Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala_Lumpur-tourist-scamsKuala Lumpur has become a very popular destination for backpackers, cultural tourists and business travellers. That’s not very surprising considering it is one of the most modern cities in South-East Asia, together with (relatively) nearby Singapore. KL, as the city is called by the locals, is known for its impressive skyscrapers, of which the Petronas Twin Towers are the most famous, its luxury shopping malls, enjoyable climate and its lively nightlife. The Malaysian people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and the food is omnipresent and absolutely delicious.

Malaysia has a multicultural society, with the Malay, Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians as the largest ethnic groups. One thing to keep in mind for backpackers is that Malaysia has a Muslim government, which means the laws concerning substance abuse are strict and there’s a death penalty for the import and use of illegal drugs, including Marijuana.

Kuala Lumpur tourist scams

As in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • Kuala Lumpur taxis are dirt cheap, but make sure they turn on their meter. And try to avoid buying a taxi coupon at the tourist hotspots.
  • Don’t buy electronics like smartphones from strangers on the street, no matter how good the deal may sound. Also be careful in some shops, there’s a lot of fake merchandise. Only buy expensive goods at the shops in the well-known shopping malls.
  • Be extremely careful about your drink in bars or nightclubs like the Beach Club. Never let a stranger get your drink or leave it unattended.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Ringgit, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Kuala_Lumpur-tourist-rip_offsBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Kuala Lumpur is unsafe. On the contrary, 99.9 percent of the Malaysians are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and are happy to welcome you to their country.

  • Taxi scam

    Kuala_Lumpur-taxi-scam-tourist-scams

    Kuala Lumpur taxis are very cheap, especially compared to European or American standards. A one-way trip within the city center should not cost you more than 10 Ringgit. If you’re a tourist, almost every taxi driver will attempt to convince you that he doesn’t need to use the meter. Some will simply lie that it […]

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  • Fake smartphone scam

    Kuala_Lumpur-Fake_Samsung-scam-tourist-scams

    In many cities around the world counterfeit luxury brand merchandise is sold on the streets to unsuspecting tourists looking for a great deal. Perfumes, jeans, cigarettes and similar goods are the most popular items to reproduce cheaply and are easily sold by street vendors. But in Kuala Lumpur, a new trend has arisen: fake Samsung […]

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  • Bar scam with spiked drinks

    Kuala_Lumpur-spiked_drinks-robbery-tourist-scams

    The basics of the Kuala Lumpur bar scam are similar to that in Rio de Janeiro (read the Cinderella Goodnight Girls scam), although each has its local twist. In KL, the scam is most popular in bars and nightclubs that target a tourist audience, most notably the infamous Beach Club cafe and the surrounding area. […]

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