Travel Costs: Malaysia

How much should I budget for Malaysia?
The Sungai Melaka River runs right through the middle of Melaka, Malaysia.

Gorgeous beaches, mountainous regions, fast-paced city living, exotic jungles, highly developed infrastructure and cheap travel costs, Malaysia is unlike any other Southeast Asian country. Located south of Thailand and spanning over two landmasses (Peninsular and Borneo Malaysia), Malaysia is the melting pot of the region, made up of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures. Malaysia was our favourite country in Southeast Asia, and not just because it had the lowest travel costs. The people, the food, and uniqueness of the country made it an incredibly enjoyable place to explore.


We entered Malaysia by boat, taking a short ferry ride from Koh Lipe, Thailand to Palau Langkawi, Malaysia. Going through Malaysian immigration was a breeze and we were issued a FREE 90-day visa on arrival. Refreshing! We spent 4 nights in a double, fan cooled, ensuite room about a 10-minute walk to Pantai Cenang on the west coast of the island. We spent our days relaxing on the beach and circling the island by rented motorbike. Oh, and I should mention that Langkawi’s main claim to fame is that it’s entirely duty free. This is the place to drink up!

From Langkawi, we took another ferry south to Palau Penang. For 5 nights we stayed with friends in Batu Ferringhi (saving us accommodation costs). We took a tour and a cooking class at the Tropical Spice Garden, who sponsored our day in exchange for us making a video about our experience. We also rented a car for a day and toured around the island with our friends. We spent an additional 2 days in Georgetown in a 4-person dorm room for 2 nights and checked out the Penang Museum. From Penang, we flew over to Sumatra, Indonesia for a week. I’ve included those costs in our post of Indonesia Travel Costs. Upon returning back to Penang from Sumatra, we stayed again in the same hostel in Georgetown for an additional 3 nights. We ate a lot of street food and wandered the different neighbourhoods.

Travel costs for travel in Malaysia.
Starting on Palau Langkawi, we traveled south through peninsular Malaysia for 26 days.

Then we took a minivan over to the mainland and spent 3 nights in the Cameron Highlands in a double room with shared bathroom. In the Highlands we did a ½ day trek and came face to face with the famous Rafflesia (a rare large plant), did a second day trek on our own, and wandered through the Boh’s Tea Plantation and picked up a few boxes of tea. We then took another minivan south to Kuala Lumpur and spent 5 nights in a double room with AC and shared bathroom. In Kuala Lumpur, we did a lot of site seeing; checking out the Central Market, KLCC, the Islamic Museum, Menara KL Tower, the Batu Caves, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Colonial District.

From Kuala Lumpur, we bused it down to Melaka, our final stop in Malaysia. We stayed for 4 nights in a double, fan cooled, shared bath guesthouse in Chinatown. We went to the Melaka and Baba Nyonya Museums, checked out the old Dutch colonial buildings and ruins of St. Paul’s Church, wandered through Dataran Pahlawan and Mahkota Parade Shopping Complexes, and enjoyed the Jonker Street Night Market.

We had originally wanted to visit the Borneo side of Malaysia, but due to costs, we opted to stick to the peninsular portion of the country.

Travel Costs

Once again, to break down our costs, I’ve split our spending into these categories:

  • Visas: the cost to get into the country
  • Accommodations: places we stayed
  • Transportation: everything from buses within a country and to another country, to bicycle/motorbike rentals, to ferry rides, and subway fares
  • Food: everything we ate and drank
  • Sites: entrance fees to museums, temples, ruins, day trips, overnight trips, cooking courses, and even a scuba diving course
  • Entertainment: seeing cultural performances, going to the movies, etc
  • Laundry: laundry was available everywhere we went for very affordable prices, we really didn’t feel like washing our clothes in the sink
  • Miscellaneous: all our souvenirs, massages, parcels shipped home, and toiletries

Prices are shown for two (2) people and are in Canadian Dollars, unless otherwise specified.

Malaysia:  26 Days, $52.91/day ($1 CAD = 3 MYR)

  • Visas: $0.00 (yay!)
  • Accommodation: $364.82
  • Transportation: $204.98
  • Food: $588.58
  • Sites: $89.23
  • Entertainment: $13.77
  • Laundry: $12.49 (we had it done three times)
  • Misc: $101.73
  • Total: $1,375.60

So in total, we spent $1,375.60 for 26 days, averaging $52.91/day.

Big-Ticket Item: Nothing really, just indulged in some incredible cuisine once again! Note: drinking in Malaysia costs more than other parts of Southeast Asia because of the Muslim culture (except for Langkawi).

Our cheapest accommodation was our double room with shared bath in the Cameron Highlands (40 MYR, or roughly $13.50/night) and our most expensive accommodation was our double room with AC and shared bath in Kuala Lumpur (64 MYR, or roughly $21.50/night).

Overall Impressions

What wasn’t there to love about Malaysia? So much so, we actually wrote a post about it. Things just seemed straightforward. There were no hassles, no hidden agendas, and the people were wonderful. What you see is what you get here.

We loved the multiculturalism in the country and how cohesively they all worked together. Being the first country we ever visited that was predominantly Muslim, we were also intrigued to learn more about this culture. The calls to prayer reminded us everyday that we were somewhere different, somewhere exotic, and somewhere quite enchanting.

How much does it cost to travel in Malaysia?
Indian banana leaf curry.

Food was out of this world and I maintain it’s the best in Southeast Asia. No other place in the region has such an array of food to tantalize your taste buds. You could have Chinese clay pot one day; Indian banana leaf curries the next; and stir-fried Malay noodles the day after. Or better yet, head to a hawker centre and get a little bit of everything.

Malaysia is a very developed country, but it still maintains a lot of the Southeast Asian charm (and prices!) to make it an excellent, and diverse destination. As you can imagine, we can’t wait to go back!

Comments or questions? Leave them below!

This post is part of a 7-day series on travel costs through Southeast Asia. Tomorrow I’ll breakdown the costs for traveling through Indonesia.


7 thoughts on “Travel Costs: Malaysia

  1. Thanks.. it seems wonderful. We are planning a trip there soon with young children and so your post is much appreciated.

  2. Malaysian food is unbeatable.

    Glad you had such a great time, and so frugall!

  3. Love the post. Can I ask how expensive is eating out on langwaki? We just need to make sure we are taking enough money. Thank you

    1. Hi Sally! Eating out on Langkawi can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. We were just back in Langkawi this past January and it’s definitely becoming quite the hot spot (thus driving prices up a bit since our backpacking trip). On the main strip at Cenang Beach, expect to pay between $6-12/person at most of those restaurants. We found a great little food stall on the south side of the street run by a husband and wife team and got dishes closer to $2-5/person.

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