate to use that taxi, agree on the fare in advance. Ask the
hotel concierge or from a local for directions and how much roughly the trip
Be careful of
cabbies who overcharge and who take advantage of tourists. If you intend to
go out for a drink or see how the nightlife in Kuala Lumpur, after Midnight,
there will be taxi drivers who are more than willing to take you back to
your hotel with a condition that you agree not to use the meters and pay
them a ridiculous amount. There's not much choice and the government is not
doing much to help the passengers with this scam but they take advantage of
the helpless tourists and even locals who aren't driving.
If you are catching a cab alone, NEVER EVER sit in the front passenger
seat with the driver. Sit at the back.
Try not to catch a cab alone half-drunk in the middle of the night after a
pub visit and never take up an offer for a ride with a stranger home.
Note the cab number you are taking.
Kuala Lumpur is a generally hot and humid city. Drink plenty of water and
avoid strenuous activities in the full midday hot sun.
Babies and young children are prone to nappy rashes in the hot and humid
country. Buy baby powder and clean the affected parts regularly. Baby powder
and diapers are available in pharmacies like Guardian and Watson's in most
Pack your sunscreen and DEET sprays.
For those requiring protection from insects, particularly mosquitoes,
obtain an insect repellent with DEET, or mixing baby oil in proportion with
In hotels that provide coffee/tea making facilities, check the heating
element of the kettle, to ascertain if it is encrusted with minerals
deposit; if so, have it descaled or replace with a clean one. Use it to boil
water and in making your coffee or tea, mix in proportion mineral water and
this boiled water. This allows your water system to adapt to the local
Malaysian food can get rather spicy and hot. Always bring medication for
stomach upset or diarrhoea if you have had problems with spicy food or
Pack your sunscreen and DEET sprays.
Le' Haze This normally happens during the dry season from June to
October, where the neighbouring country (Mainly Sumatra) conduct their
annual slash and burn on their plantations and farm lands. This badly
affects the West coast of Malaysia. In a worse case scenario The entire city
of KL is blanketed with haze with visibility is down to 1-2 kilometres.
Best to stay clear at these times or you will be wasting a trip especially
if you have respiratory problems.
Dress - While skimpy clothes and open-back dresses are completely acceptable
in most city clubs and discos after sunset; its not common to wear such
things while sightseeing during day. Not only will you get a terribly
sunburn on your back and legs; you might be refused entry to some places
like the mosques. Many Hotel restaurants have got dress codes for ladies and
gents; and they might refuse entry if you show up with a pair of hot shorts
and bikini top.
Shoes - High Heels and platform shoes are cool trends for the summer; but
they will kill your feet in Malaysia. Most pavements and pedestrian walkways
are uneven and rotten in some parts; at most times, you have to walk on the
hot and hard asphalt roads.
Your 4-inch heels are most probably going to get
stuck in the next drain cover or you will wear them off at the bottom after
minutes on the asphalt. Keep your expensive heels for the next party, and
bring your most comfortable pair of walking shoes with lots of circulation.
Nightlife Tips for Lone Women
Best if you are with a friend after having a few drinks because there are
some weirdoes here as well.
Be wary, as someone might
spike your drink.
ATTEND to your drinks at the club, never leave them alone
even for a short while.
K. LUMPUR ~ INSIGHTS
PEOPLE & CULTURE