One of the biggest complaints about Kuala Lumpur, from visitors and residents alike, is the shocking price of alcohol. For example a beer on Changkat, the bar street in Kuala Lumpur, will cost you at least RM 20 (6 USD) and a mixer even more. Instead of buying 1 beer in the bar, I can have 4 local meals for that amount of money. Not only for locals, but even for foreign travels or expats is the alcohol in Malaysia more expensive than in most of the places where we grew up. Especially when you work for a local company and get paid in Ringgits.
But why is the alcohol that expensive here? In all the other Asian countries (except Singapore) you can get a complete bucket filled with strong liquor and a mixture for only USD 4!
Although Malaysia is recognized as an Islamic country, alcohol is widely available on licensed shops and bars for the consumptions of the non Muslim citizens & visitors. However, some states (Kelantan and Terengganu) do ban alcohol. Whilst drinking alcohol is not banned in many parts of the country, taxes make it expensive by Malaysian standards.
Compared to neighboring Asian countries, Malaysia has the highest excise tax rate on beer and stout. Malaysia now has the second highest duty on beer in the world after Norway. The excise duty for beer is RM7.40 per liter!
As I am a dutchie, and like to have a beer in the weekends or after work… How can I afford to drink in Kuala Lumpur?
1.Ladies night! (Sorry, girls only)!
From Monday to Thursday is Changkat, the bar street in Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur, the place to be for the girls. It is not that we just get a discount; no we get even FREE drinks in many bars (not all)! I remember the first time that I figured out that we could actually drink for free… The waiter kept bringing new cocktails and at the end…We could just walk away without spending any Ringgit. Keep in mind that they don’t really promote the free drinks; you have to tell them that you know about it before you will get it the whole evening.
Best bars for ladies night:
– Iris pub Healy Macs; Free house cocktail for ladies from 9 – 12 during weekdays
– Sutra; Free mixtures with Vodka, Gin, or Rum for ladies from 9 – 2 during weekdays
– Mango’s: 2 coupons for a free drink of your choice
– Traders Sky bar: Free flow of cocktails from 8 – 10 pm on Wednesday at one of the best sky bars of Kuala Lumpur.
A beer bucket contains 5 bottles of beer and is always cheaper than buy them separately. The cost of a beer bucket on Changkat is about RM 70 (USD 20) and at a Chinese shop RM 50 (USD 15). A beer tower contains 2,5 liter beer and has an ice chamber to keep it cool. The cost of an beer tower on Changkat is RM 90 (27 USD) and in a Chinese shop RM 65 ( 20 USD)
Almost all of them serve beer at relatively cheap prices (14-15 ringgit for a big bottle of Tiger or Carlsberg). A great choice is Jalan Alor or Petaling Street. It’s not the most sophisticated of settings, but it has a great atmosphere, it’s open until gone 03:00, and the food is excellent as well.
So there you have it, I hope this will be of any use for you as it is for me!
/// Written by Janieke Nieboer, Malaysia