Travel on a Budget: 2 Days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

After my few days in Singapore, I headed to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

I took the bus from Singapore to KL which ended up being about 6-7 hours total, with 2 stops at customs/immigration, and a rest stop in the middle. Many people recommend flying as it is not much more expensive (maybe $60 compared to the $20 I spent), but truthfully, I was happy for a relaxing day where I could just look out the window and admire the Malaysian countryside.

I came to realize quickly that there are SO many places to go in Malaysia (Malacca, Penang, the islands, etc), but due to my short timeframe and budget, I only spent about 2 days in KL before heading back to Japan.

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Upon arrival at KL Sentral (where my bus happened to take me), I stopped at the ATM and took out 200 Ringgits. This is equivalent to about $48 USD. I truly wasn’t sure how much I would need, so I figured I’d better be safe than sorry!

When I went outside of the mall area, there were taxis galore. I had read somewhere that taxis and Uber are very common here. The train system is also, and is likely cheaper; however, it isn’t quite as common as, say, Japan.

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I was super thankful my hostel host sent me a list of directions and estimated taxi fares to get to the place. This is something I HIGHLY recommend, especially here. In many Asian countries, as I may have said before, if you are blonde, people stare. And people obviously know you are a foreigner and they WILL take advantage of you. Haggling is common here, and I am also very thankful that I learned a bit during my previous trip to Bali – AKA how to say no and make sure you are very confident in what you are asking/saying. You can be nice, but be careful because, again, they may try to take advantage of you.

My taxi fare was supposed to be approximately 5 Ringgits to my hostel. Example number one of why this was beneficial to know. I walked outside and the taxi drivers were waving me down. I showed them where I needed to go on my screenshotted map. They looked at it for a minute, conversed a little, and then said “25 Ringgits!” I initially felt a little confused, and said, “My host said 5.” No joke, they laughed at me. They kept saying “25, 25.” To which I said, “let me check.” So of course, I reread everything and realized I needed to find another way to get there. One taxi driver then approached me and said, “How about 15 Ringgits?” To which I again said no thank you and walked away.

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I’m not going to lie, I felt a little frustrated. I decided to just wait a little and see if I could get some more Wifi and try to get an Uber (luckily this mall had Wifi). I also realized maybe I should try to see if someone could fix my SIM card, since it had stopped once I made it across the Malaysian border…and well, it was supposed to roam (AH!). This would be super helpful for catching an Uber.

I decided to ask some people at a local SIM card place. What I noticed, and maybe it was because I was a foreigner, or maybe people just had a bad day, I’m not sure. But when I asked about the SIM card, one lady was very short with me and said “no we can’t help you” while the lady next to her smiled and said, “maybe the information desk can help you.” It truly seemed like there were two types of Malaysian people – the ones who stared/talked rude to me and the ones who were SUPER friendly and nice. I know this happens everywhere, but I’m just letting everyone know about my trip without sugarcoating anything. Even though I was a little upset about rude people (what did I do to them!?), I had to remember that I needed to respect their country, their people, and their culture. This is their home, after all.

Once I went inside and was directed to the IT area for my SIM card, EVERYONE was yelling at me to help me – again, nice – but a little overwhelming and made me feel a bit uneasy. And of course, they only wanted to sell me something, so once I asked if they could give me advice, they said no. So, again, frustrated, I decided I better go try to get to my hostel.

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I found an Uber for 8 Ringgits (that’s more like it) and decided to go with that one. My Uber driver was super nice and said how much he LOVED his job. He even gave me his business card, such a sweet man. Once I got to the hostel, I had to wait a little – because this was a “check in by appointment only.” It was legit the fanciest hostel I had ever been to. Mainly because it was surrounded by a lot of really nice hotels and apartments, with a fancy restaurant on top. Luckily, I was able to check in right away despite a little confusion.

My hostel room cost about $30 USD a night. So a total of $60 for two nights. It was steep, for a hostel, but I decided I wanted to splurge a little bit.. Mainly because when will I ever get to stay somewhere with a rooftop infinity pool ever again!?

So far: 8 Ringgits ~$2, hostel was $60. So $62 USD

The first night I ended up just chilling and relaxing there, went up to check out the infinity pool for a little before I came back downstairs to shower and get ready for bed. They had a few snacks at the hostel (Weetabix, animal crackers..) that I ended up eating throughout the evening (in addition to a granola bar and some chips I brought from Singapore). Was it the healthiest? Nope. But hey, it’s what I had. I could’ve went downstairs to the convenience store but I was just that lazy. Sacrifice.

I woke up the next morning with the plan on going to the Batu Caves for breakfast! I called an Uber using the Wifi, hopped in and headed on my way! My hostel owner told me to make sure to get a coconut here because they are “the best,” and so is the breakfast.

The drive was only about 20 minutes or so, and the Uber was only $2 when it was converted back to USD (again, I made sure to ask the hostel guy how much it should be…super helpful). Once you get to the caves, it is all free (unless you pay for parking). I was also told to go in the morning before it got too hot because, yes, you will likely be sweating after climbing all of those stairs.

I probably spent about an hour walking up and down the stairs, mingling with monkeys, hanging out inside the cave. I’m sure you could take longer if you wanted, but I was getting a little hungry and thirsty. I headed back down the stairs and saw a coconut stand close to the entrance. 5 Ringgits! AKA just over $1 USD, woohooo! I watched the guy cut it right in front of me and sipped on that beaut for a solid few minutes. I’ve only had fresh coconut in Bali and I can’t quite remember enough to compare, but regardless, it was an awesome coconut.

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From there, I decided to wander a little to find somewhere to eat breakfast. There were a few shops with some local candies and treats, but other than that, nothing really caught my eye. I finally walked by a place and was waved in. At first, the guy was trying to explain things to me – it was Indian food. I decided to ask for a menu. The STRANGEST thing happened – he motioned like pushing me away instead of a “come here” motion. He walked away and kept pushing the air away. I thought maybe I offended him, I was so confused. 30 seconds later, he grabbed the menu and brought it back out to me. My heart had stopped because I wasn’t sure what I did. Turns out, I guess it just meant to wait there? I’m not sure – but if this happens to you, don’t be afraid! haha

I ordered some sort of crepe thing on the menu as well as an iced coffee. Guess how much this cost me? 5 Ringgits! Another $1 USD, woo woo! And let me tell you, this was hands down the best iced coffee I’ve ever had.

The toughest part of going to the Batu caves without a SIM card was that – ahh, I didn’t have WIFI!? How could I call an Uber?! I had asked my hostel guy (he knows everything, I swear) and he said the restaurant people would likely let you connect just to get an Uber.. but honestly, I wasn’t sure. Again, being a foreigner sometimes scares me, honestly. It can be tough, but you just have to be confident in yourself (or pretend). I ended up wandering a little to see if I could get a free Wifi connection. Magically, after walking closer to the caves, I hooked onto some. I was able to call an Uber quickly, and then walk to the entrance to wait for him (even after I lost the WiFi). Amazing, right? Also kind of lucky, but hey, it worked. Once again, this Uber was about $2.Geckos Latest Offers Gaiam Restore Products Banner

I headed back to shower and chill out (the beds were super comfy, so why not just lay there for a little and let everything recharge?) My breakfast was kind of late so I didn’t really plan on eating until 4 PM – like an early dinner. And since I still had a crap ton of cash, I decided I would let myself splurge a little bit.

Around 4, I headed out to a mall close to the Petronas Towers. It didn’t have wifi like I had hoped, but it had a few restaurants that I could pick from. My Uber here ended up being about $1USD.

I was told to try Laksa while I was here, so I found a place inside the mall to eat this. I wasn’t sure which kind to try, so I just got the basic. Now… I’m not the spicy food kind of person (you might ask then why the heck I was in Southeast Asia?!) and I didn’t know this was going to be spicy.. but I guess I should have assumed that (duh).

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So, I ate it. Well, I sipped it. And then I took large gulps of my iced tea. It was spicy (to me), but delicious! I kept eating as much as I could but eventually had to buy another iced tea (I’m that lame). My meal in total cost me about $5 USD.

Running total: $74 USD.

I still had some time to kill before it got too dark out. I wanted to make sure I saw the Petronas Towers in the light, but then wanted to be at the light show at night – around 8 PM. So, I decided to wander the mall and treat myself to some dessert. I couldn’t help it! The food was too good!

I ended up with this crepe/cake kind of thing. I think it was French inspired, but my tummy loved it regardless. It cost me around $6 USD with the coffee and cake (there was a special I took advantage of- obvi).

After I relaxed for a little, I took my short walk across the street to see the infamous Petronas Towers. One thing I want to warn people of – is if you’re on the first floor and need to go to the bathroom, they will charge you. On a budget, I could definitely head up to the next floor to go πŸ˜‰ haha.

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I headed out back and relaxed for a bit in the park. There were tons of people around and it was definitely a cool vibe. I ended up sitting across the pond area so the towers were in the background during the light show. It was definitely neat, but to be honest, I thought the Gardens By the Bay one was better for sure. I would still recommend you go see this light show, though!

Exhausted and without wifi after the show, I decided to head back to the mall because I knew there was a Starbucks there. I grabbed a bag of chips (about $1 USD) and hooked onto their wifi. Yes, you had to actually buy something to hook into their wifi. From here, I ordered an Uber to head home, once again, about $1.

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It was about 9:30 or so when I finally returned. Being the grandma that I am, I decided to pack my things and head to bed. I would have to get up early to head to the airport tomorrow. I planned on calling an Uber again, but, of course, the cheaper option would be to take the train (not sure how long that would take or how much).

My Uber to the airport ended up costing me about $20, bringing the total to $95. Again, I’m sure if you used the train, it would have been much cheaper. They also warn you about Kuala Lumpur traffic. I didn’t hit any (I left around 9), but beware. I wanted to make sure I left super early even though it should only take about an hour to get to the airport. Once I got there, of course I ended up eating breakfast and heading to my gate, normal airport things.

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My last breakfast was Teh Tarik and more kaya toast with soft boiled eggs (similar to what I had in Singapore). I still thought it was too sweet for me, but delicious and I definitely recommend you try it. It cost me about $3.

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So total including all of my transportation during my 2 days, I spent about $99 USD!

Again, without the taxi back, that could have easily been $79+ the train fee. And of course, if you wanted to spend more or had more time – go for it! Just letting you know what I spent πŸ˜‰

Hopefully this helps in your KL journey… and if you need advice on any flights or other tips to save money here and there – check out my blogs on those πŸ™‚ Or check out my most recent blog on a short trip to Palawan in the Philippines.

Happy travels!

Jen

Travel on a Budget: 3 Days in Singapore

While Singapore was not my first solo traveling trip, I was surprisingly nervous to go. That being said, I also googled a few things and learned that it is a very safe country to travel in. I didn’t have a ton of money to spend here – as I am only working part time at the moment and my student loans show no mercy towards me. So, I stuck to a budget with a goal of spending around $100 USD once in the country (flights not included).

This goal was a little more difficult in Singapore (as compared to my 2 days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and I did end up going a little over. But I now also see places where I could have not splurged as much – or even places I could have a little more.

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My flight from Tokyo was, of course, the cheapest and most direct one I could find. I really didn’t want any layovers for this trip since I knew the two major cities I would be going to are also huge airports that host a lot of layovers. I flew Delta on the way there (will update my flight blog soon!) and it was great. They actually let you have free messaging on longer flights now!? So I could keep in touch with people on the ground via Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or WhatsApp. It was a nice surprise, for sure.

I landed in Changi Airport (named the best airport for many years – apparently it has a slide, which I sadly didn’t get to see) around 12:30 AM, just after midnight. When I booked this flight, I decided to forego a hostel for that first night, especially knowing that there could have been a flight delay, essentially paying for a bed I wouldn’t be sleeping in. Not to mention, the train system (MRT) doesn’t run all night long – so I would have to take a taxi to my place. Still not super expensive, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do.

I had slept a little on the flight, but I knew I would need to find somewhere in the airport to nap for a few hours. I left the arrivals area, grabbed a SIM card (it was the StarHub Happy Prepaid card – worked great in Singapore, but it wouldn’t let me roam once I left the country – which I had bought it for that reason, AND customer service couldn’t help me out… just as a heads up). I walked around a little and found a carpeted area where a lot of people were sleeping, so I joined in.

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So – as I will later explain in my blog from Kuala Lumpur – I had only one carry-on bag and it had to weigh <7kg. Delta did not restrict me, but my flight back on AirAsia would. And the time of my return back to Tokyo will make it difficult for me to check a bag, as I likely would not make the train home in time. So, again, I have one book bag filled with a few outfits, some granola bars, a few of my favorite complete cookies, my neck pillow, and some toiletries. I will go further into the packing specifics on another post. πŸ˜‰

So I slept a few hours, probably like 2.5 before I got up and found a charger. I knew the MRT would start running around 5 AM or so, and I wanted to get out of the airport and start exploring! I started following the signs to the MRT, got a little lost, asked one security guard (who kind of gave me a snide “it’s not open yet”) -like yes, I know, but it will be in 20 minutes and I still need to get there so — duh. The other one was very kind and laughed and tried to explain it to me. As I headed back the way I came, a man in front of me stopped and – yes- took a picture of me. There was nobody behind me at this point in time, and if you didn’t know, cell phones produced in Asia for some reason cannot have their pictures muted. So yeah – I heard it. It was strange. BUT – this is my warning for any blondes traveling in Asian countries. It happens a lot more than you think. It’s usually friendly, but sometimes it just creeps ya out. Like in this instance, when I just walked incredibly fast past this man then.

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I found the MRT finally – it wasn’t tough really, just had to follow the signs. I bought an MRT card from the main desk area – again, very simple and there are signs. You can buy a ticket if you think you’re not going to take the MRT often, but it’s definitely a cheaper option than a taxi, and very easy to navigate in my opinion (even easier than Japan for me, because it’s in English!!) If you buy the MRT card, you can also use this on the buses, which I did often.

So.. Current price total: SIM card $32, MRT card: $12 — $44.

With my fancy new card, I hopped on the MRT out of the airport towards Merlion Park – one destination I wanted to see. I ended up hopping out at the River Walk area (can’t remember the stop) and did that while walking to Merlion Park. The sun was just beginning to rise – it was such a beautiful time to see everything! Mostly everything was quiet besides the few runners and bikers that I saw.

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The best thing about all of this beauty — it’s totally FREE πŸ™‚

 

 

After hanging out at the park and wandering around a little bit, I had an appointment of my own across the city. Something you could do while in this area is check out Chinatown as it’s fairly close.

My little trip consisted of meeting with a Singapore physical therapist.Β Before I met with him, I had a late breakfast/brunch – “Singapore style” – of Kopi with Kaya toast and soft boiled eggs. It was definitely good – but phew – it was kind of sweet for me! They really like their butter. That being said, it also kept me full for awhile. Something I didn’t know is that many people put soy sauce in their soft-boiled eggs (I eventually tried this in Malaysia and it was really good!).

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My breakfast? $4. That brings the total to $48 (Singapore dollars)

After my few hours visiting the local university, I finally headed back to check-in at my hostel – and walked quite a ways. My hostel total was about $15 x 3 nights — $45 (different websites give different deals – so be sure to check that out!). Another money saver to check when booking is – do they give free breakfast?? Mine did. Although it was only bread/toast with jelly or Nutella and coffee/tea – you better believe I ate SANDWICHES before I left each morning πŸ˜‰

Running total: $93

Since I was pretty exhausted that night, I decided to just shower and relax and walk around the area a little bit. I ended up finding a 7-11 where I grabbed some water and a few snacks (about $7 for 2 bottles and chips) and a hawker center that looked decent?! People were staring, so I just acted confident, as always, and ordered a rice and steamed chicken meal – which I heard you should do. So, rice, steamed chicken, and miso soup. How much? $3.50 !! WINNING!

Total: $103.50

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I went back to the hostel that night and planned what I was going to do the next day. I decided to go to Little India and then see Gardens By the Bay – one of the highly rated attractions. Best part about it? You can go see most of the Gardens for FREEEEEE (such a great word, am I right?)

The morning started out rainy. Again, I had a lovely breakfast of Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches (hehe). I stocked up with my carbs before I hit the road. With the SIM card, it was super easy to navigate everywhere. One thing I did learn though – is to make sure you make it OBVIOUS that you want a bus. They will not stop. I had one pass me twice. I also don’t even think it was trying to come over, but hey, whatever. It happened to another guy too – so it wasn’t just me. They don’t wait for anyone here!

Anywho, so Little India was a cute little area. I just walked along and window shopped – knowing I had no room for expansion in my backpack. There are a lot of cheap things in this area – so if you want to spend a little, go for it.

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I ate lunch at an Indian place. Azmati and chicken curry. It was really good! The other thing about Asia though, is that there are NEVER napkins out freely – I swear. Many people bring their own napkins. So here I am, napkin-less, being stared at, half-dying from the heat of the curry (I can’t handle a lot of spice), trying to make sure it’s not on my face or in my hair yet still feeling like it’s everywhere…yeah, you get the point. It was all very delicious and.. $5 ! woo woo!

Total: $108.50

I then headed out and went to the Gardens by the Bay. I wanted to time this right, because I knew there was a light show at night, but I still wanted to explore the Gardens during the day. To me, there is PLENTY to do in the free area that can entertain you for hours. It wasn’t hard, and I didn’t even get to see everything. I ended up buying the access to the others ($22 on a discount website for Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome) and splurged a little. But, truthfully, I regretted it. It was great, and if I had been there longer, I think I could’ve enjoyed it more. But for one day to do everything, it was a little overwhelming and kind of redundant. Stick to the free things if you only have a day, for sure.

 

 

As you can see, the trees were beautiful, and the gardens, again, were amazing. It was a very relaxing time just wandering and looking around. Not to mention the light show was awesome! Hands down the best light show I have ever seen. Again – all free!

Total: $130.50

After the light show, everyone booked it out to the MRT. I ended up staying back a little and just hung out. Oh, by the way, the port-a-potty they had also had a plant in it!? Crazy, right? Made me laugh.

I still hadn’t had dinner by this time, and I was hungry. Just because of time – I ended up stopping at the 7-11 on the way home. I grabbed a sandwich and, yes, some more snacks. Probably ended up totaling $7.

Total $137.50.

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The next morning, I woke up and wasn’t too sure what to do – but I knew I wanted to enjoy the sun (and heat) a little bit. Of course, I ate my free breakfast πŸ˜‰ and then decided to head to East Coast Park around 11 AM or so. I wasn’t in any rush, so it wasn’t a huge deal when I left. I used my google maps and took the bus to the park. It was definitely a hot day — I wish I had wore my bathing suit instead, haha.

I chilled out by the beach for a bit. This park is less of a swimming place and much more of an activities kind of place. Many people rented bicycles and there was even a fitness park! I ended up doing a little workout before I left. After about an hour, I decided to go for a little stroll to find some water or something cold.

 

 

My lunch ended up being some frozen yogurt. Not the healthiest – but I’m an adult, right πŸ˜‰ haha. It was filled with fruit and just hit the spot! And it was $5!

Total $142.50

After I was done relaxing in the heat, it was already 2-3 PM, so I headed back to the hostel. I decided to shower once I got back and take a little nap (because I love naps, and that heat drained me!)

Now this is where I ended up splurging. I went to find Chili Crabs (which I knew would be a little expensive).. I ended up spending $30 on the crabs and $2 on my smoothie. Being from Maryland, I felt like I had to at least compare these Singapore crabs (they’re actually from Sri Lanka) to the crabs I’m used to. They were good, but they were sweeter than I am used to. And of course, they didn’t have any old bay seasoning. The way they are cooked, they ended up being extremely easy to break apart and eat.

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This puts my total at $174.50 Singapore dollars. I ended up stopping at 7-11 again after to grab another bottle of water and a Milo drink for the morning (just to try it). Totaling $3. So, $177.50.

Of course, I had to be up early for check out in the morning to head to my bus. I snagged a few sandwiches and headed to the bus station (which I had chosen to be nearby). It was a little confusing to get there – but I gave myself extra time to find it, luckily.

My total cost of my Singapore trip was $177.50 Singapore dollars, which converts to about $130 USD. Things I would recommend to anyone for next time: Don’t book the extra things at Gardens By the Bay. That alone will save you $20 or so. Also, if you don’t want to splurge on the crabs – Don’t! Again, that will save you $30 right there. So maybe instead you would eat a $5 dinner. If I hadn’t spent money on those 2 things, I would have saved about $45 on my trip, which would mean I would have spent $132.50 Singapore dollars AKA $97 USD! You can also save money by not purchasing the SIM card (take another $30ish dollars away). Wifi isn’t always accessible, but everything is in English and you can usually ask someone or find a coffee shop with access!

And of course, you can DEFINITELY splurge if you have the money! I just chose not to πŸ™‚ This is just a guide from what I recommend.

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Another note, I ended up taking a bus to Kuala Lumpur. It cost me about $20 Singapore dollars when I booked in advance. If you book there, I believe it cost people $30. Many people fly as it is quicker, but it can cost $50 or more. Again, not a bad price – but I enjoyed seeing some of the countryside as I traveled between countries. I think I left around 9:30 AM and arrived in Kuala Lumpur around 4 PM.

Stay tuned for my Kuala Lumpur on a budget blog! I spent even less in Malaysia than I did in Singapore. So awesome!

Until next time,

Jen