most popular backpacking destinations - Malaysia
Cost of Travel,  Southeast Asia

Malaysia Cost of Travel – Suggested Daily Budget

This post details the estimated cost of travel in Malaysia. Read on for suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for the peninsular part of Malaysia. We also have information about the local currency and sample prices.

Malaysia cost of travel - backpacking budget

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

How much should I budget for Malaysia?

Malaysia Travel Costs on a Shoestring Budget

US$25/day (peninsular Malaysia) | 100 Malaysian Ringgits

There are many similarities here with our Indonesia backpacking budget in that there is a considerable amount of regional variation. However it is 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 as much in the way of party culture here, most travellers probably end up spending a similar amount. $25/day or perhaps a bit less is possible. 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. It is considerably less developed but the difficulties of getting around an island that is essentially a jungle tends 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 on activities may take up over half of your Borneo travel budget.

Cost of travel in Southeast Asia

More Comfortable Malaysia Backpacking Budget

US$35/day (peninsular Malaysia) | 145 Malaysian 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. In terms of transport, it is only really a fraction more expensive than its neighbour. Adding $10 to your budget isn’t going to radically change the trip you have but on $35/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 $35/day. It is a fantastic place to visit and perhaps $50/day would be more accurate there for those wanting to do lots of active things. 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. However in truth most Southeast Asian backpackers stick to peninsular Malaysia.

Read more: Myanmar travel itinerary

Malaysia Cost of Travel Insurance

As well as the daily budgets, you need to consider extra expenses such as the cost of travel insurance. Check out our suggested travel insurance options for backpacking Southeast Asia if you haven’t arranged anything yet!

How expensive is Malaysia?

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

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

Meal at a budget restaurant – 8 RM

Large beer in a bar/restaurant – 10 RM

Dorm Bed in Kuala Lumpur – from 35 RM

Dorm Bed elsewhere in Malaysia – from 20 RM

Budget private double or twin room in Georgetown, Penang – from 50 RM

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

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

Note, these prices were last checked in 2016. Everything else on this page was updated in early 2019.


Currency – Malaysian Ringgit

£1 = 5.24 MYR

€1 = 4.71 MYR

US$1 = 4.11 MYR

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2019)

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)

This page was last updated in January 2019.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *