I didn’t get to climb a mountain but I did…
So my first month of backpacking and my time in Malaysia has come to a close. I had a rocky start to backpacking but I’m in the groove now. Now that I’m in Thailand I realise that I really made a good decision by choosing Malaysia as my starting point. It is a very easy place to travel. I encountered very few people that didn’t speak english and since Bahasa Malaysia is pretty similar to Bahasa Indonesia which was the language offered to me in school I already knew a few basic phrases to get me through. I enjoyed my time in the country and am planning on going back at some point to see a few of the places I missed and to revisit a few that I feel I could have done better. So this is the breakdown of my time in Malaysia.
Where did I go?
I split my time between the states of Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and, Penang. I would have liked to have spent more time in Sabah and done a few of the tours there. But, for the solo traveller, that gets really expensive. Most of the tours add on a surcharge if you’re only booking for one, even if there are other people doing the tour. I decided to give them a miss much to my disappointment.
Kuala Lumpur – 8 nights
Kota Kinabalu – 3 nights
Sandakan – 4 nights
Sepilok – 2 nights
Semporna – 3 nights
Kota Kinabalu – 2 nights
Kuala Lumpur – 3 nights
Georgetown – 6 nights
How much does a month in Malaysia cost?
I’m going to be honest. I’ve been a bit cavalier with my spending and spent much more than I was hoping to. It’s difficult to try and find a balance between travelling on a budget and actually enjoying the places you’ve come to see. These costs are approximate since I’ve converted them from Malaysian Ringgit to Australian Dollars.
I’ve been staying in dorms and I could have stayed in cheaper ones. I’m not a princess but, I always prefer to stay in clean places and since I’m travelling with tech I prefer places with lockers for my peace of mind. That means spending a little more. Most places I stayed were between 25 and 35 ringgit per night.
Total spent for 31 nights $342.12
Nearly half of this amount is my flight from Perth to KL. I took 3 domestic flights, 3 long distance coaches, more taxis than strictly necessary and a long distance mini bus. While I was in KL I took mostly public transport which was very cheap.
Total spent on getting to Malaysia, around the country and out of it $456.63
Food and Drink
This is probably where I wasted the most money. Especially in Georgetown where I was eating out for every meal. But how can you go to the food capital of the country and not eat out? I also found it difficult to find vegetarian street stalls so I mostly stuck to restaurants which cost a lot more.
Total spent on eating $333.91
For the most part I looked for cheap or free things to keep myself occupied but there were a few opportunities not to be missed like visiting the Orangutan Sanctuary in Sepilok or trying out diving for the first time in one of the best regions in the world.
Total spent on the fun stuff $247.61
Laundry, an unforeseen trip to a doctor in KK, insect repellent, little bits and bobs. It all adds up.
Total spent on everything else $253.84
I’m making it a goal to get my spending under control for the rest of my time in Asia because I’m well over my original budget for my first month.
Total $1634.11 or $51.07 per day
The highlights and the not so great bits
I love travelling. It’s exciting and humbling and challenging. It’s full of highs and lows. My time in Malaysia has been no exception. Here are a few of the best and worst things from my time in Malaysia. Let’s start with the good stuff:
My #1 Highlight – Getting my juice stolen by an Orang-utan
I’ll never forget that feeling of shock as I watched an orang-utan lean across my table in the resort restaurant to grab my watermelon juice as I sat working on my blog. It was a totally surreal experience but totally awesome at the same time. Read my post here.
My favourite food – Naan in Georgetown
I ate at the Danish Briyani House on Lebuh Chulia three times while I was in Penang all because of their Naan bread. I could eat it everyday. It was that good.
The worst experience – Getting decompression sickness after my very first day diving
How unlucky do you have to be to get the bends after your first dive? Here’s hoping that will be the end of my bad luck for this trip though. I do count myself lucky that it was only mild and I didn’t have to go through recompression therapy. That would have sucked.
The strangest sight – Knives Therapy Massage
Nothing quite prepares you for walking through the Sunday morning market to see people being hit with meat cleavers. I can’t attest to the quality of the massage since I was too craven to try it myself.
The craziest experience – The firework debacle
Deepavali in KL is often celebrated with fireworks. I went out with a group of people from my hostel to Little India and one of them purchased a rocket. Well it didn’t go quite to plan while we were letting it off. You can watch my video of the incident on my A Dreamer Abroad you-tube channel here.
To wrap things up my favourite photo from Malaysia