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Welcome to our ongoing series that asks: How Much Does it Cost to Travel?
The goal of this series is to provide you with real budgets people have used for trips they have actually taken. This could be anything from a long weekend in Miami to 6 months backpacking around South East Asia. It’s our hope that by shining a spotlight on what people are actually spending- and the value they get for it, you will have a better idea of what it really costs to travel.
All of the travel budgets will live on this dedicated page.
Today’s budget is from Markus of The Roaming Fork.
Where did you go?
To celebrate a special birthday, my partner and I spent 10 days in Penang, Malaysia.
Briefly, what was your itinerary?
Penang is a small island, so although we travelled around most parts, we based ourselves in George Town, Penang’s capital.
How much money did you spend overall?
All up, for the two of us, we spent close to $5,500. This was made up of the following:
Flights for 2 – Melbourne, Australia to Penang, Malaysia via Singapore. Premium Economy – $3,078
Accommodation was $1,408 for 10 nights.
Other expenses came in at $1,000 for meals, transport, entry fees, and other incidentals.
How much did you spend on transportation?
Taxis to and from the airport in Melbourne were $112 and airfares for two were $3,078. To get around Penang we exclusively used Uber as it is very affordable. We spent $79.66 on 26 trips.
What kind of accommodation did you stay in?
We stayed at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel. This is Penang’s premier hotel, and because it was for a special occasion trip, we were happy to pay the extra.
When travelling on other occasions, we generally stay in Airbnb/homestay accommodation, and therefore really enjoyed the extra luxury.
What sort of activities did you do?
In amongst doing the regular Penang sightseeing activities (Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, museums, and walking around the heritage listed old city), the trip was all about food and food experiences.
Penang is a world-class food destination with delicious food at all price points. We therefore spent our time trying as many of the hawker foods as possible, visiting day and night markets, trying various styles of restaurants, and hunting down specialty food shops.
I pulled together an essential guide to food experiences in Penang which can be found here:
What did you splurge on? Was it worth it?
We splurged on two things.
As mentioned above, we splurged by staying at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel, which was an excellent experience for us. It was certainly worth it. The hotel has a real “old world” charm about it and the service provided by the staff was the best hotel service I’ve experienced.
The other area we splurged was on the premium economy flights. For me, I’m not sure the extra cost was worth it. Although the seats were slightly bigger with a greater pitch, I still wasn’t able to get comfortable enough to sleep properly, which was the aim of spending extra.
What did you scrimp on? Are you happy with that decision?
Because the cost of living in Malaysia is relatively cheap compared to Australia, we didn’t need to scrimp on anything. The hawker food is very cheap at no more than $2 per serve, and our most expensive meal was at Kebaya Restaurant, which was only $50 per head.
Did you purchase any special souvenirs?
We didn’t buy any souvenirs.
Did you do anything special to save up for this trip?
We were lucky enough to be both working at well-paying jobs at the time so there wasn’t any need to do anything special to save.
Do you have any regrets regarding how you budgeted this trip? Would you do things differently next time?
The one change I’d probably make is not buying premium economy seats, unless they were on sale. I’m not sure the additional cost is worth it.
Anything else to add?
Malaysia is a cheap country to travel through, and if we didn’t stay at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel, it could have been a very cheap trip without needing to forgo any other experiences.