Malaysian ringgit. Is Malaysia expensive?

Is Malaysia Expensive? | Cost of Living for Five Weeks

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In February 2016 we visited Malaysia for the second time in two and a half years. During five weeks we’ve visited islands, swam alongside sharks and ate delicious street foods. Just like two and a half years prior we made an awesome trip through this diverse country. In five weeks time we made a big circle on the Malaysian peninsula to arrive back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. In this article you’ll find the answer to the question: “Is Malaysia expensive?” Table with expenses on the bottom of the article.

Just like in our other budget posts we divide the costs in five different categories; Accommodation, Food & Drinks, Transportation, Excursions (entrance fees and tour fees) and Other Expenses (including souvenirs, post cards and cigarettes).

Exchange rate used: RM1 = €0.22

Food & Drinks

RM2,770.49 (€602.92)

Eating and drinking is always one of the biggest expenses when travelling. All the activities make you hungry and the heat makes you thirsty, right? During our stay we’ve consumed €602.92 to keep us going. The total amount includes three meals a day, snacks and (alcoholic) beverages. Prices vary wildly per place, especially on islands and namely on the Perhentians and Kapas. Because these islands lie far from the mainland and because they are supplied by small boats the prices of consumables are almost twice the price compared to mainland Malaysia. While you can get a Skol beer in KL from around 5 ringgit, on Perhentian Kecil it costs 10 ringgit.

The total comes down to €9 per person per day.

Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur.
Coconut stand on Pangkor, Malaysia. Is Malaysia expensive?
The best dim sim Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur. Is Malaysia expensive?


RM2,217.95 (€482.69)

We’ve slept in eleven different beds during our Malaysian adventure. On average we paid €14.63 per night, which were all private rooms with a bathroom. The cheapest place we’ve stayed at was Nazri Nipah Camp (50 ringgit) and the most expensive was Ombak resort on Perhentian Kecil (120 ringgit) and Orange Pekoe Guesthouse in KL (116 ringgit).

When going to The Perhentians, be sure to book a room in advance if you’re arriving in the weekend because by then the islands are packed with Malaysians celebrating their time off. By the way, if you’re on time you should be able to find a place for 70 ringgit.

Some accommodation tips:

Kuala Lumpur: Orange Pekoe Guesthouse – Bukit Bintang

Kuala Lumpur: OYO Rooms – Bukit Bintang

Pulau Pangkor: Nazri Nipah Camp – We definitely recommend this one!

Penang: 75 Travellers Lodge – Clean place close to Love Lane for only 60 ringgit

Perhentian Kecil – Ombak Resort

Accommodation on Pulau Kapas


RM1,194.60 (€259.98)

During the 33.5 days we’ve spent in Malaysia we’ve visited five awesome islands, two cities on the east coast and two times KL. We’ve traveled about 1350 kilometer by bus, boat and plane. The total amount includes taxis, rented motorbikes and other means of public transportation. Mostly we used the bus to get from one destination to another, but from Penang to Kota Bharu we couldn’t resist taking the plane for €60.95. The plane takes almost as long (checking in, baggage belt, blabla), is around €10 per person more expensive, but is way more convenient! 

Bus ticket prices in Malaysia

  • Kuala Lumpur to Lumut (harbor to Pangkor): 27 ringgit per person
  • Lumut to Butterworth (Pengang): 18 ringgit per person
  • Kuala Terrenganu to Marang (harbor to Pulau Kapas): 10.80 ringgit per person
  • Marang to Kuantan: 17 ringgit per person
  • Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur: 11 ringgit per person

Boat ticket prices in Malaysia

If you want to spend less during your trip it would be a good idea to skip the islands however, skipping them would be a huge mistake because, well, they’re islands and they’re fun! Penang and Pangkor on the west coast are easily reached by ferry, but The Perhentians and Kapas are further from the main land, so they are more expensive to reach. Prices below are return tickets.

  • Lumut to Pangkor: 10 ringgit per person
  • Butterworth to Penang: 1.20 ringgit per person
  • Kuala Besut to Perhentian Kecil: 70 ringgit per person
  • Marang to Pulau Kapas: 40 ringgit per person
Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia. Is Malaysia expensive?
Boat to Perhentian Islands
Riksjah on Penang. Is Malaysia expensive?


RM210 (€45.70)

Normally we don’t do much tours where we have to follow a schedule. We just like to wander around and do as we want. On Perhentian Kecil we did two snorkel tours to see the really good places with colorful corals, sharks turtles and a lot more! Although it’s possible to see some nice things in the water without a tour, it was totally worth it to take the tour, as it goes to places you just can’t go without boat. Other than the snorkel trips we paid the entrance fee for the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. Is Malaysia expensive?

Other Expenses

RM1,248.55 (€271.72)

The amount we’ve spent on ‘other items’ is actually much higher than we usually spend relatively. We had to buy some new clothes which add to the cost. Other expenses are; cigarettes (1 person), shampoo, sunscreen, deet, an electrical pan we bought in Penang, two snorkel sets, a few souvenirs and a sim card.

Of course this expense can be interpreted more loosely as you maybe not new clothes when arriving in KL.

Is Malaysia expensive: Total amount spent in Malaysia

Malaysia - 33,5 days
Food & Drinks
RM 2.770,49 RM 2.217,95 RM 1.194,60 RM 210,- RM 1.248,55 RM 7.641,59
€ 602,94 € 482,69 € 259,98 € 45,70 € 271,72 € 1663,04

RM 7,641.59 (€1663.04)

As you can see we’ve spent 33.5 days in Malaysia. This comes down to a daily budget of €24.82 per person. To answer the question ‘is Malaysia expensive’ we can conclude that Malaysia is a bit more expensive then other countries in South East Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Traveling in Malaysia is over all way cheaper than traveling in other countries such as Australia, Canada and most countries in Europe.

Did you spend a totally different amount during your stay in Malaysia or do you have any other questions or remarks? Let it know in a comment!

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