Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Money & Shopping in Malaysia

AsiaMalaysiaMoney & Shopping in Malaysia

Read next

Currency in Malaysia

The Malaysian currency is the Malaysian ringgit, abbreviated RM or MYR, divided into 100 sen (cents). The ringgit is sometimes unofficially referred to as the dollar and you may see the ‘$’ symbol on older notes. There are coins of RM0.05 (silver), RM0.10 (silver), RM0.20 (silver or gold) and RM0.50 (silver or gold), and notes of RM1 (blue), RM5 (green), RM10 (red), RM20 (orange), RM50 (green/blue) and RM100 (purple). 5-sen coins are mainly issued as change in large shops or supermarkets, while hawkers and street vendors may be reluctant to accept them. Note that Singapore and Brunei dollars are also known as ringgit in Malay. So if you are near border areas, make sure you know which currency the price is in.

Foreign currencies are generally not accepted, although you could get away with exchanging US dollars or euros in more remote areas, but expect lots of stares and some persuasion. The big exception is the Singapore dollar, which is accepted by the KTMB and toll roads, but at a very unfavourable exchange rate of 1:1 (an anomaly from the time when the ringgit was interchangeable with the Singapore dollar, before the 1970s).

Money exchange counters are easy to find in larger shopping centres and have a better exchange rate than in banks and airports. Be sure to state the amount you wish to exchange and ask for the “best rate” as the rates shown on the board are often negotiable, especially for larger amounts. Note that large foreign banknotes, such as €500, are hard to change at a good rate in some areas, especially in Sabah or Sarawak, as banks will offer a much lower rate than if you were to change a banknote with a smaller amount. Some money changers in Kota Kinabalu or Kuching will even refuse you if you have large foreign notes, so it is best to bring smaller notes unless you are willing to buy.

Banking in Malaysia

ATMs are widely available in the cities, but you should stock up on cash if you go to the smaller islands or into the jungle. Credit cards can be used in most shops, restaurants and hotels, although skimming can be a problem in dodgier shops. When using credit cards, make sure your credit/debit card has a chip, as most merchants no longer accept magnetic stripe-based cards.

Banks in Malaysia handle international transactions. These range from a small fee if you are an account holder to a slightly more expensive amount if you only go there to use a particular service. International banks like Citibank & HSBC have their presence in Malaysia, with the latter having branches all over the country. Local banking giants are Maybank, Public Bank & CIMB Bank, & they are a very good alternative to the aforementioned banks, especially in terms of pricing, local knowledge & presence, and available international services such as money transfers. For all enquiries & transactions, get a number, sit down & wait your turn. (There is no need to queue while you wait in air-conditioned comfort!).

Banks are open Monday-Friday from 09:30-16:00 and selected banks are open on Saturdays from 09:30-11:30, except on the first and third Saturday of each month. In the states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, they are open Sunday-Thursday from 09:30-16:00.

Due to the risk of fraud, it is not possible to withdraw money with foreign debit cards at many Malaysian ATMs. Numerous travellers have noted this on travel forums. Choosing a different ATM or area can help so that your cash supplies are not depleted too far. This is only the case in Malaysia and does not apply to Thailand, Singapore or Indonesia. If you call your bank or even Visa/MasterCard, they often don’t know about it because the transaction is declined by the bank in Malaysia. Make sure you bring cash or other forms of money in case your debit card is declined.

Costs in Malaysia

Most visitors will find Malaysia quite affordable, although it is significantly more expensive than neighbouring Indonesia. You can live in hostels and feast on hawker food for less than RM50 a day, but you should budget double that for comfort, especially if you are travelling in the more expensive East Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is also generally more expensive than the rest of the country. At the other end of the spectrum, luxury hotels and airfare are comparatively affordable, with even the poshest 5-star hotels costing less than RM400 per night.

Tipping in Malaysia

Tipping is not customary in Malaysia. However, hotel porters and taxi drivers are happy to receive a small tip if you have been served in an exemplary manner. In most air-conditioned restaurants, a service charge of 10 % is included in the total bill. Most expensive restaurants, bars and hotels quote prices in terms of RM19++ (“plus plus”), which means that VAT (6%) and the service charge (10%) are added to the bill. Hotel tax of 5% may also be added.

Shopping in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is a shopping mecca for clothing, electronics, watches, computer goods and much more, with very competitive prices by any standard. Local Malaysian brands include Royal Selangor and British India. Traditional Malaysian fabrics (batik) are a popular souvenir. The cheapest place to easily buy ethnic souvenirs (especially wooden ones) is in Kuching, East Malaysia, and the most expensive place is in the big, posh shopping malls of Kuala Lumpur.

Generally, shops in the big cities are open from 10:30-21:30/22:00. In the smaller towns and rural areas, they open and close earlier. Some shops may also be closed on certain days, such as in Malacca, where many shops and restaurants close on Tuesday.

When shopping in Malaysia, if you buy too much (which is quite easy), postage costs are very cheap on the surface. Excess baggage at the airport is still high, but not as high as in many other countries. Check with your airline first.

How To Travel To Malaysia

By plane The national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has an extensive global route network and regularly ranks high in airline quality ratings. Low-cost carrier AirAsia and its sister airline AirAsia X now connect an ever-growing number of countries, including Australia, China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, New Zealand,...

How To Travel Around Malaysia

By plane Thanks largely to budget airline AirAsia, Malaysia is criss-crossed by a network of affordable flights, with "special fares" starting as low as RM9 if booked early. Flying is the only practical option for travelling between Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, as well as reaching some of Borneo's more remote...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Malaysia

Visa restrictionsCitizens of Israel with Israeli passports will be denied entry unless they have a letter of approval from the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs. In addition, Israeli nationals need an onward travel ticket and are asked to buy one or they will be denied entry. Malaysia no longer...

Destinations in Malaysia

Regions in Malaysia Malaysia is divided into two main geographical regions commonly known as Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsula Malaysia West Coast (Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Putrajaya, Selangor).The more developed region with the modern capital Kuala Lumpur, UNESCO World Heritage Cities with colonial flair and the...

Weather & Climate in Malaysia

The climate in Malaysia is equatorial. The northeastern monsoon (October to February) floods Borneo and the east coast of the peninsula in rain and causes frequent flooding, while the west coast (especially Langkawi and Penang) is unscathed. The gentler southwest monsoon ( from April to October) reverses the pattern....

Accommodation & Hotels in Malaysia

Budget Cheap hotels and hostels are available in most cities and around most tourist destinations. As with most cheap accommodation, some are more reliable than others. Be careful when choosing cheap accommodation to avoid places that harbour illegal vices. Larger cities have YMCAs, which are a safe bet. Another notable budget...

Things To See in Malaysia

Malaysia is a fascinating country with many faces. It is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, and its attractions vary from the iconic Petronas Towers in bustling Kuala Lumpur to perfect, palm-fringed sandy beaches and dense jungles with orangutans and tigers. There are several impressive national parks. Expeditions range from those where you...

Things To Do in Malaysia

Malaysia has excellent diving opportunities. The most popular spots are the islands off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia (Perhentian, Redang, Tioman and many more), although the diving season is limited to April to September. However, the most famous dive site - often ranked among the best in the...

Food & Drinks in Malaysia

Food in Malaysia At the crossroads of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cuisine, Malaysia is an ideal place to make makan (to eat in Malay). Discover the regional specialities and cuisine of Nyonya (Peranakan), the fusion of Malay and Chinese cuisine. You can even find unique Eurasian cuisine in the Portuguese...

Festivals & Events in Malaysia

One of the significant features of Malaysian culture is the celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colourful, exhilarating and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn, but others are lively, joyous events. An interesting feature of the main festivals here is the custom of...

Internet & Communications in Malaysia

Internet in Malaysia Internet connectivity in Malaysia is readily available in most cities and towns. It was one of the first countries in the world to offer 4G connectivity. Broadband internet is available in most hotels, internet cafes and some restaurants. Wi-Fi is usually available in hotspots in almost all...

Traditions & Customs in Malaysia

It is advisable to dress respectfully, especially in rural areas (wearing trousers or a long skirt, not shorts, and covering the shoulders is recommended but not essential). In urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang and Ipoh, and in the East Malaysian states (Sabah and Sarawak), attitudes...

Language & Phrasebook in Malaysia

Malaysia's only official language is Malay (officially Bahasa Malaysia, sometimes known as Bahasa Melayu). The Indonesian language spoken across the border in Indonesia is similar to Malay, and speakers of both languages can generally understand each other. In some parts of Malaysia near the Thai border, especially in Kelantan,...

Culture Of Malaysia

Malaysia has a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual society. The country's original culture comes from the indigenous tribes that inhabited it, along with the Malays who moved there later. There is a significant influence of Chinese and Indian culture dating back to the beginning of foreign trade. Other cultural influences...

History Of Malaysia

Evidence of modern human settlement in Malaysia dates back 40,000 years. It is believed that the first inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula were Negritos. Traders and settlers from India and China arrived as early as the first century AD and established trading ports and coastal towns in the second...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Malaysia

Stay safe in Malaysia The crime rate is higher than in neighbouring Singapore. Crimes against tourists are usually limited to pickpocketing, purse snatching and petty theft. It is important to keep a close eye on valuable items. Thefts are more common in busy places such as markets and public transport....

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Most Popular