Why is Malaysia So Cheap?

In this article, you will get the cost of both traveling to Malaysia and living there. The numbers will be explained to you so that you can understand the reasons why this country is cheap and also in order that you can plan your own experience in Malaysia. So, why is Malaysia so cheap?

Malaysia is extremely cheap because daily expenses are lower. For example, A meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs $3. A hotel room in Kuala Lumpur costs $25. A full vacation week in Malaysia costs around RM2,000 for one person, or around $500. Overall living in Malaysia is as cheap as living in Thailand or Cambodia.

How cheap is Malaysia for travelers?

When it comes to traveling, tourists can spend more than expected. Let’s see if that is the case for Malaysia. After some research, I was able to find the average price of vacation and to back it up with complementary data. So, how cheap is Malaysia for travelers?

Travelers spend around $40 a day in Malaysia. For a one-week vacation, this is equal to $280. This price includes one breakfast and two meals per day, transportation, and a hotel room. It does not include shopping and activities.

Let’s now see the maths behind this number. Indeed, I took some assumptions to make the result as close as possible from the reality.

How cheap is one tourist day in Malaysia?

In order to find the exact price of one week of vacation in Malaysia, let’s invent a virtual day for one tourist in Kuala Lumpur. First, we will eat breakfast, take a taxi to the city center, wander in the city, eat in a restaurant, go shopping, and eat diner in another restaurant. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find real prices of restaurants and hotels.

aerial photography of kuala lumpur in cheap malaysia
This is Kuala Lumpur. As you can see, it is a very modern city. Credits to Deva Darshan

A classic breakfast for one person in Kuala Lumpur costs RM6 (RM means Malaysian Ringgit). This is equal to USD 1,5. Then, we take a taxi from the hotel to the city center. In Malaysia, Ubers are called Grabs, and this is definitely a great way to move in the city. A 15-minute course costs RM15 (or $3,5). Once in the city center, we wander in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. At noon, we eat in a restaurant for $4. In the afternoon, we go shopping. I choose not to take that expense into account because it largely varies from one person to another. Finally, we eat diner for $3 and take another Grab back to the hotel. We find a hotel room for $25.

One day in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia costs $40,5 for a tourist. This includes one breakfast and two meals per day, transportation, and a hotel room.

Type of expenseAmount ($)
One breakfast, one lunch, and one diner$8,5
One night in a hotel room for one person$25
Two 15-minute long Grab courses$7
Table showing the price of one day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

How cheap is traveling to Malaysia?

After this little experiment, I wanted to back up the numbers I found. This was possible thanks to a video I found on YouTube. In it, the prices are close to the ones I found.

Credits to PsychoTraveller

How cheap is it to live in Kuala Lumpur?

Now that we saw the experience of travelers, we can also change our point of view and be local. The things that will change are that we now want to consider the rent prices and the grocery prices. We also favor living in larger cities where there are jobs. This is why I did some research about Kuala Lumpur. I was able to find a very helpful resource called numbeo.com.

Family of four estimated monthly costs is 1,503.01€ (7,316.27RM) without rent. A single person’s estimated monthly cost is 421.76€ (2,053.00RM) without rent. Living in Kuala Lumpur is 55.79% lower than in Paris. Rent in Kuala Lumpur is, on average, 73.30% lower than in Paris.

This data was found on numbeo.com

Overall, I trust this data. Living near Paris, I know the prices in the area and I agree with the results. But still, I wanted to do complementary research to back up this data. The only issue I have with this data is that we do not know where it comes from. So let’s back up this data.

How expensive is Kuala Lumpur?

I wanted to back up this data with real experience. Sadly, I do not know anyone who traveled to Kuala Lumpur, so I needed some resources. Thankfully, someone already did it. His name is Jason, and you may recognize him from the article I wrote about Thailand. He is a budget traveler who shows the real prices in the town he visits. The following video is a gold mine because you will directly see all the prices from real menus and hotels. I will let you watch it and we will debrief it afterward.


As you just saw in the video, Jason was able to find lunch for RM12, and another one for RM7,5. He also mentioned transportation. He said that he took a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for RM27.

To conclude, we can say that Malaysia is a great destination for budget travel. The prices here are fairly low, even in Kuala Lumpur, and they look similar to the ones you can find in the Philippines or in Cambodia. However, they are lower than the prices you can find in Zanzibar, the tourist places of Bali, or the Maldives for instance.


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