A clean, modern city with great wifi. Kuala Lumpur is also a central hub with the cheapest flights out connecting you to all cities in Southeast Asia. Here you will find excellent food and a vibrant nightlife. Kuala Lumpur was another city I unexpectedly fell in love with. Not to mention they have some of the most intense lightning and thunder in the world. A great place to use as a home base to come and recharge in between trips.
LANGUAGE: Bahasa Malaysia, English
CURRENCY: Malaysian Ringgit
CLIMATE: Tropical (hot & humid), Monsoon seasons are April-May and Oct-Nov but rainfall can happen anytime.
DRESS CODE: Casual
GETTING AROUND: Grab, MRT, Local bus, Local taxi
COST OF VISITING: $ – Hostels start at $8 per night and street food is a little as $2 to $3 (USD) per meal
TIPPING: Tipping is not expected and most restaurants don’t even give you the option
SAFETY: Generally a safe city, watch out for pickpockets as you would in any other city
PACKING ESSENTIALS: Sunscreen
VISA: No visa needed for tourist visits under 90 days for US citizens, Must have passport valid for at least 6 months
FROM KUALA LUMPUR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KLIA)
There are three ways to get from KLIA to KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center). These options are listed below. For more info, check out this website.
To take a Grab or taxi, simply walk out the door of the arrivals terminal to the pickup area. There will be plenty of taxis waiting there for you. Airport taxis operate on a fixed fare system, so it will cost you $18.70 USD to get to the city center and take around 50 minutes. This rate may differ depending on where you are staying. Ordering a Grab is also simple as they pick you up in the same spot. Upon ordering, you will simply be prompted to enter the door number you are waiting at. It should cost you slightly less than a taxi.
You can take the metro directly from the arrivals terminal. Follow the signage to the platform provided.There are two trains, the KLIA Express and KLIA Transit. The only difference is that the Express has less stops so it is slightly quicker, taking only 28 minutes (compared to 38 minutes for the Transit train). Both trains will take you to the KL Sentral station. From there, you will likely need to take an additional train depending on where you are going. This should cost you around $9 USD.
KLIA provides an Airport Coach Service to take passengers to the KL Sentral station. From there, you will either need to take the MRT or a taxi/Grab to your destination. The cost is $2.45 USD (10 RM) per person and takes about 70 minutes depending on traffic. You can catch the bus from the KLIA Bus Station, located on the ground floor of the main terminal building (only a 3 minute walk from the arrivals hall exit). Follow the sings for the “Transportation Hub.”
If you are coming from a nearby city such as Singapore or Penang, you can take an air con bus to Kuala Lumpur. There are a few bus stations in the area which you will choose when you purchase your ticket. For bus schedules, rates, and to book your ticket online, check out easybook.
WHERE TO STAY
A great hostel (one of the nicest I have ever stayed in) located in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). Walking distance from The Pavilion and the Petronas Twin Towers. A pod style hostel with plenty of privacy and a large common area with plenty of seating as well. Free breakfast and very nice bathrooms. The first hostel I ever stayed in with an elevator and keycards! Feels more like a hotel but at a budget rate.
Also located in KLCC. 1001 Nights Dorm is a large two bedroom, two bathroom apartment turned into a hostel. It is located in the Mercu Summer Suites building which includes a cafe and convenience store on the ground floor, along with a pool and workout room on the eleventh floor. Definitely one of the best budget hostels you will find in Kuala Lumpur. There are also numerous other hostels in this same building which are all pretty similar. Just look for any in the Mercu Summer Suites building.
Bunk & Bilik is where I stay when I want to get work done (working on my blog and teaching online). There isn’t all that much to do around the area but it is a nice place to stay with good wifi, free bottomless coffee, and the option to choose a private room for a budget price.
WHAT TO EAT
FOODS TO TRY
Roti Canai: What I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. A flakey flatbread/pancake typically served with dhal (lentil soup) and curries
Nasi Lemak: Malaysia’s national dish; coconut rice, sambal paste, fried anchovies, peanuts, and a hard boiled egg.
Char Kuey Teow: Flat rice noodles stir fried with egg, sprouts, prawns, and cockles
This Buddhist Monastery serves extremely cheap vegetarian food in a large canteen. Grab a plate and fill it up with any of the dishes you would like and then pay at the register before sitting down. Everything is vegetarian (even if it doesn’t look or taste like it) and extremely delicious. I wish I would have found out about this hidden gem sooner. This place gets pretty busy at lunchtime as locals all come here on their lunch breaks, but there is plenty of seating.
Come here for some excellent Indian food.
I came here for the craft beer but ended up loving the food. I honestly can’t believe this place isn’t more well known.I had the Vegetarian Rice Bowl and I didn’t want it to end.
A restaurant in total darkness. I didn’t eat here but it is quite a popular experience.
One of the more upscale restaurants serving local Malaysian cuisine. Imagine food you would get at hawker stalls, served to you on a silver platter. Relaxing and romantic ambiance.
WHAT TO DRINK
WHERE TO DRINK
Kuala Lumpur has an amazing nightlife with some of the coolest bars I have seen out of any city I have been to. Whether you are looking for a dark, hole in the wall bar, or an upscale club, you are sure to find the perfect spot. There are so many cool bars that I couldn’t begin to fit them all on this list. I have listed a few below, but here are some additional lists to check out to find exactly what you are looking for.
Located on the top floor of the Traders Hotel, Skybar is right in the city center, giving you an amazing view of the Petronas Twin Towers. Here you will find upbeat music, a swimming pool in the middle of the bar, and floor to ceiling windows all around. Wednesday is ladies night where they offer free flowing drinks for the ladies from 6pm to 10pm.
A nice craft beer bar with a good selection on tap and an even better selection of bottles to choose from. Prices are similar to what you would pay for craft beer in the States but here you are able to try craft beer from all over the world. The nachos were pretty tasty as well.
Kuala Lumpur’s speakeasy bar hidden in what looks like a storeroom in the basement of Ming Annexe. This is a classy and cozy bar that seats about 25 people at any given time. Definitely a must as they have previously been rated in the top 10 of the best bars in all of Asia.
WHAT TO DO
SEE THE SITES
Batu Caves are a series of caves and cave temples made out of a limestone hill. You have likely seen photos of the colorful steps the lead up to the cave opening. Depending where you are coming from, there is a metro that drops you off directly at the caves making it easy to visit. I highly recommend going here early on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It was cool to see but I was in and out of there as fast as I could due to the crowds of people everywhere.
I had seen these twin skyscrapers in photos numerous times but the moment I saw them in person, it was love at first sight. They are the most beautiful structures I have ever seen. I highly recommend going to see them both during the day, and again at night. In the evening, they twinkle and it is a magical sight. For an amazing view, head to the Sky Bar located on the top of the Trader Building. Enjoy some happy hour drinks and watch the sunset while admiring these beauties. Oh and I guess if you aren’t as into buildings as I am, you can also head inside to walk across the sky bridge, or enjoy the AC while you shop or eat at one of the many restaurants.