Health Advice for Malaysia

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Health Advice for Malaysia

Tap water is drinkable straight off the tap as it is treated, 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!

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 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.

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.

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 infamous tsunami in 2004.

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. 

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