Weekend getaways are one of the things that keep Singaporeans sane and stop us from feeling like life is just one neverending work day. But annual leave is in limited supply. So it’s a good thing that a quick 3D2N overseas getaway is possible thanks to the fact that we live in an island it takes less than one hour to escape from.
Kuala Lumpur is the closest capital city, and most Singaporeans have been there at least once. It’s big, polluted and not very pedestrian friendly, yet we love the fact that everything costs half the price there, and most of us make a beeline for the Lot 10 food court the minute we arrive. Here’s how to have a quick and dirty weekend on a dime.
Airfare / bus tickets
You don’t have to do much planning if you want to go to KL, since there are multiple cheap flights every day and you can also hop on a coach at a moment’s notice.
The base price for most budget flights to KL is about 65 SGD, and unless you’re flying on a very busy holiday weekend you can expect to pay well under 100 SGD.
Those who prefer to take a coach should compare prices online using sites like Busonlineticket. Comparing prices is vital because they can vary quite a bit between companies. The cheapest tickets are 13 SGD each way, while the most expensive can cost three times the price. Golden Coach and Seasons Express tend to offer the best deals.
While flying is obviously faster than a coach ride, which takes about 6 to 8 hours, your proximity to Changi Airport plays a part in determining how much time you save. If you live in Bukit Panjang and it takes you 2 hours to travel to Changi Airport by public transport, when you factor in the fact that you’ve got to arrive at least 1.5 hours before your flight, you don’t actually save as much time as you might think.
Cost: 65 SGD
On a quick weekend getaway, the easiest and most value-for-money way to find accommodation is to check Agoda, and then sort through hotels and guesthouses by price and location.
If you’re really, really on a budget, you can easily get a room in a guesthouse, to be shared between two people, for around 15 SGD. For 16 SGD to 30 SGD, you can get a decent room in a small boutique hotel. Just make sure you check the review score on Agoda and watch out for sales, when you can get rooms for as much as 90% off.
For over 30 SGD, the standard of accommodation you can afford is quite high—for instance, you 31 SGD gets you a room at well-known chain Tune Hotel, where you enjoy air con, private bathrooms and a nice flat screen TV.
If you’re travelling in a group of at least two, you should be able to enjoy fairly nice accommodation for 15 SGD per person per night.
Cost: 15 SGD per day / 30 SGD for 2 nights
If you’re in a group, the cost of taking taxis everywhere will be considerably defrayed. Even so, always nag the taxi driver to use the meter. With the meter, rides in a normal, non-premium taxi are cheap, with a flag down rate of 3 MYR (1 SGD) and each kilometre costing about 1.50 MYR (0.5 SGD). A 10 km ride would cost about 20 MYR (6.64 SGD) in smooth traffic.
Still, there are situations where you might want to brave the public transport system, especially the Monorails, such as when there are traffic jams or you’re travelling alone. A Touch ‘n’ Go travel card, which costs 10 MYR (3.32 SGD), lets you take the Monorail, trains and buses.
Finally, there is the issue of getting from the airport to the city centre. If you’re sharing a cab with friends, it will cost 74.30 MYR from KLIA (24.66 SGD) to the centre of town.
If you’re alone and broke, you can also take the KLIA Express to KL Sentral for 35 MYR (11.62 SGD) and then take the monorail to the stop closest to your accommodation.
Cost: 74.30 MYR + 30 MYR x 3 = 164.30 MYR (54.55 SGD) assuming you share transport costs with another person and take only taxis.
Most Singaporeans don’t even bother sightseeing when they come to KL, and instead head straight to the shopping malls. And to be honest, KL isn’t really the sort of city that’s rich with sights anyway. Still, here are some of the more notable sights and how much it costs to enjoy them.
- Petronas Twin Towers – 85 MYR (28.22 SGD) for adults / 35 MYR (11.62 SGD) for kids aged 3-12 / 45 MYR (14.94 SGD) for seniors aged 61 and above
- Batu Caves – Monorail + train ride about 2 MYR (0.66 SGD) to 3 MYR (1 SGD)
- Chinatown – Free
- Little India – Free
Not exactly a sight, but we know many Singaporeans go to KL for cheap massages and spas. You can expect to pay about 90 MYR (29.97 SGD) to 120 MYR (39.84 SGD) for a 90 minute massage at a mid-range spa, mid-range meaning they might have tacky looking posters but it’s clean and reasonably nice inside.
Cost: 90 MYR (29.97 SGD)
Most Singaporeans go to Malaysia only for food and massages. And we have to admit you get way better value for food than you do in Singapore. Most food court and hawker fare is much less bland than ours, and their own Food Republic branches have not really managed to destroy the flavour of the food.
If you stick with hawker or food court meals, you can get away with eating well for 4 MYR (1.66 SGD) to 10 MYR (3.32 SGD) per meal. Some of the most famous food courts are the ones at Lot 10, Pavilion, KLCC and Sungei Wang Plaza. The open air SSA Selera Malam hawker centre at SS2 Petaling Jaya also comes highly recommended.
Most Western-style fastfood / mid-range restaurants cafes and restaurants are priced at about 50% of what they would cost in Singapore. For instance, a McDonald’s combo meal costs about 14 MYR (4.65 SGD), as opposed to Singapore’s 8 SGD. If you are going to dine at restaurants, we recommend the old-school local restaurants.
Cost: 30 MYR per day / 90 MYR (29.89 SGD) for 3 days
Total cost of a 3D2N trip to KL: $209.41
If you have the patience to take a coach up to KL instead of flying, you can save quite a bit, as your overall ticket costs will be lower and you can avoid having to make the journey from the airport to the city centre, since most buses will drop you off in central areas like Berjaya Times Square or Chinatown.
Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur? Share your experiences in the comments!