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Money & Costs


Currency: Malaysian ringgit (dollar)

If you're travelling on a budget, you can get by in Peninsular Malaysia on about US$20-25 a day. This involves staying in cheaper Chinese hotels, eating in local restaurants or street stalls and travelling mainly by bus. If you're travelling with a partner, your accommodation expenses will be significantly reduced.


If you want to stay in comfortable hotels with private bathrooms, eat out at mid-range restaurants and catch taxis to get about locally, expect to spend around US$65 a day. Those more interested in creature comforts than their credit card limit can live in relative luxury on US$100 a day. Note that Sabah is more expensive than Peninsular Malaysia, so add about 30% to your budget when spending time there.

Money & Costs

Malaysian banks are efficient and typically charge around US$2-3 for foreign exchange transactions. Moneychangers do not charge a commission but their rates vary, so make sure you know the current rate before approaching one. For cash, you'll generally get a better rate at a moneychanger than a bank. Moneychangers are also generally quicker to deal with.

All major credit cards are accepted at upmarket hotels, shops and restaurants. If you have a credit card with a personal identification number (PIN) attached, you can obtain cash advances from ATMs. Banks in Malaysia are linking to international banking networks, which allow you to withdraw money from overseas savings accounts through ATMs. Check with your bank at home to see if you can withdraw money from your home account while in Malaysia.

Tipping is not customary in Malaysia. The more expensive hotels and restaurants add a 10 per cent service charge to their bills. All hotel rooms are subject to a 5 per cent government tax, though many cheaper hotels quote a price inclusive of this tax. Bargaining is commonplace in markets and in many tourist shops. Treat it as a polite form of social discourse rather than a matter of life and death.