Asia,  Destinations,  Hotels, Hostels & BNBs,  Malaysia

Where to stay: Malaysia hostels & hotels for solo female travelers

Here’s a list of hotels, AirBNBS, and hostels that I stayed in while traveling in Malaysia from July to August 2023. I’ll update this post with more hotels whenever I go back to visit Malaysia.

Things to note:

  • Since prices change so frequently I haven’t bothered to note what I paid for each room, but in general I stay at $30 USD or less per night. Most of my accommodation in Malaysia was under $15 USD/night.
  • I stay in a mix of private rooms and dorms, but more heavily dorms. That usually includes shared bathrooms, kitchens, common areas, and so on.
  • I use Booking.com, Agoda, Hostelworld, AirBNB, and Google Maps to search for places to stay, and I make sure to check my major credit card’s travel portal in case I can use CC points to save a bit of money.

Check out where I stayed in Indonesia and South Korea.

Places with a little ♥ in front of them are highly recommended.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I get a small percentage of that at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.)

Gemas, Malaysia

I only stayed here one night, on the way up to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore. Gemas is only a stopover town, as there’s literally nothing to do here but maybe golf at the nearby resort. I recommend avoiding staying the night here if you can.

Hotel Tropicana. Really the only decent hotel in town (and it’s not even that good). You have to book either in-person or through Whatsapp, as they don’t have an online presence. Very basic accommodations. I was annoyed when I found out the water wasn’t working and nobody informed me upon check-in. Currently housing a bunch of police officers who all start getting up around 5:00 am– and the walls are thin enough to hear every alarm go off.

Here’s a room tour video I took:

Georgetown (Penang), Malaysia

This is the highlight of Malaysia for most expats, and it’s definitely worth visiting as it’s a very cute town. There’s fun cafes, restaurants, nature hikes and so on that you can do here, and it’s all decently-priced. I used Georgetown as a recuperation point after my long trip in Borneo.

The Frame Guesthouse. A nice hostel located within the main part of Georgetown, in walking distance to the ferry port. Rooms have lockers, plugs by the beds, and air conditioning. No breakfast, but there’s a cafe on the ground floor where you can get tea or coffee (paid separately).

Straits Garden Suites by The Homestay Helper. An aparthotel/managed apartment located about 20 minutes south of the main part of Georgetown. Close to supermarket, some restaurants, and two major bus line. Very nice staff, a lovely furnished apartment, and a very comfortable bed. There are other apartments for rent on AirBNB and Booking.com run by other companies, so I can only speak to this one.

Ipoh, Malaysia

I didn’t get to enjoy Ipoh as much because I was burnt out from Borneo and mostly just wanted to stay inside and read books. But it’s a small, charming town close to the Cameron Highlands, worth visiting for a few days.

The Brownstone Hostel & Space. A hostel located slightly outside the main tourist part of Ipoh. Very charming historical building with big common areas, laundry access, and free breakfast. They also have three or four friendly cats!

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

The hub for traveling around Borneo and it’s largest city, Kota Kinabalu has some nice nature hikes, scuba diving things, and night markets to explore. Since you’ll probably have to stop by here anyway during your Borneo trip, I recommend staying a day or two and exploring.

See my Malaysian Borneo guide for where to go and what to do.

Homy Seafront Hostel. Split a private room with my travel buddy. Fairly comfortable beds, but the rooms are tiny and the walls are so thin I could hear my neighbor snore. Free breakfast and a lovely common area to hang out in.

OYO Home 90467 Grapevine Garden. A nice hotel, clean and looks recently renovated. There’s a shopping center down the road but not many restaurants in walkable distance; I had everything delivered using Grab Food. Very close to the airport, so close in fact that Grabs refused to come get me and I had to walk 20 minutes to reach it myself.

Here’s a room tour video I took:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I liked KL a lot more than I thought I would, but it’s very similar to other big, developed cities around the world. Still, they’ve done a good job of creating some green spaces amongst the concrete jungle.

Freedom Club Hostel KL. Lovely new hostel (only opened this year!) with a friendly, knowledgeable owner. Good location on the edge of Bukit Bintang, close to the metro/monorail and multiple shopping malls/restaurants. Comfortable beds, good showers, and cheap laundry service available. No breakfast, but free coffee/tea available and a small kitchenette to reheat food. Liked it so much I stayed here twice.

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo

The town of cats! Kuching is a super cute town and very fun to explore by foot. Lots of Chinese influence mixed with local tribal culture.

Marco Polo’s. Split a private room with my travel buddy. Good sized room, free breakfast including pancakes and fresh fruit, knowledgeable owner. Good location on street with lots of restaurants, and within walking distance to the main part of town with museums and so on. Two or three cats live there as well! Only thing I didn’t like was the showers/toilets had semi-open walls (for ventilation).

Miri, Malaysian Borneo

Truly just a town for shopping and business, mostly used as a stopover for people flying in and out of Mulu National Park. Good for a short visit but I wouldn’t make a special trip if you aren’t going out that way.

Palace Inn. Basic hotel in a decent area for walking to sightseeing spots and getting food. Room smelled heavily of anti-mold spray, unfortunately.

Mulu, Malaysian Borneo

One of the highlights of my trip and a wonderful place to visit if you like hiking in jungles, but safely. Not a lot of (big) animals to spot here, but there’s lots of interesting insects and frogs/snakes to spot.

Mulu Backers Homestay. A local-run place just outside the park, 5 minutes walk from the airport. Has private rooms or a mixed dorm available. Free breakfast (pancakes and fruit), comfortable beds and a very nice owner who keeps the generator running all night so we can have fans going. No air con but it’s cool enough at night to sleep comfortably.

Sandakan, Malaysian Borneo

We only stopped a short time here to wait for our river cruise pickup, but Sandakan seemed like a nice town to visit for a day or two. Very nice waterfront with lots of new businesses and restaurants, plus a vibrant night market.

Sandakan Backpackers Hostel. An old school style backpackers hostel that had an excellent vibe. The beds weren’t the greatest but it had free breakfast, good showers, lovely art on the walls and nice staff. Centrally located in town and a short Grab ride from the bus station.

Sukau, Malaysian Borneo

Everyone comes here to do a Kinabatangan River cruise– if you only do one thing on Borneo, do the river cruise. Sukau itself is a nice rural area mostly populated by guesthouses.

Sukau Backpackers Bed & Breakfast. A lovely place with individual bungalows, a big common space for meals, friendly staff and excellent tour guides. Lots of dogs here (partly to keep the monkeys away) as well.

Tuwau, Malaysian Borneo

I didn’t do any exploring because I was holed up here trying to recuperate from a slight illness. The main part of town looked nice though, very cool mix of local places and new fast food joints like KFC.

Indah Inn. Located near the airport, in a semi-business neighborhood which luckily isn’t too far out from town to still get food delivery. Perfectly nice room and comfortable bed, no breakfast option.

Here’s a room tour video I took:


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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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