Hello there! A version of this guide is posted on Rappler. You see, Malaysia is often my jumpoff point for my past trips (Indonesia, India, Australia). I’be been there five times already. During my recent 12-day trip, my partner and I spent most of our days in Kuala Lumpur, Mersing, and Tioman Island. That being said, if there are places in Malaysia you plan to visit, shoot me a comment below, I might have a word or two suggestions for you.
I do not know if I should be proud of only spending Php8 000.00 (USD168.00) for a week in Malaysia. I should be, right? Or maybe not. There are some travelers who did not spend any money at all and solely relied on the kindness of strangers. But on the second thought, I should. It was my first trip abroad. And I went solo despite the nervousness and sleeplessness I had experienced.
READ: Packing for my 5-week trip to five countries. It was not easy for a woman who loves #ootd! But no checked-in luggage, yeah!
Observing the self interacting with the foreign place was filled with many realizations, like how different from yet so similar we are with our neighboring countries. But the musing is meant for a long narrative that might take me awhile to write.
So, yeah, what you have read above is true. I spent Php 8, 000.00 for a seven-day trip in Malaysia. My route was Kuala Lumpur, Taiping, and Cameron Highlands. I supposed to squeeze Sekinchan before heading to Taiping, but I decided to drop it. My so-called itinerary was already too cramped for a week-long trip.
Malaysia Budget Travel Guide | Navigating around Kuala Lumpur
From the airport to the city, the most affordable is via KLIA Express, which is not affordable at all. As of, February 2017, the one-way ticket to KL Sentral (where the public train transport is located) costs 55RM. If you are flying out from KL, buy a round-trip train pass (100RM) so you could save up 10RM. It takes 45 minutes to reach KL Sentral via KLIA Express.
From KL Sentral, there are four train lines that can bring you anywhere in the city. It is easy to use the self-service ticketing machine. If you encounter any confusion, ask help from any local nearby. Malaysians are more than willing to help you with your destination.
1. 2 nights in Kuala Lumpur- 2 Nights in Taiping – 2 nights in Cameron Highlands – 1 night in Kuala Lumpur. (1st Trip)
2. 2 nights in Kuala Lumpur- 2 Nights in Penang – 2 nights in Penang – 1 night in Kuala Lumpur. (2nd trip)
3. 3 nights in Kuala Lumpur – 2 Nights in Mersing – 3 Nights in Tioman Island – 2 Nights in Endau (3rd Trip)
So it all depends on you what parts in Malaysia you want to explore.
Why I did not see the Petronas Towers I Did Already! Been to KL for Four Times Already
It was a kind of rebellion against travel guides. I wanted to have a different image of Kuala Lumpur. I avoided the Petronas Towers, the landmark of this city. Instead, I walked around with no fixed destinations in mind, except for the moment I decided to go to Batu Caves.
READ: Poor But Want to Travel the World? There is only thing you have to do!
I did not do much in KL except walking. Walking to Chinatowns. Eating in the hawkers food stalls by the streets (our version is the carenderias). Talking with the staff of Raizzy’s Guesthouse. Walking to the bus terminal.
Not much, right? During my second trip, for the heck of it, I rode the train for an hour from one end to the other.
On my third time in the city though, I walked the entire day and ended up in KLCC, where the Petronas Towers are.
Kuala Lumpur Expenses for 3 Nights: 245.80RM : PHP2800 : USD59.00
|DAY 1||DAY 2||Day 7|
|KL Express – 35||Lunch+Water – 7.50||Breakfast – 14|
|Monorail – 1.60||Monorail – 3.80||KFC – 7.90|
|Raizzy’s Guesthouse (2 nights) – 53||Komuter – 2||Water – 1.50|
|Dinner – 13 (Expensive!)||Dinner+Fruit – 14.5||Sunglasses – 10|
|Water – 2||Massage – 30||Fruit – 5|
|Reggae’s Guesthouse (Dorm) – 35|
READ: Why I did not see the Petronas Towers. I know, right?!
As you may have noticed, I did not really starve myself. I even splurged 30RM () for a half-hour massage, and I bought a pair of sunglasses. Oh yeah, I had KFC on my last day in KL. As much as I loved Malaysian food, my taste is rather very Filipino, like very.
THINGS TO DO
- See the Petronas Twin Towers at night.
- Watch the water show at KLCC Park, located behind Suria KLCC
- Hike up the stairs at Batu Caves
- Go shopping in Bukit Bintang, the posh business district in KL
- Have a meal in Bukit Bintang’s Pavillion’s food court. I haven’t seen a food court like that before. So, have at least one meal down there. Kinda dress up a bit. The hood is posh!
- Go to Pasar Seni’s Central Market. It is within walking distance from Chinatown Petaling.
- Visit Indian and Chinese temples. There is a lot of them!
- Go visit museum, if not for its artefacts inside then for its lovely Islamic architecture
- Stuff yourself with Malay, Indian, and Chinese food.
- Walk around Little India, just outside NU Sentral Mall
- Try their kopi tarik and kopi panas! We have at least three cups of kopi panas every day!
WHERE TO STAY
Raizzy’s Guesthouse, a dorm bed starts at 35RM.(Stayed here during my first and second visit). Quite a popular pick among backpackers. If you stay here, from KL Sentral, take the LRT and get off at Pasar Seni, the next stop from KL Sentral.
Ranting Guesthouse, crappy rooms start at 50RM (stayed during my third visit). Shared bathroom. Fan room. It is in the same neighborhood of Raizzy’s Guesthouse. Right in the middle of Chinatown Petaling.
Swiss Cottage Hotel, rooms start at 79RM (stayed here in Feb 2017, rooms with private bathroom, TV, and AC. From KL Sentral, take the train to Putra Heights (brown line) and get off at Titiwangsa.
FOR MORE HOTEL CHOICES, CHECK HERE
- Avoid dining in Chinatowns. Food prices are doubled. Go where the locals eat. You can find a lot of them around.
- I saved a lot from accommodation. I stayed in dormitories. Raizzy’s Guesthouse is cheaper than Reggae’s Guesthouse. Both are in the same location.
- Guesthouses provide water. If you have your own drinking bottle, you can actually save by refilling it before heading out
Taiping: Taiping Lake Garden and More
In a world of independent travel itineraries provided by travel bloggers—which were helpful in many ways—I wanted to do something random, going somewhere that does not appeal to many travelers.
READ: Things I Love about Taiping and more tips here!
After checking Malaysia’s map, I found several places that I have not heard of much: Ipoh, Sekinchan, and Taiping. Places that can be considered the spaces between the popular Point A and the equally touristy B. At Pudung Sentral, the old terminal, (the new terminal is now Terminal Bersepadu Selatan [TBS]), a 30-min train ride away, the bus that would leave the earliest was that of Taiping. So off to Taiping I did.
2N/3D Expenses in Taiping: 169.7RM : PHP 1 920: USD40
|DAY 3||DAY 4|
|KL-Taiping Bus – 35||Sojourn Bed – 50|
|Fried Noodles+Coffee – 5||Bike Rental – 10|
|Sojourn Bed – 50||Laksa – 3.70|
|Clay Pot Dinner – 5.50||Iced Coffee – 1|
|Tea Ice (Iced Tea) – 1.40||Bus to Matang – 2.60|
|Dinner – 5.50|
THINGS TO DO
- Walk around the massive and oh so lovely Taiping Lake Garden
- Dine in a local night market. Food is very cheap!
- Check out Matang, the fishing village thirty minutes away
- Walk around. If you can find a bicycle rent, this city is very cyclable.
- Sojourn Bed and Café’s dormitory looks like a capsule room. So if you are traveling solo, you may want to stay here. I was able to haggle the price of a private room to 50.
- Across from Sojourn Bed and Café, there is a night food market locals frequent.
- Walk around and enjoy the old buildings
Malaysia Budget Travel Guide | Cameron Highlands Travel Guide
Cameron Highlands draws a lot of travelers, mostly westerners. The place has Starbucks already, and I would not be surprised in the coming years, McDonalds would stand proud and mighty somewhere. But knowing us, Filipinos—the most western-culture-loving Asians, most of us would love seeing Starbucks and McDonalds everywhere. But I do not.
I prefer local markets, I mean real local markets—not the one put up for travelers’ consumption. But Cameron Highlands does not have that. I do not really mind. The main reason I was there was to see the wowing rolling hills of centuries-old tea plantation.
2N/3D Expenses in Cameron Highlands 219.8RM – PHP 2 490 : USD53
|Day 5||Day 6|
|Taiping-Ipoh Bus – 11.50||Cameron-KL Bus Ticket – 38.5|
|Ipoh-Cameron Highlands – 35||Butterfly Farm Entrance Fee – 5|
|Orchid Lodge (Dorm bed for two nights) – 51.00||Lunch – 6|
|Dinner – 5||Grocery – 1.8|
|Tour – 40||Noodles + egg – 4|
|Beer – 15||Coffee – 7.5|
- This place is primarily meant for nature lovers. A walk around the tea plantation, little treks to the little waterfalls and villages, strawberry picking, butterfly gardens ( I do not recommend this), and mostly communing with nature.
- If you are not into nature, Penang might be a good alternative.
- Bring a jacket. Or a thick cardigan, and clean socks for sleeping. It is brrrr there.
- Public transportation is almost non-existent, so joining tours is more practical.
- During peak seasons, ask the hostels’ person-in-charge about the bus schedules.
- Book in advance especially if you are staying in a dorm. Cheap places are the to-go accommodations for budget travelers, so rooms fill up fast.
- Check the local holidays in Malaysia, you might end up traveling with a throng of locals. It can be good or bad, depending on your preference. I do not mind traveling with the locals. I primarily travel to write.
- There are banks and ATMS at Camellia 4 Building.
How about the Flights?
I was traveling for five weeks straight, so I used Air Asia’s ASEAN PASS. I bought the 10 flight credits for Php6, 200.00, which is valid for thirty days after the first booked flight. With the 10 flight credits, I was able to buy Cebu-Kuala Lumpur round trip ticket (6 points), Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok (1 way – 3 points), and Bangkok – Yangon ( 1 way – 1 point). I ditched my Bangkok – Yangon flight and just crossed the Maesot/Mwaddy border. You must book your flights fifteen days before your trip. Again, the 10-flight credits is valid for thirty days upon booking your first flight. Know your math.
For more information on ASEAN PASS, check Air Asia’s site, and for actual user’s booking experience, check Lakad Pilipinas‘. I referenced to his experience upon booking my own flights. Take note though, not all flights are available through ASEAN PASS, so if your travel dates are inflexible, this program is not for you.
- If you are flying from one ASEAN country to the next, ASEAN PASS is a practical way, especially if your trip is nearing, and you have not booked your flights yet.
- Book through Air Asia Malaysia, it is a bit cheaper. It is Php6, 200 in RM while it is Php7, 000 on their Philippine site
- If you just have Malaysia in mind, always check for promo fares. And again, check Air Asia Malaysia, since some promo fares are only available on that site.