Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Malaysia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malaysia is for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Many car rental agencies in Malaysia are willing to rent vehicles for a short term to U.S. citizens with valid U.S. driver's licenses. Nevertheless, if you plan on driving in Malaysia, we strongly urge you to obtain an international driving permit (IDP) before leaving the United States. More information on how to obtain an IDP is available on the Road Safety Overseas section of the Department of State website. If you plan to stay in Malaysia for a longer period of time, you must obtain a local driver's permit through the Road Transport Department of Malaysia.
Traffic in Malaysia moves on the left side of the road, and most vehicles are right-hand drive. Motorcyclists attempt to circumvent traffic blockage by weaving in and out of traffic, temporarily using vacant oncoming traffic lanes, and running through red lights. These practices pose a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians unfamiliar with such traffic patterns. If you drive, you should use your turn signals well in advance of turning to alert motorcycles of your intent to turn. By law, you must use your front- and back - seat belts in Malaysia and may not use your cell phone while driving unless it is hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth.) Turning left at a red light is not legal unless otherwise marked.
Traffic is heavy during the morning and afternoon rush hours and slows down considerably when it rains. Monsoonal rains can quickly floods roads located in low-lying areas. Bottlenecks are common in major cities because infrastructure development has not kept pace with the proliferation of motorized vehicles. Multi-lane highways often merge into narrow two-lane roads in the center of town and cause added congestion. Many streets are narrow and winding.
There have been fatal and other serious accidents involving long-distance tour buses in Malaysia, particularly at night or in adverse weather conditions. If you plan to travel by bus, choose a reputable company, and avoid overnight itineraries.
Reports of late-night road rage incidents, especially after midnight, are rising. If you drive, avoid confrontational behavior if you are involved in an accident. If you are threatened, leave the scene and file a report with the local police within 24 hours.
Taxis are metered, but many drivers refuse to use the meter and instead charge a much higher rate, particularly during peak hours, when it is raining, or when the passenger's destination is to or through a heavily congested area. By regulation, metered fares increase by 50 percent between midnight and 6 a.m.; meters are programmed to display the higher fee automatically during these hours.
Sobriety Checkpoints: Please note that laws against drinking and driving are strictly enforced and carry serious penalties. Police operate sobriety checkpoints in many entertainment districts frequented by expatriates. At these checkpoints, all drivers must submit to alcohol breath tests. If you fail a breath test, you will be arrested.
Driver's License Requirements: International Driver's Licenses (IDL) may be used for 90 days in Malaysia. The IDL must be obtained outside of Malaysia. If you are staying longer than 90 days in Malaysia, and desire a local license, the Malaysian Road Transport Department recommends contacting a local driving school to arrange all the paperwork. In order to obtain a local license, you will also need a valid work permit.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.