Malaysian ringgit (RM)
Budget: Less than RM100
- Dorm bed: RM25–50
- Hawker centres and food-court meals: RM5–10
- Local buses/metro: RM1–3
- Double room at midrange hotel: RM100–400
- Two-course meal at midrange restaurant: RM40–60
- Cocktails at decent bar: RM30–40
Top End: More than RM400
- Luxury double room: RM450–1000
- Meal at top restaurant: RM200–500
- Three-day diving course: RM800–1000
At pasar malam (night markets) and other street markets a certain amount of bargaining is fine for souvenir-type goods, but avoid being too aggressive as that's not part of Malaysia's shopping culture. Smile, be polite and don't get stuck on differences of price of small amounts of ringgit.
ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
ATMs & Credit Cards
Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted brands of credit card. You can make ATM withdrawals with your PIN, or banks such as Maybank (Malaysia's biggest bank), HSBC and Standard Chartered will accept credit cards for over-the-counter cash advances. Many banks are also linked to international banking networks such as Cirrus (the most common), Maestro and Plus, allowing withdrawals from overseas savings or cheque accounts.
If you have any questions about whether your cards will be accepted in Malaysia, ask your home bank about its reciprocal relationships with Malaysian banks.
The ringgit (RM) is made up of 100 sen. Coins in use are 1 sen (rare), 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen and 50 sen; notes come in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50 and RM100.
Older Malaysians sometimes refer to ringgit as ‘dollars’ – if in doubt ask if people mean US dollars or ‘Malaysian dollars’ (ie ringgit).
Be sure to carry plenty of small bills with you when venturing outside cities – in some cases people cannot change bills larger than RM20.
Travellers Cheques & Cash
Banks in the region are efficient and there are plenty of moneychangers. For changing cash or travellers cheques, banks usually charge a commission (around RM10 per transaction, with a possible small fee per cheque), whereas moneychangers have no charges but their rates vary more. Compared with a bank, you’ll generally get a better rate for cash at a moneychanger – it’s usually quicker too. Away from the tourist centres, moneychangers’ rates are often poorer and they may not change travellers cheques.
All major brands of travellers cheques are accepted across the region. Cash in major currencies is also readily exchanged, though like everywhere else in the world, the US dollar has a slight edge.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Tipping is not generally expected, but leaving a small contribution for exceptional service is appreciated.
- Restaurants Many restaurants in the major cities add a service charge of around 10% onto the bill.
- Hotels Tipping is most common for services in top-end hotels.