Foreign travel advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Malaysia. Attacks could happen anywhere, including in places visited by foreigners. Be vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.
In May 2017, the Philippines authorities reported that they had received unsubstantiated but credible information that the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf may be about to conduct kidnaps in the Sulu Sea, including around the islands of the Sulu archipelago (Philippines) and the seas/islands off the east coast of Sabah (Malaysia). Any vessels sailing in this area could be targeted. You should carefully consider travel plans and be especially vigilant at this time.
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. There has been an increase in kidnapping by groups operating in the southern Philippines, some of whom have the ability to conduct kidnaps on the coast of Sabah. Commercial shipping companies have been advised to adopt heightened vigilance when navigating the Sulu and Celebes Seas. Most maritime incidents occur in the Sulu Sea in the area between Sabah (Malaysia) and Mindanao, the Sulu Islands and Palawan (Philippines). The Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) advise all ships to re-route from the area where possible.
You should take great care in the town of Sandakan and along the coastal area south to Tawau, and in and around Lahad Datu and Semporna. In May 2015, 2 Malaysian nationals were abducted in Sandakan, one of whom was subsequently murdered. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Terrorism and Local travel - Sabah
UK health authorities have classified Malaysia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. Malaysia is a multicultural, but mostly Muslim country. See Local laws and customs
There was a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Sabah on 5 June 2015, affecting Mount Kinabalu. Please see the Sabah tourism website for more information.
In 2015, there was a greater incidence of haze than in previous years. Haze can cause disruption to local, regional air travel and to government and private schools. See Health
Around 401,000 British nationals visit Malaysia each year. Most visits are trouble free, but incidents of petty crime, especially bag snatching, can affect visitors. See Crime.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.