My Budget for Malaysia

Note: This is a rough draft. I will be cleaning it up whenever I feel like it 🙂

So, for Malaysia so far (I’m rounding all the figures up):

Airfare Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur: $570

Fake flight to Singapore (as a visa requirement, later found to not be needed): $24

Six Weeks of Travel insurance (I bought as 3 months, but can’t add all that to the Malaysia budget): $140

Lonely Planet South East Asia on a Shoestring (panic purchase at Melbourne Airport): $50

Breakfast at Melbourne Airport (may have been hungover): $30

ATM withdrawals Malaysia (including all bank fees because I forgot to get a travel cash card before I left): $714

= $1528

Since I have paid all my accommodation up till the day I leave, I will just need to get some more money out to cover my day-to-day expenses and the bus trip to the airport, plus I need to change some money for the Indonesian visa (US$25). Since the visa fee will go to the Indonesian budget, I project I will spend about $5 per day here, so spending will be under $70 for the next couple of weeks, therefore I add $72 to the above (to make it a round figure), we get a grand total of $1600 for six weeks of very slow travel in Malaysia.

This includes not actually ever really thinking about my budget, which I will have to do if I really want to travel long term. That comes to a total of (expensive in my opinion) $38 per day. If you literally just looked at my on-ground spending though, it would come to a measly $786 for the 6 weeks, which translates to about $19 per day. As I’ve mentioned before, I would easily travel for less, but made a few mistakes on the way:

1.    I assumed that it would be easy to find some cheap accommodation in Kuala Lumpur when I arrived. I was wrong. All the cheapest places, as well as the less dodgy places where full, and since it was already dark, I was tired and in a strange city, and I had way to much baggage, I ended up going with the best option I saw, which still turned out to be 50RM ($15.60) per night for an aircon room. I later learnt that you could get a fan room for 40RM ($12.50), but it was fortunate that I did get the aircon room – KL is HOT!

I later met backpackers who said they spent much less by staying in dorms and in the Chinatown district. I would recommend you thoroughly investigate the cheap options where you want to stay before you go. At the time I was on the ‘I’m such an adventurer’ trip, and wanted to ‘explore’ the city. I have only one thing to say to you: Don’t try and do this on your first night, suffering from jet-lag and a hangover. Find some nice cheap accommodation, sleep, then explore. If you want to change your accommodation after that, fine. Just don’t think you’re at the peak of your decision making abilities at this point.

2.      Drinking in the Cameron Highlands: So three cans of 500ml Chang beer only cost about 24RM ($7.5), but if you do that every day, it adds up!

3.      Jake. Need I say more really? Well, ok. When we got to Pangkor Island, I paid for the room as both of us only had 50RM notes. Jake promised to pay me back later. Because I left too quickly the next day, it didn’t end up happening. I think he honestly wanted to pay me back, and thought we would catch up in Melaka, but my desire to avoid him was stronger than getting my money back. Lesson: Always get people to pay you back ASAP, and always do the same for other people if you need to borrow money from them. Less hassle later.

4.      Taking the bus from the Cameron Highlands – KL – Pangkor Island = 60RM ($18.75). Taking the bus from Cameron Highlands – Pangkor Island would have only been about 14RM ($4.40) and a fraction of the travel time, but I didn’t bother getting out a map.

5.      Bringing too much stuff with me. I’ve now spent about $30 sending stuff back to Australia because I wouldn’t listen to common-sense (Note: a couple of weeks later in Bali I spent another $50 sending more stuff home – leave your stuff at home people!). Other stuff I’ve given or thrown away. In my next email I’ll include a list of what I still have with me. No, I won’t be taking my Jaffle iron to Indonesia.

So what do I spend my money on?

Accommodation = $5 per night or $210 for 6 weeks

Internet = $30 for 6 weeks (2.5GB – I use internet A LOT). If you stay in places with free WiFi this obviously goes down a lot, but I prefer the tiny hostel here and paying 70c per day to have it 100% of the time is ok with me.

Alcohol = $60. Remember I only drank in the Cameron Highlands, and when I hang out with fellow backpackers. Still, it’s a big expense!

Transport = $35, probably a high estimate but all it adds up!!

Banking Fees = $30 – yes, ridiculously high! Get a travel card before you go.

Postage = $30

Misc (Karaoke, Museums, shoes and clothes) = $20


Food = $371 (or $8.80 per day). Well, that’s what I calculate after subtracting all the other expenses. It seems a little high to me, but it’s probably right! Cutting right down before I leave as Ying and I share cooking skills, thats why my daily expenses drop so much!


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