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By No owner — last modified Jan 11, 2019 12:55 PM

 Malaysia - Profile


  • The Federation of Malaysia consists of thirteen states, eleven stretched out on the long peninsula between Thailand and Singapore plus the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north/north-west coast of the island of Borneo (Indonesian: Kalimantan).
  • It's best to think of Malaysia as 3 separate, almost autonomous areas (Peninsula, Sarawak and Sabah) plus 3 duty-free federal territories (Langkawi, Labuan and Tioman) with Islamic Brunei wedged in the middle.
  • The population of Malaysia is 32 million. The official language is Malay, however English is also widely spoken.
  • The Malaysian Ringgit is the official currency.
  • The time zone for Malaysia is UTC +8. There are no Daylight Saving Time clock changes.
  • The best weather is during the NE monsoon when the west coast provides an excellent lee shore and most yachts cruise up the coast from Singapore to Thailand. See more information at weather.
  • The west coast attracts most cruising yachts and there is plenty to see, from the attractive old city of Malacca and the fishing port of Lumut, to the islands of Penang and Langkawi.
  • The Langkawi islands lie close to the border with Thailand and possess the finest scenery anywhere in Malaysian waters.
  • The east coast is less visited as it is not on a cruising route and its harbours are better protected during the SW monsoon, when few cruising yachts linger in SE Asia.
  • Sabah and Sarawak along the northern coast of the island of Borneo tend to be visited by yachts en-route to or from the Philippines and Hong Kong.
  • Port Klang is also a good base for trips to the capital Kuala Lumpur, or to leave the boat for visits into the interior.
  • There are several small boatyards, often with their own slips, on both coasts of the peninsula, but as they are used to working on local craft, standards are not high. Facilities in Langkawi have steadily improved in recent years and the Malaysian authorities are making a determined effort to turn this area into the premier yachting centre in SE Asia. For more information on services for yachts see Yachting Essentials.
  • A great many oil rigs litter the coast of Borneo so great caution should be exercised, particularly if sailing at night. While the rigs are lit, large metal moorings around the rigs are not.


Overall Crime and Safety

Malaysia is generally a safe country to travel around, much safer than neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia. Petty crime however is common in the larger towns and cities, in particular bag snatching from thieves on passing motorbikes. Credit card fraud is also a growing problem. Never leave your belongings on the beach in tourist areas.

For travel advisories, see the following websites:

Specific areas of concern:

Penang & Johor Bahru: Reported to be the worst areas in Malaysia for crime. When going ashore, avoid wearing expensive jewelry, carrying open bags and cycling with open baskets and crates.

Kuala Lumpur: There are regular political demonstrations in the centre of the capital on Saturday afternoons. Monitor local media, be vigilant and avoid all large political gatherings.

Borneo, Sabah: There is a threat to foreigners of kidnapping and criminality on the eastern coast of Sabah and in particular the islands close to the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines. The southern Philippines is just a short boat ride away from Sabah's east coast. There have been several incidents of kidnapping and worse in the last 2 years.

The FCO currently advise against travelling in this area - see advisory here.

Maritime Issues

Most cruisers visiting the country report having no real security or safety fears. However, best practice is to take the usual general precautions (locking the boat, lifting and securing dinghy & outboard, removing valuables from sight etc.) as thefts and burglaries have been reported.

Borneo, Sabah: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) provided a gunship escort to the 2018 East Malaysian Rally and valuable support to a lone yacht on its return. Details of the support given and contact information can be found here.

Malay Fishermen: An on-going problem is cruising boats being harrassed by fisherman when at anchor, particularly on the West coast, blamed for laying their anchors over fishing nets and then being pushed for money to cover the damage (when in fact the net was laid over the anchor whilst the owners were sleeping). This kind of extortion is being taken seriously and cruisers along with local marine businesses are working together to try and present a compelling case to stop this action.

Any cruisers who suffer similar concerning incidents with Malay fisherman should report such harassment to the Malaysian Navy via their app (see details below) and copy in AHOY Penang (listed below) who are building a file for action.

See this report for incidents of harassment reported by cruisers.

Reported Incidents:

September 2018: Armed attackers boarded a trawler north of Pulau Bodgaya, an island about 30 nm southeast of Lahad Datu, Sabah, and abducted two Indonesian fishermen. It was the first kidnapping in 2018 in what was once a dangerous hot spot of pirate activity.

May 2017: Sulu Sea Kidnappings  -

November 2015: A yacht was pursued by pirates in November 2015 off the eastern coast of Sabah, who attempted to board.

June 2015: Current advice is against all but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.

April 2014: German couple were abducted from their yacht by bandits at Palawan, Philippines.

General Emergency Numbers:

For more detail see General Info

Last updated:  September 2018

AHOY Penang - A Hub of Yachting
MV Tiger Lily , Straits Quay Marina in Penang
Tel:Mobile: 0128404341
Set up by long-term SE Asia cruiser Jennifer Rouse in May 2016, this group is for cruisers to share important information and fun things about destinations in the Straits of Melaka - Penang. It is also a good place to report any security incidents whilst cruising in Malaysian waters.
ESSCOM Fusion Operation Room Command
Pusat Operasi ESSCOM (PUSOP)
Tel:(+60) 089 863 181 Fax:(+60) 089 863 182
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) operations room should be informed of any passage down the east coast of Sabah. It is advisable to contact the duty officer by phone after advising your intentions by email.
Royal Malaysian Navy Marine Emergency Response/SOS/Incident Reporting app
Launched July 2017.
Download K3M from your app store – unfortunately the registration process is only presented in Bahasa Malaysia but if you can get past this and log on you can then select English - it is labelled "INGERRIS" - the word for "English" in Bahasa.
Via this app you can report marine-related incidents and request emergency assistance from 6 different Malaysian maritime authorities including, Navy, Coastguard, Maritime Police, Jabatan Laut and the Fisherman's Association.


On the coast the temperatures do not rise too high in this tropical climate, averaging 70-90°F (21-32°C). November to February is the rainy season when sudden downpours are frequent, especially on the west coast. The NE monsoon is from November to March, but on the west Malaysian coast local land breezes have a major effect on sailing conditions.

Brunei Bay Radio operates a regular voice broadcast sked of METAREA and local coastal forecasts for SE Asia waters, the NW Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean. For details of Brunei Bay Radio broadcast skeds and frequencies, see and

Singapore Weather Portal -

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Malaysian Meteorological Service
5-day forecasts of weather, wind and wave. Five-day tide forecasts, from the Malaysian Met office.

Main Ports

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 13, 2019 06:17 PM

Going south from Samui there's nothing to recommend, but if you go north instead there is Racer Marina ( They have engineers and a good workshop.
Thailand is most likely better for repairs than Malaysia on the east coast.

Craig Murdoch
Craig Murdoch says:
Mar 08, 2019 05:03 AM

I am looking for a boatyard or marina between Ko Samu and Johore where I can access a travel lift and haul out my 40’ keeper onto hard standing for two months or so. I have crewing, engine and rigging issues which limit the distance and conditions for moving or sailing the yacht south. Can someone recommend a suitable destination? (I have started advertising for crew to sail the boat south from Ko Samui) Thanx, Murtaig

nautinauti says:
Jan 26, 2019 02:09 AM

I want to give a high five and recommendation to Yacht Supply Malaysia Chandlery at Rebak Island Marina. Mark and Emma are managing a well equipped marine store and are attentive, helpful and detail oriented with knowledge and crew to match. Whatever your situation, they are there to help and make your yachting needs easier to manage. As an added bonus....they have some of the best fresh ground coffee drinks in the area free to customers,yummm.

vern noren
vern noren says:
Jan 07, 2019 11:09 AM

You are required to clear in and out of all Malaysian Duty Free ports, like Langkawi

AmyEAlton says:
Dec 30, 2018 01:38 AM

We cleared into Malaysia at Puteri Harbour Marina (Nov 13th 2018), and sailed up to Langkawi, making no other stops. When we went to clear out of Langkawi (December 7th, 2018), we were told we SHOULD have cleared in with the Habourmaster in Langkawi when we arrived to Langkawi. This is unclear in the Formalities section here. We did not have any trouble with Immigration when we cleared out, even though we hadn't cleared in with Immigration when we arrived to Langkawi.

juhan nasip
juhan nasip says:
Nov 16, 2018 07:52 AM

Hi, if you need a carpenter / shipwright / general repair man in Kota Kinabalu, or Kudat, or Labuan : we recommend you to contact Juhan Nasip on 0162303558. He helped us to renovate our boat Gwalarn. So now we are helping him by recommending his services. He is tremendously good. Speaks limited english, but understands ok.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 08, 2018 11:21 AM

For clarification - Vern was clearing out to Puteri Marina, Johor Baru. Other friends of theirs just cleared out of Langkawi for a domestic voyage. There are two immigration offices there, one in Kuah and the other in Telaga. The office in Telaga knew nothing about clearing out for domestic voyages. It seems there is much confusion amongst officials as to what is actually required.

Vern Noren
Vern Noren says:
Mar 02, 2018 09:36 AM

Penang immigration update 02/02/18. Apparently immigration rules have changed, at least in Penang. For a domestic voyage ( not leaving the country ) you still have to visit port captain, customs, and immigration. Port captain is closed on weekends so we went today, Friday, to clear out. We told port captain and custom's we would leave the next day at high tide, around noon. No problem with them giving us 24 hrs to leave. Immigration was another matter. Even though we told them several times we were not leaving the country, only the port of Penang, they insisted we had to return and clear out the same day we were leaving, less than 24 hrs away. They insisted if they dated the paperwork for today we had to leave by midnight, not an option due to tides.

Neither the port captain or customs office were aware we had to clear out with immigration even for a domestic voyage.

gerryvanderstam says:
Dec 06, 2017 12:54 AM

Hi BeauSoleil , thanks for the info .
Yes the jack Russell bread are an asset to have would u agree, they are not only very entertaining but are very alert & vocal when it comes to anyone getting close to our possessions, u can also hide them in the swabs..😀

svBeauSoleil says:
Nov 10, 2017 03:06 PM

Ahoy. We have a Jack Russell also and had no problem with her in the marina in kuching. Out in the Islands she ran on the beaches. This should be a low tide as the jungle is full of ticks from the monkeys. These ticks laugh at frontline. We didn't check in but we did check out to go to Peninsular Malaysia. No problem. No mention of the dog.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2017 11:38 AM

Hi Gerry,
We are currently investigating this for you and are in contact with the DVS (Department of Veterinary Services Malaysia). Will post here what we find out.
We have also spoken with cruiser contacts in Malaysia who tell us whilst officially an import permit is required for your pet, there are many boats cruising with pets on board who have not declared the animals or sought official import status for them while cruising between countries in this region.
However, whilst there may not be much official scrutiny while you are cruising, it is always best to check with the authorities if you are unsure.
The question is really about current plans and/or future plans for the animal and it becomes an issue if you decide to take the animal off the boat to live ashore or commercially transport it back to a home country. In this case the animal must be imported to Malaysia and go through whatever quarantine procedure the home country will require if you intend to export the animal.
Our thanks to Jennifer of AHOY Penang for help with this query, she can help with links to vets and pet transporters if anyone needs help with the process of export from Malaysia and import to home country.

farrflyer says:
Oct 14, 2017 01:44 AM

Hi, can anyone please help us with suggestion or recommendations to clear in @ KUCHING - MALAYSIA, we have a 2.5year old jack Russell DOG, he has had all immunisation shots , Registration chip implant , rabies shots, but not desexed.
We are clearing out of Bali indo- waters soon and ETA KUCHING approx-1 month.
Regards Gerry / S/Y FARRFLYER

Liz says:
Dec 18, 2015 11:37 AM

If I may, I would like to thank David from Marine Supplies Asia, in his guise as the Spectra watermaker dealer /agent for making my new (6 month old) watermaker serviceable. It was in an unservicable condition as I discovered, when it came time to attempt to open the cartridge bowls to change the filters. He spent some hours resolving the problems, which were not of either his or my making. He did so in an extremely happy , friendly and professional fashion, for which I thank him immensely. I had until contacting David, spent an entirely unsatisfactory amount of time trying to get assistance to resolve the issues. He answered my email within hours and the job was done within a matter of days. As he is based in Labuan , and I am in Kota Kinabalu, it was a very impressive conclusion to my 5 month problem.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 06, 2015 04:17 PM

The Ministry of Tourism Indonesia cordially invites boaters, skippers, captains, and yacht owners to attend an Afternoon Tea gathering to promote new policy on liberalizing CIQP (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, Port Clearance) and to welcome foreign yachts and cruise ships to visit Indonesia.

Singapore Nov 7th, 14:00 Raffles Marina.
Malaysia Nov 8th, 14:00 Bayview Hotel, Langkawi.
Thailand Nov 9th, 14:00 Ao Chalong Yacht Club, Phuket.

A short presentation will be conducted by Dr Indrojono Soesilo, Honorary Advisor for the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia. Please join.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 31, 2015 10:23 AM

Feedback from noonsite contributors:

We haven't been up the Rajang River - hope to visit it in early 2016 when we return to Borneo from just one more trip to the Philippines this year - but we did meet an American cruiser a few months ago who spent 2 weeks up the Rajang. He really enjoyed it, though he commented on the amount of logs coming down the river, and the current, which he said was very strong at times. I guess the best thing to minimise this would be to go in the dry season (NE monsoon, from Nov/Dec to March/April) and avoid the spring tide period. I doubt there will be any notices, warnings etc posted in the river, but locals are usually very helpful. Also watch out for the tugs and barges which are plentiful along this coast and in the rivers. We heard of a large catamaran that was hit and sunk in one of the Borneo west coast rivers last year.
The Klias River is also a great one for exploring - you can go up the Klias for 28 miles to the bridge at Kota Klias. The Klias is close to Labuan and about 30 miles south of Kota Kinabalu. Lots of proboscis monkeys and fireflies there. An interesting trip is to anchor at the town of Kota Klias, arrange for a local taxi to take you to the town of Beaufort early the next morning, where you can catch a local train (no frills, actually no seats either) up the valleys to Tenom, where they grow tea and coffee. You would have an hour at Tenom before catching the train back to Beaufort, then taxi back to Kota Klias. I have put some details of the Klias River in my Sabah 2014 Passage Notes (
Hope this helps.
Sue Woods


This is the river that runs from Sibu inland. We only did a couple of the rivers at the mouth entry rivers which join into the Rejang at Sibu. We cut in behind Bruit Island to visit longhouses where we were made very welcome – overwhelmingly in fact. Crystal blues has done a more in depth visit up these rivers many times. They have a blog

If they are 2m draught - no problems. Just need to go with the tides.

The entrances can be shallow with shifting channels – we went through and at times were at less than 2 metres but a less than optimal tide.

There are some photos back on our blog

kind regards


Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 31, 2015 10:22 AM

Borneo Rivers: Rajang River, Borneo
Posted on behalf of M.Y. Amandla II

I would like to know if any of your Noonsite contacts or contributors has ever been up the Rajang River in Borneo, Malaysia.
It seems to be the only really navigable way in the hinterland, but perjhaps I am wrong and there is another one...
We are a 60ft power-boat and our draught is 2m…
If anyone has a log-book, waypoints, warning, anchorages, suggestions, I would be extermely grateful…
If I have to venture on my own, I will try to find some local knowledge if possible and I will be more than happy to share our voyage…
Kind regards
M.Y. Amandla II

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 24, 2014 01:41 PM

Friends staying at Danga Bay have informed me that it is to close permanently and be demolished at the end of June. No maintenance had been done for many months. The area will be absorbed into the huge satellite resedential development that has been taking place in the area for the last 2 years. Many overseas owners have left their boats there permanently. What they will do now will be a problem.
SV Pelican

Phil Van
Phil Van says:
Nov 19, 2013 04:43 AM

It has happen on 21/05/2013 9h30 AM. Position was N5d51' E100d07'
49' Wooden troller

ericoh88 says:
Jul 21, 2013 04:49 PM

On the 8th July, I met a yachtie in Penang who motored a 42' wooden boat from Langkawi to Penang. He said he has a fishing boat coming towards him. He changed course and the fishing boat continued to head towards him. The fishing boat touched his boat and the boat man demanded payment for the damaged he suffered. This yacthie told him to meet him in Penang and let the police settle the matter. The boat man got angry and threw at him a bunch of wood. He left.

I wanted to make this known as I have read these are the tactics used in other places to get money instead of catching fish from the sea.

44' FRP Cutter

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