How much does it cost to backpack in Malaysia

This post just covers what is referred to as ‘Peninsular Malaysia’, i.e. it excludes Borneo which I’ve covered here.

We spent fifteen days in Malaysia, and visited four places during this time; Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang and Langkawi. We travelled overland between these places and spent enough time in each one to be able to see everywhere without feeling rushed.

We tracked our spend as we went, and are actuals are below, alongside what we would budget if we returned with the benefit of hindsight.

The costs below are for two people; we didn’t find too many financial benefits of travelling as a couple, as all of the attractions are charged per person, so for solo travellers, dividing the total below by two would be a good rule of thumb.

We broke our costs into five main categories; accomodation, food & drink, activities, travel & other.

Cost per night (per couple) Our Trip Budget
Accomodation  30.00 30.00
Food & Drink  40.00 35.00
Activities  20.00 20.00
Travel 12.00 12.00
Other 3.00 3.00
Total 105.00 100.00

We spent $30 a night on accomodation which was enough to get us the usual set up; double room, en-suite, working wifi, good location. Our cheapest place in Cameron Highlands was only $23 a night, but this was offset by a slightly more expensive stay in Penang ($34).

Overall, budget AUD$30 per night for accomodation in Malaysia.

Breakfast in KL was included for the price and served in this cool rooftop terrace!

Food & Drink
Food in Malaysia wasn’t as cheap as we thought it would be, particularly in Kuala Lumpur which we found to be quite expensive. The dining options were extensive in Georgetown, all of which were delicious. 

As with Borneo, we found that alcohol was not cheap, but also soft drinks and juices were surprisingly expensive as well which definitely pushed our prices up. The exception to this was the duty free island of Langkawi, which was very cheap for alcohol – a beer in our hostel only came to $0.80!

We pushed the boat out with one or two expensive meals so a budget of $35 a night compared to our actuals of $40 would probably be more reasonable.

Overall, budget AUD$35 per night for food in Malaysia.


Activities were generally well priced across Malaysia. Of our total activity spend of $300, over half was on one activity, the food tour which we did in Kuala Lumpur.

Overall, budget AUD$20 per day for activities in Malaysia.


Travel in Malaysia was no problem at all; the metro was a great way to get around Kuala Lumpur and for our journeys between destinations we found local buses clean, efficient, well organised and reasonably prices.

Overall, budget AUD$12 per day for travel.

We didn’t have a huge spend on other costs, just a few items here or there that we needed to replenish, but I find that it’s always handy to keep a bit of a buffer just in case!

Overall, budget AUD$3 per day for other costs.