Obviously, you shouldn’t be selling meth and murdering locals, but did you know about that attempting suicide in Malaysia could also leave you with a hefty fine? Here are a group of things you should be sure not to do when visiting Malaysia.
Under the Akta Lalulintas 1999 (Road Transport Act 1999), if you’re attempting to cross the street when there’s a pedestrian bridge or zebra-crossing within 328 feet (100 meters), you could be fined up to RM$500.
So look for a bridge to walk over instead.
In Terengganu and Kelantan (the best places to witness the turtle nesting season), the sale and consumption of alcohol are banned. That means no liquor stores, no Heineken while catching up on the World Championship, and no cocktails while watching the turtles lay their eggs.
In other states, alcohol is allowed on private premises (no drinking on the beach for example) but still heavily taxed. Malaysia’s alcohol tax rate is the third highest in the world. If you’re partial to a few drinks, chances are you won’t be saving much money in this country.
Accepting food and drink before or after voting
Under the Election Offenses Act 1954, the penalty for accepting food, drinks, refreshments, or snacks before, during, or after casting your electorate vote is imprisonment for up to two years, a fine of up to RM$5,000 ($1,250), and a suspension of your voting rights up to five years.
According to Penal Code 510, you could be fined up to RM$20 or imprisoned up to 10 days, or both, for exhibiting drunken behavior in public. So don’t get into a drunken row, throw-up on a passer-by, or stagger into the street because you think it’s your bed.
Film and TV with religious, sexual, and violent overtones
It’s not just Fifty Shades of Grey that didn’t make the cut. Award-winning films like Brokeback Mountain, Black Swan, The Prince of Egypt, and Schindler’s List were banned for reasons spanning subjects related to religion, sex, and violence.
Other films that were nearly banned by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia include Wonder Woman (because leading actress Gal Gadot had previously served in the Israeli army), The Dark Knight (due to violence, anarchism, and terrorism), and Beauty and the Beast (due to homosexual references).
TV shows are not exempt from the threat of getting banned either. Family Guy, Home and Away, Malcolm in the Middle, and Sex and the City have never played in Malaysia.
Naming your baby after a fruit
If you want to pull a Gwyneth and name your firstborn Apple, well, it’s not going to happen in Malaysia. Following a series of bizarre infant names in 2006, the National Registration Department has placed restrictions on the kinds of names parents can give their kids. Post-2006, babies will no longer be named after fruit, vegetables, colors, insects, animals, demons, numbers, and Japanese cars (no more little Honda!).
Bikinis are banned in Kelantan and Terengganu, and if you’re planning to go nude on any of Malaysia’s beaches, please don’t. Skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing aren’t explicitly illegal, but depending on your prosecutor, you could be charged under Section 294(a) of the Penal Code, and fined, imprisoned up to 3 months, or both.
Don’t sing along to Luis Fonzi’s Despacito, because you could very well go to jail for it. This song was banned in 2017 for allegedly containing “obscenity,” going the same way as predecessors like Born This Way (Lady Gaga), American Life (Madonna), and Absolutely Everybody (Vanessa Amorosi).
Section 294 is dedicated to “obscene songs.” Here’s the full list of songs censored or banned in Malaysia.
Non-Muslims using “Allah” for God
Malaysia is the only country in the world to have expressly forbidden non-Muslims to use “Allah” to refer to God. The decision disappointed many non-Muslims in the country, who have peacefully used the word for centuries, but the Muslim rights group Perkasa has said, “We must defend ‘Allah’ because this is our religious obligation.”
Failed suicide attempts can land individuals with a fine or face imprisonment of up to one year, or both, according to Section 309 of the Penal Code.
Setting up shop in parking lots
Were you thinking about setting up your own nasi lemak stall in a public parking lot? You may want to think again. Under Section 9(10) and 46 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974, any person who erects an “obstruction” in public places could be fined up to RM$2,000 (US$500). That includes unlicensed food stalls, no matter how sedap (tasty) your nasi lemak is.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.