I Spent a Week in Malaysia on Just $13 Per Day — Here’s How

This woman had a life-changing experience for cheap.

Malaysia is a world-class destination with an international airport hub, a diverse culture and budget-friendly travel options. My boyfriend and I spent six days in Malaysia, stopping in Malacca (Melaka) and Kuala Lumpur, with an average daily expenditure of $13 per person.

Now I’m going to share my best tips so that you can enjoy a memorable Malaysian holiday on a small budget, too.

Click to read more about how to get more bang for your buck when traveling.

Stay at Budget Guesthouses With Complimentary Coffee and Breakfast

Where you choose to stay has a massive influence on your budget. Not only does accommodation make up a huge percentage of your travel expenses but it could also potentially eliminate extra costs, such as breakfast, coffee and bottled water.

Both the guesthouses where I stayed in Malaysia offered complimentary tea and coffee, as well as free filtered water. By packing a reusable water bottle and refilling it, we were able to save money and avoid buying plastic water bottles.

Our hotel in Kuala Lumpur also included free breakfast. Even though it wasn’t a five-star breakfast buffet, it still helped to keep our costs low. For the four days in Malacca, we purchased pastries to have for breakfast with our free coffee.

We stayed in private rooms with a shared bathroom for 40 Malaysian ringgit per night ($10 for two people) in Malacca and 57 Malaysia Ringgit per night ($15 for two people) in Kuala Lumpur. If you are traveling solo, a bed in a dorm room starts around $5 per night.

Total Cost: $5 – $15.00 per day

More on Accommodations: 50 Hotels Around the World That Are Surprisingly Cheap

Eat at Local Restaurants

Thanks to the wonders of multiculturalism, Malaysia has a lot of different and delicious cuisines on offer. The country’s three main ethnicities are Malaysian, Malay Chinese and Malay Indian, which you can find represented in the culinary scene.

We tried all three cuisines in local restaurants and street food vendors ranging from 5-10 Malaysia ringgit ($1.25-$2.50) per meal. If you feel unsure, ask for recommendations at your guesthouse, or look for places that are heavily populated with locals.

You can find tasty and cheap food in Penang’s hundreds of hawker centers, also known as food courts.

Total Cost: $1.25 – $2.50 per meal

Travel by Local Bus Between Malacca and Kuala Lumpur

If you are traveling between Malacca and Kuala Lumpur, you can either fly or travel by bus. The public bus is a comfortable and cheap option. From as little as 20 Malaysia ringgit ($5.01), you can purchase a one-way ticket on an air-conditioned bus and avoid the stress of airport security.

For those wanting to explore the north of Malaysia, buses from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth, Penang, start at around 40 Malaysia Ringgit ($10.00).

Total Cost: $5.01 (one way)

Check It Out: Kuala Lumpur and Other Destinations That Are Getting Cheaper to Visit

Take Photos for Souvenirs Instead of Buying Trinkets

When traveling, the temptation to buy souvenirs can be strong. The costs of even the cheapest trinkets add up, and so can the weight in your suitcase. Even worse, the products sold in tourist markets aren’t always locally made or of decent quality. Save yourself time and money by avoiding the shops.

Take photos or keep a travel journal, if you want to immortalize the memories. If you want something physical to take back for yourself or as a gift, consider buying ethically made, local handicrafts.

Total Cost: Free

Click through to read more about advice to take from these travel experts before your next vacation.

Disclaimer: All currency conversion rates are approximations. Unless stated otherwise, prices are in USD.