Driving In Malaysia [2024]🚗: Everything You Need To Know

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If there is something that always makes me nervous – it’s driving in a foreign country. However, when we moved to Malaysia, I quickly got over these nerves as Malaysia is an easy country to drive around – so if you’re wondering about driving in Malaysia with foreign license 2024, be reassured, it’s not that stressful!

In fact, I don’t know why more travellers in Malaysia don’t hire a car and take their time exploring this great country.

In this article, I’m going to quickly go over essential information you need to know about driving in Malaysia before telling you what to expect, how safe it is and information about tolls, parking and renting a car.

Whether you’re wondering about the traffic rules Malaysia 2024, what the experience of foreigners driving in Malaysia is like, or can Singapore driving license drive in Malaysia, and how to rent a car in Malaysia – I’ve got you covered!

Click here to see the latest prices for a hire car.

Driving In Malaysia: Everything You Need To Know

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Essential Information About Driving In Malaysia

  1. If you’re wondering what age can you drive in Malaysia, the driving age in Malaysia is 17 so you need to be 17 or over with a full license to be the legal age to drive in Malaysia.
  2. Driving in Malaysia with foreign license is fine, but you should also take an international driving permit which should be straightforward to get in your home country. I often get asked about using a Singapore driving licence in Malaysia, which you can do for visiting purposes.
  3. You need to be 23 to hire a car (exact ages will depend on car rental company) and had your license at least a year. Some companies will only hire to people under 65. Taking a car rental drive to Malaysia from surrounding countries (like Singapore) depends on the rental companies’ policies.
  4. You need to drive on the left
  5. Seat belts are mandatory
  6. Mobiles can only be used with a hands free system while driving
  7. You should have your license, registration and insurance papers with you at all times while driving
  8. The speed limit is generally 110km/h on highways and 50-60km/h in towns and cities. In Sarawak, the maximum speed is 90km/h. Just to confuse things, at some holiday periods, the maximum speed limits can be decreased.
Driving in Kuala Lumpur and tourist driving in malaysia
Driving in Kuala Lumpur

How To Drive In Malaysia – What To Expect

Because Malaysia is in South East Asia where I am used to chaotic traffic, I expected being a foreigner driving in Malaysia to be really difficult. But actually, it is not that much different to driving at home in Australia, and so I was pleasantly surprised by how stress-free driving in Malaysia as a foreigner is.

Cars drive on the left which make it easier if you are an Australian driving in Malaysia or from somewhere else where cars drive on the left.

I found that unless you are on one of the big tollways that traffic runs generally slower than I am used to. In city areas, there are often traffic jams, even on the tollways, so journeys may take longer than you expect.

The main thing that was different to driving in Europe, US or Australia is that cars are merging and changing lanes and directions all the time and may not indicate.

So you need to be hyper-aware of all cars around you and know that any of them could switch lanes or turn at any point without notice.

Since traffic was generally moving quite slowly (so you don’t have to worry about needing to drive really fast to keep up), I did not find this an issue when Malaysia driving but you do need to be more aware than you may be used to.

On the upside, this means that if you suddenly realise you are in the wrong lane or need to turn at the intersection you are metres away from, you can and people will get out of your way. Handy when you are in a new place!

In Sarawak, I found cars would overtake me in the right lane often at high speed. I found this a little unnerving, but thankfully roads weren’t that busy there. Still, I nearly had an accident with someone when I was turning right and they had come out of nowhere, trying to speed past me on the opposite side of the road. So always check that a car is not overtaking when turning as well.

Driving in KL is probably the toughest because of lots of traffic and a more complicated road system. While it is still very doable, I’d recommend not having a car here and saving it for when you explore the rest of the country.

Is It Safe To Drive In Malaysia?

It is generally safe with great roads, cheap petrol and frequent road signs. The Malaysia driving side is on the left (same as Australia and the UK).

The biggest difference I have found is that people park where they want, go through traffic lights when they want and change lanes when they want.

I was involved in one accident when driving Malaysia in our year living in Penang and it was someone rear-ending me because I stopped when the traffic lights turned red, and they didn’t expect me to. They were going slowly anyway so damage was minimal.

If you are involved in any accident, it’s important to go to a local police station and report it as soon as you can. If you don’t and the other party does, even if it was their fault, you can be blamed and could have a fine when exiting the country. This is particularly important when you are a driving in Malaysia tourist.

If you hired a car then ring your agency and they should help you with this.

In the main areas and highways, the roads are in good condition. In fact, we have rarely driven on a road that wasn’t. There were a lot of roadworks on the main highway in Sarawak when I was there in 2023 though which slowed things down a lot.

You should also be aware of motorcyclists. They can be particularly crazy drivers and actually most deaths on Malaysian roads are in this category. I recommend you hire a car over a motorcycle.

Click here to see rental car options and prices in Malaysia.

Drivers License

As noted above, it is fine to be driving in Malaysia with US license, and if you’re wondering can I drive in Malaysia with Australian license, the answer is yes – driving in Malaysia with Australian license is fine. A driving license Malaysia for foreigners is not needed if you have one of these and are just visiting for holidays. Under these rules, a Singapore license can drive in Malaysia as long as you are not staying in the country for longer than 90 days.

HOWEVER, if you are using a foreign driving license in Malaysia, make sure you bring your full license (including any paper part) and that it is in good, readable condition. You also need to take an international driving permit. This is usually straightforward to get in your home country and is basically a transaltion of your license.

If you are in Australia, you can get the international driving permit online here.

Note that you can’t just take the international driving permit. You need your home license as well.

If you are moving to Malaysia, you need your home license and an international driving permit as well for when you arrive. However, you should also get a local license which is a simple process.  It’s best to get up to date information in Malaysia if this applies to you.

The Malaysia driving license age and minimum driving age is 17 years old. If you’re renting a car, the minimum driving age is generally 23 and you need to have held your license for a year although this can vary depending on the operator..

Otherwise, driving in Malaysia with Singapore license, driving in Malaysia with UK license, etc is fine. Just have your home license and international driving permit.


There are plenty of toll roads in Malaysia which will save you a lot of time for minimal cost. You need a Touch ‘n Go card to use the tolls. You need to load this card with money and then you can use it to pass through the toll gates.

You can buy a Touch ‘n Go card at toll kiosks along the highway, petrol stations, and Touch ‘n Go hubs. We have been able to buy them and load more money at toll points by making sure we picked the right kiosk.

When driving on toll roads or highways, only go in the right most lane when overtaking.

Parking in Kuala Lumpur can i drive in malaysia with us license
Parking in Kuala Lumpur

You can tell if a road is a toll road by looking at the signs. The signs where they say how many kilometres away upcoming cities are will be in green (blue signs are toll-free roads).

Car Seats

Malaysia brought in car seat rules in 2020. If you are travelling with kids under 12/36kg/135cm then they should be in an appropriate car seat. This is one that meets UNR standard R44 or R129.

Generally, this is a 5-point harness car seat for under 4’s and then a booster seat.

The government does seem to go back and forth on how mandatory this is, and it is not required in taxis.


In popular areas, you will probably need to pay for parking. The exact rules on this depend where you are. In Georgetown, Penang, for example, there was a complicated system for street parking and you needed to buy a book of vouchers. We avoided it by using big car parks.

Other places there may be a meter and you may need to go to a central spot to pay for this and enter your car registration number (so make sure you know it!) and then you’ll be given a paper slip to display on your metre.

It’s best to read the signs to try to work out what the specific method is for where you are parking (we always found this to be clear) or use a big car park (often attached to shopping centres) where you pay per hour or day and it’s easier to work out what is going on.

Petrol Stations

Petrol stations are frequent and easy to find. Along major highways and tollways, these are likely to have some eating options and toilets too and make for a good rest stop.

The petrol is very cheap compared to most countries. In 2023, I was shocked when I filled up the tank in my hire car for only RM43 (AUD$14)!

You pay before getting petrol, and there is usually somewhere to pay at the pump with a credit/debit card.

Car Hire

There are many car rental companies in Malaysia including all the major brands and some local ones too. Local car hire companies are likely to be cheaper but not as handy as the international chains that are likely to be in many locations.

We used Magic Green car hire company when we were living in Penang and highly recommend them. For other destinations, or to find the best deal, we recommend RentalCars.com.

Click here to do a search now.

As noted above, you usually have to be over 23 and people over 65 may have limited options as well. A credit card and valid, full drivers license will also be required. I also recommend booking well ahead for car hire in popular destinations as car hires can get sold out during popular holiday periods in Malaysia.


The good news is that if you decide you don’t want to drive yourself, you can still have many of the benefits of hiring a car by booking long-distance taxis between your destinations in Malaysia.

Taxis are very affordable in Malaysia and are an easy way to get around.

We can book long distances taxis for you here.

Looking for the ultimate Malaysia Itinerary Planner for your trip? Click here to get it now!

I hope you now feel comfortable about driving in Malaysia. It is an excellent way to explore more of this country. Let me know if you have any further questions in our Facebook group. If you are looking for some great road trip itineraries, find our best ones here.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.


  1. Great post. This has definitely helped me in many ways. I was a bit skeptical about driving on my next trip, but I am definitely going to look into hiring now. Thanks a lot.

    1. No problem. I think hiring a car is definitely under utilised by travellers in Malaysia 🙂

  2. Hi

    Great article. Do you have to use a credit card when renting a car or do they accept debit card or cash? Thank you

    1. It depends on the company. I think you can usually rent without a credit card but it will require a big deposit.

  3. “Until recently, you had to apply for a local license at this point but this process is suspended at time of writing this…”

    This policy was amended late 2019 and published in local media in November. Expats can once again apply for and receive a Malaysian Drivers Licence. Simple process for those living here on MM2H visa.

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