As the ringgit fluctuates, Malaysian globetrotters may find their travel plans challenged by currency woes. Although it’s great for domestic tourism aka Cuti-Cuti Malaysia, the flip side reveals a less favourable scenario for Malaysians yearning to get their passports stamped, with many going as far as cancelling their travel plans.
However, we’ve done some research, crunched the numbers and discovered budget-friendly holiday destinations that boast reasonable prices for accommodations, food, activities, shopping, and most importantly – favourable currency exchange rates. Beyond neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Thailand, here’s a handy list of countries for travellers wanting to go off the beaten path:
- Laos: Tranquility Amidst French Architecture
Laos offers a serene escape for those seeking a wallet-friendly and meditative experience. Explore the historic temple, Wat Xieng Thong (RM5 per admission), or treat yourself to delicious street food and admire traditional handicrafts at the Luang Prabang night market.
French colonial buildings adorn the city, making a bicycle ride through its streets a must. Have a Laotian feast of papaya salad, deep-fried Mekong fish, and more from just RM17 per meal. Book a few nights at a comfortable 3-star accommodation, priced from RM115 to RM220 per night – and If the hotel accepts card payments, you can swipe your Wise card at the front desk to avoid international transaction fees.
- Sri Lanka: Experience Bliss In Tea Plantations
Sri Lanka beckons with its scenic beaches, nature reserves, and sprawling tea plantations. Tea lovers can witness the process of how their favourite cuppa is brewed by visiting one of the many plantations starting from RM45.
For meals, you can indulge in Sri Lankan cuisine like spicy curries, rice, coconut relish, and wood apple juice from RM20 onwards. Sri Lanka truly gives travellers an affordable experience like no other, with the average 3-star hotel priced between RM50 to RM200 per night.
- Kazakhstan: Skiing Adventures On Snowy Peaks
Nestled by the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan boasts breathtaking canyons, glaciers, and ancient structures. Ski enthusiasts can explore the resorts, including the snow-covered Shymbulak Ski Resort, with a day pass of RM135.
Food-loving travellers should try staples from Kazakh cuisine, including delicious meats, stew and milk-based dishes from RM20 onwards. And if you’re wondering how to get there, AirAsia will be offering flights to Kazakhstan starting from March 2024. Depending on where you choose to stay, accommodation varies between RM60 to RM180 per night, making the country an economical blend of natural beauty and adventure.
- Hungary: Thermal Spas For Your Soul
In Central Europe, fascinating Hungary transports you to another century with its historical sites. Although flights to Hungary may be on the pricier side, you can save up with the Jars feature on Wise, which acts like a piggy bank, storing your money in 40+ currencies without accidentally spending it.
Renowned for its historical spa towns, Hungary offers some of the world’s best thermal baths, saunas, and massages, including the largest medicinal bath in Europe, the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest, which costs approximately RM90 to enter in the early morning. After a rejuvenating spa day, treat yourself to a hearty goulash, a Hungarian stew filled with beef, paprika, onions, and potatoes. Meals there cost about RM20 and up, while a 3-star hotel room is approximately RM190 per night.
Remember to apply for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) if you plan to travel from 2024 onwards!
- Nepal: Spiritual Journey Through The Himalayas
Nepal, the revered birthplace of Buddha, invites adventurers on a spiritual journey through ancient temples. The Pashupatinath Temple has a modest fee of RM35, for instance.
Trekkers may seek breathtaking views in the lush landscapes of the Himalayas. After a day of feeding your soul, fill your tummy with local cuisine from RM10 onwards, particularly the flavourful ‘sukuti’ dry-aged buffalo steak. Stay a few nights to truly immerse yourself in serenity, with the average 3-star hotel costing RM80 and up per night.
No matter where you go, it’s always important to keep your budget in mind. Don’t let all the hard work of saving for your trip get wasted on hidden fees and marked-up exchange rates. Thankfully, there are several options in the market to use that will actually save you cash. For instance, use an international debit card like Wise to pay for hotels, meals, shopping and experiences to avoid hefty bank transaction fees. The Wise app also allows you to check out real-time currency exchange rates and has tips for travellers on how to pay, save, and spend in the local currency with its ‘Travel Hub’ feature.
For avid travellers, a little bit of financial wisdom goes a long way in fueling your wanderlust!