With the falling ringgit, many of us might be rethinking our travel plans. But the MATTA fair is coming up this weekend and with some wise planning, you can still make that ringgit stretch further. We take a look at countries you can have a great time at with currencies that won’t make you reel back in horror.

Budapest, Hungary

Great Market Hall in Budapest

Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest (pronounced “Budapesht”, as the locals would quickly point out) is split by the Danube to two parts: Buda and Pest. One of the best things you could do is hit up one of the many restaurants and cafes in bustling Pest for a hot bowl of goulash, cross the Chain Bridge over to Buda and hike up Gellert Hill for an amazing panoramic view of the city. Once night falls, head back over to Pest and visit a ruin bar (bars formed from derelict, industrial spaces) or 12 for very affordable pints of local beer. In the morning, enjoy a well-deserved recovery soak at one of the many medicinal public baths, which have pools of varying temperatures that you may dip into at your own fancy.

Currency exchange: RM1: Ft 65.6

Average price of a meal: Ft 1,500 (~RM23)

Average price of a beer: Ft 350 (~RM5)

Things you could do for free: Free walking tour (tip encouraged!), Heroes Square and the Jewish Shoe Memorial

Krakow, Poland


Krakow’s historic centre was entered as a first of its kind on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1978. Consisting of Old Town, Wawel Castle and Kazimierz, most of the main attractions are all located here within walking distance of each other. Visit the old Jewish heritage area of Kazimierz and then take on the Royal Way, a walk that starts from the beginning of Old Town at St. Florian’s Gate all the way down to Wawel castle. At night, join a pub crawl and then indulge in a late-night kielbasa (don’t hold back on the mustard) with the locals.

Currency exchange: RM1 = zł 0.88

Average price of a meal: zł 18 (~RM20)

Average price of a beer: zł 6 (~RM7)

Things you can do for free: Free walking tour (tip encouraged!), climb Kopiec Kraka for city views, visit the oases of Skałki Twardowskiego and Zakrzowek.

Bandung, Indonesia

Kawah Putih crater or White Crater of Ciwedey, Bandung, Indonesia and a flock of tourist seen from the barricade pathway of the park.

Bandung attracts visitors from all over the world (and even neighbouring Jakarta) simply because shopping is largely affordable there. With distros (distribution outlets) selling local designer goods and factory outlet stores strewn all across the city, people can score high-quality items for a fraction of the price. And because its surrounded by mountains, it maintains a cool and pleasant climate throughout the year, giving visitors from the tropics (ie., us) a quick respite from the norm. Be sure to also put down your shopping bags and head to Kawah Putih just a little south of Bandung, where its surreal turquoise lake will make you believe in fairytales again.

Currency exchange: RM1 = Rp3,325

Average price of a meal: Rp20,000 (~RM6)

Average price of a beer: Rp20,000 (~RM6)

Things you can do for free: Visit Muzium Konperensi Asia-Afrika, watch a free movie at Taman Film, go to a culinary night every first Saturday of the month for food and music

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Vietnam

A city dotted with picturesque lakes and ancient pagodas, Hanoi is an affordable destination just a short flight from KL. Hints of French colonial architecture can still be seen in its tree-lined boulevards and its many villas. Take a self-guided walking tour to check out colonial treasures like the grand Hanoi Opera House, the Sofitel Metropole Hotel and the Government Guesthouse – but watch out for traffic as things can get pretty chaotic. Get in on a little kitchen action too by taking on a Vietnamese cooking class so you’ll know exactly what to do back home when you’re craving a hot bowl of pho!

Currency exchange: RM1 = ₫ 5,306

Average price of a meal: ₫ 40,000 (~RM8)

Average price of a beer: ₫ 15,000 (~RM3)

Things you can do for free: Visit “Uncle Ho” at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, take a walk around West Lake at sunset and stroll along the Old Quarter.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tea plantations on angkhang mountain, chiang mai, thailand

Known as the “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai is nestled by mountains and lush countryside, making it a popular place for tourists to enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of urban city life. Enter the Walled City (Chiang Mai’s historic centre) to visit over 30 temples, or make the trek up to Doi Suthep for the most famous one, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. It also offers spectacular views of Chiang Mai. For a taste of a whole different culture, visit a hilltribe village as part of a tour.

Currency exchange: RM1 = ฿8.44

Average price of a meal: ฿40 (~RM5)

Average price of a beer: ฿55 (~RM7)

Things you could do for free: Listen to jazz at the Old City Northgate Jazz Co-Op, go for a meditation retreat at Wat Umong (donations encouraged), get a tattoo at a temple.

 Lima, Peru

LIMA PERU MARCH 1: Indians in traditional peruvian dresses dancing in the square Plaza de Armas during the celebration of national independence in the Historic Center on march 1 2011 in Lima, PeruStock Photo:

Making a surprise appearance on the list is Lima, Peru’s capital city that values food as much as Malaysia does! Start your food journey at a chevicheria for ceviche made with the day’s freshest catches from the sea. For lunch, grab a sánguche, a roll filled with hot stewed or grilled meats that’s super handy for eating while on-the-go. Make sure to also indulge in a couple of pisco sours, a delicious grape brandy that’ll keep you warm in your belly (and red in the face if you’re not careful!)

Currency exchange: RM1 = S/. 0.78

Average price of a meal: S/. 13 (~RM17)

Average price of a beer: S/. 4.50 (~RM6)

Things you could do for free: Free walking tour (tip encouraged!), visit the dungeons of Museo del Congreso y de la Inquisición, get the best views at Casa de Osambela.

The MATTA Fair runs from 4 – 6 September

Note: Flight prices are not taken into account. Currency exchange rates are correct at time of publication. Price estimates of meals and drinks taken from numbeo.com

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