How to do Malaysia with Minimal Funds!
KL is a great city with a lot to do. Don’t be phased if you’re on a budget – there’s a lot of things that are free to do! Our budget for KL is around 150MYR (£30) a day for both of us, and we didn’t go over this at all.
First we found a room. Birds Nest guesthouse was recommended to us, and they were awake at 4am to check us in. At 15MYR for a dorm, or 35MYR for a double/twin, it is great value and has a real home away from home feeling. There is a fridge and cooking facilities, and two common areas with free WiFi and a computer for everyone to use. The bus from Hat Yai dropped us off a five minute walk from the hotel, just cross the square and take the road right that runs alongside Ancasa Hotel. Cut through Chinatown, cross the road and it’s on your right. Coming from Sentral it’s just one stop on the LRT. Pesar Seni is the closest LRT station and Central Market bus station is 10 minute walk away.
Next we filled up on rotii chennai. At 1MYR a piece this doughy bread dipped in curry will become your staple if you are on a small budget. There are plenty of great Indian buffet style restaurants near Central Market where curry, rice, vegetables and bread (naan/dohtii/rotii/idly/etc) for 2 people plus drinks rarely exceeds 20MYR (£4).
Walking around Chinatown can be a pleasant way to while away a morning. The street gets more crowded as the day goes on, with the market traders increasing in numbers until the street is barely visible as the day wears on. Plenty of Chinese Kopi shops serving excellent, cheap coffee (around 1.20MYR a glass) and lots of atmosphere – recommended!
The free city bus system – GoKL – allows you to get to most parts of the city for free. The buses start outside Pesar Seni LRT station and are bright purple/pink in colour. On the front window a large sign will tell you this is the free bus. There are two routes, the pink line and the green line. GoKL buses are obviously slower then the LRT and may involve a change from one line to the other.
A visit to Petronas Towers, just a few stops away on the LRT from Pesar Seni (KLCC station – pink line) has to be on the list for every tourist and school outing in KL. Watch hoards of kids splashing in the fountain, get whistled at constantly by overzealous whistle bearing security guards, struggle to comprehend that the building in front of you is almost 1/2KM high! It’s free to walk around and inside the building, and you can get tickets for the viewing tower if you arrive early enough in the morning.
Volunteering at Zoo Negara is a great, free way to spend your time in KL. Arrive at the Zoo at 8am and sign it at the staff entrance to the right side of the zoo. Wait by the education office, fill in a volunteer form and soon a zoo keeper will be taking you to their section. You might spend the day hand feeding otters and capybaras, washing down an elephant before its health check, feeding a baby giraffe or even shovelling crocodile poo in an enclosure full of 15ft crocs! It really is hit or miss what section you get, but you get to see the zoo for free in your long breaks, saving the 35MYR ticket price. To get there from Pesar Seni take the LRT to Wangsa Maju (25 minutes) then the U34 bus to the Zoo (5 minutes), or take the U23 bus/Metrobus 16 (one hour – less on Sundays) from Central Market bus station.
After all that shovelling poo at the Zoo, we sought out some culture at Batu Caves. Admission is free, and it is possible to get there for 3MYR return by walking over the sky bridge from Pesar Seni LRT to Kuala Lumpur station. The cave entrance is 300 steps and it is welcomingly cool when you reach the top. There is the Cave Villa (15MYR) and Dark Caves (35MYR – 80MYR) to explore also.
So how to spend all that money you just saved?
There are so many tourist attractions in KL it can be difficult to chose. There is the Butterfly Park (25MYR), Bird Park (48MYR), SunWay Lagoon (80MYR), KL Tower (28MYR). We recommend asking the guesthouse owners that you are staying with as they are likely to have lived in KL for long enough to know where tourists like to go.
There are a nice variety of languages spoken in Malaysia so if you’re a language fanatic you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. The predominant tongue is Bahasa Melayu, although Chinese (mainly Cantonese) and Indian (mainly Tamil) dialects can also be heard. There are also many people who speak the English language, however don’t expect to hear anything far-out like the Swahili language!
Another great guest post by Tat Jones, remember you can follow her world travels at ShitNedSays.com!