BACKPACKING MALAYSIA – ONE MONTH ITINERARY & BUDGET 2018
We spent one month exploring almost everything this beautiful country had to offer, whether it was rooftop bars in the capital city or watching Orangutans swinging above us in the treetops.
Malaysia is separated into two sections, East Malaysia and West Malaysia. Luckily flights between the two are pretty cheap so it’s not too much out the way to head to the Orangatang sanctuary and see the Sun Bears on the East.
We only wish we had left ourselves more time to explore the eastern side or had the budget to climb Mount Kinabalu!
This has to be the most multicultural country we have come across during our travels in Southeast Asia, with Malayan, Chinese and Indian there are many different communities you will come across during your journey here. Due to this, there is a massive variety of different foods so you can’t complain!
Here is our one month Malaysia guide and budget.
OVERVIEW OF OUR ROUTE IN ORDER
OTHER DESTINATIONS WE RECOMMEND
There are also some great islands on the eastern side for diving.
Although it didn’t quite live up to our expectations (Mainly due to the EXTREMELY expensive climb up Mount Kinabalu we could not afford), it was still a lovely place to explore with it’s ever expanding markets, beautiful mosques, rich marine life and national park. Although Kota Kinabalu city was destructed during World War ll there are still some structures that remain and are worth exploring if you have time.
-Hiking to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, South East Asia's highest mountain. (VERY EXPENSIVE)
-Probiscus Monkey & Firefly Tour
-Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
-Signal Hill Observatory Tower (Great view of the city)
-Sabah State Mosque
-Monsopiad Heritage Village
-Kinabalu National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
This was only a short and relatively cheap flight or bus ride from Kota Kinabalu so it is absolutely worth the trip. Although we only stayed a few days, it was more than enough to see the attractions such as the famous Orangutan Rehabilitation center and Sunbears in Sepilok.
There is also a few things to do aside from these two hotspots so be sure to explore around if you have the time.
-Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
-Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center
-Have a go at bowling!
-Sandakan Memorial Park
This amazing city is most likely going to be the starting point of your Malaysian adventures so be prepared for the hustle and bustle of the traffic! It is the major travel hub in the area with many frequent connections making it the ideal transit destination as well.
We aren’t city people but luckily this beautiful place had some great sites to explore during our stay such as the treacherous staircase to enter the Batu Caves!
-Visiting the Batu Caves (Be sure to look around at the other caves while your there, and if you have the budget then the ‘Dark caves’ look and sounded like a worthwhile adventure!)
-The Petronas Towers
Although it is a 3-hour bus ride south, we definitely think it’s a lovely place to visit. We do however only recommend a short stop here as we found it could be explored easily in two days using bicycle or by foot. Our absolute highlight was doing the Skytrex Adventures, ziplining and climbing up ladders up to 30m in the treetops! Luckily they have adventures for all ages and adrenaline ranges so you'll surely be catered for.
-Explore the street art by bicycle
-The Huskitory (Café with Huskies!)
Taman Negara is one of the worlds oldest and most beautiful rainforests which we recommend as a must visit during your stay in Malaysia. It offers beautiful and well-maintained walks through the jungle, the longest treetop canopy walk in the world, wildlife spotting and cave exploring! This was a lovely change from the crazy KL capital city. There is no need for guided trips to this destination and it is easy enough but slightly expensive to get to by bus + boat.
We do recommend staying on the other side of the river from the village if you have the budget for it, that way you can head out into the jungle at anytime early morning and late at night if you want fewer tourists and to see wildlife during the quiet period. Sadly when we did our guided jungle walk tour there were so many noisy tourists they were scaring most animals away!
-Nighttime guided jungle walk (They are so knowledgeable and great at finding all sorts of animals such as scorpions and tree snakes!)
-Fishing/feeding the monkeys down at the river
-Rapid shooter + Orang Asli village visit
-Camping jungle walk to waterfalls + caves
In need of some fresh cool air for a break? Feel like snacking on strawberries and drinking endless amounts of delicious tea? This place is for you!
This place is breathtakingly beautiful with its endless tea plantations covering the surrounding hills. We hired a scooter for our three days so we could explore at our own pace and avoid the crowds when possible by leaving a little earlier and staying out a little later than the bus tours. Majority of the attractions are fairly close together and easy to find along the single road so there really isn’t any need to spend a ton of money on a guided tour if you're on a budget.
-Big Red strawberry farm (Go by 9am when they open otherwise you may miss out on the good berries!)
-Bee farm (We found this pretty boring but if you love bees, or want some pure honey then pop on in)
-Mossy forest walk
-Cameron Lavender garden (Expensive for what it is so we skipped this)
Our favourite little destination in Malaysia. This island was not only the friendliest spot we had come across, but it had everything from incredible street art, to beautiful beaches. We spent a lot of time here relaxing, enjoying the amazing food, shopping in the HUGE mall complexes and hunting down the street art spotted around the town.
-Penang Hill tram
-Batu Ferringhi Beach
-Upside down House
OTHER DESTINATIONS TO VISIT
This is one place we regret not having visited during our time backpacking through Malaysia! Not only is it a great destination for living the beach life, jet skiing and snorkeling, but it is one of the top visa run/border crossing from Malaysia to Thailand. It was a little bit out of our budget range at the time however we do recommend it!
Whether your after the nightlife or romantic honeymooning these islands cater for all. With beautiful coral gardens to snorkel, cheap PADI courses, and gorgeous beaches it’s also another great place to head over for some relaxing.
Currency: MYR - Malaysian Ringgit
Overall daily spend: We were spending 279Ringgit or $101NZD on average a day for two people including all food, activities, scooter rental almost every day and accommodation. You can definitely get by cheaper than this if you have to.
Visa: FREE! For most countries, it is a free visa entry stamp on arrival. Make sure you look into the details of your specific country though!
Transport: Uber was our main mode of transport around Malaysia because we were on a budget and needed something cheaper than a taxi! This is an app you can download and use easily if you have data/wifi.
Hire a scooter! This was usually the cheapest option and great for getting yourself around to many places in a day. We used this predominately in Penang to get around for 35MYR per day but cost 70MYR per day in the Cameron Highlands! Be sure to shop around for the best prices as they can vary considerably.
Food: On average we were spending between 5-9MYR per person for a decent rice and veg or Indian inspired roti with curry meal.
Activities: It really depends on your priorities and budget as to how much you will be paying for activities but here is a list of what we paid to give you a rough idea.
Each of these prices are per person
Monsopiad Village: 45
Probiscus & Firefly Tour: 140 (Includes dinner)
Bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok: 43
Orangutan Rehabilitation Center: 30 + 10 per camera fee
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation: 31.55
Batu Caves: Free! (Train to get there is 5 each return)
Sky trex: 75 (3 hours for the Adventure warriors option, gloves included)
Nighttime jungle trek: 30
River crossing: 1
Fishing rod hire: 35 + 10 Fishing permit
Visit Native village + Boat rapid tour: 80
Canopy walk: 5
Pick your own berries entry/1kg of berries: 25
Jug of tea + Cake at tea plantation: 15
Penang Hill tram return: 30
Accommodation: As a couple, we paid 42-75MYR per night for a clean budget private room. Obviously, you can spend more or less depending on your budget but that is our recommendation if you want to be cheap as well as having a nice enough room.
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