Last updated: 26 January 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.
There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. There is a threat to foreigners of kidnapping and criminality on the eastern coast of Sabah and in particular the islands close to the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines.
Recent incidents involving tourists include:
On 12 July, gunmen killed a member of the police and kidnapped another at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort on the island of Mabul, off Semporna.
On 2 April, armed men abducted 2 women, a Chinese tourist, and a Philippine hotel worker, from Singamata Reef Resort. Singamata Island is situated off the coastal town of Semporna in eastern Sabah.
On 15 November 2013, 2 Taiwanese tourists were attacked in their room at the Sipadan Pom Pom Resort, off the coast of eastern Sabah. A male tourist was killed and his wife kidnapped.
You should take great care in the town of Sandakan and along the coastal area south to Tawau. You should also take great care in areas east of Lahad Datu and around Semporna following the confrontation in March 2013 between insurgents and Malaysian security forces. Keep up to date with developments, and follow the advice of your tour operator and the local authorities.
Malaysia is a multicultural, but mostly Muslim country.
Around 435,500 British nationals visit Malaysia each year. Most visits are trouble free, but incidents of petty crime, especially bag snatching, can affect visitors.