It is possible to cash traveler’s checks in most Kuala Lumpur banks and specialized exchange offices, as well in some hotels. But consider that banks charge a fee of 2 - 3 USD for this operation. Therefore, it pays to exchange traveler’s checks for local currency in Licensed Money Changers that, as a rule, don’t charge commission fees. Passport is required in order to cash traveler’s checks.
American Express checks, issued in US Dollar or pound sterling, are normally accepted in Kuala Lumpur.
Credit cards are widely spread in Kuala Lumpur: they are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Almost all major international cards are accepted there: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club.
Important! Consider that many banks treat Malaysia as a high risk country, because of frequent frauds happening there. Therefore, credit cards (especially Visa and MasterCard) are often blocked, when you attempt to make a payment. In order to avoid troubles, inform your bank about the trip, before going to Kuala Lumpur.
It is not a problem to withdraw cash in Malay capital – cash machines are installed literally on every corner: near banks, on bus stations, in the airport and in most shopping malls.
Malaysia’s national currency is Malaysian ringgit (sometimes it is called Malaysian dollar out of habit) that equals 100 sens (cents). International designation is MR or MYR. There are coins at par value of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and of 1 Malaysian ringgit, and banknotes at par value of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 ringgits in circulation.
Attention: Malayans sometimes call Singapore and Brunei Dollars the ringgit as well.
Service prices in virtually all Kuala Lumpur hotels and restaurants include 10% premium for services, therefore tips are not done there. Nevertheless, if you want to tip a chambermaid, a porter and other service personnel, you can do so. Tips usually vary from 2 to 10 RM.
Waiters in small restaurants and cafes also count on tips.
Foreign currency can be exchanged for Malaysian ringgit in banks or in Licensed Money Changers, which can be found in any quarter of Kuala Lumpur. The exchange rate at money changers is more advantageous and, unlike banks, they usually don’t charge commission, at that.
Most banks work Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Keep in mind that some banks don’t exchange currency on Saturdays, though. Licensed Money Changers, located in the airport, in large shopping malls and in Kuala Lumpur ethnic quarters, work longer: usually until 9 or 10 p.m. Be careful and try to exchange money only at official (licensed) money changers.
It is also possible to exchange currency in some hotels, however, exchange rate is less advantageous there than in banks and money changers.
Kuala Lumpur offers accommodation to fit any taste and purse: it has a lot of economy-class hotels for tourists with limited budget as well as luxurious ones. The cost of living in Malay capital is lower than in the neighboring Singapore, but it is still higher compared to the other countries in the South East Asia.
Thus, a hostel costs approximately 13 – 20 USD per night. Double room with breakfast in affordable hotel costs from 30 to 60 USD per night, in a middle-class hotel – from 60 to 130 USD, and the same room in a top-level hotel costs 140 USD and higher.
At the same time, local hotels often offer 25-50% discounts on their services. Therefore, inform yourself about special offers before booking a room. Travelers, who look for good discounts and convenient access to city’s main attractions, usually choose hotels located in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown.
One of Kuala Lumpur’s peculiarities is a large number of public catering centers that offer a large selection of dishes at affordable prices. The most popular ones are Food Courts that can be found at any large shopping mall. A dinner costs from 9 to 13 RM (3 – 4,5 USD) there. A dinner at a fast-food restaurant is somewhat more expensive.
An average bill at economy-class restaurant makes up 40 – 60 RM (14 – 20 USD) per person without drinks, at middle-class restaurant – 60 – 90 RM (20 – 30 USD). The cost of dinner at an elite restaurant is higher: from 100 to 150 RM (35 – 50 USD).
A half-liter bottle of local beer costs from 10 to 12 RM (3,5 – 4 USD), the same amount of imported beer costs 12 – 15 RM (4 – 5 USD).
A taxi is a convenient and relatively cheap mode of transportation in Kuala Lumpur (although it is not the fastest one due to frequent traffic jams in the capital roads). Payment is made only by the meter.
Taxis are conditionally divided in two types: affordable and high-class ones. Cars of the first category are regularly white-and-red. Boarding in such taxi and the first kilometer of a journey costs 3 RM (1 USD) and each further kilometer costs about 0,9 RM (0,3 USD). The cost of ride in the high-class cars (they are usually blue) is higher: 4 RM (1,3 USD) for boarding and a little more than 1 RM (0,4 USD) for each further kilometer. Both types of taxi charge extra price of 1 RM (0,3 USD) for luggage (we are not talking about hand luggage, but only about the overall bags and suitcases). A taxi ride from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city center will cost about 85 RM (28 USD).
One-and-a-half rate is applied at night – from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sometimes a driver may also require an additional pay of 50% to the meter readout, if there are more than two passengers in the cabin, or if the trip takes place during heavy downpour.
It is easy to catch a taxi in the street in Kuala Lumpur – there are special taxi terminals almost near all major shopping malls and hotels – or to arrange it by phone in advance, but this service costs 2 RM (0,7 USD) extra.
It is recommended to use only legal taxis and not to get in a car to the private carriers: it is not just about money, but also about your safety.