Johor Bahru travel safety advice
Singaporeans like to tell horror stories of crimes in the "wild, wild North" and its former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew once claimed that Johor Bahru is crime-ridden. As a result of the high crime rate, the number of tourists from Singapore has dropped drastically over the past few years. This could partly be due to the high profile that the Singaporean press gives to crime committed in Johor Bahru against its citizens. Even Johor Bahru citizens took to the streets in September 2007, asking for the city to take action against crime. Although the crime rate in Johor Bahru is still higher than in Singapore and elsewhere in Malaysia, things have become better since the Johor Bahru administration took action to increase the police presence and initiate several anti-crime measures - including the creation of a hotline for tourists to call should they require urgent police assistance. The number is +6072212999.
However for safety reasons, these tips are advisable to be taken:
Do not carry a handbag when walking around town. Snatch thieves have been known to snatch handbags away while their victims are walking on the street, using a motorcycle. If they do manage to grab your handbag, let them have it as some snatch thieves are known to drag their victims along the road with their motorbikes until they release their grip; almost certainly a very painful and unpleasant death.
Keep your passport safe and close to you because it is a highly prized valuable to robbers.
Lock the car door immediately or as soon as you get into the car.
Avoid walking around the city alone. You should walk around the city in groups of preferably 3 or more for safety.
Stay home at night or only go to areas with good security such as malls and private clubs.
Using restrooms in petrol kiosks after sunset is not advised. There are cases of armed robbers hiding within the restroom waiting for victims.
In the event that you DO get robbed, it is likely that the robber would be armed with a parang, a long Malay sword. You are advised to give up most, if not all, of your valuables to avoid putting your personal safety in jeopardy.
Tap water should be boiled before drinking. As a rule of thumb, the general hawker food scene in Johor Bahru is hygienic though certain areas are less so. So keep an eye out for those dirty hawkers who pay very little attention to hygiene.
Tourists should practise some common sense when walking around. A guideline would be as followed:
- Do not show off your money and valuables in crowded areas. If you do so, expect to get robbed.
- Try to use small change when purchasing merchandise, etc.
- Do not follow anyone to any unlit lanes.
- Do not get down from your car should you be involved in a road accident. Stay in your car and call the police or your friends for assistance. There are cases where muggers create freak accidents and rob their victims afterwards.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Johor Bahru