Monthly Archives: September 2016

New in D.C.: Hotels, restaurants and attractions

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Fall foliage: 10 spots for great leaf peeping

There are more places in the USA to see beautiful foliage than just New England.




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Readers’ Choice Winners: Best of Fall 2016

See which autumn attractions 10Best readers voted as their favorites.




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Read Tourism Malaysia’s website for areas of interest. See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Malaysia for information on U.S.- Malaysia relations.

To enter Malaysia:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months.
  • You do not need a visa if you are coming for business or tourism for 90 days or less.
  • Immigration officials will place an entry stamp, known as a social visit pass (visa), in your passport authorizing a stay of up to 90 days. Travelers may apply to the Immigration Department for extensions of up to two months. 

See the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website for more information.

Sabah and Sarawak: The eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) have special entry requirements. You must have your passport to enter or exit Sabah or Sarawak, even when arriving from peninsular Malaysia on domestic flights.

Dual Nationality: Malaysia does not recognize or permit dual nationality. If Malaysian authorities learn that you are a U.S.-Malaysia dual national, they may require you to immediately forfeit your U.S. passport or your Malaysian citizenship. U.S.-Malaysia dual nationals should consider this issue seriously before traveling to Malaysia. See our dual nationality page for more information.

U.S.-Israeli Dual Nationals: Immigration officials have denied entry to U.S.-Israeli dual nationals who have presented their Israeli passports to show exit stamps from their last destination.Therefore, it is important that U.S.-Israeli dual nationals use their U.S. passports to depart the last country on their itinerary prior to arriving in Malaysia.

Visa Overstays: Malaysian immigration authorities have exit controls at all ports of departure and routinely fine and detain foreigners who overstay their social visit passes (visas). If you overstay your visa, you will not be allowed to exit Malaysia until you resolve the overstay with the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

Carry your passport (containing the Malaysian entry stamp) with you at all times in case authorities question your immigration status. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested during immigration sweeps and detentions may last from a few hours to several weeks. Check your visa status periodically while in Malaysia and strictly follow immigration laws and regulations.

Visit the Embassy of Malaysia website for the most current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Malaysia.

Find information on prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our website.

Information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Since 2014, Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 150 supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group, including many individuals who planned to fight in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. citizens are advised against travel to coastal areas and outlying islands in Eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau because of the threat of kidnappings-for-ransom and violence from both terrorist and criminal groups, including the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group (see the Philippines Travel Warning for more information). In addition to incursions on coastal or resort islands themselves, criminal or terrorist groups may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists from the mainland to resort islands. Due to safety concerns, U.S. government employees are prohibited from travelling to most of this area without permission from the Embassy security office and Ambassador. Malaysian law enforcement officials have enacted land and water-based curfews in the coastal areas of Eastern Sabah. Check local media or ask local police for the most recent curfew information if traveling to Eastern Sabah.

Public Demonstrations: Local law prohibits non-Malaysians from participating in public protests. While most protests in Malaysia are peaceful, even peaceful demonstrations can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. You should avoid areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests or demonstrations. 

Crime: Petty theft and violent crime in Kuala Lumpur continue to be concerns. Purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and residential burglaries are the most common crimes committed against foreigners. Criminals frequently target women, alone or with children, for purse snatching.  These incidents can occur anytime or anywhere and have also targeted men. Avoid wrapping purse straps around arms or shoulders to avoid injury. Taxi drivers in downtown Kuala Lumpur have perpetrated violent crimes against foreign tourists and local residents. Travelers are advised to book taxis in downtown shopping areas by phone or online, rather than hailing a taxi on the street, particularly after dark.

Criminals also target motorists stuck in traffic or stopped at a light with smash and grab robberies. Keep valuables out of sight while driving or remove them from the car (including from the trunk) when parked. GPS devices should not be left on the windshield or dashboard.

Scams: U.S. citizens and businesses continue to be frequent victims of internet-based scams originating in Malaysia and have reported millions of dollars in losses. Do not send money to people you have not met in person and who claim to be U.S. citizens in trouble in Malaysia. Resources on how to protect yourself from financial fraud can be found on our International Financial Scams information page. If you become the victim of a scam you may make a formal complaint (in person) to the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate. You can also report the crime to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Credit Card Fraud: Closely safeguard your credit cards at all times and use them only at reputable establishments. If you must use a credit card in Malaysia, check your account information frequently for fraudulent charges. 

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to both the local police and the U.S. Embassy:

  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Malaysia is 999 from a landline and 112 from a mobile telephone.
  • Alternatively, call the Royal Malaysia Police Operations Center in Kuala Lumpur, 03-2115-9999 or 03-2266-2222.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy at +(60) (3) 2168-5000. 

A police report is necessary for the embassy to help victims follow-up on incidents of crime.

In some tourist areas, the police have established small “Tourist Police” stations manned by personnel familiar with helping visitors to Malaysia.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malaysia are more severe than those in the United States, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, or death. Malaysian law provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers.
  • It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings.
  • Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.
  • Certain white-collar crimes are punishable by caning.
  • You may be prosecuted and sentenced to heavy fines, expulsion and/or imprisonment if you collect local flora or fauna without authorization from the Malaysian government.
  • It is illegal to distribute religious literature of another faith to Malaysian Muslims. Special religious authorities and local police occasionally conduct raids on popular nightspots and hotels to deter activities among local Muslims that contravene religious customs, including drinking alcohol and adultery.

Currency: Currency exchange and Western Union money transfers are readily available. Credit cards are accepted throughout the country, but you should be aware of the risk of fraud. ATMs can be a safer means of obtaining Malaysian Ringgit. PINs in Malaysia are six digits long, and some travelers have reported having difficulty retrieving cash from ATMs using four-digit PINs.

Customs: Malaysian authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the import or export of items such as firearms, narcotics, medication, business equipment, currency, books, cultural property or any material which might be considered obscene or harmful to the public interest. Contact the Malaysian Embassy, or one of Malaysia’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: Malaysia’s penal code criminalizes homosexual acts, termed “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” leading to punishment of up to 20 years in prison and/or whipping. Several states in Malaysia have instated Islamic Sharia laws, applying to male and female Muslims, criminalizing same-sex activity with up to three years imprisonment and whipping. Transgender individuals have been arrested and charged with “indecent behavior,” and received fines and prison sentences of up to three months. LGBTI individuals may face discrimination or even violence especially in more conservative rural areas. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The government does not mandate accessibility to transportation for persons with disabilities, and few older public facilities are adapted for such persons. New government buildings are generally outfitted with a full range of facilities for persons with disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers. In cases of sexual assault, victims should go directly to the nearest major public hospital which will offer “one-stop” response including medical care and testing, forensic testing, access to the police to make a criminal report, legal assistance, counseling, and temporary shelter.

Medical Facilities and Services:

  • Medical facilities and services are adequate in the larger cities, where you can find Western-trained doctors.
  • The U.S. Embassy website has a list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions.
  • Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services although major credit cards are accepted at some hospitals in larger cities.
  • Most over-the-counter medications can be purchased at local pharmacies but certain prescription medications are only available at doctors’ offices and hospital pharmacies, requiring a locally-written prescription. If you have ongoing prescription medication needs, we advise you consult a physician prior to traveling to Malaysia. Psychiatric medications can only be prescribed in Malaysia by physicians specialized in psychiatric care, unlike in the United States.

Emergency Services:

  • Malaysian paramedics do not have training equivalent to U.S.  standards. Response time may be long and response area limited. Long term visitors and residents should always be aware of the location of the nearest hospital and an alternate form of transportation.
  • Callers to Malaysia’s “999” emergency number (equivalent to “911” in the United States) are directed to whichever hospital the dispatcher chooses.
  • If you are staying in Malaysia for a long time, and you have known health problems, you should investigate private ambulance services in the area and provide family and close contacts with the direct telephone number(s) of the service you prefer. 

We do not pay medical bills.

  • Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas and know how to reach your insurance company to authorize payment. Malaysian hospitals will not bill your insurance directly.  You must provide payment and seek reimbursement.
  • See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
  • Most health care providers overseas only accept cash payments.
  • Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Royal Malaysian Customs Department to ensure the medication is legal in Malaysia. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Disease: Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses that are endemic to Malaysia. Preventing mosquito bites is the most important way to prevent these illnesses. Leptospirosis, a rare bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals, has also been reported in Malaysia in recent years. See CDC’s website for more information.

Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, typically transmitted by the day biting Aedes aegypti mosquito, that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact and blood transfusion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other neurological conditions. For general information and the latest updates about Zika and steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to the virus, please visit the CDC website.

Air Quality: Air quality in Malaysia is acceptable most of the time. However, when Malaysia and nearby countries burn vegetation, especially from March through June and during September and October, air quality can range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy.”

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel to Malaysia.

Further health information:

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British Airways to end free food in coach on short flights

BA’s change comes at a time when big U.S. airlines are restoring free snacks in economy.




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Election spotlight sees D.C. shining

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has opened its doors. New hotels including the Trump International and the Watergate have opened. And this year, the prestigious Michelin guide will start rating D.C. restaurants.




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Photo tour: Beautiful Massachusetts

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10 great apple cider tasting rooms for a fall treat

In recent years, hard cider has been the fastest-growing adult beverage, and tasting rooms are popping up across the country.




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Great places to sample hard cider

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Election spotlight shows D.C. at its best

New museums, hotels and a thriving restaurant scene beckon visitors.




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