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Safe for solo female travel in Malaysia?

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Safe for solo female travel in Malaysia?

Old Mar 21st, 2014, 12:47 PM
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Safe for solo female travel in Malaysia?

Hi everyone,

My daughter (late 20s) is a relatively new solo traveler (previous solo trip to Seattle and semi-solo trip to Washington DC). She is going to be going to Singapore for about a week at the end of May, but will be visiting a friend there. The second half of her trip, she is planning to go alone to Melaka and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Her friend and another are discouraging her from going to Malaysia and scaring her with stories of Sharia law. Although she's already been working out an itinerary for Malaysia, she obviously doesn't want to go if it won't be safe for her. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Judy
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 01:16 PM
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It is perfectly safe. Especially in Melaka and KL. The more fundamentalist area is in the northeast, and she would be quite safe there, too. Tell her friends to get lost.
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 01:19 PM
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lol. Thanks thursdaysd.
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 02:24 PM
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My daughter's friend is sending her things like this:

"This is from wikipedia, it is from Sharia law: 'If a person has never been a Muslim, and is a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), Sharia demands that he or she should be offered the choice to convert to Islam and become a Muslim; if they reject the offer, he or she may either be killed, enslaved, or ransomed if captured.'"
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Oh please.... In any case, Sharia law does not apply where she is going.
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 07:39 PM
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Your daughter's friend hasn't a clue.

One recommendation, I'd choose Georgetown, Penang rather than Kuala Lumpur.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 06:20 AM
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Just to put this Sharia nonsense totally to rest, I checked the travel advisories on the US and UK government websites. Not one word about Sharia. Quite a bit about dangers on Eastern Malaysia (Sabah), but warnings for peninsula Malaysia (where she is going) are about credit card fraud and bag snatching.

http://travel.state.gov/content/pass.../malaysia.html

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-ad...y-and-security
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Old Mar 22nd, 2014, 08:17 AM
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My friends lived in KL for four months last year and I went to visit them. KL is a very modern, cosmopolitian city (beautiful museums, botanical gardens, etc.). Yes, there are Muslims (those of Malay ancentry are 99% Muslim) but there is a high percentage of Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent who are not. I went to the mall (yes, they have malls) and saw Malaysians of all sorts walking there. The worst thing your daughter may encounter in KL is having her purse snatched (she should wear a shoulder bag away from street traffic). KL is definitely worth a visit.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 11:39 AM
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Thank you everyone for your responses. My daughter is continuing with working on her itinerary feeling much relieved.

She's looking into accommodations now. Is there any area of KL that is safer/more preferred than others? Any areas she should avoid?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 12:26 PM
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The usual tourist area is around the Petronas Towers, but I enjoyed staying in Chinatown.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 03:43 PM
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What about bukit butang? I read that this area is fairly safe.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 04:28 PM
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Really, KL is quite a safe city. The area around Bukit Bintang has a lot of big international hotels and is certainly a safe area.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 06:01 PM
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There is a general feeling in KL that petty crime such as bag snatching is on the increase but I have no stats to prove it one way or another. Certainly around Bukit Bintang is extremely safe

Sharia law is only used for muslims in cases such as close proximity, eating when they should be fasting etc, it does not apply to people of other faiths. The laws for other faiths are largely based on British law, as they were introduced during its time as a colony and carried over after independence.

Religious holidays for Christians and Hindus are observed as national holidays, as is Chinese New Year
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Old Mar 23rd, 2014, 09:56 PM
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Hi,

I live in Singapore, so have some general knowledge of our closest neighbour Malaysia.

People’s perceptions of safety in Malaysia are going to differ, depending on what one’s safety threshold is.
In terms of religious law, there’s no issue.
For those who think that Malaysia is safe for a solo female traveller, I have no comments.

As a solo female traveller myself, I dare not visit Malaysia, specifically Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.
Bukit Bintang in KL is a safer area, but your daughter isn’t going to stay in that area alone, right?

I haven’t googled on crime statistics etc, so you can do that if you want to.
All I see and hear are from friends in S’pore and M’sia and local newspapers/media, which of course picks up all the bad news.

- Petty crime i.e. snatch theft is quite common. I have friends who go into Malaysia frequently and they can be robbed as much as 3 in 5 visits. You do not flash your wallet or cash in open. You do not wear / carry expensive brands and look rich. In fact, look as poor as you can.

- Taking cab alone is not safe. There have been a couple of reported cases where the cab driver took a female passenger somewhere remote where his accomplices got in and raped the girl. Of course, one can argue that the percentage is low, you can take your risk and hope that you are not part of that percentage. Less importantly, cab drivers in KL and JB regularly rip foreigners off, who can pay as much as double the usual cabfare. As much as ringgit is cheap, it is the idea of being ripped off that I dislike.

- I do not advise female travellers to travel alone. And it is common sense knowledge amongst Malaysian locals that girls do not travel alone. Travelling alone is open invitation to possibility of kidnap, rape etc. There have been several cases where (local) girls travelling alone, even by the side of a road, get kidnapped.

There will be people who argue against all the points here. Again, I say, take your own chance.

I feel safe walking on the streets or taking a cab in Bangkok even at midnight, but I won’t even think of doing that in Malaysia. Wouldn’t advise going out at night unless in a group or in crowded places.

If your daughter must go, take all the usual safety precautions and be extra cautious. Good luck.
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 02:48 AM
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It seems that the Singaporeans have some issues with Malaysia. Of course where they live is so uptight that anywhere else must look like the wild west. I call it Disneyland Asia...
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 04:41 AM
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Aphrael's "general knowledge" is based on bias, paranoia and hearsay but written as factual.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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Thanks thursdaysd and JannaG. I got a little concerned after reading Aphrael's response, but I'm going to take it with a grain of salt. Thanks for poo-pooing Aphrael's warnings.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 06:15 PM
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While it has been a number of years, I've traveled to KL alone and found it a very safe place. I've also traveled to KL more recently with my female partner. Neither of us felt unsafe at any time. Od course, one must use common sense no matter where one is - at home or abroad. (Why do they call it "common sense" when it seems to be so uncommon?)

If your daughter has the time and interest, I'd encourage her to visit Georgetown, Penang. It's a fascinating world heritage site. We loved our week there!
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 02:10 AM
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Thank you all!
I'm just another guy in a similar position, as my daughter, 25, solo traveller, came by train after 2 weeks in Bangkok close to the Malaysian border and is now on Koh Lipe, still Thailand. She will travel on Friday by boat to the Malaysian island(s) Langkawi, and continue on Malaysian railways from Butterworth to Singapore. She'd like to see Kuala Lumpur.
I made a post a few hours ago asking for some information on prices (Langkawi duty free zone vs. Singapore), but also on what kind of clothes should she wear in Malaysia (in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar she obviously had no problem wearing rather short skirts, but I guess Malaysia will be a bit different).

I never thought Malaysia could be dangerous, but some of the posts in reply to the OP first made me a bit worried, the rest calmed me down again.

Apologies to the OP for this cross - posting, but I just wanted to thank everyone for providing interesting and relevant data. If someone wishes to answer my questions, it has shopping as part of the title, which is not my main concern.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 05:02 AM
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"in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar she obviously had no problem wearing rather short skirts"

Actually, it is more considerate of local sensibilities to dress conservatively in those countries, too. People may be too polite to say anything, but that doesn't mean they appreciate gratuitous displays of flesh that they would cover. For instance, when I first started visiting Laos (Buddhist, not Muslim) the tourists dressed conservatively. I was very sorry to see, on my third visit, that most of them were now going around obliviously in short shorts and sleeveless tops.
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