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Travel in Malaysia is not as cheap as others might think it is. Well, it’s a lot cheaper than in Singapore and Brunei. But with a little travel planning for certain aspects of your trip (transport, accommodation, food and shopping) will go a long, long way. Your every dollar will be stretched so far that you’ll be tempted to extend your stay. Here’s what you need to know:
I’m often asked by my friends how much a certain flight should cost, or how to know when you’re getting a good deal and what’s the best site to use. Like me, most budget travelers turn to low-cost carriers like Cebu Pacific, JetStar or AirAsia to fly to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It’s important to check more than one site before you book your ticket. Browsing a few sites can show you a great variety in price and help you find a better flight. You can use flight comparison sites such as this Budget Flight Finder, Skyscanner, Flight Aware and Expedia. It is also possible that non-budget airlines such as Philippine Airlines and Malaysian Airlines provide a better deal, so don’t leave them out in your search for the best flight prices.
Flight prices fluctuate and sometimes, using the general rule of three-month advance purchase may not give you the best deal. Instead, it is imperative to watch out for seasonal flight deals and to follow the different airlines on Facebook to be in the loop for the latest promotions.
If you haven’t sorted out yet where you going to stay in Seoul, check out Agoda.com for a comprehensive list of hotels in all price ranges. But if most hotels are well beyond your budget, look into guesthouses or hostels instead. A bonus to staying in guesthouses and hostels is that they offer common areas like a shared kitchen where you’ll have the chance to make friends with travelers from all around the world. Alternatively, opt for a homestay with a local host, which you can look for through Airbnb or Couchsurfing.
Also, ensure that the location of your accommodation is central to save on transportation costs. Before booking your accommodation, read the reviews. Lastly, accommodations that provide free breakfast will mean that you have one less meal to pay for each day, so do take that into consideration.
There are several choices available for transportation in Malaysia: metered taxis that charter visitors within the city center, an extensive network of buses, and the light rail commuter trains. Public transportation in Malaysia is reliable, convenient, inexpensive and easy to use.
For the mass common transportation daily, I usually use the MRT, LRT and public bus. How to route our trip is very easy, just go to the RapidKL Website, and fill in the start and destination point. And then, the website will show several ways to reach the designated place, along with the tariff too.
KL’s array of bus services is quite efficient with a network of public express buses and several privately run services. Within KL city center there are five major bus hubs: KL Sentral, KLCC, Maluri, Titiwangsa and Pudu Sentral. These bus hubs are usually located near public transit stations such as Kelana Jaya Line transit stations. Buses are usually much faster than trains: however some do arrive at awkward times in the middle of the night. To check for updated bus routes and corresponding fare-click here.
There are two types of taxis in Malaysia: local and long-distance. The former are usually red-and-white or yellow-and-blue and are metered taxis that can be hailed throughout the city. Some taxi drivers charge tourists extravagant fares so be sure to insist that they turn on the meter.
Local metered taxi fares are cheap, starting 3 RM. Long distance cabs can be found at Puduraya bus station: they only operate when they receive a full set of four passengers, so either wait for others to show up, get a group together or charter the whole taxi (the fare can get quite steep though). To check the latest taxi rate click here.
Food can take a big portion of your budget when traveling. Don’t worry, Malaysia offers a variety of cuisine at a very affordable price. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat well anywhere in Malaysia; in fact, if your budget is tight, you can survive nicely on Malaysian comfort food and street snacks. Like for instance you can eat Nasi Lemak (Malaysia’s national dish) for only RM5, stewed pork for RM10, Yong Tau Foo for RM1.40 per piece and drinks for RM1.
Malaysians are serious foodies – just check out local blogs and trip advisories to get a good review of the dishes and where to find them.
Related Article: 10 Must-Try food in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia is packed with countless sights to see and places to visit, such as ancient temples, traditional markets, and high-end shopping districts. There’s enough to see and do throughout Malaysia for free so take advantage of that. And I am not talking about places that are second best to ones you need to pay to see — these include some of Malaysia’s most famous landmarks. Moreover, some are even eminently walkable.
It’s important to identify your objective – ask yourself why did you go to Malaysia? Is it for culture & history? Food trip? Shopping? Nightlife? Photography? Or simply just to have the time of your life? You can definitely do all these in Malaysia, but the importance of having an objective is to identify which ones to prioritize since you will not be able to visit all the places if you’ll stay for a short amount of time.
The main website I referred to in planning my itinerary was Malaysia’s very own Official Malaysia Tourism Organization, Tourist Guidebook Malaysia, and Attractions Malaysia site. It contains information such as operating hours, admission fees, and directions via public transportation. Most of my online searches were specifically within Kuala Lumpur.
Related Article: 10 Must See Places in Kuala Lumpur
Knowing when the best time to visit can save you a lot of money. Usually, prices tend to be high in the month of December and January or when there is a festival celebration. So you might want to avoid that unless that is the purpose of your trip.
Also, the weather is another factor worth considering. Malaysia enjoys a tropical monsoon climate. Temperatures across Malaysia don’t fluctuate very much however, the humidity levels are a force to reckon with. It’s pretty much hot and humid with a bit of rain throughout the year. For a more updated weather guide click here.
April to October: These months are the wettest months for destinations in the western peninsula.
November to February: These months are when the rains visit the eastern peninsula.
December to January and June to August: These are the peak travel seasons to Malaysia with a visible spike in tourists coming in.
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas on how to plan your trip on a budget. Now I want to hear from you. How do you plan your trip to Malaysia? Post your answers as a comment here.
Happy travels everyone!