For the month of June we were in the amazing country of Malaysia. We spent 2 ½ weeks in the city of Kuala Lumpur and then flew to the beautiful island of Borneo staying in the city of Kuching for 11 days. At the end of the month, we then left Malaysia for Bali.
We really loved our time in Malaysia and were sad to say goodbye. We found the city of Kuala Lumpur to be family friendly and very modern. We also found the people to be genuinely nice and we loved the cultural diversity, which we have not seen the likes of before. But, by far for us, the highlight during our visit to Malaysia was seeing the wildlife of Borneo.
Despite Malaysia being one of the most expensive SE Asian countries we have visited on our RTW adventure, we felt like it was worth the extra cost. Our only regret was not spending more time in the national parks of Borneo.
So how did we do? Unsurprisingly with Malaysia being a more expensive country and the fact we moved around, we spent the most we have since being in SE Asia. But we did come in slightly under budget for a total of $2,988.11. This breaks down to $99.30 per day or $33.20 per person per day. For the month of June, 1 USD equaled approximately 3.21 Malaysian Ringgits. In Indonesia, 1 USD equaled 12,044 Indonesian Ringgits.
Our biggest expenditure for the month of June was for lodging for a total of $967.30. The apartment in Kuala Lumpur for the 2 ½ weeks cost a total of $657.94. Our apartment in Kuala Lumpur was in a great location, within walking distance to many of the tourist sites and it felt luxurious having a kitchen and room to spread out after being in hotels for most of our time in Vietnam.
We spent 9 days in a hotel in the city center of Kuching called the Place2stay for a total of $146.51. The hotel was basic, clean and in an okay location. It was within walking distance to restaurants, the river, and tourist attractions. We really couldn’t complain given the price of only $16 per day.
While on Borneo we also spent 2 nights in Bako National Park for a total of $99. Although the accommodations were basic and on the expensive side given what we got for our money, this was definitely a highlight for us and we wished we had actually stayed a couple more days.
After our stay on Borneo, we flew back to Kuala Lumpur for the night. We stayed at the YouniQ Hotel for a cost $43.11. This hotel is a great place to stay for a layover in Kuala Lumpur, as it is close to the airport and offers shuttle service for reasonable price of 5 MR per person per way. The price of the hotel included a small breakfast of toast and coffee/tea. The hotel has a funky vibe to it making it a fun place to stay.
During the month of June, we also had the miscellaneous cost for laundry for a total of $20.74.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month of June was for food for a total cost of $870.84. This is about average for us. We spent $443.37 on eating out and $427.27 on groceries. For twelve days, we were in hotels, which explains the higher cost for eating out. Malaysia definitely has lots of diversity in its’ foods with some cheaper options for eating out. A plate of food at a local food stall costs about $3. While in Malaysia, we especially enjoyed trying the local Indian cuisine. A word of warning, in Bako food is more expensive, which is not surprising given that they have to bring food in by boat, and the selection is not that great. So if you are a picky eater, I would suggest bringing food with you. Also be aware that cooking is not allowed in the cabins and I would not advise preparing food out in the open with the cheeky Macaques around.
Our next biggest expenditure was for transportation for a total cost of $690.01. We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo and back again and then flew from Kuala Lumpur to Bali. Round trip flight from Kaula Lumpur to Kuching cost a total of $254. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali cost a total of $255.15.
Our local transportation costs this month were $180.86. Mass transit around Kuala Lumpur and Kuching is cheap and efficient. The bulk of our local transportation costs were related to getting to and from the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Ubud. The taxi from city center of Kuala Lumpur to the airport was especially expensive. We were charged an additional fee, because it was before 6 am. The taxi ride from the city center to the airport cost a total of $37.38. We would have taken mass transit to the airport, but unfortunately the train does not start running until 6 am.
Our next biggest expenditure was for entertainment for a total cost of $192.80. Entertainment included seeing several movies in Kuala Lumpur, pictures of Sydney with birds at the KL bird park, art classes for Sydney at the Galleri Petronas, swimming in Kuching with friends, seeing the Rainforest Music Festival, and a marvelous jungle night walk in Bako National Park.
While in Kuala Lumpur, we found the movies to be incredibly cheap. For example, seeing the “Edge of Tomorrow” cost $6.54 for all 3 of us. Not too shabby if I say so myself. Needless to say, we took advantage of the cheap movie prices and went on a bit of a movie marathon. We also found art classes for Sydney at the Galleri Petronas. The Galleri Petronas offers art classes for all ages and is very reasonable priced costing 20 MR for a 3 hour class.
The Rainforest Music Festival on Borneo was the most expensive activity we did this month costing $86.92, but we felt it was worth the cost. We really enjoyed hearing music from around the world in a jungle setting and seeing some very unusual instruments. At the Rainforest Music Festival, they even had workshops where we got to see how different instruments from around the world are played and learn a little about each instrument. Our favorite band at the Rainforest Music Festival was the Basque band Kalakan featured in the video below.
Here is a video of one of the workshops.
The only thing I regretted paying for this month was to see the movie “Transformers.” It was absolutely terrible and was not worth the time or money spent even at the bargain movie prices of Malaysia.
We spent a total of $99.48 in entrance fees. This included entrance to KL Bird Park, the canopy walk at Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Petrosains discovery center, visiting the Semenggoh Rehab Center two times where one can see orangutans, and entrance into Bako National Park. I do not regret paying entrance fees for any of these places. Definitely Bako National Park was a highlight for us and I only wish we had stayed longer. I don’t even regret paying the entrance fee twice for visiting Semenggoh Rehab Center, despite the fact we were not able to see the orangutans. It was still interesting to learn about the plight of the orangutans. Just as an FYI, Semenggoh has two feeding times one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you go to the morning feeding time and are not able to see the orangutans, then come back in the afternoon and the ticket will still be valid.
We spent a total of $79.91 for visas for Bali. It normally cost $25 per person. Our mistake was we paid in Indonesian Ringgit thinking that we would get at least an equivalent or even better exchange rate. But instead we got a terrible exchange rate. We should have just paid in USD. As a side note, there are ATMS in the airport before reaching the desk to pay for the visas with the option to pull out either USD or IR. Also as of July the entry visa to Bali has gone up to $35.
Another FYI that really does not have to deal with money but will help save you time; make sure you get all forms filled out before getting up to the immigration desk or you will regret it. Anyway, after paying for your visa don’t miss the desk in between the visa desk and immigration. You need to pick up an additional form at that desk and fill it out. This is in addition to the form the airline hands out to you. We mistakenly breezed by this desk and after standing in line for 30 minutes to clear immigration, we were told we had to go back to fill out this additional form. We then ended up standing in the immigration line for another 1 ½ hours. Ugh. We were not alone, as several other people after us were sent back to fill the form.
We spent a total of $68.16 for miscellaneous items. Miscellaneous items included haircuts for Jason and I, photocopies, hair ties for Sydney, flip-flops for Sydney and I, earrings for Sydney, a henna tattoo at the Rainforest Music Festival, and t-shirt for Sydney.
Sadly, the shirt we bought for Sydney shrank after washing and became a tube top . We ended up giving it away. As we are coming to an end to our 2 years on the road, all our clothing is starting to wear out and we are looking rather bedraggled. We were hoping to pick up some cheap clothing while in SE Asia. However we have found that the already made clothing just does not fit us westerners and we didn’t want to spend the money for tailored clothing.
We spent a total of $16.81 for communication. This included money for Skype, stamps, and postcards. Surprisingly, sending a post card to the US from Malaysia has been one of the cheapest places we have encountered since starting on our around the world adventure
Our total expenditures for medical were $2.80. This was for Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
- Pay for the Bali Visa using USD. You will get a better exchange rate versus using the Indonesian Ringgit
- Although Kuching makes for a good base, to really see and enjoy the beauty of Borneo spend time in the parks. It is well worth the additional cost.
- Don’t bother buying clothing in SE Asia unless you have them tailored for you. No matter how much you want them to fit, they won’t.
Overall we really enjoyed our time in Malaysia and feel so fortunate that we were able to spend as much time as we did. Despite the cost, it was well worth the time and money to visit Malaysia especially Borneo and am hoping someday we will be able to return.