Living in Bali on a Budget: Week 8 (Canggu Beach --> Kuala Lumpur)

Canggu was fun enough (the pool was great!) and with our affordable accommodation and delicious, cheap local food, we were able to stay within budget.

However, this week was expensive and we went over budget, because we flew from Bali to Kuala Lumpur, meaning flights for two people, plus taxis to/from the airports. We also went crazy and spent tons of money on my birthday... worth it! Kuala Lumpur is on the expensive side of Southeast Asian destinations, but it is cool, and very developed and diverse. We splurged and got an entire apartment and it's beautiful.

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Our goal: $50 per day total, including transportation, accommodation, visas, and bills back home. For two people.

In every budget update I will add a prorated estimate of our bills back home (loans, phone plan, etc. which may vary slightly by month), to include in our $50/day travel budget. I am not including travel insurance -- this would add about $5.75 per day to our total.

  • Days: 7
  • Location(s): Canggu, Bali, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Avg. spending per day: $56.62
  • Splurges: flights, taxis, birthday food/drinks
  • Avg. spending per day incl. bills back home: $59.80
  • Avg. spending per day overall in Asia: $38.94 
KLCC (the park right in front of the Petronas towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur) puts on a lovely free fountain light show. The lights were changing colors when we stumbled upon them. 
So what are our living expenses in Canggu and Kuala Lumpur this week?
  • Conversion rate: 1 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) = US$0.24 (about 4 MYR to $1 US)
  • Accommodation: $127.81
    • Home 46 (AirBnB referral link with discount) was a great place and I'd stay there again. Our room was minimal (bed, shelf, bathroom with cold shower) but with a nice table and chairs outside plus the beautiful pool, we really enjoyed ourselves.

The Home 46 pool. Here, I have captured myself pointing at it.
    • In Kuala Lumpur we are staying in an apartment in the south part of the city... we splurged a little for my birthday! Luckily it was offset by our incredibly cheap Canggu homestay. At $25 a night, we think this place is worth the extra spend.
  • Transportation: $106.83+31.32=138.15
    • Flights from Bali to Kuala Lumpur put us back $110.32 for two people. Not terrible, but a big blow for the week. Shout out to AirAsia for getting us on a different flight when ours was delayed by 3 hours. They were great, and very apologetic for the delay -- better than any America airline!
    • Taxis to and from the airport came out to $17.44. Canggu to Ngurah Rai (free with Grab promo code for first-time user; would have been 62,000 or $4.65), KLIA to Taman Desa ($17.44 or about 73 myr, including tolls)
    • Grabs and Ubers around Kuala Lumpur are cheap and unavoidable. We took two round-trips to the city for a total of 43.32 MYR or $10.39.
We arrived in KL just in time for Deepavali, so there were free fireworks all over town, and large detailed rice kolam in all of the shopping enters. It's a nice example of my favorite part of KL: its rich cultural diversity.
  • Food and drinks: $130.34
    • We kept it cheap for the most part in Canggu, enjoying two meals out per day. Once we found some good Tipat Cantok for breakfast, we couldn't say no.
Tipat Cantok

    • Food is pretty cheap in KL -- luckily! We've had tasty noodles and fried street meat and crackers with sardines and some weird breakfast porridge. 
    • Monica's birthday was expensive... and worth it. We got fancy pasta and wine at Basil Pasta House, drank too much beer at the I Don't Know bar, and even got a hookah on a whim at the Rising Son. $58.09 total on birthday stuff, which is still a remarkably cheap night out on the town for two people! We are both still coughing from the hookah, but y'know... birthdays!
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Travel budget saving tips:

  • It's unintuitive, but get a place with a pool. In Bali, it's a negligible price change, and it gives you something free to do all day and night.
  • Grab and Uber and other ridesharing apps are great, and you should always look up promo codes. There's a chance that you'll be able to do what I did and get a free ride to the airport!

Curious about Bali? Find out more below:


South Bali is fun, but busy. You can live on a budget but it is a lot easier to splurge and be on vacation here, as opposed to living like a normal person.

Kuala Lumpur is an expensive place to visit compared to the rest of the region, but cheaper if you try to live like a local (and skip the alcohol). It's a good place to meet other expats and enjoy a swanky digital nomad lifestyle, writing blog posts by your infinity pool!


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