Malaysians with wanderlust will be happy to note that the Malaysian passport has climbed up one spot globally to 12th place in the latest edition of the Henley Passport Index.

Malaysia is the second highest ranking country in South-East Asia after Singapore, according to the index (formerly known as the Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index) which looked into the travel freedom of countries based on an authoritative database of travel information.

The index, a collaboration between global residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners and the International Air Transport Association, indicated that Malaysia now offers visa-free travel to 166 countries instead of 164 countries .

Henley & Partners Singapore managing partner Dominic Volek said the need for visa-free access to global markets, whether it be for business or leisure, is more important than ever before.

“We live in a challenging economy today. Looking at factors such as the US travel ban, isolationist and protectionist practices, it is evident that that seamless global mobility will continue to face impediments that need to be bridged,” he said.

Globally, the Malaysian passport is ranked markedly higher compared to several other countries in the region this year.

Thailand ranks in 64th place with visa-free access to 73 countries. Indonesia and the Philippines share the 72nd spot with three other countries on the index, allowing its passport holders visa-free travel to 63 countries.

The new ranking is good news for the Malaysian passport that loses its ground in last year’s index by placing 13th globally.