Malaysia – Summary & Costs

Malaysia seems to get left off a lot of southeast Asian itineraries, and I’ve read at least 2 prominent travel blogs where they have disliked it and left early. I honestly don’t understand it.

OK, so Malaysia is a tad more expensive than Thailand, Cambodia et all, and is more developed, which at times I guess can make it feel less exciting, but there is so much history and so many places to see! It has beaches, jungles, temples, huge cities, off the beaten track towns and paradise islands.

Most importantly it has wonderfully friendly people. In a good amount of Thailand, locals are most definitely tourist weary, but we just didn’t find that in most of Malaysia. Food stall owners would chat with you about which food to get, guesthouse owners would always want to help you and very few people at all are out to rip tourists off. There are obviously exceptions, I’m not saying we didn’t encounter any rudeness, but it is minimal.

Anyway, that was my Malaysia promotion, here is what it cost us and some information about travelling in the country.

Our Route

Kuala Lumpur – 4 nights
Ipoh – 3 nights
Penang – 4 nights
Langkawi – 3 nights
Perhentian Kecil – 5 nights (one of which was on a bus)
Taman Negara – 3 nights
Kuala Lumpur – 1 night (for Katy’s brother to catch his flight)
Melaka – 3 nights


On arrival most countries are given a visa exemption, as UK citizens ours was 90 days.


The currency used is Malaysian ringgit, usually abbreviated as RM.

ATM’s are in abundance in most cities. We tended to use HSBC and Maybank, though the latter has a limit of RM1000 per transaction. We didn’t encounter any fees to use any ATM’s which is a pleasant surprise.

What Did We Spend?

All costs are total for 2 people over 27 days.

Accommodation – £349.18
Eating Out – £278.95
Transport – £257.92
Groceries – £95.22
Attractions – £90.02
Shopping – £34.80
Alcohol – £58.68
Coffee/Drinks/Snacks – £46.44
Petrol – £13.34
Miscellaneous – £16.42
Laundry – £8.98

Total – £1,249.95
Per Day – £46.29

Over budget sadly but I’m not sure why. Nothing was hugely expensive, although some areas cost us more than expected for accommodation, and we moved around a lot which as we all know, costs money.

Average Costs

£1 = RM5.2
$1= RM3.2

Dorm bed – Rm30
Private Room  – RM60-100
Average restauarnt dish – RM15-20
Average street food dish – RM3-6
Large beer at a bar – RM20 and up
Large beer at a 7/11 – RM10 and up (far less in Langkawi)
Large beer at a hawker centre – RM13-15
Can of soft drink – RM1-3
Bus fare between cities – RM15-25
Motorbike rental – RM30-40 per day
Car rental – RM180-300 per day


Most of our travel was by bus. It was almost always very good value for money, though the quality of the buses varied a lot. At most bus stations, multiple companies ply the same routes so usually it is just a case of getting onto the next available one unless you desperately want to ravel with a specific operator. Prices are always very similar, maybe RM1-2 difference between operators.

As we found out to our cost in Kuala Perlis, buses don’t always run as frequently as you would imagine on some routes, so check online.

In Kuala Lumpur the monorail, LRT and KTM trains are all very cheap ways of getting around the city. Taxi’s are not hugely expensive but they take longer than you’d expect due to the huge roads in the city and the difficulty of getting off them and to the place you want.

I wanted to take more trains in Malaysia but sadly we only took 1 – from KL to Ipoh. This was using the new ETS (electric) train, and was affordable and comfortable. Unfortunately it still stopped for over half an hour in the middle of nowhere, which by all accounts is a common occurrence on the trains in Malaysia.

A route I really wanted to take was from Melaka to Singapore but as the nearest station to Melaka is half hours drive away, and the whole journey would have ended up far more expensive and time consuming than using the bus, the bus is what we used.


I knew the food would be good in Malaysia but it still blew us away just how good it was. It’s definitely in my top 3 favourite food countries because there is just SO much on offer.

The reason there is so much choice is because of the people. Ethnic Malays, Chinese and Indians all have their own cuisine, plus there are countless dishes that are a mixture of cuisines.

Our favourite way to start the day was with a couple of Roti Canai – a multi layered flatbread usually cooked with ghee. It’s served with a small bowl of curry and sometimes dahl as well. It’s dirt cheap (RM1 per bread usually) and delicious. Without a doubt my favourite breakfast in Asia, possibly the world.

Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut milk and served with a variety of side dishes such as curry, nuts and egg. Nasi Kandar is an Indian dish of rice and a variety of curries and was another breakfast favourite of mine.

Nasi Goreng is fried rice cooked with sweet soy sauce and Mie Goreng is the same but with noodles and both are found all over.

Nonya cuisine is something we didn’t have a huge amount of, but the curries are rich and delicious.

I went over a lot of food in my Penang post, and Char Kway Teow is still one of my favourite dishes. It’s just beautiful.

Pork is something you will rarely find in Malaysia, due to the Muslim majority, however it is found in some Chinese dishes such as Wanton Mee.

For drinks, Teh Tarik is a great drink to accompany a meal – it means ‘pulled tea’ and is made by pouring it between cups from a great height, making it very light and frothy. White coffee originates from Ipoh but is found all over, it is roasted with margarine, giving the coffee a light flavour.


Rooms are usually good value though not as cheap as Thailand. The islands are unsurprisingly more expensive than the mainland. In KL and Penang we stayed in hostels where dorms where clean and good value


Sorry for the rant but the internet in Malaysia is terrible! And yet it shouldn’t be, this is a rich high tech country. The only places we had decent internet speeds was KL, Melaka and Penang. Everywhere else was pretty poor, as was the 3G reception. Sort it out Malaysia!


  1. Amy October 21, 2014
    • Greg October 22, 2014
  2. Wibi January 28, 2015

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