Expense Report: Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Monday, August 08, 2011

This is something I should have done when I went to Seoul, South Korea. Here's an expense report of my trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Note: this only covers the total expenses for just one person.


I have to admit, there were a few other expenses which I failed to include (like random food purchases) because I lost my list. But I can assure you that these are the main things we paid for during the entire trip.

Unfortunately, I went over my budget. I initially thought US$300 would be enough. For the record, it IS possible to have fun in Kota Kinabalu with even US$200 (excluding accommodation). Careful planning is key and you'd have to really stick to your budget.

A lot of things happened though and once again I learned a few things from this trip:

1. CHEAP TICKETS PLEASE: ALWAYS go for Seat Sales and Lite Fares from the airlines! We were fortunate to buy the airline tickets for only P3,500 per pax. Cebu Pacific always comes out with Seat Sale alerts on Facebook and Twitter. Follow them now! (Note: Air Asia also has cheap fares to Malaysia.)

2. HOTEL VERSUS LODGE: For budget travelers like me, this is a question that will always come up. I personally prefer uber cheap hotels (US$30 or less) with clean facilities and private bathroom. I cannot imagine myself staying in a backpackers lodge with shared bathroom. However, there are also cheap backpackers' hotels that have private bathrooms. Bottomline is that you don't really have to spend much on your hotel/hostel/lodge room. Always opt for the cheapest available one. (And book online in advance to get better deals too.)

3. GO ON A DIET: This one's difficult (especially for ME!) When I looked at my expense report - or any personal expense report for that matter - FOOD is always something you can cut down not just because of the calories but also because of the cost. On our first day in KK, I was so afraid to try the local food that I convinced my friend to eat lunch at KFC. There was something new on their menu which we tried for RM 15. we could have chosen a cheaper value meal like the 1-pc chicken meal for 5.50 but we didn't.

Street food is always cheap and they're pretty safe to eat too!

I think every block has a local restaurant which offers cheap food. There are also lots to choose from: Malaysian, Chinese, Filipino, and even Indian foods are available! We found ourselves dining at a Hainanese restaurant. I told myself that we should have been going there for food since day 1. We could have saved some bucks!



4. REHYDRATE: This is important not only because the extreme heat can cause dehydration but also because it can save you a lot of money on food as well. Since we walked around a lot, there were many times when I thought I was hungry but really I was just thirsty. Of course, rehydrating with water is much cheaper than getting one full meal.

5. SAY NO TO CIGARETTES:  Cigarettes are heavily taxed in Malaysia in order to convince people to quit smoking. One pack is RM 11 = Php 158. That's equivalent to more than 3 packs in Manila (hehe)! The point is, sin taxes are a bitch so either you kick the habit or at least regulate it.

6. NO EXCESS BAGGAGE: This is the first time I paid for baggage since Lite Fares don't usually come with free checked baggage. Always check that before booking your flight. You'll have to pay for Php650 for 15 kilos of checked baggage. It's better to bring clothes which are just enough for the trip and your bag should weigh 7 kilos or less so you can put them in the overhead baggage bin. 

7. PLAN AHEAD: I can't say we did a lot of planning on this trip. It can save you a lot of money if you have an organized itinerary.


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