After being largely ignored for a long time in favour of its more popular neighbours, Malaysia is slowly being discovered by intrepid backpackers looking for something that is a little same same, but different. The big question is, where do you stay when you are exploring this inspirational and majestic country? Are backpacker hostels really all there is? Let this article introduce you to the wide range of accommodation options there are to check out in Malaysia.
One of the biggest questions most first time travellers have is where they will stay during their big trip and the truth is they are spoilt for choice! Most of the time many backpackers tend to limit themselves to hostels or the cheaper accomodation options as they discover an area, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, but many don’t realise the vast choice of accomodation options they actually have! With a little bit of creative budgeting and an open mind, backpackers can stay in a wide range of accomodation options!
The good news is you will never have a lack of choice of places to stay in Malaysia, with so many different accommodation options ranging from hostels to high end hotels and everything in between, nothing is beyond your reach. So even if you are a budget backpacker, don’t limit your options and look beyond the simple hostel to the wide range of options available to you.
An island hoppers perennial favourite option, the simple beach hut has been a staple of many backpackers accommodation options for a long time. The good news is, even though Malaysia isn’t as well known for its beaches and islands as say Thailand or the Philippines, there are still a lot of stunning beaches available with some basic but perfect beach huts on them, like this one on Juara beach on Tioman island. They aren’t luxury, they often don’t have man amenities, but you really cannot beat waking up right on the beach and being able to walk straight out into that beautiful clear water.
The basic backpacker staple will never go out of fashion for travellers on a budget looking for a cheap place to stay. Hostels are great, basic and cheap ways to find somewhere to sleep as you explore an area and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, but unless you are on an ultra tight budget or you fancy a little bit of company and socialisation with other backpackers, there is so much choice at every budget level there is no real need to limit yourself to this option at all.
Guesthouses And Family Homestays.
These are perhaps one of my favourite options as they are often very cheap, not much more than a hostel in fact, with your own private room with decent standards. you get a great, unique private room in a locals home, and you often get a fantastic local experience with some good home cooked meals to boot!
This type of accommodation option often gives you a more unique, personal experience than a hostel or a hotel, and often helps with cultural understanding and immersion too.
Boutique hotels are really plentiful all through Malaysia and aside from guesthouses are quite often my absolute go to option whenever I am in the country.
Boutique hotels are essentially the halfway house between a guest house and a hotel, a small independent place that has all of – if not more – perks and mod cons of a larger hotel, yet still retains the unique style and personal touch of a smaller family run guesthouse. Quite often they have genuinely unique styles as well, and because of the competition more often than not they are more luxurious than their more expensive chain counterparts at a fraction of the price.
Many backpackers dismiss hotels as too expensive or as too far out from the whole ‘backpacker experience’, but they are really missing out. Part of being a backpacker is to experience as much as possible, and as much of a range of experiences as possible during your trip, and a part of that is not limiting yourself to one accommodation option. Hotels really are great places to stay for backpackers on certain occassions, especially when practicality has to come before anything else such as when you are arriving into a new place late at night and need somewhere to get to and get your bearings, or those times where you feel under the weather and need some creature comforts, or even if you have been on the road for a while and just want to decompress. There are even a lot of independent, unique hotel options in Malaysia that offer a far different experience than the cookie cutter chain hotels, and are often worth considering for that reason alone. Hotels can be an amazing option if you look around and get a good deal, and outside of the cities and major tourist hubs often don’t cost that much more than other options, so don’t dismiss them.
Luxury hotels and spas.
That’s right, you didn’t hear me wrong, you did just hear me as a self confessed backpacker recommend a little bit of expensive luxury, but hear me out.
Just as with staying in hotels, travelling the world is about experiencing a whole range of options, and part of that is pampering yourself from time to time too. I do it all the time, and have no qualms at all switching between a budget backpacker and a flashpacker. And neither should you. By all means stay in cheap hostels and beach huts most of the time, they are amazing and worth the experience, but after a few months of that you may be feeling the need to just spoil yourself a little, kick back and relax, and that is where these accommodation options come in.
There is another reason though. Provided that you have budgeted well and not overspent, staying for any length of time in cheap accommodation options will give you a build up of accounted for funds that will allow you to splurge a little and enjoy yourself, and since Malaysia is in general a very inexpensive country by Western standards you can really get great value for money here, and a relatively small amount of money will get you a lot of luxury.
To give you an idea of what I mean, I splurged on the presidential suite pictured above for a few nights, three huge rooms, gold plated taps, a private pool and a butler on call for less than half I would pay per night for a basic chain B&B back home in the UK. Yes the rate was more than my usual budget but the experience was worth the splurge, because when else would I be able to experience this level of luxury?
Don’t deny yourself!
The Unique Options.
Malaysia is littered with such unique accommodation options that they are literally impossible to categorise individually. From jungle hides and luxury treehouses in the national parks of Malaysian Borneo to liveaboard diving boats off Sipadan and traditional native longhouses, and many of them xoting no more than the average guesthouse per night, Malaysia has a lot to offer the intrepid traveller.
So if you are a backpacker heading to Malaysia, even if you are on a tight budget, don’t limit yourself to just the basic hostel. Malaysia has a whole host of fantastic accomodation options to unique longhouses to amazing hotels. Get out there, explore this truly wonderful country and take advantage of as many different types of nights sleep as you can!
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