A Travel Price Comparison for Malaysia Sandakan vs. Kuala Lumpur for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Where Should I go: Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur?

Sandakan

Located on the Northeast side of the state of Sabah in Borneo is the city of Sandakan, which is the 2nd largest city in the country. Sandakan was a prosperous port town in the 1800s because of its exports of tobacco, timber, pearls, and ivory. However, this booming town that was formerly the administrative capital in North Borneo was bombed practically out of existence at the end of World War II.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, often referred to as KL, is the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia. It is also the largest city in the country, having grown out of a small Chinese mining village. Today Kuala Lumpur is a microcosm of the country of Malaysia. The population is split between the Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures which you can see reflected in the city's neighborhoods, cuisine, and entertainment. It's also an incredibly affordable city, even if you're looking for the comforts of a five star hotel or a luxury restaurant. Prices are almost always a fraction of what you would pay in Europe or the United States.

For some great organized tour ideas, see Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Malaysia, The Best Adventure Tours to Malaysia, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Malaysia, and The Best Budget Tours to Malaysia.


Which place is cheaper, Kuala Lumpur or Sandakan?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Sandakan is $58, while the average daily cost in Kuala Lumpur is $63. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Sandakan $20
    Kuala Lumpur $37
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Sandakan $40
    Kuala Lumpur $74
Compare Hotels in Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur

Looking for a hotel in Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Sandakan


Hotels in Kuala Lumpur


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Sandakan Hotel Prices and Kuala Lumpur Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Sandakan $33
    Kuala Lumpur $6.49

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Kuala Lumpur

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Kuala Lumpur are as follows:


  • Taxi Ride
    $3.18
  • Metro Ride (for Two)
    $0.68
  • Short Taxi Ride
    $3.18
  • Taxi From Airport
    $19
  • Bus from Airport
    $1.70
  • Train & Boat to Pulau Ketam
    $2.55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Kuala Lumpur

Also for Kuala Lumpur, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Arrival Transfer KLIA1 / KLIA2: $13
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer KLIA1/KLIA2: $13
  • Departure Transfer : Kuala Lumpur City to Kuala Lumpur International Airport: $13
  • Private airport transfer KLIA to Kuala Lumpur city : $16
  • Private: Kuala Lumpur Departure Transfer: $17
  • Sunway Lagoon Theme Park to Kuala Lumpur Hotels Transfer (1-way): $17
  • Kuala Lumpur Airport Transfer to Kuala Lumpur City: $18
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Departure Transfer : $18
  • Private: Kuala Lumpur International Airport Arrival Transfer: $18
  • Kuala Lumpur Airport Arrival Transfer En-route Putrajaya Tour: $18
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport Arrival Transfer: $18
  • Kuala Lumpur Airport Departure Transfer En-route Putrajaya Tour: $18

Is it cheaper to fly into Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur?

Prices for flights to both Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Sandakan $19
    Kuala Lumpur $15

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sandakan

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Sandakan.

  • Mangrove Cruise with Fireflies Tour Including Dinner from Sandakan: $64

Typical Food Prices in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dinner at Ding Tai Fung
    $8.49
  • Roti Bread
    $0.21
  • Food Court Lunch
    $3.06
  • Dinner at Indian Restaurant (for Two)
    $4.56

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • ARAS Restaurant at KL Tower Buffet Dinner: $29
  • Authentic Malaysian Street Food Tour in Kampung Baru: $35
  • Nightlife Street Food Tour with 6 Tastings: $36
  • Malaysian Culture and Street Food Tour : $44
  • Sambal Streets Kuala Lumpur Food Tour with 15+ Tastings: $49
  • Laksa Lanes Kuala Lumpur Food Tour with 14+ Tastings: $49
  • Street Food Tour with 15+ Tastings: $51
  • From Kuala Selangor Fireflies Tour with Dinner: $54
  • Best Local Food Tour by Night at Kuala Lumpur : $55
  • Kuala Lumpur Food Tour: $59
  • Eat Like a Local: Kuala Lumpur Hawker Center and Street Food Tour by Night: $62
  • Kuala Lumpur by Night and Malaysian Food Tour: $62

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Sandakan $7.28
    Kuala Lumpur $14

Tours and Activities in Sandakan

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Sandakan are as follows:

  • 2D1N Sandakan Private Tour with Kinabatangan River Cruise: $290
  • Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre & Sepilok Orang Utan Rehab Centre Tour: $105
  • Borneo Kinabatangan River Cruise Day Trip: $78
  • Borneo Wildlife Tour 2 Days 1 Night At Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp Kinabatangan: $197
  • Borneo Wildlife Tour 3 Days 2 Nights At Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp Kinabatangan: $241
  • Kinabatangan River Cruise from Sandakan: $90
  • Labuk Proboscis, Sepilok, Sun Bear, Sandakan City Tour & Lunch: $138
  • Private Full Day Sepilok Orang Utan, Bornean Sun Bear and Rainforest Discovery Center Tour: $125
  • Private Tour: Half Day Sandakan City Tour Including Local Lunch: $51
  • Kinabatangan River Wildlife Cruise with Lunch: $173
  • Orangutan Sanctuary Shared Day Trip Tour: $306
  • Sepilok Orang Utan & Bornean Sun Bear Centre with Sandakan City Tour with Lunch: $191

Typical Entertainment Prices in Kuala Lumpur

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Kuala Lumpur's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • KL Tower Admission (for Two)
    $9.55
  • Canopy Walk at FRIM Forest Reserve
    $1.06

Tours and Activities in Kuala Lumpur

For Kuala Lumpur, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • KL Tower Admission E-Ticket with Options: $3.99
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Pass: $7.92
  • Zoo Negara Instant Entry E-Ticket: $8.20
  • Aquaria KLCC Entry Ticket: $9.97
  • KL Tower Observation Deck Entry Ticket: $11
  • KL Tower Admission Ticket: $12
  • Kuala Lumpur's Cultural Highlights and Landmarks: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $12
  • Malaysia: Aquaria KLCC Entry Ticket: $13
  • KL Tower Admission Ticket: $13
  • KL Tower Admission Ticket: $13
  • Half-Day City Tour: $13
  • 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour & Audio Guide: $13

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Sandakan $6.67
    Kuala Lumpur $6.29

Typical Alcohol Prices in Kuala Lumpur

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Kuala Lumpur are as follows:


  • Bottle of Wine
    $9.55


When comparing the travel costs between Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur, we can see that Kuala Lumpur is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Asia, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Sandakan Expensive? and Is Kuala Lumpur Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Sandakan. When comparing the sizes of Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur?

Both destinations experience a warmer climate most of the year. Instead of summer and winter seasons, they usually have a rainy season and a dry season. Although in the rainy season, it doesn't necessarily rain every day.

Should I visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur in the Summer?

Both Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan during the summer are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to Sandakan because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Kuala Lumpur year-round.

Kuala Lumpur gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Sandakan. Sandakan usually gets more rain in July than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 195 mm (7.7 in) of rain, while Kuala Lumpur receives 150 mm (5.9 in) of rain this time of the year.

In Kuala Lumpur, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Sandakan. In the summer, Sandakan often gets more sunshine than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 221 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Kuala Lumpur receives 200 hours of full sun.

In July, Sandakan is generally around the same temperature as Kuala Lumpur. Daily temperatures in Sandakan average around 27°C (81°F), and Kuala Lumpur fluctuates around 28°C (82°F).


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Sandakan 27°C (81°F) 
    Kuala Lumpur 28°C (82°F)

Should I visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Sandakan year-round. Kuala Lumpur attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate.

Kuala Lumpur receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Sandakan gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In October, Sandakan usually receives less rain than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 253 mm (10 in) of rain, while Kuala Lumpur receives 280 mm (11 in) of rain each month for the autumn.

Sandakan usually receives more sunshine than Kuala Lumpur during autumn. Sandakan gets 191 hours of sunny skies, while Kuala Lumpur receives 169 hours of full sun in the autumn.

Sandakan is around the same temperature as Kuala Lumpur in the autumn. The daily temperature in Sandakan averages around 28°C (82°F) in October, and Kuala Lumpur fluctuates around 27°C (81°F).


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Sandakan 28°C (82°F) 
    Kuala Lumpur 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Sandakan as well as Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate. The warm climate attracts visitors to Kuala Lumpur throughout the year.

It's quite rainy in Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan receives a lot of rain in the winter. Sandakan usually gets more rain in January than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 437 mm (17.2 in) of rain, while Kuala Lumpur receives 239 mm (9.4 in) of rain this time of the year.

In the winter, Sandakan often gets less sunshine than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 156 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Kuala Lumpur receives 185 hours of full sun.

In the winter, Sandakan is around the same temperature as Kuala Lumpur. Typically, the winter temperatures in Sandakan in January average around 26°C (80°F), and Kuala Lumpur averages at about 27°C (81°F).


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Sandakan 26°C (80°F) 
    Kuala Lumpur 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Sandakan or Kuala Lumpur in the Spring?

Both Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The warm climate attracts visitors to Sandakan throughout the year. Plenty of visitors come to Kuala Lumpur because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Kuala Lumpur. It's quite rainy in Sandakan. In April, Sandakan usually receives less rain than Kuala Lumpur. Sandakan gets 107 mm (4.2 in) of rain, while Kuala Lumpur receives 240 mm (9.4 in) of rain each month for the spring.

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Sandakan. Sandakan usually receives more sunshine than Kuala Lumpur during spring. Sandakan gets 247 hours of sunny skies, while Kuala Lumpur receives 199 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Sandakan is generally around the same temperature as Kuala Lumpur. Daily temperatures in Sandakan average around 28°C (82°F), and Kuala Lumpur fluctuates around 28°C (82°F).


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Sandakan 28°C (82°F) 
    Kuala Lumpur 28°C (82°F)

Typical Weather for Kuala Lumpur and Sandakan

Sandakan Kuala Lumpur
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 26°C (80°F) 437 mm (17.2 in) 27°C (81°F) 239 mm (9.4 in)
Feb 27°C (80°F) 268 mm (10.6 in) 28°C (82°F) 200 mm (7.9 in)
Mar 27°C (81°F) 158 mm (6.2 in) 28°C (82°F) 260 mm (10.2 in)
Apr 28°C (82°F) 107 mm (4.2 in) 28°C (82°F) 240 mm (9.4 in)
May 28°C (83°F) 138 mm (5.4 in) 28°C (82°F) 190 mm (7.5 in)
Jun 28°C (82°F) 200 mm (7.9 in) 28°C (82°F) 160 mm (6.3 in)
Jul 27°C (81°F) 195 mm (7.7 in) 28°C (82°F) 150 mm (5.9 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 213 mm (8.4 in) 28°C (82°F) 160 mm (6.3 in)
Sep 27°C (81°F) 237 mm (9.3 in) 27°C (81°F) 200 mm (7.9 in)
Oct 28°C (82°F) 253 mm (10 in) 27°C (81°F) 280 mm (11 in)
Nov 27°C (81°F) 344 mm (13.5 in) 27°C (81°F) 290 mm (11.4 in)
Dec 27°C (80°F) 462 mm (18.2 in) 27°C (81°F) 250 mm (9.8 in)