We mean bandits in boats who want you for the ransom you'll fetch. Don't be mistaken, this is no swashbuckling adventure with Captain Jack Sparrow - these pirates mean business!
There are a few hot spots, however since the Malaysian government increased look-outs, boosted security and sent the army on patrol following a spree of tourist kidnappings in the early 2000's the actual risk is much reduced.
(Click here to go to this Google map)
Strait of Malacca
This 805 km stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra has been know for piracy. Piracy and kidnapping in this area is something travellers should be aware of. Since 2003 the amount of kidnappings has dropped more than half thanks to increased patrols in this area.
Lahad Datu is located on the island of Borneo. There are still some reports of speed boats in these waters armed with machine guns so the best advice would be to stick to the land if travelling in a small group or alone. Lahad is flooded with tourist resorts - making it a target. Don‘t visit deserted ATMs on the water front at night if you don‘t want to chance being a pirate's treasure!
In the past, particular concern was for isolated resorts which can only be reached by water. This includes the islands of Sipadan and Mabul. While still a risk, the increased patrol in this area will put travellers minds at rest to let them soak up the sun, pirate free.
If you do run into some unlucky trouble, keep the following in mind: