I am not fond of driving, so renting a car is the last thing I have on my mind when I plan for any trips overseas. However, this belief has changed when I started my adventure of hunting for the Milky Way and stargazing in Sabah. My travel plan was to go on a 7-day road trip searching for the dark sky sites; these locations are usually far away from the city (hence, less light pollution) and the most affordable and convenient option is to self drive a rental car.
Hertz vs Avis vs “Mom and Pop” Car Rental
Looking for car rental companies online is easy – just google and you will be prompted with a list of established and reputable international car rental companies such as Hertz and Avis. But to look for a reliable and cheap rental car in Sabah, Malaysia will need to spend more time to research and read tons of reviews online.
I was lucky to have a contact in Sabah (via Sabah Stargazers) and he recommended a local car rental that he has been patronising. Without his recommendation, I’m pretty sure that I will not be able to find this car rental company based on Google search results. Though this company is recommended by a friend, I still have much worries about its reliability, the conditions of the car and what’s my liability limit should anything happened to the car.
Cheaper rental car: Cost vs Risks
However, my biggest concern is still cost. Renting a Proton Saga at MYR100 a day with a local provider versus MYR180 for a similar model with a branded international car rental company, I think my choice is quite obvious. I know I have to take some risks to try out this recommended rental car company.
I contacted the owner of the car rental company via Whatapps. As he writes good English, I know communication is not going to be a big issue as I don’t speak Malay. He replied my queries promptly and was quite obliged to my several requests like sending the car to my hotel, at my preferred timing etc. To make a reservation, I’d to pay a 50% deposit through bank transfer.
I rented a small car for 7 days and the entire self drive experience turned out to be a pleasant one. The car was in good condition and I was quite happy driving it, except for the part of receiving the car with just enough petrol to drive around the town to look for a gas station.
Search Online to Compare Car Rental Prices
After that hassle-free self-drive holidays in Sabah, recently I’ve found out that Easybook aggregates many Malaysia local rental car companies together and provides an one-stop car rental service at very competitive pricing.
So, when I need to rent a car or MPV for my trip in Malaysia again, I’ll first search and compare the prices at Easybook.com before deciding on the cheapest rental car that meets my needs. The advantage of using this platform is it requires only 10% – 15% deposit, depending on terms and conditions.
Travel Tips: Self-drive holiday is gaining popularity and when you plan to drive rental car overseas, you must always buy sufficient travel insurance coverage. Choose a higher plan that offers car rental excess. The additional cost would be well spent should an accident and mishap happen. My personal preference for travel insurance is AIG Travel Guard Enhanced Plan which offers up to $1,000 for car rental excess charges.
[Updated 6 May 2018] Here’s a couple of starry sky shots taken during my recent trip to the eastern part of Sabah: