Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing, consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Malaysia's currency is the Malaysian ringgit. Prices are marked as RM (a designation I've used throughout this book). Notes are issued in denominations of RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100. One ringgit is equal to 100 sen. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 sen.
In 2005, Malaysia ended a 7-year peg of the ringgit at RM3.80 to US$1. Now the country uses a managed float system that measures the currency against a basket of several major currencies.
Currency can be changed at banks and hotels, but you'll get a more favorable rate if you go to one of the moneychangers that seem to be everywhere; in shopping centers, in lanes, and in small stores -- just look for signs. They are often men in tiny booths with a display on the wall behind them showing the exchange rate. All major currencies are accepted, and there is never a problem with the U.S. dollar, except for dirty or old notes.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are found throughout the country, especially where tourists frequent. They will be hard to find on smaller islands and remote beach areas. In addition, some ATMs may not accept credit cards or debit cards from your home bank. I have found that debit cards on the MasterCard/Cirrus or Visa/Plus networks are almost always accepted at Maybank, with at least one location in every major town. Cash is dispensed in ringgit deducted from your account at the day's rate.
Credit cards are widely accepted at hotels and restaurants, and at many shops as well. Most popular are American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. Some banks may also be willing to advance cash against your credit card, but you have to ask around because this service is not available everywhere.
In Malaysia, to report a lost or stolen card, call American Express at its head office in Kuala Lumpur (tel. 03/2161-4000); for MasterCard, call tel. 800/804-594; and for Visa, call tel. 800/800159. Both numbers are toll-free from anywhere in the country.
Note: Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile/ and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian Ringgit)
Taxi from the airport to downtown Kuala Lumpur 102.10
Double room, moderate 300.00
Double room, inexpensive 160.00
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 45.00
Pint of beer 18.00
Cup of coffee 7.00
Admission to the National Museum 2.00
Admission to the KL Bird Park 45.00
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.