Common Tourist Scams in Kuala Lumpur and How to Dodge Them

You can find multiple common tourist scams in Kuala Lumpur like taxi scams, Child Vendor Deceptions, The Pushy Street Vendor Ploy, The Misleading Money Exchange, The Fake Tour Guide Gambit, etc.

This article sheds light on those common tourism scams as well as offering tips to protect yourself.


Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant capital of Malaysia, is a city that beautifully combines tradition and modernity. With its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, it's no wonder that millions of tourists flock to this bustling metropolis each year.

However, amidst the excitement of exploring Kuala Lumpur, travelers need to be aware of the potential scams that can dampen their experience.

1. The Bogus Taxi Tangle:

The Scam: Kuala Lumpur, like many other cities, has its share of unscrupulous taxi drivers who prey on unsuspecting tourists. They often refuse to use the meter, overcharge for rides, or take unnecessarily long routes to inflate the fare.

How to Recognize It: Ensure you choose taxis with working meters. Use trusted ride-sharing apps like Grab or Uber (if available) for transparent pricing instead of hailing taxis on the street. Beware of drivers who push for a fixed fare instead of using the meter.

2. The Pushy Street Vendor Ploy:

The Scam: As you stroll through the lively streets of Kuala Lumpur, you might come across street vendors who actively promote their products with enthusiasm. Additionally, a few of them could employ high-pressure strategies, aiming to persuade you into buying items at inflated prices.

How to Recognize It: If you find yourself uninterested, it's advisable to politely decline, and steer clear of protracted conversations with assertive vendors. When you opt to make a purchase, it's a good practice to negotiate prices, and if the offered price doesn't seem reasonable, be ready to walk away.

3. The Misleading Money Exchange:

The Scam: Be careful with shady money changers. They might offer good rates at first but give you less money later. They can also use tricks while counting your cash, leaving you with less than you thought.

How to Recognize It: Stick with trustworthy currency exchange offices or banks, even if their rates seem a bit lower. Always count your money carefully in front of the exchange agent before you go.

4. The Distraction Pickpocket Scheme:

The Scam: Beware of skilled pickpockets who often team up. While one person distracts you, another swipes your stuff. This can occur in crowded places, on public transportation, or at tourist spots.

How to Recognize It: Stay alert in busy areas, especially around tourist spots. Keep your valuables safe, use anti-theft bags, and refrain from flaunting expensive items such as jewelry or gadgets.

5. The Fake Tour Guide Gambit:

The Scam: Individuals posing as tour guides may approach tourists, offering their services. However, they may provide incorrect information, take you to overpriced shops, or disappear with your money.

How to Recognize It: Hire accredited tour guides from reputable agencies or your hotel. Do your research beforehand to know the facts about the places you plan to visit.

6. The Friendly Stranger Fraud:

The Scam: Locals or seemingly friendly strangers approach tourists with offers of hospitality or a free meal. However, their intentions may include spiking drinks, leading to theft, or even worse.

How to Recognize It: Be cautious about accepting food, drinks, or invitations from people you've just met, especially in dimly lit or isolated areas. Stick to well-lit and busy places.

7. The Bait-and-Switch Accommodation:

The Scam: When booking accommodations online, some travelers have arrived at their destination only to find that the property is nothing like what was advertised. Fake listings are especially common on lesser-known booking platforms.

How to Recognize It: Stick to reputable booking websites, read reviews carefully, and consider booking directly with the hotel if possible. Check for multiple photos and verified guest reviews.

8. The Counterfeit Souvenirs Con:

The Scam: Vendors may sell counterfeit or poor-quality souvenirs, often misrepresenting them as genuine local crafts or antiques.

How to Recognize It: Research authentic local souvenirs before your trip and ask vendors about the materials and production process. Authentic shops typically have certifications or labels.

9. The Fake Charity Scam:

The Scam: Individuals, sometimes posing as volunteers or charity workers, approach tourists for donations. However, the funds may not go to a legitimate cause.

How to Recognize It: Contribute to well-established, registered charities rather than donating to individuals on the street. Ask for identification or contact details to verify their authenticity.

10. The Credit Card Skimming Swindle:

The Scam: In restaurants or shops, dishonest employees may use portable card skimmers to clone your credit card information for fraudulent purposes.

How to Recognize It: Pay with cash whenever possible. If you must use a credit card, keep an eye on your card throughout the transaction, and regularly check your statements for any unauthorized charges.

11. The Forced Money Exchange Fraud:

The Scam: In some areas, money changers might be stationed near ATM machines and offer to exchange your currency at an exorbitant rate. They may also trick you into using their ATM, which charges high fees.

How to Recognize It: Use ATMs from reputable banks, preferably inside a bank branch. Avoid exchanging money with individuals who approach you near ATMs.

12. The "Closed Attraction" Deception:

The Scam: Touts outside popular tourist attractions may claim that the site is closed and offer to take you to an alternative location. This is often a ruse to lure tourists into shops or attractions where they are pressured to spend.

How to Recognize It: Verify the opening hours and status of attractions independently through official websites or your hotel concierge. Avoid making impulsive decisions based on information from strangers.

13. The Fake ATM Helper Scam:

The Scam: In this scam, friendly locals approach you at an ATM and offer assistance. They may claim the ATM is tricky to use, and they want to help you avoid any issues. However, their real intention is to steal your card information or money when you're not paying attention.

How to Recognize It: Politely decline assistance from strangers at ATMs. Only use ATMs located in well-lit, secure areas, such as bank branches or shopping malls.

14. The Distraction Theft:

The Scam: Scammers operate in teams, using distractions like spilled drinks or asking for directions to steal your belongings while you're briefly diverted.

How to Recognize It: Stay vigilant in crowded areas, especially when approached by strangers. Keep your belongings secure and avoid engaging in lengthy conversations with unknown individuals.

15. The Street Gambling Scam:

The Scam: A friendly local invites you to join a seemingly spontaneous street gambling game. They may involve you by asking you to bet a small amount of money. However, these games are rigged, and you'll end up losing your money.

How to Recognize It: Politely decline any invitations to participate in street gambling games. Stick to reputable casinos or licensed gambling establishments if you wish to try your luck.

16. Child Vendor Deceptions

The Scam: Deceptive child vendors in Kuala Lumpur's tourist areas exploit vulnerable children, often refugees or migrants, to elicit sympathy from tourists. They sell small items or beg for money.

How to Recognize It: Avoid engaging with child vendors in Kuala Lumpur. Don't buy from them or give money directly. Support local charities instead for a positive impact on your trip.

Additional Tips To Protect Yourself From Scams In Kuala Lumpur

  1. Use Reputable Transportation Services: When taking taxis, use reliable ride-sharing apps like Grab or opt for reputable taxi companies. Always ask the driver to use the meter, and if they refuse, consider finding another taxi.
  2. Secure Your Belongings: Use anti-theft bags or money belts to keep your valuables safe. Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places and public transportation.
  3. Stay Informed: Familiarize yourself with the common scams in Kuala Lumpur and stay updated on the latest tactics scammers use. Knowledge is your best defense against scams.
  4. Be Cautious with Strangers: While it's great to interact with locals, exercise caution when approached by strangers, especially those who seem overly friendly or pushy. Politely decline any unsolicited offers for assistance or tours.
  5. Don't Share Personal Information: Avoid sharing personal information with strangers, and be cautious about who you trust with your travel plans. Keep your itinerary private.
  6. Use Hotel Safes: Use the hotel safe to store your passport, extra cash, and valuable items when you're not using them. It's an added layer of security for your belongings.
  7. Stay Alert at ATMs: When using ATMs, choose machines located in well-lit and busy areas. Be discreet when entering your PIN and shield the keypad with your hand.
  8. Stay in Safe Neighborhoods: Choose accommodations in safe neighborhoods like Desa Parkcity, Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC), or Bukit Jalil to minimize potential risks.
  9. Keep Emergency Numbers Handy: Save important local emergency numbers in your phone, including the Tourist Police Hotline (03 2149 6590), so you can quickly seek assistance if needed.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: If something or someone feels off or suspicious, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Your safety is a priority.

FAQs on Kuala Lumpur scams

Is Kuala Lumpur a safe city for tourists?

Kuala Lumpur is generally safe for tourists. While it has its share of scams, violent crime is relatively low. Staying aware and following basic safety precautions will ensure a safe visit.

What are the most common scams in Kuala Lumpur?

Common scams include pickpocketing, taxi scams, child street vendors, and poker scams. Visitors should also be cautious of overcharging at restaurants and credit card fraud.

How can I avoid pickpocketing and bag snatching in Kuala Lumpur?

Keep your belongings secure at all times. Avoid using your phone in crowded areas, lock your bag, and hold your purse close to your body. Be especially vigilant in high-traffic locations.

Are taxis safe in Kuala Lumpur?

While taxis can be safe, some drivers may overcharge or refuse to use the meter. To avoid scams, consider using ride-sharing apps like Grab or Uber, or learn about different taxi types and fares.

Is Kuala Lumpur safe for solo travelers, including women?

Yes, Kuala Lumpur is generally safe for solo travelers, including women. However, it's advisable to take extra precautions, especially when using public transportation or in less crowded areas.

How can I protect myself from tourist scams in Kuala Lumpur?

Stay vigilant, avoid engaging with child street vendors, use reputable transportation services, and be cautious when approached by strangers. Keep your valuables secure and your wits about you.

How can I protect myself from tourist scams in Kuala Lumpur?

Stay vigilant, avoid engaging with child street vendors, use reputable transportation services, and be cautious when approached by strangers. Keep your valuables secure and your wits about you.

Are there any natural disaster risks in Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur may experience floods during the rainy season and occasional smoke haze from June to October. Earthquakes are rare, and coastal regions are at a low risk of tsunamis.

How can I make my visit to Kuala Lumpur safer and more enjoyable?

Research and plan your trip thoroughly, stay informed about local scams, follow safety guidelines, and trust your instincts. Explore the city's diverse culture, cuisine, and attractions while staying vigilant.


Kuala Lumpur is indeed an enchanting destination with plenty to offer, but it's crucial to stay alert against potential scams that could spoil your experience.

By equipping yourself with information, staying vigilant, and adhering to these safety suggestions, you can explore the city confidently and maximize your visit while safeguarding against typical tourist scams.

Enjoy the rich culture, delicious cuisine, and impressive architecture that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, all while ensuring your safety and security.

As you plan your visit to the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, remember that knowledge is your best defense against scams and potential pitfalls. By staying informed about common scams and following basic safety guidelines, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable trip.

We also encourage you to be an active participant in raising awareness about travel scams. If you have any additional information about scams in Kuala Lumpur or if you'd like to share your travel experiences in the city, please leave a comment below. Your insights can help fellow travelers stay safe and informed.

Furthermore, if you have encountered tourism scams anywhere in the world and want to contribute to our ongoing efforts to protect travelers, please reach out to us via email at Together, we can create a safer and more enjoyable travel experience for everyone.

Don't forget to share this article with your friends and family on social media to help spread awareness about the scams that tourists may encounter in Kuala Lumpur.


Safe travels, and may your visit to Kuala Lumpur be filled with unforgettable moments and enriching experiences!

author avatar
De Roka Author
I am De Roka, also known as Suman Roka. I'm the Author, Editor, Researcher, and Founder of I've been working online since 2009. Since 2014, I've been researching scams to protect people from falling for them. I've saved many folks from scams by exposing their true nature before they can trick anyone. Until now, we have saved 20M+ people from 40K+ scams. If you want to learn more about me and my team, you can visit our About Us page. You can find more about me on my Facebook profile as well.

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