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How to Travel to Kuala Lumpur on a Budget

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by Jeff Borne

© Sadie Teper on Unsplash

You don’t have to have a huge wad of money to be able to enjoy a vacation in the capital of Malaysia. As soon as you start changing your dollars to ringgit, you’ll already feel as if you were richer than when you started.

Although they may not initially seem like it, those colorful notes are still real money and not bank notes from a Monopoly game. When you’re not used to the Malaysian currency, you can easily lose track of what you’re spending, even though it’s an affordable place to visit.

When you’re traveling to Kuala Lumpur on a budget, there are certain things you can do to make sure you’re spending doesn’t exceed expectations. No one wants to go home completely broke and regretting their carefree expenditures even if they’ve had an amazing time. Luckily, when you need to store your bags in Kuala Lumpur, a Bounce luggage storage locker is totally affordable. 

Follow these tips on how to travel to Kuala Lumpur on a budget, and it’ll save you from cringing when your next credit card bill or bank statement arrives.

Set Yourself Limits

When you’re on vacation, it’s so easy to put your hand in your pocket and spend willy-nilly on whatever takes your fancy. Do that, though, and after two days, you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering where your money has gone.

To prevent you from going into vacation bankruptcy, the best thing to do is to set yourself a daily spending limit for food, drinks, and traveling from one place to another. If you’re weak-willed and don’t think you can stick to the daily amount you’ve set yourself, try splitting it into separate envelopes. It’s less tempting to go over your self-imposed limit when the notes are sealed away, but always make sure you have somewhere secure, like a safety deposit box, to store your stash if you’re not carrying it with you.

You won’t need a huge daily budget for Kuala Lumpur. You will, in fact, find that a daily allowance of between USD 20 to USD 30 will get you to just about anywhere in the city you want to go and will be enough to get you anything you want to eat and drink.

Stay in Economical Accommodation

When you’re going to Kuala Lumpur on a budget, don’t start looking at five-star hotels to sleep in. There’s nothing budget about those, but you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the accommodation options you’ll have won’t be limited to shared rooms in a hostel.

In Kuala Lumpur, you’ll find hotels in the city center, like the Rich Calton Hotel and Gallery and the I Lux, that are clean, modern, and perfectly adequate for less than USD 15 per room per night. They actually charge around the same price as the city center hostels, so unless you really like sharing with strangers, your best bet for cheap accommodation in Kuala Lumpur is hotels. Lucky, right?

If you don’t pay for your accommodation when booking or are planning to swap locations during your stay, make sure to add the room cost to your daily budget. Even better, put aside the money you’ll need to pay for it, and that way, you won’t spend it accidentally. It’s all too easy to be generous when you’ve had a few drinks with new friends and, in a relaxed mood, decide to buy the next round.

Eat on the Streets

When your accommodation has breakfast included, make sure you eat as much as you can. Forget about eating in restaurants; Kuala Lumpur has an amazing street food scene that’s really second to none. The food is so varied you could eat something different every night for six months if you stay that long and everything costs just a few cents.

The best places to go for street food in Kuala Lumpur are Jalan Sultan in the city center, the Tabak Urban Dining area near KLCC Park, and the food court in the basement of the Lot 10 shopping mall. There are many more besides those where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the local cuisine, eat to your heart’s content, and still stay well within your daily spending allowance.

Travel Like a Local

The cheapest way to get around Kuala Lumpur is to do it the same way as the people who live there do, and that’s on public transport. Avoid the main rush hours and the intercity buses and LRT, light rail transport, won’t be crowded. 

The best transport payment card to get is the Touch ‘n Go, which you can preload with credit and use on all buses and LRT in the city. It also saves you from scratching your head and holding up the ticket lines while you’re trying to sort out the right change for your purchase.

If you can’t stand the chaos of public transport or are only in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days, check out the city’s hop-on-hop-off bus. It’ll get you comfortably from A to B, take you past all the main sights, you can get on and off when you like, and it’ll cost you around USD 10 a day.

© Kah Hay Chee on Unsplash

In all honesty, it’s relatively easy to travel to Kuala Lumpur on a budget, and a fairly small one at that. All you have to do is keep tight control of your money and find low-priced accommodation to stay in then, once you’re there, eat and travel around like a local. 

You’ll find by doing those four simple things, you’ll have an amazing experience in the Malaysian capital, make some memories you’ll never forget, and still have some money in your pocket when it’s time to head to the airport for your flight home. Now that you know how to travel to Kuala Lumpur on a budget, if you are now planning to stay longer than you originally intended, who can blame you?