Is Penang Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On November 7, 2023
Penang, Malaysia
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
* Rated 90 / 100 based on 4 user reviews.

Penang is an island state located off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

It is made up of two halves – Penang Island and a strip of mainland Peninsula named Seberang Perai.

Many people say it’s one of the best places to live in Malaysia, a contemporary metropolis with modern amenities and simple small-town friendliness, offering the best of both worlds.

Best of the east and west, while retaining its old-world flavor.

Discover the rich diversity of Exotic Penang – just a great place to enjoy life after retirement or for a long term holiday vacation.

Warnings & Dangers in Penang

Overall Risk


Penang is the city where crime risks are medium, which means that you will need to exercise common sense since some petty crimes might occur, but n the other hand, some more serious criminal acts rarely happen.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Always ask taxi drivers to turn on the meter, use only licensed ones and call them by phone instead of hailing one on the street. If you decide to drive, get ready for the paralyzing traffic jams periodically throughout the day.

Pickpockets Risk


There is a great risk of pickpockets. In this city, you definitely shouldn't let your guard down. Avoid carrying your belongings with you, and if you do, never carry anything in your pocket or a purse.

Natural Disasters Risk


Flooding and landslides are a common threat, due to heavy rains. Oceanic coastlines may experience tsunamis, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre website offers more information on the potential for tsunamis. Earthquakes are also a threat.

Mugging Risk


Mugging and kidnapping risk in Penang exists. Extremists represent a great danger. Foreigners can be assaulted and robbed after their drinks were 'spiked', so never accept food or drinks from strangers. Do not hail taxis on the street.

Terrorism Risk


Malaysia is a country where terrorist attacks can happen. The threat of terrorism exists in Penang and there was recently a plan to attack Penang. Malaysian authorities have made several arrests around Penang.

Scams Risk


There are many scams performed in Malaysia, mostly distractions executed to separate you from your belongings or take advantage of you in another way. Many taxis do not have meters so be sure to negotiate the price of the ride before entering the vehicle, and do not use your credit card unless it's at established buildings and businesses.

Women Travelers Risk


Penang is a city where most women travel without any issues, but still, the threat exists. Female travelers need to take particular care in crowds, on public transportation, they should wear clothes that cover their arms, legs, and chest, in order not to attract male’s unwanted attention.

So... How Safe Is Penang Really?

When the crime level is considered, the situation in Penang is very similar to that of Kuala Lumpur, it is a good thing to mention that the Malaysian police have managed to reduce crime significantly.

The opportunistic crime, aimed at money and valuables frequently occurs, but the reports of violent crime against foreigners are uncommon.

Violent crime rates are low, so getting mugged, kidnapped, or assaulted is unlikely, but robberies and assaults do happen, sometimes even involving weapons, so it is best to be wise.

Penang’s greatest safety issue is petty crime such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and other types of petty thefts.

There have even been reports of criminals using sharp knives to cut the bag from a tourist or a passenger.

Be careful and follow the advice you hear from the authorities or other locals.

Walking in the city is usually safe, but caution must be exercised since women have been injured by purse-grabbers on motorcycles.

All in all, Penang is generally safe for travelers, since it is locals who are often the targets of crime.

Experienced tourists will encounter almost no problems in Penang.

Since it is a multicultural, mostly Muslim country, be sure to show respect for local customs, tradition, and culture, and think about your actions in order not to accidentally offend someone of other religious beliefs or culture.

How Does Penang Compare?

CitySafety Index
Kuala Lumpur64
Petaling Jaya76
Johor Bahru68
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71
Vienna (Austria)88
Hong Kong (China)70
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67

Useful Information



Tourists get a visa on arrival for a stay of up to 90 days. If you're visiting for other purposes, you may need to arrange a visa in advance, by contacting an Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of Malaysia. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months.



The official currency is the Malaysian Ringgit. ATMs are widely available throughout the city, as well as cash machines. You can use your credit cards to pay, but pay attention to credit card fraud.



Penang mostly has a tropical climate, but the extreme temperatures are not common. The average temperature is from 20°C to 30°C. The monsoon season is from October to March. The wettest month is November with a lot of rainfall and the driest month is June.



Penang International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Malaysia and the busiest one serving Penang. The airport is located near Bayan Lepas at the southeastern tip of Penang Island, about 16 km south of the city center.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

If you are a visitor to Penang, make sure that you have taken out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart. Consider your physical and mental health and get vaccinated before you travel.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Penang Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 27° C
Feb 27° C
Mar 28° C
Apr 28° C
May 27° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 27° C
Sep 26° C
Oct 26° C
Nov 27° C
Dec 27° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Malaysia - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Johor Bahru68
Kuala Lumpur64
Petaling Jaya76

Where to Next?

4 Reviews on Penang


    Weve been going to various parts of Malaysia for 10 years. We have never felt unsafe. As a woman, I have never been treated with anything less than respect and courtesy. Don’t put yourself at risk. Carry a bag with a wide strap over your shoulder in front of you. You will see the locals carrying their backpacks facing front ways. Be smart. Don’t be an easy target. Mind your manners, they are EVERYTHING in Asia. Showing respect and gratitude for assistance will open many doors. Learn some basic phrases to further win respect from locals. Be prepared and aware, and mostly, enjoy yourself!

  2. D
    Doubtful says:

    Inaccurate Rating

    I seriously doubt your safety rating.
    Anyone who have been to Malaysia will know Penang is much safer than Johor Bahru.
    Yet your rating said otherwise.

    On the other hand, overall as a country is very safe. The so-called smoke hazard are from Indonesia. Malaysia is one of the victim. When Malaysia suffer smoke hazard, so do Singapore. You rate Natural Disaster Risk for Singapore low, and Malaysia Medium. Go figure.

    1. Yes, I agree..the rating and information is not quite accurate. Penang can consider is the most fascinating and lovely resort island for tourist to visit. Its really a resort island and not a City..

  3. L
    L.Close says:

    Safe in Penang

    I have been to Penang twice, Johor, Melacca , Ipoh and KL. Felt safe.
    Only problems were aggresive and unpleasant taxi drivers and often no seatbelts when using grab cabs.

Penang Rated 4.5 / 5 based on 4 user reviews.

Share Your Experience

Facebook Pinterest Review