As the competition to draw in tourists heats up in South East Asia and Australasia, Malaysia has joined nearby hotspots Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in dropping all testing requirements, taking effect from 1st May 2022.
This is a huge leap from just one month earlier when Malaysia opened for tourism, but only with a long list of requirements. Unlike Thailand, Malaysia isn’t charging a 300THB tourism fee when you visit.
Prior to Malaysia simplifying travel on May 1st, , you needed to jump through several hoops including downloading an app, completing a digital travel card, uploading your vaccine record, a PCR test (or lateral flow if you recently recovered from COVID) before departure along with taking an antigen test within 24 hours of arrival.
You also needed evidence of travel insurance that specifically covered COVID related illness. It was better than nothing but it wasn’t ideal. Failure to do any of this would’ve result in denied boarding or mandatory quarantine in Malaysia. No more!
Entering Malaysia Now: Totally Worth It
Now, if you’ve had two doses of a vaccine (or if you’re under 60 with the one-and-done Janssen), travel just consists of downloading an app (MySejahtera), completing a digital traveler’s card in-app and verifying your vaccine status.
Under 12s do not need a vaccine but do still need to have a digital travelers pass in MySejahtera, 13-17 year olds who are partially or not vaccinated need to test before departure and on-arrival.
There’s no insurance requirement anymore for any passengers, including those who are unvaccinated.
That puts the sun-filled beaches of Langkawi and Sabah, the lush, historic jungles in Malaysian Borneo and the luxurious cityscape of Kuala Lumpur back in reach.
In Practice, What’s Malaysia Like Right Now?
Visiting Malaysia now requires just five minutes of admin before you arrive at the airport. Expect to see rusty travelers downloading, registering for the app and verifying your vaccine passport while queuing.
Check-in consists of a check that you have the app and that you’re vaccinated. Immigration formalities at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) are a breeze now, you walk past a thermal camera check then it’s just a check of your passport and you’re on the way to sun, sea and great food.
Wearing a mask is still mandatory indoors in Malaysia and optional when you’re outside. From experience, most people wear a mask outside too and you may be asked to show your MySejahtera app before entering some venues – although I only saw this actually happen at Lot 10 and KLCC malls.
It’s been wonderful to experience Malaysian hospitality again, enjoying traditional satay both in the air with flag carrier Malaysian Airlines and on the ground spending time talking with locals.
Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas Towers were as stunning as ever and hopping around from island to island was surprisingly easy. Domestic flights are easy to come by and it feels like a tourism rebound is really on the way.
The hotels and local attractions in Sabah were exceptionally welcoming and the staff were all genuinely excited to see you back. It’s been so long, even immigration were happy to see tourists. Let’s see how long that one lasts!