Malaysia Budget Breakdown

Since we only spent six days in Kuala Lumpur, it may be a misnomer to title this post Malaysia Breakdown, but I did so to maintain continuity with previous breakdowns. As will become the case throughout much of SE Asia, our daily budget was set at $70 a day, or $35 per person. How did we do?

Total Spent: $385.84
Days in Country: 6
Daily Total: $64.30
Daily Per Person: $32.15

Pretty good! Here is the breakdown:

Money Spent % of Budget
Accommodation $117.90 31%
Eating Out $93.81 24%
Entertainment $14.98 4%
Groceries $5.29 1%
Miscellaneous $98.68 26%
Transport $55.18 14%
Official Exchange Rate was 3.27 MYR per 1 USD

Official Exchange Rate was 3.27 MYR per 1 USD

Again, Accommodation reigns supreme. It's not easy to find a cheap place to stay in KL and, since I was under the weather, we wanted to have a room to ourselves. We stayed at Suzie's Guesthouse in a private double, shared bathroom, with A/C and breakfast for $23.58 a night. The bed was comfortable enough, the WiFi was incredibly fast, and the included breakfast was simple but filling – make sure to try the coconut jam and if you love peanut butter one-tenth as much as I do, you'll be happy. On the downside, there was a night of heavy rain and the one window in our room leaked a fair bit. Nothing happened to our stuff – we just pulled the bed away from that wall – but it's something to keep in mind. That being said, most of the rooms don't have windows. The staff was friendly and helpful and it was located a very short walk from Chinatown and the rail system, so overall we'd recommend it as a place to stay.

Eating Out will remain high throughout SE Asia as we end up eating most meals out. Anais's post provides a good breakdown of the kinds of food we ate. Overall, the cuisine wasn't as fantastic as some others had reported, but we still ate really good food. The hot pot we had was delicious, hokkien mee became a favorite, and of course we couldn't skip out on a little more kopi before we left the peninsula. Entertainment covers our visit to the Islamic Arts Museum and Anais's visit to the Dark Cave and Batu Caves. Groceries includes incidentals like extra water, gum, cookies for our bus to Thailand, and some fruit. Transport covers the Express train from the airport to the city, a few metro rides, and our bus out of KL to Thailand. Our costs here could have been higher, as we did a lot of walking around the compact city, but only marginally as the metro was relatively inexpensive.

Miscellaneous comes in second only because of my hospital visit to figure out what was going on my neck/arm. Anaïs already told you the story, but here's the exact conversation between the doctor and myself (at Tung Shen Hospital, in case you need to visit in KL):

Doctor: “Why are you here today?”
Me: “I have this rash on my neck and arm and it's kind of painful.”
Doctor: “Does it itch at all?”
Me: “No, not at all. Just the pain when I turn my head either direction.”
Doctor: “I see.” A minute pause and some scribbling of notes. “You have herpes.”
Me: *cue shocked face* “Herpes?....How do you get it?”
Doctor: “Poor hygiene.”

Anyway, the Miscellaneous category consists of the cost of my visit as we have a small deductible with our health insurance and had to pay for this one out of pocket. It's certainly not a normal expense, but it was part of our experience so we included. Without this cost, our daily budget drops to $47.86 per day for the both of us. So you can see, Kuala Lumpur is actually quite a cheap place to visit despite accommodation costs.

Kuala Lumpur in Retrospect

Overall, we weren't overly impressed with the city. It was certainly a let down as compared to Singapore, but more than that it just didn't have any kind of charm or energy that attracted us to it. There was a ton of construction going on, the streets were all fairly dirty, exploring various neighborhoods didn't inspire us at all – we just weren't taken. It didn't help that, beyond just my herpes, I was having stomach issues the whole visit as I got used to spicier foods.

The Islamic Arts Museum was a worthwhile visit, though, as it covers a subject that neither of us had been exposed to much before. There was an exhibition showcasing work by master calligraphers who had used scripture from the Quran to produce various effects, all meant to highlight the script and message of the scripture in a beautiful way. On the upper floors, there were a number of permanent displays displaying the history of Islam and many artifacts from various regions, including the Middle East, China, India, and Southeast Asia. Since our trip isn't taking us into the Middle East, it was a great way to learn more about the religion and the history of it around the world.

All in all, a short visit and not much to report about KL. It's not high on our list of places to return, but we know we missed out on a lot in Malaysia, including the Cameron Highlands, Penang, Georgetown, Malacca, and of course Malaysian Borneo. We certainly don't hold our time in KL as representative of the whole of Malaysia and are hoping someday to explore more of it. Capital cities can offer a lot, but they rarely represent the truest picture of life in a country. Someday we'll be back.

It was time to move on though. Given my sickness and our obvious exhaustion, we needed somewhere to unwind. We needed somewhere to sit around and do nothing all day but read, eat, and relax. Thankfully, we were just a little bit south of one of the places most famous for that in the world. Next stop – the islands of southern Thailand.