Malaysia Backpacking Budget

Malaysia backpacking budget

(Map of Malaysia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daily Travel Costs in Malaysia on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 100 Malaysian Ringgits

There are many similarities here with our Indonesia backpacking budget in that there is a considerable amount of regional variation although in the opposite way to what you might think in that the wealthier parts of the country are the cheapest to travel in.

Malaysia to all intents and purposes is like two countries. Peninsular Malaysia (the bit connected to Thailand and Singapore) is considerably wealthier and more developed but relatively cheap and hassle-free to travel in. It is perhaps slightly more expensive than Thailand overall but given there isn’t much in the way of party culture here, most travellers probably end up spending a similar amount, which might amount to around $25/day or perhaps a bit less. That said Kuala Lumpur is certainly a bit more expensive than the rest of the country so allow for a bit more in the capital.

The other part of the country is Malaysian Borneo and is considerably less developed but the difficulties of getting around an island that is essentially a jungle tend to lead to mounting travel costs. Food and accommodation is all very cheap but to really get out and explore the incredible nature you are almost certainly going to need to join a guided tour or trip. Diving expeditions, river cruises and jungle trips all cost money and spending money on activities can easily take up over half of your travel budget. In short you can probably visit Borneo on our suggested shoestring Malaysia backpacking budget of $25/day but you wouldn’t be able to afford to do very much so it would all be a little pointless.

See where Malaysia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries

More Comfortable Malaysia Backpacker Budget

US$30/day (peninsular Malaysia) $60/day (Borneo) | 120-240 Malaysia Ringgits

You can travel pretty comfortably on the shoestring budget in peninsular Malaysia. The standard of accommodation and transport is all very good and certainly better than you get North of the border in Thailand for perhaps a fraction more in terms of cost. Adding $5 or $25 to your budget isn’t going to radically change the trip you have but on $30/day perhaps you can afford to spend a few relaxing days unwinding in a hotel with a pool or something of that ilk, which is welcome if you’re coming from roughing it in other parts of Southeast Asia.

However to really make the most of Borneo, you are going to need considerably more than $25/day. It is a fantastic place to visit and by expanding your budget to a fairly hefty $60/day you can afford to be doing active things almost every day and experiencing the best of the tropical paradise that is Borneo. If you are a nature lover on a big trip in Asia then this is one place where you should certainly consider allowing to spend a little bit more as it is a very rewarding and memorable destination.

Sample Prices in Malaysia

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching (1 hour 45 mins) booked 2 weeks in advance – 110 RM (US$27) + baggage

Train from Butterworth (Penang) to Kuala Lumpur (3 hours 30 mins) – 59 RM (US$15)

Meal at a budget restaurant – 8 RM (US$2)

Large beer in a bar/restaurant – 10 RM (US$2.50)

Dorm Bed in Kuala Lumpur – from 35 RM (US$9)

Dorm Bed elsewhere in Malaysia – from 20 RM (US$5)

Budget private double or twin room in Georgetown, Penang – from 50 RM (US$12)

Overnight trip to Batang Ai National Park (inc. guides & accommodation) – 235 RM (US$55)

Read about the cost of travel in Singapore to see how Malaysia compares to its Southern neighbour.


Currency – Malaysian Ringgit

£1 = 5.89 MYR

€1 = 4.64 MYR

US$1 = 4.08 MYR

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

MFT Recommends

Located right next to Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, the Marquee Guest Houzz has a good vibe and offers budget beds in clean dorms.

street art in malaysia

street art in Georgetown, Malaysia (via runmontyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Malaysia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉

This page was published in June 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.