There is not a bad word I can say regarding Malaysia. I have a very protective love about this Country and indeed its capital city Kuala Lumpur. It is one of my favourite countries in the World.
Over the past 16 years I have been here roughly 9 times visiting a different region, whilst, reminiscing of old memories. It is very rare I will not visit Malaysia if I am touring South-East Asia, and, always tend to stop-over in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of nights. That said, Kuala Lumpur tends to offer the cheapest route into SE Asia from The UK.
Malaysia lies on the Peninsula bordering Thailand to the North and Singapore and Indonesia to the South. The country also forms part of Borneo to the South East. Flying throughout Malaysia is very cheap and there are numerous budget airlines as well as the flag carrier that can shepherd you, domestically.
The country is a hub of ethnic diversity – Malay, Chinese, Indonesian and western influences, and then there’s the food. Malaysia has one of the best assortments of cuisines in the world, in my opinion. Start with Chinese-Malay ‘Nonya’ fare, move on to Indian curries, Chinese buffets, Malay food stalls and even impressive Western food.
SOME BASIC INFORMATION:
ℹ️ Travel: Kuala Lumpur is served by two terminals at KL airport. The main terminal is KLIA1 and the low-cost terminal KLIA2 both are connected by a high speed transfer train (KLIA Express) and costs roughly RM4 (GB75p).
The airport is quite a distance from the city itself – approximately 32 miles (50kms). Enjoy convenient and cost effective transport between KLIA1 and KLIA2 and the main train station of KL Sentral (in the city) aboard the KLIA Express. Fares cost around RM35 (GB£6) that last around 30 minutes but this is the fastest route into the city. There are taxi’s waiting outside the arrivals hall but cost around RM75 (GB£14) that will take roughly an hour.
Kuala Lumpur’s public transportation is excellent. Buses start at RM1 (GB£0.20), while the LRT (subway) and monorail cost between RM2-35 (GB£0.40-£6.00), depending on distance.
Finding free water fountains in KLIA2 is extremely hard to locate. I think the idea here is to have passengers purchase overpriced bottles from the shops. I did find two water fountains providing you do not object to a little stroll. In KLIA2 head to either gates P or Q. There is a fountain based at gate P8 or gate Q3.
ℹ️ Currency: The Malaysian Ringit (RM)
ℹ️ Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are common place in almost every shopping street, with several ‘bureau de change’ around the city centre, with almost every retailer accepting Mastercard and Visa. There is no fear of an establishment declining card payments.
ℹ️ Accommodation: KL offers all kinds of accommodation from the luxury around The golden Triangle to the basic. I’m always drawn to 1 of 2 venues depending on my budget at the time. For something lavish I stay at the 5* Pacific Regency Hotel. It offers stunning roof top views of KL, along with its own roof top bar called The Luna Bar with party pool. Prices are roughly £95 p/n for a suite, including breakfast. Also consider the 5* Traders Hotel for a lavish experience priced around £110 p/n.
For something a little more budget friendly I have no problems in recommending the 3* Hotel Capitol KL in Bukit Bintang area. Prices are roughly £40 p/n including an unbelievable buffet breakfast. One of my favourite budget hotels in the city.
ℹ️ Weather: There is no Hot and Cold season in Malaysia. Malaysia is hot, humid and often suffer’s from the mid-afternoon thunder shower due to the humidity. Quite often the shower’s relinquish as quick as they formed.
ℹ️ Food Costs: Street food usually costs under RM10 (GB£1.70) per dish. Local food in restaurants will cost between RM5-15 (GB£0.90-£2.70) per dish. If you are going to a mid range restaurant with table service, a meal with a drink will cost around RM35 (GB£6.20). Western food is more expensive than local food but even still, a Western fast-food combo only costs around RM15 (GB£2.70). Beer at the bar should not be more than RM15 (GB£2.70), while a coffee will be around RM5 (GB£1.00).
Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital city packed with historic monuments, skyscrapers, lush botanical parks, shopping malls, bustling street markets (Petalang Street) and trendy nightspots. In addition an essential part of the vibrant mix are incense-wreathed, colourfully adorned mosques and temples of the country’s Malay, Chinese and Indian communities.
This city offers a mouth-watering mix of Asian culinary traditions. Start with a breakfast of fresh popiah and congee at Imbi Market, seguing into a snack of freshly made roti and spicy chicken curry at Jin Belfields SS Spicy Food stalls. Move onto Chinatown for a must-have bowl of Asam Laksa (my favourite Malay dish) on Madras Lane. Save room for afternoon tea somewhere nice (Majestic Hotel or Traders Hotel opposite the Petronas Towers)
It will not take you long to realise, despite the heat, this is a city best explored on foot. Take to the Streets and walk and you can catch all the action. KL has a very efficient metro and Monorail system (signposted MRT) which is cheap and clean, although at peak travel times can prove a little tricky.
WHAT CAN KUALA LUMPUR OFFER?
The Petronas Towers
Located in the KLCC district, Opened in 1998, the 88 storey twin towers are nearly 1482ft (452m) tall, making them the seventh highest built structures in the world (as of 2015). These shimmering stainless steel-clad towers, the headquarters of the national oil and gas company Petronas, are the epitomy of contemporary KL.
You can purchase tickets for GB£15.50 (85 MYR) that authorises access to a guided tour to the central bridge connecting the 2 towers. You spend about 30 minutes here before returning back to the lift where you are taken to the top of the towers for a panoramic view of the city.
Tickets go on sale at 7am and sell out fast!! The tour is closed on Mondays. There are only a few tickets for sale each day and once they have gone, they are gone so be quick. Click here to access the ticket booking system to buy in advance.
KLCC and The Golden Triangle
If you wanting to shop in some the best stores and find a bargain on those designer labels then head to KLCC and KL Pavillion. Centred near ‘Bukit Bintang’ (Where I always stay!), the Golden Triangle is roughly the area bounded by the districts of Jln Raja Chulan, Jln Bukit Bintang and Jln Sultan Ismail.
It is home to a cluster of major shopping malls and many excellent places to eat and drink, not least of which is Jln Alor, KL’s most famous food street.
KLCC, which stands for Kuala Lumpur City Centre, is located at the Petronas Towers, a vast development anchored by the Petronas Towers. East of here are places of interest along Jln Tun Razak and Jln Ampang. South of Bukit Bintang is the distinctly Chinese district of Pudu, home to the inner city’s largest wet market and a giant wholesale clothing market.
A shopping mecca. Amid the many familiar international luxury labels, there are some good local options, including unisex British India. In this mall you will find all the usual high street stores that you would find in The UK.
MENARA KL TOWER
is easily Malaysia’s most recognisable and popular landmark. Constructed in 1994, the tower stands at 1380ft (421m) offering spectacular view of the city. This gleaming tower’s spindle like apex is visible from almost anywhere in Kuala Lumpur. Menara KL’s viewing deck is, at 905ft (276m); the view is marvellous during the day and even better at night when you can see the entire sparkling city centre.
At the top of the KL tower is a revolving restaurant called ‘Atmosphere360’.
KL BIRD PARK
This fabulous 21-hectare aviary houses some 3000 birds comprising 200 species of (mostly) Asian birds. Entrance fee into the park is roughly GB£12.50 (67MYR).
The park is divided into four sections: in the first two sections bird’s fly at liberty beneath an enormous canopy. Section three features the native hornbills, while section four offers the less-edifying spectacle of caged species. To purchase tickets for the park click here.
PETALING STREET MARKET
Take the Monorail to Maharajalela station. On leaving the station turn right out of the station and it is signposted.
Petaling street is a hive of excitement. It is absolutely my favourite place in the world to eat and shop!! I have even created a holiday incorporating KL purely to have opportunity to spend my money in Petaling Street Market A Chinese market where you can purchase almost anything from electricals to clothing to souvenirs. The key here is to barter over the price. The stall traders begin high, you start low and you mutually agree on a price. It is all done in good taste and humour.
Petaling Street is also where you can dine for a great price. There are all sorts of stalls and restaurants here selling typical Chinese/Indian/Seafood dishes.
No visit to Kuala Lumpur would be complete without a visit to Batu Caves. The temple is a 30 minute train journey from ‘KL Sentral’ station on a direct line from platform 3. Fares are GB£0.85 rtn (4MYR). Batu caves is the last stop on the line. It’s a Hindu place. The first thing you notice is the slight smell of incense as you vacate the train station at Batu for the temple.
To enter the caves is free. This trip literally took only 2 hours to do including the train journey so don’t plan a full day for it. The second point you notice is the huge Hindu God at the base of what seems like a never ending mountain of steps!
NOTE: for women only, you must cover your shoulders and knees – so dress appropriately! If you don’t either (a) You will not be allowed to go any further than the gates, or, (b) You will have to rent a robe to wear…you do not get your money back! Men are fine as long as your shoulders are covered.
This is where the fun begins. There are a mountain of steps to climb. I counted 125 then lost count and I was not even at the top! The view is great once up there. The temple is populated with monkeys. They seem fairly good natured but I did not venture too close enough to one in the event my camera could be snatched. Inside the cave there are a few market stalls selling souvenirs and a few shrines peppered inside. At the far end of the cave is a large Hindu praying area populated with monkeys.
I can imagine the site to become extremely busy in high season. Fortunately my visit was during May in the low season and it was comfortable to walk around. Plan at most 3 hrs for this trip including the train ride. I did it in 2 hours. Once you have seen the inside of the cave and taken your photographs there is little more to do or see. Nonetheless, very much worth a visit.
Venues for Food and Drink
A visit to Malaysia isn’t complete unless you have spent a few days touring and eating your way through the city. Although more expensive than other parts of Malaysia, KL’s mix of cultures (India, Chinese, Malay, and Western) creates a unique blend of food, shopping, and nightlife. I find KL to be an exciting place and one of the best cities in the world for good Indian food (outside of India that is).
I love KL and all its evening nightlife. I find it such a great place to wind down after a days exploring with a coffee and cake or an ice cold beer, people watching. I have decided to mention a few of my favourite haunts.
Located at the top of the Pacific Regency Hotel is a bar named ‘Luna’. It is a sophisticated rooftop bar surrounding a swimming pool that is open for residents and visitors. From here you can obtain a twinkling view of KL’s skyline.
located at the Traders Hotel is by far one of my favourite places to grab a drink and admire the sights of the city. Sky Bar is a glamorous cocktail lounge set on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel KL. A local institution, this rooftop nightclub is quite possibly the coolest venue on KL’s nightlife scene – the place to see and be seen at.
It is recommended not only for its good location and giddying views over the city, but also its excellent drinks. Airy and sexy, the centrepiece at Sky Bar is a pool that is bordered by ‘cabanas’ (large sunken alcoves with chaise lounges) on one side, and a bar area with sofas and woven rattan high tables and bar stools on the other.
Situated in The Pavilion is a relaxed little bistro bar serving drinks, aperitif’s and bistro style food. I have to admit this is my favourite place to relax and people watch over a few cocktails after an afternoon shopping. The Pressroom is also pitched in a great little spot within The Pavilion.
Situated in the China Town district is a maze of avenues walled with stalls selling all sorts of products. Its a great place to eat and drink to recharge those batteries before the onslaught of more shopping.
If You Have Time left…
Whilst in KL grab a monorail ride to KL Sentral station and explore a beautiful area known as Brickfields, otherwise, ‘Little India’ (pictured below). Here you will discover delicious Indian cuisine and Hindu temples, filling the air with the scent of incense.
I often find peoples opinions of KL to be of a mixed gesture. I make a point of visiting KL each time I visit SE Asia. I adore this city and country, and, I have yet to become stuck of something to do or see. I stay in the Bukit Bintang area as I find the hotels are of a fairer price and is fairly central for most things. The monorail stop (Bukit Bintang) is usually only 5 minutes walk away and from here I can catch the service to pretty much anywhere around the city.