Exotic but Modern
Malaysia is often overlooked by backpackers despite its location in the popular region of Southeast Asia. Despite this oversight, it really has a lot to offer. The beaches are beautiful, the food diverse, and the accommodation affordable. There are all types of accommodation throughout Malaysia that cater to everybody from shoestring backpackers to high end business travelers. You will find the most diverse options in Kuala Lumpur, but most other cities and tourist destinations also have no shortage of options. Hostels are sprinkled throughout the country, but you will also find hotels ranging from one star to five stars. If you're choosing to stay at a budget guesthouse, do read a few reviews and confirm the quality ahead of time because, like elsewhere, there can be a wide range of quality, even at higher costs. If you're headed to Taman Negara, there are many budget hotels strung out throughout the main town. Again, quality can vary dramatically, so be sure and understand what you're committing to.
Getting a Deal
Prices in Malaysia are quite reasonable, even for the most cost conscience traveler. Like elsewhere in Southeast Asia you will find some incredible deals. If you're looking for a splurge, you won't have to spend much to stay at a luxury hotel, so cities like Kuala Lumpur are great for spending a few extra bucks and finding some high class comfort. Stay away from western chain hotels and your money will go a lot farther. There are many luxury hotels that are locally run or national chains that cost far less than their western counterparts, but are equally as reliable.
If you're planning to stay at a hostel or budget friendly guesthouse, it is possible to negotiate the price down, particularly in the low season when rooms are readily available. While bartering won't be as successful as it is in countries like Vietnam, you will still be able to knock a few bucks of the cost in many cases.
Accommodation is Malaysia is highly variable, but you can find some of the finest five star hotels, as well as some quality budget hotels or hostels. Whatever your style, you are likely to find something comfortable in most places throughout Malaysia. A popular budget friendly Malaysian chain is Tune Hotels. You will see this chain throughout the country. It's affiliated with the airline Airasia and is generally quite reliable.
In most of the cities you will find plenty of five star hotels. Also along the coast you will find resorts that cater to luxury travelers looking for a spa vacation along the stunning coastline. On Penang, most of the hotels are clustered in Georgetown, but you will find some high end options outside of town as well. They are not a conveniently located, but can make for an enjoyable stay.
Kuala Lumpur is a cosmopolitan city in Malaysia that has plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It also has no shortage of accommodation options for travelers. There are plenty of high in hotels that offer the finest luxuries at a fraction of the price you would pay in Europe or the United States. If you want a chain hotel that you're familiar with, there are also many American and European chains. While these are reliable, the prices are comparable to what you would pay back home, so they are generally not a good use of your money.
If you're a backpacker then you will find plenty of hostel options spread throughout the city. These continue to grow and many hostels are surprisingly modern and comfortable, but still cost very little. You'll find some of the newest and most modern hostels in the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Chow Kit and Jalan Ipoh areas. These neighborhoods are known as the up and coming areas where there is a lot of growth and development. They're cheap, but a little removed from some of the main attractions. You'll have to hop on the subway or take a bus to get to many of the sights so do take this into account when you make a reservation.
There are mid-range hotels available but these are generally not a good deal. For just a few dollars more you can stay in a place that is more luxurious. Shop around and you can really stay in style without breaking your bank. That's one of the pleasure of Southeast Asia.
On the Island of Penang there are plenty of hotel options. Backpackers will find no shortage of places to stay, particular in the George Town area. Many of the backpacker options are concentrated around Chulia Street, Muntri Street, and the Love Lane area. There are also some nice resorts and a few budget options along the popular stretch of beach known as Batu Feringghi.
Many of the budget friendly options in George Town come in the form of guest houses. There are some hostels, but the best deal, particularly if you're traveling as a couple, is to get a room in a budget guesthouse. Like in Kuala Lumpur, mid-range options are often not a good deal because if you splurge and pay a few dollars more you can really enjoy a place that offers a higher level of luxury.
Before you make your reservation you need to decide how you want to spend your time on the island. If you're hoping to linger on the beaches, then an oceanfront resort is probably your best bet. If you're hoping to dine of the world class cuisine in George Town, then stay in town where you'll be close to all of the action. Wherever you decide to stay, there are public buses available that will make the rest of the island fully accessibly to you as day trips.