Cheap and Good – 5 Money saving tips for Malaysia/Thailand trips

In continuation to my previous post on my travels from Singapore to Thailand by land, I’ve decided to also blog about some money saving tips that I found out by accident during my vacation while they are still fresh in my memory. This feeling is a bitter sweet one because it made me realize how much money I have “lost” during my previous travels to Malaysia and Bangkok.

Oh well, I guess it’s never too late, only later. >_<

Anyway, since this trip isn’t a conventional one as I traveled by land and it was also my first time visiting Ipoh, it offered me different alternatives on how to get what I need as compared to arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Counting the number of actual hours of traveling, it amounted to almost 30 hours! Phew! When we finally made it to the Bangkok Rail Station (near Hua Lamphong MRT), we basically cheered and hugged with each other. We even took a selfie in remembrance of the long adventure that we took! Lol.


Hat Yai Junction

I’m sure that some of you might already know some of the tips below, but I’ll still blog anyway for the sake of the rest of the people that don’t. :p

Here are 5 tips to save money when you’re in Malaysia or Thailand:

1) (Malaysia) Take a bus from Larkin

If you have wanted to travel from Singapore to different parts of Malaysia, you would usually have to book a coach bus that would pick you up in a particular place in Singapore (e.g. Golden Mile Plaza, Lavender MRT) and bring you directly to the Malaysian city of your choice.

It would be definitely more expensive if you were to book your bus ticket from Singapore. I have checked online before for a bus to leave from Singapore to Ipoh and it would cost around SGD$37 to SGD$51.50 for an overnight bus in order to reach Ipoh by early morning the next day. My transportation fees from Singapore to Ipoh cost merely SGD$23.55 (estimated MRT fare of SGD$2 to Singapore Woodlands customs, RM2 bus fare from JB Sentral to Larkin and RM65 from Larkin to Ipoh) which is 36.35% cheaper than the cheapest ticket that you can find online! 

This would be a perfect alternative for backpackers and people who would like to go budget traveling within Malaysia, without compromising too much time out of your itinerary just to save money. The only downside is that you might have to do an additional transition to Larkin, but going to Larkin is highly accessible at JB Sentral, so there isn’t much to worry about.

Do also bear in mind that bus tickets tend to be fully booked during peak periods. If you would like assurance or prefer to travel with convenience, I recommend using for your purchases. Tickets from Malaysia to Singapore are quoted at the same price in Ringgit (except for a difference in currency exchange rate). I’ve used the website many times for myself to book bus tickets and KTMB train tickets to and fro from Singapore to Malaysia. It is highly reliable and user friendly and they have occasional promotions for KTMB train tickets too.


2) (Malaysia and Thailand) Use the Grab application

I would like to highlight the use of this more in Malaysia. Why so? Because it is so much harder to get a metered taxi in Malaysia than in Thailand! Some of you might understand if you have tried to hail a taxi from the taxi stand of KSL mall. Most of the taxi drivers will quote you a jacked up price and refuse to go by meter prices. At times, this might also happen in Thailand if you are at a popular tourist attraction with a huge supply of taxis in the surrounding area.

If you’re not familiar with Grab, just know that it is like the Asian Uber. Some of the Grab drivers will have a Grab decal on the side windows of their cars and would be easily recognizable. If you’re traveling in a group of 4, traveling from KSL mall to City Square mall would cost an estimate of RM6. Split that evenly and each person pays $1.50, which becomes the same ticket price of the public bus. How’s that for value for money, eh?


3) (Thailand) Get a prepaid SIM card at Robinsons

When we arrived at Hat Yai Junction, we needed to get data access because we wanted to have Internet on-the-go. Usually after landing on Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), you can see tons of people queuing up at the airport counters of DTAC, AIS and other Telcos of Thailand to get a Tourist SIM card. Yeap – no surprise – I was one of them. The queue can get quite crazy especially if there were a few flights that landed at the same time.

I used to get the Happy Tourist 299 SIM card promotion every time I went to Bangkok before M1 introduced Data Passport. I guess I wouldn’t be doing that anymore because I managed to get a prepaid SIM card from AIS at the Robinsons located at Hat Yai junction. The prepaid plan which costed us 140 baht (more than 50% discount!!) is really plain vanilla – basic SIM card price of 50 baht for usage of up to 7 days, top up of 90 baht with 1.5GB of data usage and comparable speed to a 4G network (apologies, I’m not sure what was the exact speed but there was definitely no problem with lag, even with Hotspot). And we shared 1 SIM card among the both of us!

Now, if you’re wondering whether 1.5GB is enough for you, try to take it in relative to your own data usage when you are in Singapore. I have a limit of 4GB per month on my own mobile plan and have never, ever exceeded this limit before. Unless you are a social media junkie, with prudent usage, I’m sure that the limit is more than sufficient. Also, you should be enjoying your holiday and not using your phone all the time! :p


4) (Thailand) Take the boat as transportation

A part of our itinerary required us to travel from Asok area to Khao San Road. And boy, was it an experience to use the boat as a form of transportation there! Before this trip, I didn’t even realize the existence of using the boat to travel. In fact, I fell in love with this mode of transportation so much that I would be willing to use it more often than the other usual ways.


Taxi, but on water!

Firstly, it is much cheaper than the subway or the sky train. A boat ticket from the pier just outside of Phetchaburi MRT to the pier that leads to Khao San Road costs just 12 baht. Secondly, you get to skip all the horrible, air polluted road traffic. Last but not least, it is filled with locals. Very good experience!

Please, please, puh-lease try it during your next Bangkok trip!

By the way, the boat also has a central pier at Pratunam area between Pratunam market and the major malls (Central World, Big C Supercenter). In this way, it is actually more convenient than Chit Lom BTS. Whaddup!!!!!!


5) (Thailand) Shop at JJ Green Night Market, Eat at Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

Okay this tip is a little bit biased as these two places are part of my itinerary. I have decided to recommend them because I have compared them to the other night markets and all the touristy places I’ve been to before.

If you are looking for a new place to chill after visiting Chatuchak Weekend Market, drop by JJ Green Night Market which is just beside it. This night market, although not as popular among tourists and pretty much frequented by locals, has a vintage feel to it. They actually have a whole row of stores selling PET crayfish!


Yummeh. No, wait, don’t eat them.

You can also observe that the stall owners’ cars parked just behind their stores filled with their merchandise. Now, that’s what I call storage efficiency. Lol.

Clothes sold there are also generally cheaper, ranging from 50 baht to 200 baht. Be sure to check if they are new or second hand first if you are more particular. Variety may be limited but with a keen eye, I’m sure that it isn’t difficult to find a good deal.

Khlong Lat Mayom is another place which I recommend. Please go there with an empty stomach because it is basically a food haven, and we actually spent more time walking around deciding on what to eat than the actual time spent eating. Salted Crusted Grilled Fish is a MUST eat. It tastes so much better than the ones in the main city.

KLM market.jpg

What a lovely red Tilapia. Only 200 baht.

You can also choose to take a boat ride just for, you know, being a tourist. It costs 100 baht for almost 1.5 hours and will take you to where your heart desires… Nah just kidding, it’ll go to a temple and an orchid garden. :p Great for selfies and video taking. Be sure to sit at the front of the boat, lest getting splashed by long kang (drainage) water when it zooms through the river.

6) BONUS TIP – Guide to travelling from Hatyai to Bangkok

Special section for Kevin of Turtle Investor!

During our trip, we traveled from Hatyai Junction to Bangkok Railway Station via the sleeper train. It was a train that ran overnight, so we managed to “save” on 1 night of accommodation. It was quite an experience because I’ve never been on such a train and for such a long ride too (it lasted from 6.30pm and we arrived in Bangkok at 12 noon).

The train will stop along the different train stations and pick up more and more passengers. Just halfway through the journey, all the train carriages were filled up even though the train was quite empty when we boarded it at the junction. The train’s final destination would be at the Bangkok Railway Station. It is easily accessible to other places like Chinatown which is just a 10 minute walk away and the subway (Hua Lamphong MRT station).

Since it was such a long ride, I brought along something to keep myself entertained.

Random walk.jpg

Free from NLB!

Reading on trains is surprisingly productive. I managed to finish one-third of the book during the train ride! (Book review coming up too! :p)

BF and I got the upper and lower sleepers so that we can have one side of the train berth to ourselves. The seats look like that by default:



Just after the train departed, the passenger train crew will assist you to make your bed. The bottom seats can be extended and joined together, and the top bed will be pulled down to form something similar to this:


Okay, I know they look a bit like hospital beds in the picture above. :/ They are actually pretty cozy.

There is also a carriage that sells food! Check out the cafe’s opening hours as it is not open 24 hours. The price is relatively affordable to us but can be considered expensive for the locals. We also bought some additional bread from a nearby supermarket before boarding the train.


Our humble dinner

Their toilets are also quite well maintained and CLEAN. They are installed with that vacuum toilet technology that are found on the airplanes. Very interesting!

If you are a fussy sleeper, I would suggest taking other modes of transportation to reach Bangkok because the train can get quite bumpy in the middle of the night. BF couldn’t really sleep well because he is a light sleeper but it wasn’t much trouble for me because I can sleep practically anywhere.

Also, remember to bring a jacket because it can be freezing cold if you’re sleeping on the top bunk!

The trains are operated by ThaiRailways. For pre-booking, you can get your tickets here. The online tickets are about 10% more expensive than buying them over the counter, but I recommend buying the tickets before you go as the seats may run out during peak periods.

And there you have it! I hope this article was useful to you. Let me know in the comments below if you have any money saving tips that you would like to share with me too! 🙂

P.S: Special shout out and thanks to Richmond for his recommendations and help with the purchase of some of the tickets! I hope you’re reading this!

Thanks for reading!

Miss Niao xoxo

Author: Miss Niao

Hello! I blog about financial matters and things that average people can do to have a better retirement. I want to inspire people to take control of their money and have a better understanding about it. If you are interested to know more, follow me @! :)

4 thoughts on “Cheap and Good – 5 Money saving tips for Malaysia/Thailand trips”

  1. Hi Miss Niao,

    The most important question is……….did you get yourself a pet crayfish?

    They are good pets for the minimalist 😛 (From someone who has been keeping pet crayfishes since I was 15 years old).

    Coincidentally, I’m also reading the same book.


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