3 Unique Places To Travel In Malaysia That’s Friendly To Your Ringgit

holiday destinations malaysia

Last week, Malaysia saw its currency flirting with levels last seen during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 with the local unit trading at 4.460 to the US dollar.

Couple that with the rising living cost, it has certainly been a tough year for Malaysians that the thought of a year-end vacation is just ludicrous.

What’s more, if you are a parent, the impending school-year just translates to bills, bills and even more bills.

While it is undeniable that you will have to crimp on expenditure, you can still have some respite and downtime with the family.

Here are three places to check out that promises some fun for the family without drilling a deep hole in your pocket.

Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor


This town, also known as KKB, is only 70km from Kuala Lumpur. It is usually a stopover for cyclists or holidaymakers making their way to Fraser’s Hill. But recently the town’s charm has been the intrigue of urban folk wanting a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.

How to get there

Use a car to get to and around KKB. You can also opt for a train ride via the KTM Komuter, the easiest way to get there through public transport and hop on the shuttle that takes you to KKB town. The shuttle, however, runs every one hour and it is a 25-minute journey to town.

By car (round trip KL-KKB inclusive of toll charges)*Less than RM50
KTM Komuter (round trip KL Sentral-KKB)**RM17.40 (cash)
RM14.80 (cashless)
Shuttle from KTM to KKB townRM5
*Rough estimate for Perodua Myvi .
**Cashless option includes Touch ‘n Go and monthly passes.

Where to stay

There are homestays and Airbnb rentals that cater for families from as low as RM288. Travel up north to Fraser’s Hill, which is about 25 minutes away from town, and you have better options, starting from as low as RM45.

For a unique travel experience…

Stay at The Sticks. This eco-glamping retreat is located in the jungles of KKB. Here holidaymakers are offered various configurations of a tendok (half tent, half pondok) but don’t let that turn you off, as some choices come with en suite bathrooms.

Cost for a family of 2 adults, 2 kids
2 nights @ Serengeti TentRM840
Meal package inclusive of breakfast, lunch, tea and dinnerAdult: RM125 x 2
Children: RM85 x 2
Total: RM250
Jungle trekkingRM40
White-water rafting (lunch and transport provided)RM1,000
Orang Asli village tourRM100
Estimated total: RM2,230

What next?

If you intend on staying a little longer in KKB, you can either explore the town or head over to Fraser’s Hill.

If the town is your choice, then a walking tour is best, where you will be greeted by shophouses built during the British colonial-era. There’s also a clock tower built in the 1930s, an old fire station and the grave of the then district officer, Cecil Ranking.

Also, the town is host to a wet market. Get up early and besides the fresh produce, you get to indulge in local fair ranging from roti canai to lontong and soto. There are a few Chinese coffee shops around the area as well.

Ipoh, Perak

Hipster central is what many would associate Ipoh these days with its offering of coffee joints serving up premium java. But it’s still laidback and quaint, making it a decent holiday spot, if you are sick and tired of Penang.

How to get there

Ipoh is well connected. The Sultan Azlan Shah Airport serves budget airlines Firefly, Malindo Air and Tigerair. Trains and expresses buses frequently shuttle between Kuala Lumpur and this northern town several times a day, too.  You can also get to Ipoh by car through the North-South Expressway.

Getting around is also fairly hassle free. Local buses run around the city and its suburb and Ipoh also has its own Uber service, as well.

Where to stay

You should not run out of options here from the budget Bed & Bike Backpackers Studio to the expensive Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. So it all boils down to the depth of your wallet.

For a unique travel experience…

Stay at the Sekeping Kong Heng. Located above the famous Kong Heng Coffee Shop, Sekeping is a neo-classical shophouse located in Ipoh’s Old Town.

Cost for 2 adults, 2 kids
2 nights RM700
Estimated toll charges (round trip)RM50
Estimated fuel cost (Myvi)RM100
Estimated total:RM850
*Prices do not include food and other charges incurred such as entrance fees to selected destinations.

What next?

If you are foodie, then a tour of what Ipoh has to offer should be the top of the list. Street food in Ipoh is easy on the pocket, from the famed nasi vanggey (a concoction of rice and curries) to kai see hor fun (Chinese-style flat, rice noodles in chicken broth).

To enrich your holiday, make a trip to Tambun, a suburb close to the city centre. There is the Lost World of Tambun, the only water theme-park in Ipoh and the well-known hot springs.

5 ways to save for a vacation

  1. Long weekend trips over a “dream vacation”. This is always easier on the wallet.
  2. Build cash with a “pantry week”. For one week of each month, stay out of the grocery store and eat what you have at home.
  3. Sacrifice now for fun later. Do you subscribe to services you no longer use or can downgrade?
  4. Sell your stuff. Get entrepreneurial and use the money for your trip.
  5. Use a travel credit card. Yep, use them to accumulate points and redeem them for hotel stays, air miles, or room discounts. But pay off your balance in full – vacation debt is not the kind of souvenir you want to collect.

Kundasang, Sabah


This town is known for its cool climate and close proximity to Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia. If you want to board a plane but not pay a bomb for it, then consider this one.

How to get there

Public transportation and infrastructure are poor in Malaysia’s easternmost state. Your best bet is to rent a car from Kota Kinabalu and drive up to Kundasang, which would take you about two hours.

Where to stay

There are a number of homestays, inns and Airbnb rentals around town, so you are definitely spoilt for choices. But as this place is a favourite among the locals, you will want to lock down a place to stay ASAP.

For a unique travel experience…

Stay at the H.Benjamin Residence, a boutique hotel located at 1,700 metres above sea level in Mesilou, where you get to enjoy stunning vistas of Mount Kinabalu.

Cost for 2 adults, 2 kids
Flight tickets (round trip)RM1,700
2 nights inclusive of breakfastRM943
Car rental (Perodua Myvi)RM300
Estimated total: RM2,943
**Price does not include petrol and other expenses such as lunch and dinner or entrance fees to selected destinations.

What next?

The Desa Dairy Farm has been receiving some coverage for its Friesian cows and its New Zealand-esque environment. Entrance fee is RM5 per person.

If you are history buff, the Kundasang War Memorial is a must-visit. It was established as a tribute to the World War II prisoners of war who died during the Sandakan Death Marches.

There is also the Sabah Tea Plantation where you can sip a warm cup of tea while surrounded by the world’s oldest rainforest, and the Poring Hot Springs where you get to enjoy the therapeutic properties of a natural hot pool.

So, it’s all about having fun

That’s the goal. A year-end holiday is not about splurging till you’re broke in a foreign country but about having that deserved time off to relax, unwind and just breathe in the fresh air.

Sure, times are tough, but with some financial finesse, you can certainly enjoy a decent vacation nearby, and it doesn’t have to be a boring one, too.

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