I visited Malaysia alone for three weeks knowing only a little about what there is to see in the country. Still, I wanted to break down my travel expenses so you can get an idea of how much it costs to travel to Malaysia.
I arrived in Malaysia by bus after being in Singapore for a week, as it was cheaper as well as comfortable. I spent three weeks in the country, but if you are a veteran of this blog, you will know that I travel very slowly since I combine it with my work. I was alone in Melaka and Kuala Lumpur I was alone in Melaka and Kuala Lumpur during those three weeks. Still, with these prices, you can get used to the idea of what food, accommodation, activities, and transportation can cost you all over the country.
Currency and how to pay in Malaysia
The currency used in Malaysia is the ringgit (MYR). To give you an idea, 100 MYR equals about € 21 or $ 24 US. I recommend that you download some currency exchange app (I use XE) to know the real exchange at that time.
You can use both an ATM card and pay by cash in Malaysia. However, I would say that you will almost always pay by cash in general. Although you can pay by card without any problem in Kuala Lumpur’s shopping malls and stores, there is still a lot of street life or small shops that will not accept cards. In addition, bank cards usually charge you a commission when you pay in a currency other than yours, and to top it off, the conversion rates they give are terrible.
I have solved this problem by using the Bnext card, a non-bank and commission-free card that I wanted to try for this trip. You can read my experience and opinion of Bnext in this article.
I recommend you calculate how much money you are going to spend on the trip and take a large part of it in cash from your country. For security, don’t keep all your money in the same place. Once in Malaysia, go to a currency exchange office to buy ringgits. If you need to withdraw money from the bank, do not do it in small amounts since they will charge you a commission every time you do it. Take advantage and get between € 200-300 at a time.
Cheap flights to Malaysia
Malaysia’s main airport is Kuala Lumpur International Airport located in the south of the city. It is located almost an hour away by car or public transport from the city.
If you fly from Barcelona or Madrid, count that as a round trip as tickets will cost you an average of € 600 each and could shoot up to € 700 or € 800. However, if you are flexible with dates and you are booking ahead of time, you can find cheap flights for € 400. Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar are the most common airline companies that fly to this destination.
In my case, I arrived in Malaysia by bus, so I did not have this great expense of the flight. My trip continued to Japan after Malaysia so I only had to buy a ticket for an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo.
- Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo (Air Asia): € 157,34
TOTAL spent on flights: 157,34€
Transportation: How to get around Malaysia
Malaysia is a country that is very well connected by bus between cities. In my case, I used the bus to go from Singapore to Melaka and from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur. You can buy the bus ticket at the station itself or at a local agency of the place where you are (there are accommodations that have the ticket sales service). Another option is to buy it online on websites like Easybook (I used it to buy one of the two tickets).
As for moving within the city itself, it varies greatly from one to the other. I cannot give you a general rule. Kuala Lumpur is connected by monorail, bus and there are also services like Grab (it is a service like Uber). In addition, it has four bus lines called GO KL that are free and take you to the most important tourist spots. Still, I always advise going on foot whenever you can.
- Bus from Singapore to Melaka: SGD 23 (€ 14.72)
- Bus from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur: SGD 5 (€ 3.20)
- KL Airport Grab taxi: MYR 65 (€ 13.72)
TOTAL spent on internal transport: € 31.64
Food cost in Malaysia
Malaysia is undoubtedly very cheap. It seems even cheaper when you come from a country like Singapore. However, you can make a trip cheaply or at more European prices. There are a lot of restaurants focused on tourists or that due to their location (especially in shopping malls or five-star hotels) make their prices similar to those of Spain. Cafeterias are also often “expensive” places to eat or drink. Instead, you can eat at street stalls or local restaurants for € 1.
- NoMi Vegetarian Restaurant (Melaka): MYR 34 (€ 7.18)
- Food (Melaka): MYR30.90 (€ 2.57)
- NoMi Vegetarian Restaurant (Melaka): MYR 22 (€ 4.64)
- The Daily Fix Cafe Breakfast: MYR 25.95 (€ 5.48)
- Durian ice cream: MYR 5 (€ 1.06)
- Chinese vegetarian restaurant: MYR 5.30 (€ 1.12)
- Cappuccino: MYR 12 (€ 2.53)
- Chinese vegetarian restaurant: 4 MYR (€ 0.84)
- Starbucks: MYR13.25 (€ 2.80)
- Whim food in a Spanish restaurant: MYR 68.20 (€ 14.39)
- Simple Lyfe Vegetarian Restaurant: MYR 28 (€ 5.91)
- Food: MYR 12.90 (€ 2.72)
- CoCo Ichibanya meal: MYR 26.70 (€ 5.63)
- Simple Lyfe Vegetarian Restaurant: MYR 21.60 (€ 4.56)
- Food Court Food Republic: MYR 14 (€ 2.95)
- Buy 7Eleven: MYR 23 (€ 4.85)
- Purchase of fruit and salad: MYR 15.80 (€ 3.33)
TOTAL spent on food: MYR362.60 (€ 76.52)
Where to sleep in Malaysia
Malaysia has a wide range of accommodation for all tastes. If you are looking for a standard hotel with private rooms, you can find it. Likewise, there are also seedy or designer hostels. Of course, you can also find luxury hotels to spend a vacation in style.
In my case, I chose to stay in hostels with shared rooms only for girls. The hostel I chose in Melaka was a great success. I will never forget Yalu, the owner of the Omni Hostel Melaka. He is super friendly, cares about customers, and even took me to try the traditional ice cream called chendol. An extremely clean, well-kept hostel with a common room and kitchen and at the foot of the river with very cool views.
I stayed in a private room for some privacy for two nights in Kuala Lumpur. The hotel is called Big M Hotel. The rooms were clean, a decent size with a fairly large top floor common room and a small kitchen. It was well located, close to Merdeka Square and Chinatown, but I did not like the atmosphere when traveling alone.
Finally, I ended up spending ten nights with breakfast included at The Bed KLCC hostel located very close to the Petronas Twin Towers. I was only planning to spend five more nights in Kuala Lumpur, but I was so comfortable working and getting to know the city that I decided to stay for the rest of my visit to Malaysia at this hostel.
- Omni Hostel Melaka (6 nights): 243 MYR (€ 51)
- Big M Hotel in Kuala Lumpur (2 nights): MYR 179.72 (€ 38)
- The Bed KLCC (9 nights): MYR 558 (€ 117.2)
TOTAL spent on accommodation (17 nights): MYR 980.72 (€ 206)
Sightseeing and tours
The tourist visits, activities, and tours that you choose on your trip are usually the key to raising or lowering our budget. While food and accommodation are expenses that we cannot eliminate, sightseeing is optional and depends on each one.
In my case, I usually like to explore places on foot and only pay to enter the places that really catch my attention. However, after almost a month of traveling alone, I decided to pay to join two tours in Kuala Lumpur and thus meet other people. Although they were a little expensive, I do not regret it at all because I still keep in touch with all the people I met during the tours today.
- Torres Petronas viewpoint ticket: 80 MYR (€ 16.90)
- Movie night at the hostel: MYR 6 (€ 1.27)
- Tour around Kuala Lumpur: € 11
- Batu Caves Tour: MYR 150 (€ 31.66)
TOTAL spent on visits and tours: € 60.83
SIM card in Malaysia
In order to always stay connected, I bought myself a local SIM card upon arrival in Malaysia. This had unlimited data and was valid for 30 days. I spent a total of 19 days in Malaysia, so my 15-day card fell short. There are many different companies with different packs. Depending on the duration of your trip and what you are looking for (mobile data, calls, or both), you can choose one pack or the other.
- SIM card: 50 MYR (€ 10.55)
TOTAL spent on the internet: € 10.55
How much does it cost to travel to Malaysia
Personally, Malaysia did not seem to me as an expensive country. I think it is a destination that allows you to adapt to the expenses that you have established for your trip. I am aware that I could have made it much cheaper by saving tours or not going to cafes as much, but at the same time, they did not seem expensive enough to take away my whim. In the end, you are traveling and it’s also about having fun.
In my case, I combine working with traveling, so where I travel is where I “live”. I control costs a lot, but Malaysia seemed very comfortable to follow this lifestyle since I did not have to skimp on expenses. You might have to control your expenses more if you are a person who likes to shop or drink alcohol.
Finally, the expense has been:
TOTAL spent for 19 days in Malaysia: € 542.88 (€ 28.57 per day)