Kuala Lumpur is an amazing city to visit during your travels around Southeast Asia. It’s a true cultural melting pot and somewhere we encourage you to visit. There are some misconceptions that KL is a super expensive city to visit though. So, we have put together this blog post to help you understand a typical Kuala Lumpur budget for travellers.
KL is the capital city of Malaysia, so travelling here can be as expensive as you make it. Of course, there are still cheaper alternatives to be found. We will cover typical accommodation, food, entertainment and transport prices in KL. As well as making suggestions for how to plan your own Kuala Lumpur budget.
Having travelled right throughout Southeast Asia, we can say that KL is slightly more expensive than other cities. But, it’s still cheap by nearly all Western standards.
What’s included in our Kuala Lumpur budget breakdown blogpost?
How to budget travel in Kuala Lumpur
First and foremost, let’s work through each of the areas in which you’re likely to spend money during your travels. We’ll split these areas into accommodation, food, entertainment and transport.
For each area of spending, we’ll give you an overview of your options and some typical KL travel costs.
Accommodation in KL
Hotels in Kuala Lumpur come in all price ranges. There’s no doubt you can find a cheap, budget hotel in KL, or a mega-expensive 5-star hotel. Alternatively, Kuala Lumpur also has many budget hostel options and a multitude of apartments on Airbnb.
There are accommodation options for every kind of budget, so let’s take a look at some typical prices.
Typical accommodation prices in KL
- Hostel dorms: 15 – 30 MYR (£3 – £6)
- Hostel private rooms: 40 – 60 MYR (£8 – £12)
- Airbnb studio apartment: 80 – 160 MYR (£15 – £30)
- Budget Hotel: 80 – 135MYR (£15-£25)
- Mid-range hotel: 150 – 250 MYR (£20 – £50)
- Up-market hotel: 250 – 500 MYR (£50 – £100)
You can see that there is accommodation at all prices points. There’s accommodation to suit those who want to budget travel in Kuala Lumpur, as well as those who want to spend on the higher end. There is always the option for even more luxury travel, where rooms can run into the thousands per night. All in all, there’s a hotel room for everybody!
Good to know:
Kuala Lumpur has some of the cheapest 5-star hotels we’ve seen. If you’re looking to spend a bit more money, a 5-star hotel room with lounge access might be a good option. Hotel lounges often come with complimentary food and drinks (including alcohol)!
Food and Drink in KL
One way to save money on your Kuala Lumpur budget it to look out for cheap food. Luckily it’s easy to find fantastic cheap food in KL. And, unless you have expensive tastes, you probably won’t need/want to step foot in a restaurant.
Right throughout the city, you’ll find food courts and hawker centres in the basements of shopping malls. These centres serve up some of the tastiest and cheapest food in Kl with a range of cuisines. You can find local Malay dishes, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other Asian offerings. Otherwise, seek out a ‘Nasi Kandar’ to feast on some super cheap Indian food!
Typical meal prices in KL
- A meal in a food court: 10 – 15 MYR (£2 – £3)
- Indian food in a Nasi Kandar: 10 – 20 MYR (£2 – £4)
- Fast food (i.e. KFC/McDonalds): 15 – 25 MYR (£3 – £5)
- Meal at a mid-range restaurant: 25 – 45 MYR (£5 – £9)
It goes without saying, but we highly recommend sticking to the local food during your time in KL. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also always the cheaper option. Eating in restaurants or seeking out western food is not ideal for budget travel in Kuala Lumpur.
The cost of alcohol in Kuala Lumpur
We can only assume that this is where the “KL is super expensive” misconception comes from. It’s true that alcohol prices in KL are very high. Generally, the price of a beer in a bar is approaching or even exceeding the prices you’d expect to pay back at home.
We often see a 330ml (NOT EVEN A PINT) of beer going for 25 – 30 MYR (£5 – £6) in bars. Sometimes, there’s also a tax/service charge to add on top of this.
You’ll even find alcohol in convenience stores to be expensive too with a can of Tiger beer selling for 15 MYR (£3).
This might be due to the fact Malaysia is a Muslim country, however, this is something we can’t verify. The bottom line is that going out partying is not a budget-friendly way to travel in Kuala Lumpur.
Entertainment in KL
The good news is that, when it comes to entertainment, budget travel in Kuala Lumpur is easy! There are SO many free activities for you to enjoy in KL. There are probably more free things to do that we would recommend than paid activities.
You can rest easy knowing that your Kuala Lumpur budget won’t be blown on expensive touristy gimmicks. Below we’ve recommended some of our free favourite activities.
Best free things to do in Kuala Lumpur
- Visit the marvellous Petronas Twin Towers
- Hike the colourful steps at the Batu Caves
- Explore the endlessly beautiful Thean Hou Temple
Looking for more cheap/free activities in KL? Read our ‘Free Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur – Top 12‘.
There are some activities that you are required to pay for. However, these are generally expensive, touristy and not essential to have a great time in KL.
Paid activities in Kuala Lumpur
- The Petronas Towers viewing platform: 80 MYR (£15)
- KL Tower SkyDeck: 99 MYR (£19)
These are the kind of expensive touristy activities we were talking about. We personally haven’t visited these attractions as there are other places to view KL’s amazing skyline. Like a rooftop bar…where, you can spend your money on beer instead and get the view ‘complimentary’.
Transport in KL
The public transport in Kuala Lumpur is two things…great and budget-friendly. It’s super easy to get around the city with its extensive transport network. Budget travel in Kuala Lumpur is made easier by this cheap and easy to use system, as well as the fact that taxis are inexpensive too.
Let’s have a look at how much you can expect to spend getting around in KL.
Typical transport prices in Kuala Lumpur
- KL Sentral to KLCC (LRT): RM 2.4 (£0.44)
- KL Sentral to Bukit Bintang (Monorail): RM 2.5 (£0.49)
- KLIA2 to KL Sentral (Airport bus): RM 11 (£2)
- Inner-city centre GrabCar fare: RM 5 – 15 (£1 – £3)
As you can see, getting around KL is cheap. And, let us assure you, it’s easy to navigate the public transport network too. If you’re travelling as a group, a great budget-friendly way to get around KL is to share a GrabCar. Most points of interest can be reached for less than RM15!!
Our Kuala Lumpur Budget: What did we spend?
We’ve now covered the typical costs that you can expect when visiting Kuala Lumpur. So, for a practical example, let’s take a look at how much we spent during a 4-night visit to the city.
Breakdown of our Kuala Lumpur budget
- Accommodation: 100 RM (£18.50) per night
- Food & Drink: 135 RM (£25) per day
- Transport: 17.50 RM (£3.30) per day
- Entertainment: 9.50 RM (£1.80) per day
Our total daily travel costs in KL: 262 RM (£49) per day
After totalling up our daily net spend, we can suggest that a budget for 262 RM (£49) per day will be ideal for most travellers. So, as you can see, budget travel in Kuala Lumpur is more than doable.
You should note that this is the total spend for the two of us. Of course, if you’re travelling alone, you can expect to cut this figure in half. However, not everybody travels in the same manner, so it’s important to consider your own style of travelling when planning your budget for Kuala Lumpur.
We’ve discussed some key points about our personal style of travel below and how we came to managing our travel budget in KL.
How we managed our Kuala Lumpur travel budget
- We stayed in a mid-range Airbnb close to the city centre. Hostels will, of course, be a cheaper option, whilst most hotels will be more expensive.
- Our eating habits were not that of a usual ‘traveller’ during our time in KL. We decided to eat at some western food chains and definitely could have saved money by choosing local food options.
- The total amount we spent on food includes an expensive meal out for Becky’s birthday.
- One thing we didn’t do was go out partying or drinking a lot of alcohol. As we have previously discussed, alcohol in Kuala Lumpur can be quite expensive.
- We think our spending on transport was pretty typical. We used some taxis and public transport to get around the city to the main attractions.
- Our entertainment budget actually includes just 1 trip to the cinema. We took advantage of the many free activities that KL has to offer instead.
Tips for planning your own Kuala Lumpur travel budget
- Try to plan your accommodation in advance. Not only will the prices be cheaper if you book in advance, but you’ll also know how much you’re spending upfront. Do you want to stay in a fancy hotel, Airbnb or are you happy in a hostel dorm? Will you be sharing with a partner/friend, if you are, you can split the costs!
- Where is your accommodation located? Try to consider the location of your accommodation. If it’s centrally located, then you can often skip transport costs by using your feet to get around instead. It’s worth looking at accommodation, which is slightly further out, but within walking distance of the city’s main sights. You’ll save money by not being right in the middle of the city.
- What activities are you interested in? Have a loose idea of what you’d like to do in the city. This way, you can account for larger expenses, that will make a dent in your budget. It’s much better this way, rather than choosing to miss out because you can’t afford it at the time.
- Which types of meals are you going to be having? Clearly, if you’re on a romantic break with your partner you’ll want to be going out for nice meals. Though if you’re backpacking, you might choose to eat on the cheap. Keep this in mind because going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner can quickly blow a budget!
- Will you be partying? We say this phrase a lot…” partying is the number one travel budget, killer”. Don’t get us wrong, we drink regularly, but we don’t drink a lot. There’s a huge difference between a few social drinks in the park/hostel to going out partying. Nightclubs usually charge entrance fees as well as higher drink prices. One-night partying can easily blow a whole day’s travel budget.
Final points on planning your own Kuala Lumpur budget
By answering the above set of questions you’ll be able to accurately plan your own travel budget for KL. It goes without saying but you shouldn’t plan to stick to this budget 100% of the time.
Travelling doesn’t always go to plan (and that’s part of the fun, right?) so always account for a little extra. Something we always do is plan a budget, then keep 10-20% extra just in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. Besides, you never know what might crop up on your trip that you think you absolutely don’t want to miss out on. Don’t let an ultra-restrictive budget get in the way of your adventures!
Money-saving tips for budget travel in Kuala Lumpur
We mentioned already that budget travel in Kuala Lumpur is completely achievable. After all, the city as a whole is much cheaper than the capital cities in the West. Those coming to KL with a bit of money to spend will have no problem travelling comfortably. However, if you are looking to budget travel in KL then we’ll give you our top money-saving tips below.
- Stay in an Airbnb. We have found that there are an infinite amount of great apartments in KL which are centrally located and cheaper than hotels. This also gives us the facilities to make our own breakfast, another great money saver!
- Stay in or around Bukit Bintang, Chinatown or KLCC. These areas are where you’ll want to spend most of your time and many attractions are within walking distance of these areas.
- Book your accommodation way in advance. There’s no better way to save money on accommodation than planning a few months in advance. The best/cheapest accommodation always gets snapped up early.
- Rideshare. Travelling around the city can be so much cheaper if you are travelling as a group. Simply download Grab and split the cost with your mates.
- Look for promo codes. Every time we have visited KL we have found great new-user promo codes to be used on Grab taxis.
- Indulge in local food. Western food is so much more expensive, by eating the local food you can knock a ton of money off your food budget.
- Eat-in the food courts. Shopping mall food courts are where some of the best and cheapest foods can be found. It’s common to find a filling plate of food for just 10RM at a food court stall.
- Avoid the tourist traps. Eating on Jalan Alor might be a fantastic experience, but the food comes at an inflated cost as does the beer.
- Take advantage of the free activities. There’s no reason to spend on entertainment with so many free things to do in the city!
- Buy your beer from a supermarket. If you absolutely have to drink, supermarkets offer at least somewhat cheaper beer.
Have we helped you to plan your own Kuala Lumpur budget?
We hope if you have gotten this far then you have enjoyed our post.
The aim was to give you an overview of the travel costs you can expect when visiting KL. Hopefully, after reading our post you can see that budget travel in Kuala Lumpur is completely doable and you have an idea of how to plan your budget.
We’d absolutely love to know if you found our blog post useful. So, leave us a comment and let us know what you think and if you think we have missed anything out.
More Kuala Lumpur
- Free Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur – Top 12
- Getting around Kuala Lumpur – A Full guide for using public transport in KL
- The best money changers in Kuala Lumpur – The complete KL currency exchange guide!