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Money madness in Malaysia

Posted by on October 9, 2013

A wildlife lovers paradise, Claire had been dreaming of going to Borneo ever since she was rescuing worms in the garden, naked. While in Malaysia and Borneo we were to be real life David Attenborough’s exploring some of the worlds best dive sites at Sipadan to the steamy jungles of Borneo. Hopefully Malaysia wouldn’t put too much of a dent in our bank balance.

All daily prices below are for the 2 of us (for all the non mathematicians, if you want single cost- divide by 2!).

So far we’d managed to stay pretty clear of fellow travellers, however Malaysia was the first country we’d experienced actual backpackers, and with backpackers comes hostels. Arriving in KL we were shocked to find double rooms costing at least 80 ringgits (£16.56) and with 2 dorm beds costing 60 ringgits (£12.42) it was pretty clear there could be no spooning for the next couple of weeks. Our average accommodation per day over our time in Malaysia was 50.43 ringgit (£10.44) to which we spent 90% of our times sharing a room with fellow farting/snoring travellers in dorm bunk beds in hostels/homestays.

As a whole Malaysian food is pretty reasonable, whilst not the cheapest we’ve come across I’m sure it wouldn’t be the most expensive. In fact in some of the bigger cities food can be comparable to western prices and can sometimes be difficult to find the proper local food, however with a lot of research we made sure we did our best. Generally some rice/fish/chicken for breakfast on the street would cost about 3 ringgit (£0.62) with a full barbecue fish and rice on a night market costing around 30 ringgit (£6.21). Our average daily spend on food in Malaysia was 47.68 ringgit (£9.87).

Split into Malaysia peninsular and Malaysia Borneo the only way to get between the two is flying, and once in Borneo you tend to find with enough advance planning AirAsia and local airlines can be the same price as the local buses. Altogether whilst in Malaysia we caught 7 internal flights to and from the peninsular as well as to various locations in Borneo only reachable by plane. When not on planes we opted for overnight buses trying to save on accommodation and local minibuses to get us between towns. Our average transport cost in Malaysia was 64.42 ringgit (£13.37) mainly due to the number of flights we had to take.

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur you are greeted to one of the most cosmopolitan countries in southeast Asia, and with more bars than mosques you wouldn’t believe you were in a Muslim country. However once you pick up the bar menu you quickly realise that the Muslim drinking tax is well and truly applied. All beer is imported, and a pint will cost a minimum of 15 ringgit (£3.00) and that literally is the cheapest. Thankfully we managed to dodge the mosques and find some dodgy dive bars on our travels around Malaysia who generally sell us a small can of beer for 4 ringgit (£0.82). Another saving grace was the small duty free town of Labuan which we happened to pass on the way from Brunei. Danny suddenly found himself lumping 24 cans of Chang 28 ringgit (£5.79) and a litre of Captain Morgans 35 ringgit (£7.26) for the next couple of days. Our average daily beer spend in Malaysia was 25.32 ringitt (£5.24).

More expensive than other countries we’d been to a 1.5 litre bottle of water would set you back about 3 ringgit (£0.62), a can of coke the same, however a lovely Malaysian iced coffee would be about 4 ringgit (£0.82) and definitely worth the extra 20p. Thankfully most places allowed you to refill water bottles allowing us to save where possible bringing our average daily spend on drinks in Malaysia to 13.56 ringgit (£2.81)

If you’ve read our other budget blogs you’ll know this is where most of our money is spent and with lots to do here Malaysia was no different. Again, prices below are for both of us, some of our highest costs within these were:

Danny Padi open water/advanced/Perenthians diving (16 dives) – 2,470 ringgit (£511.38)
Two new (not knock off) watches – 195 ringgit (£40.37)
Rainforest music festival tickets – 240 ringgit (£49.68)
Mulu national park entry, 3 caving trips and skywalk – 460 ringgit (£95.23)
Uncle Tans river safari – 620 ringgit (£128.34)
Sipadan diving trip (5 dives, equipment and park fees) – 1,640 ringgit (£339.54)
Endless amount of souvenirs purchased and postage – 1,084 ringgit (£224.43)

Our average daily miscellaneous spend was 196.65 ringgit (£40.71)

In true Danny and Claire style, we spent over and above what we had/wanted to, however did some amazing things in Borneo. Danny is now an advanced Padi diver, we discovered the underworld of Sipadan, one of the best dive sites in the world, got in touch with our closest family member the Orangutan on 3 separate occasions, not to mention seeing the worlds largest flower, and numerous treks through the Borneo jungle. After our 5 and 1/2 weeks in Malaysia our daily spend was 398 ringgit (£82.40).

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