Reproduced (and tidied) from my TripAdvisor Post. Here I talk about the merits of using local cash-less solutions for public transport.
Cash is King!
Except when it’s not. As I’ve outlined previously I don’t like carrying heaps of cash, I hate coins even more. So those machines that convert coins and notes into train or bus tickets, well I really really dislike those.
Public transport is a conundrum of you can save heaps by using the local rail and bus services, compared to taxis or Uber. If, like me, you’re always converting notes into coins which then stay in a pile in the hotel until it gets way to out-of-control and then I’m forced into counting out tiny coins at the Starbucks when I’ve not had enough caffeine to count effectively and well it just gets out-of-hand. I once left all my loose change in a hotel room upon checking out just because it was too much effort to deal with. I was even more surprised when I got a call from the hotel telling me I’d left a considerable amount of cash in the room. The coins had exceeded a decent two handful and counted out exceeded one nights (cheap) accommodation. So yes I hate coins.
The best way to get around if only for the convenience factor of unfamiliar coins, getting off at the wrong stop or not knowing what the wrong stop is ends up being using some kind of Touch’n’Go wavy card type system. In Hong Kong its an Octopus Card, In Malaysia a MyPass card will work throughout Kuala Lumper, in Sweden there’s something else. My point is they exist and there’s always a tourist friendly version available.
The Malaysian “MyPass” comes with a few discount vouchers, and a SIM Card for a local telco. I whacked 100RM on mine when I got it at the airport and touch’n’go’d my way around for 10 days last trip, Monorail from the central railway station, train to another suburb, train to an attraction, no worries. No pesky coins, no “oops wrong token moments”. In Hong Kong I’ve used my Octopus card to buy coffee, train trips, hotdogs and well just about anything, I love Hong Kong if only because coins are optional!
I met up with fellow Aussies last trip, parents of a friend of mine actually, they’re cash travellers, they bring over Aussie $$, exchange for local $$ and don’t use cards. Yeah, in a simple day of sightseeing I spent about no time counting money, queuing for the ticket machine or wandering if I had enough cash to enjoy a beer with lunch. Yeah if you can swing it, get on the cash-free transit option.
Sometimes the bargain isn’t in the price it’s in the time saving, or not breaking notes before you want to buy something more than an 3RM bus-ride. We all know a broken note is as good as gone!