First things to know about Malaysia

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Malaysia is a unique travel experience that is much different from its neighbors. From the dense urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur to the pristine beaches of the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia is a beautiful and often underrated country. 

>> Remember some common phrases for travellers in Kuala Lumpur

Spend the day with a traditional tribe or in a tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands or trek through the huge national parks of Gunung Mulu and Taman Negara, encountering incredible wildlife including tigers and orangutans. Make sure to head to Borneo and explore the jungle, and dive at Spidan, one of the best dive locations in the world. Malaysia has a ton of stuff to offer travelers and is often quickly visited by travelers who breathe through on their way to or from Thailand. Take this country slowly, enjoy all the great Indian food and curries, and get off the beaten path to get the country to yourself.

Typical Costs

Accommodation

Dorms cost between 25-50 MYR per night, with larger cities being on the high end of that spectrum. A private room will cost around 75 MYR per night. Free WiFi and free breakfast are quite common though most hostels do not have kitchens if you wanted to cook your own food. Camping is available for those who are traveling with a tent, but only in the nature parks and on public land. Budget hotels with free WiFi, A/C, and free breakfast start at around 75 MYR per night for a double. For a brand-name hotel, expect to pay closer to 200 MYR per night. Airbnb is also available throughout the country, with shared accommodation starting around 50 MYR per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 250 MYR per night.

Hotel in Malaysia (via booking.com)

Food

A street meal will start under 5 MYR and rarely cost more than 15 MYR. Fast food (think McDonald’s) will cost around 14 MYR for a combo meal. Expect to pay 10-20 MYR in restaurants, however western meals will always cost more. For a meal at a mid-range restaurant expect to pay around 25 MYR per person. Beer will be under 15 MYR, and a week’s worth of groceries will cost between 90-150 MYR. Stick to local food items, as western specialties like wine and cheese will destroy your grocery budget!

Transportation

Expect to pay around 5-15 MYR per hour on a bus trip. Taxis can be expensive as the fare is charged per person and you’ll be charged four fares if you can’t find anyone to share with! Within Kuala Lumpur, many taxis do not have working meters. In this case, agree on a price up-front! A bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur will cost around 50 MYR, while flights can be found for as little as 100 MYR. A train from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok will cost around 175 MYR, while a flight can be found for around 300 MYR.

Money saving tips

Taxis

Taxis aren’t usually metered in Malaysia, so make sure to agree on the fare before you set off.

Local street food

Street stalls are the place to go for hawker food which is delicious and costs just a few bucks. In my opinion, it’s the best food in the country — and the cheapest!

Street food in Malaysia (via cosmopolitancurrymania.com)

Take a free waling tour

A free walking tour with Airotour is a great way to explore Kuala Lumpur. You’ll not only get to see the sights but you’ll learn about the history and culture, too. Win-win!

Camp

It’s possible to camp in Taman Negara to save on accommodation costs — expect to pay around 5 MYR per night.

Don’t drink

As Malaysia is a Muslim country, drinking is frowned upon but it does happen. However, to restrict it the authorities have made drinking very, very expensive. Save your drinking for countries like Thailand, where the alcohol flows more freely and is better on the budget.

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