Last updated Monday, September 01, 2014 09:20pm

Malaysia and Singapore were the only two Southeast Asian countries to make the top 10 in the 2013 index. — AFP picMalaysia and Singapore were the only two Southeast Asian countries to make the top 10 in the 2013 index. — AFP picKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Malaysia’s passport is ranked the ninth best in the world for travellers, a recent survey found, based on the number of visa-free countries people can travel to out of 219 destinations.

The 2013 Visa Restrictions Index by Henley & Partners, a global consulting firm in international residence and citizenship planning, revealed that the Malaysian passport enables Malaysians to travel to 163 countries without a visa.

In comparison, a Singaporean passport allows visa-free travel to 167 countries, putting the island republic three rungs above Malaysia on the index at number six.

“In today’s globalised world, visa restrictions are an important tool for governments to control the movement of foreign nationals across borders,” Henley & Partners said in a statement carried by Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

“At the same time, visa requirements or the lack thereof, are also an indication of the relationship between individual nations and the status of a country within the international community of nations,” it added.

Malaysia jumped five spots to ninth place from the previous index, where the country was ranked 14th with visa-free travel to 153 countries, 10 less than the current 163.

Malaysia and Singapore were the only two Southeast Asian countries to make the top 10 in the 2013 index.

The best countries in the world to have a passport from are the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden - tied respectively for the top spot - that enable visa-free entry to 173 countries.

Malaysia and Malta were tied at the ninth spot with visa-free travel to 163 countries.

Singapore was ranked equally with Australia and Greece at number six with visa-free entry to 167 countries.

The worst passport in the world for travellers to hold is from Afghanistan, ranked at number 93rd, as it allows visa-free entry to just 28 countries, followed by Iraq (31 countries), and Pakistan and Somalia at 32 countries each.

Other Southeast Asian countries on the list are Brunei at the 19th spot (visa-free travel to 146 countries), Thailand at 60th (68 countries), Philippines at 69th (58 countries), Indonesia at 73rd (53 countries), Laos at 80th (46 countries), Vietnam at 81st (45 countries), and Myanmar at 86th (40 countries).

According to the index, there are 219 destination countries in total.