A Travel Comparison for Vacations, Honeymoons, and Tours South Korea vs. Malaysia

Should you visit South Korea or Malaysia?

Although both countries are fairly developed, South Korea is a more expensive travel destination than Malaysia for a variety of reasons. These two nations are also quite different, as Malaysia offers tropical beaches and jungles, while South Korea is more northern and mountainous.

South Korea is a modern, cultural, and moderately priced Asian nation with a diverse number of sights and activities for its relatively small geographical size. Here you can experience big cities, rural countryside, beautiful mountains, unique national parks and relaxing beaches. Modern, western conveniences are all around, and at a price that is a little cheaper than Europe or North America, but still more expensive than many other destinations in Asia.

Malaysia offers a great deal to visitors from gorgeous beaches, crystal clear waters for snorkeling and scuba diving, exotic jungles, cooler highlands with agricultural landscapes, and delicious cuisine.

In general, Malaysia's economy is less driven by tourism than many other countries. This makes it easier to have a more "authentic" experience in Malaysia, as one can mingle with the locals to see how they live and work, as well as vacation along side them instead of having them provide a service for you in the tourism industry.

Which country is cheaper, Malaysia or South Korea?

Should I visit South Korea or Malaysia? This is a popular question for many travelers. By figuring out which country is more expensive, you'll understand where you'll get more bang for your buck. A week in Malaysia can cost you about $578 (per person), while a week in South Korea may cost you around $779. These differences become even more noticable if you plan to spend a longer time in the country. 10 days, two weeks, or even one month of travel to Malaysia or South Korea can really add to your travel budget.

Accommodation is often cheaper in Malaysia compared to South Korea ($44 vs. $50). Budget travelers usually stay in less expensive hostels and guest houses, while nicer hotels often appeal to families and upscale travelers.

Compare hotel prices here: South Korea Hotel Prices and Malaysia Hotel Prices.

Or, compare hostel and guesthouse prices between Malaysia and South Korea to find the cheapest accommodation here: Malaysia hostels and South Korea hostels.

When comparing food in South Korea vs. Malaysia they are not just different in cuisine, but also in price. Meal and restaurant costs in South Korea ($29) are often cheaper than Malaysia ($19).

  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
    South Korea $111
    Malaysia $83
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    South Korea $50
    Malaysia $44
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    South Korea $101
    Malaysia $87
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    South Korea $16
    Malaysia $12
  • Food Meals for one day
    South Korea $29
    Malaysia $19
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    South Korea $27
    Malaysia $26
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    South Korea $12
    Malaysia $11
  • Water Bottled water for one day
    South Korea $2.19
    Malaysia $0.95
How much are flights to South Korea and Malaysia?

The price of a plane ticket may help you decide which country you should visit.

Find a Hostel in South Korea or Malaysia

Hostels, guest houses, and locally owned B&B's are often the cheapest form of accommodation.

South Korea

When is the best time to visit South Korea and Malaysia?
Waterfall on Jeju-do, South Korea Waterfall on Jeju-do, South Korea
South Korea experiences four seasons, and winter can be cold with a decent amount of snow. However, skiing in the mountains is quite popular, so don't let winter turn you off. However, with warmer summer temperatures, this means that South Korea's peak travel season is from May to September. During this time you can expect more crowds and higher prices, but also more comfortable temperatures and more activities.

Malaysia stays hot and humid throughout the year. Due to shifting seasonal winds, the wet season on the eastern coasts is between November and February, while the wettest months on the western coasts are April and October. These wet seasons are usually not to be of any concern, as the rains are not so bad that they would ruin a vacation. However, scuba diving enthusiasts should take note because the water visibility is dramatically affected during the rainy seasons.

Why is South Korea more expensive than Malaysia?
South Korea's economy has been growing steadily for many decades, and this has led to both an increase in luxuries as well as a higher cost of living. For tourists, this translates into higher prices but a good value, as modern conveniences are everywhere. Hotels and hostels are spread throughout the country, but a good, healthy demand from tourists has led to higher prices all around compared to many other Asian nations.

Malaysia's economy is much less dependent on tourism than some of its neighboring countries. Therefore, visitors usually depend on the same general infrastructure and transportation system as the locals. Public transportation is modern, efficient, and cheap. Accommodation also tends to be better in quality for a lower price in Malaysia due to the overall pro-business economy, and a diverse range of restaurants keeps prices for food competitive throughout the country.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in South Korea and Malaysia?
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
By far, the most expensive areas in South Korea are resort destinations. In the winter, skiing around mountain areas such as Pyeongchang can get very pricey, as hotels, restaurants, and entrance tickets charge a hefty penny. In the summer, various beach resort areas can experience similar price increases.

Seoul can be expensive if you desire luxury. Although, with any large city comes diversity. So, inexpensive options for accommodation, food, and activities are plentiful. Just shop around if you're on a budget, as good values can be found at any price range.

South Korea's rural countryside offers a good opportunity to view gorgeous mountains or rolling hills at an affordable price. Many smaller cities and towns are inexpensive while still providing plenty of fun activities and an authentic atmosphere.

Prices in Malaysia are relatively cheap throughout. As the capital city, prices in Kuala Lumpur can be a bit more expensive than in rural areas, but budget options are still plentiful.

If you visit the most popular areas for tourists, such as some of the islands or the Cameron Highlands, you might pay a bit more for a rental car or a tour. Also, public transportation in some touristy areas can be a bit limited, leaving you to take a taxi or rent a car.

Compared to peninsula Malaysia, Borneo can be quite expensive. Although budget accommodation and cheap food are available, most people in Borneo choose to do a variety of activities. This is where the price starts to climb (but is well worth it). Depending on what you choose to do, Borneo can quickly become one of the more expensive places to visit in the area.

How you can save money when visiting South Korea and Malaysia?
In South Korea, booking ahead for a hotel or hostel can save you money. Locally owned places are not always cheaper, but do tend to have more interesting charm.

Eat with the locals. Local restaurants serving Korean food tend to be much cheaper than places serving western fare. Korean restaurant owners have figured out that many visitors don't care for Korean food, and will price their menus to take advantage of it. Find some Korean food that you like, and don't be afraid to experiment. Your tummy and your wallet will like it!

Use public transportation whenever possible. In both South Korea and Malaysia, it's cheap, fast, and clean.

Slow down. If you're rushing through the area you're going to spend more money. Transportation costs can be expensive so the more places you visit, the more money you're going to spend.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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