Literally meaning "muddy river confluence" in Malay, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis of around 6.5 million (city-proper population of 1.8 million) in just 150 years. A cultural melting pot with some of the world's cheapest 5-star hotels, cheap, great shopping, even better food and some of nature's wonders in just an hour away, this dynamic city has much to offer for every visitor.
Kuala Lumpur is a sprawling city and its residential suburbs seem to go on forever. The city proper, is a Federal Territory has an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) which consists of the city center and its surrounding urban areas, managed by the KL City Hall. It also merges with the adjacent satellite cities of Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Port Klang, Ampang, Selayang/Rawang, Kajang, Puchong, and Sepang, all in the state of Selangor, which enclaves KL, and all with their separate local authorities, creating a huge metropolis called Greater Kuala Lumpur, or more commonly, Klang Valley.
KL Sentral transportation hub in the heart of Kuala Lumpur
The city can be divided into the following areas, each of which offers a particular attraction or activity.
Old City Centre/Old Town[not to be confused with Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)] – This is the traditional core of Kuala Lumpur where you’ll find the former colonial administrative centre, with the Merdeka Square, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Selangor Club. This district also includes Kuala Lumpur’s old Chinese commercial centre which everyone refers to now as Chinatown.
Golden Triangle – KL's equivalent of the Central Business District(CBD) located to the north-east of the old city centre/old town. This is where you will find many of the city’s shopping malls, five-star hotels and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
Tuanku Abdul Rahman / Chow Kit – This extension of the old city centre/old town is fast regaining its old fame after a decade of slow growth. Located 500 m north of Chinatown and 500 m west to the Petronas Twin Towers, this is the traditional colorful shopping district of Kuala Lumpur north of the city centre that moves into high gear when the festivals of Hari Raya Puasa (Eid ul-Fitr) and Deepavali approach. Located just beside the Golden Triangle (northern neighbour) with many popular budget accommodations. The gigantic Putra World Trade Centre & the traditional Kampung Baru food haven are among the most important landmarks.
Brickfields – This area, located south of the city centre, is Kuala Lumpur’s Little India filled with saree shops and banana leaf rice restaurants. Kuala Lumpur’s main railway station, KL Sentral, is located here.
Bangsar and Midvalley – Located south of the city, Bangsar is a popular restaurant and clubbing district while Midvalley, with its Megamall, is one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations.
Damansara and Hartamas – Largely suburban, these two districts to the west of the city house some interesting pockets of restaurants and drinking areas.
This district also merges into the northern part of Petaling Jaya.
Ampang – Located east of the city, Ampang is home to Kuala Lumpur’s Little Korea and most foreign embassies.
Northern suburbs – This huge area to the north of the city is home to several natural wonders attractions, such as the Batu Caves, the National Zoo and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
Southern suburbs – This district may not interest travellers much, although Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium and National Sports Complex Bukit Jalil and Putrajaya are located here.
Merdeka means that the offices of the Colonial Secretariat on the Selangor Club Padang (field) became the Sultan Abdul Samad Building on Darteran Mereka (Independence Square)
Prior to independence, Malaya was a British colony. When Malaya's independence, to be attained on 31 August 1957, was approved by the British Government in 1956, the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman announced it to the public in Malacca at what is today Dataran Pahlawan.
On the evening of 30 August 1957, crowds gathered at what was then known as the Selangor Club Padang (Green) to celebrate the historic event. As the clock on the State Secretariat Building (today's Sultan Abdul Samad Building) struck midnight, the crowds, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, shouted "Merdeka" seven times. The Union Jack was lowered and the flag of the new country was raised to the strains of the national anthem, Negaraku. The Selangor Club Padang is today known as Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). The next day, the official handing over of power by the British was held at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium).
The country was renamed Malaysia on September 16, 1963, when Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya formed a new federation.
Founded only in 1857 as a tin mining outpost, Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go and lacks the rich history of George Town or Malacca. After rough early years marked by gang fighting, Kuala Lumpur started to prosper and was made capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896. Malaysia's independence was declared in 1957 in front of huge crowds at what was later named Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), and Kuala Lumpur continued as the new nation's capital. The economic boom of the 1990s brought KL the standard trappings of a modern city, bristling with skyscrapers and modern transportation systems.
Malaysia's transportation systems are, by regional standards, pretty well functioning. Planes, trains, buses, and taxis are linked in a system conceived and constructed by, if not an order-loving Teuton, at least a dedicated amateur. The planners' aims are an ultra-modern, chic, european-style system that are a far cry from the city's humble barrio beginnings. The reality is a sound B+ with still a long way to go before hitting the top.
A bewildering jumble of initials and acronyms assault any first time journey planner in KL and it will take at least a day to decipher the scheme of things.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - Main Terminal
Kuala Lumpur International Airport's Terminal
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (IATA: KULICAO: WMKK) is located about 50 km south of the city, in the Sepang district of Selangor. The US$2.5bil glass and steel structure was inaugurated in 1998 and has been ranked as one of the world's top airports. It superseded the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in Subang, which is now only used for charter and turboprop flights.
Transfers by train
KLIA Trains link the Main Terminal with the KL Sentral transportation hub in Kuala Lumpur. Non-stop KLIA Ekspres trains (RM35 one way) complete the journey in 28 min. At the busiest times (5AM-9AM and 4PM-10PM), there is one train every 15 min; otherwise they run every 20 min. KLIA Transit trains (also RM35 one way) get to the airport in 36 min and stop at Salak Tinggi, Putrajaya, and Bandar Tasik Selatan en route. Infuriatingly, Transit and Ekspres tickets are not interchangeable and the trains leave from different parts of both the airport and KL Sentral--make sure you don't get them mixed up.
From KL Sentral, the first train (a transit) leaves at 4.33AM; the last (also a transit) is at 1.03AM. From the airport, the first train (an express) leaves at 5.00AM; the last (a transit) leaves at 1.03AM. If taking a late night ekspres train from the airport, there may be no ticket sales available: buy the ticket when you arrive in KL Sentral.
If flying Malaysia, Emirates, Cathay or Royal Brunei and taking the KLIA Express train to the airport, you can check in your baggage at the Kuala Lumpur City Air Terminal in KL Sentral. See "Get around" section below on how to get to/away from KL Sentral.
The KTM Komuter station Nilai (1hr, RM5 from KL) has frequent connecting buses to KLIA operated by Airport Coach and Sepang Omnibus (1.5hr, RM3.50). This is the cheapest option to the main terminal but takes much longer than the direct train or bus (allow 3hr for the whole journey).
Transfers by bus
Airport Coach runs a one hourly express bus between KL Sentral and KLIA from 5AM to 10.30PM from Sentral, and 6.30AM to 12.30AM from KLIA. RM10 one way, or RM18 return.
Star Shuttle bus runs from KLIA to Kota Raya and Pudu Raya (both are near the Chinatown), RM12.50 one way.
The drivers that hang around the airport and KL Sentral will try and scam you. If anyone approaches you asking you where you want to go, do not trust them: they will be shameless in inflating the price for you and lying about the unavailability of other options.
From KLIA: Only Airport Limo limousines and budget taxis are allowed to pick up passengers at the airport. Buy coupons for these taxis at the Airport Limo counters just before you exit the international arrivals gate, or just outside the domestic arrivals gate. Insist on a budget taxi (fixed fare, RM74.80 to Kuala Lumpur), as the misnamed "premier" cars (RM100) are no better in quality. Given the price of the KLIA Trains, taxis are a reasonable option for anyone not travelling alone (so long as you don't let yourself get ripped off).
To KLIA: Any taxi can bring passengers to KLIA, including Kuala Lumpur's metered red-and-white taxis, although getting drivers to use the meter is hard work. If you fail in getting them to use the meter, make sure you agree on a price before setting off and should cost RM80 to RM100 in total and should include the airport surcharge (RM12) and expressway toll fees (which taxis get at half price).
Airport Limo Budget Taxi from Kuala Lumpur city to KLIA is RM64.40 for a Budget class car, ☎ 1300 88 8989 (24 hr), ☎ +60 3 9223 8080 (08:00-00:00), +60 3 8787 3030 (12 midnight-8AM)
Transfers by road
If you have your own wheels, KLIA is well connected to Peninsular Malaysia's expressway network. The airport is directly linked with the North South Expressway Central Link (known by its Malay abbreviation "Elite") about 70 km or nearly 1 hr away from Kuala Lumpur city centre. Exit the expressway at KLIA interchange for both the Main Terminal and LCCT.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) (to be closed on May 9, 2014)
The Low Cost Carrier Terminal opened in March 2006, and is used by AirAsia, Tiger Airways, and Cebu Pacific. Though this terminal is across the runway from the Main Terminal Building, a trip between the two involves bussing for 20km (RM2.50). From the Main Terminal Building, these buses depart from the Bus Terminal on the Ground Floor of the Car Park C building. At the LCCT, they can be found at the bus bays in front of the terminal. From the KLIA Ekspres train station, head to Level 2 and follow the signs to Car Park C and the Bus Station. The LCCT will be closed on May 9, 2014 and all low-cost carrier flight operations will be moved to KLIA2.
Transfers by train
Trains only serve the Main Terminal. However, you can buy a "KLIA Transit to LCCT" ticket (RM12.50/22 one-way/return), which includes a KLIA Transit to ERL Salak Tinggi Station and a free connecting bus to the LCCT.
Transfers by bus
Several bus operators run services to KL and other cities from the bus stands outside the terminal.
SkyBus and Aerobus run direct services (RM8) every half hour or so to and from KL Sentral. SkyBus can be prebooked with an AirAsia ticket during the initial flight booking for RM7.20 one way - but beware, that if you miss your flight or change your mind and decide not to travel it, the SkyBus fare, as well as other additional services on that booking, will not be refunded.
Star Shuttle (Tel: +60-3-40438811) has direct buses (RM8) to the Pekeliling Bus Terminal, Chinatown in central KL, Batu 3 (3rd Mile) Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur and also direct connections to the IpohTeluk Bintan at Bidoh and Setiawan. they also serve direct line to several hotels in the city to LCCT. Check its website for any changes of routes & schedules.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport's new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (KLIA2)
A gigantic new US$1.3 billion low-cost carrier terminal named as KLIA2 started operations on May 2, 2014, replacing the LCCT. Located about 2km away from the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB), all flight operations from the LCCT will be moved to KLIA2 by May 9, 2014.
All fly-thru passengers at KLIA2 are to connect via the Transfer Hall (Gate L), located between the domestic & international gates. There is no "air-side" transit between KLIA2 and the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB). All passengers have to clear Immigration and Customs upon arrival at KLIA2 before proceeding to the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB) to re-check in for flights and vice versa.
KLIA2 is linked to the KLIA Ekspres fast train from KL Sentral Terminal in the Kuala Lumpur city centre. Transfers between the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB) and KLIA2 via the KLIA Ekspres train service takes just under 3 minutes and costs US$0.60 cents. Apart from rail, KLIA2 is also served by public transport services including buses, taxis and car rentals. There are 6,000 covered car park spaces in KLIA2.
The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (IATA: SZB) (ICAO: WMSA), more commonly referred to as the Subang Airport, was the country's main international airport until KLIA was opened in 1998. As it is much nearer to the city centre and less crowded than the newer KLIA, it can make a convenient entry point for those flying from Singapore or other parts of Malaysia. After the opening of KLIA, it was designated for turboprop aircraft and is currently served by three airlines.
Subang Airport's Terminal 1 has been demolished. The Immigration Department utilise Terminal 2 for the issue of passports and local documentation.
Transfers by bus
Rapid KL bus U81 (destination Mah Sing and Pekan Subang) from the Sultan Mohd Bus Hub next to the Pasar Seni LRT station goes past the airport. The fare is RM3.00 one way and takes approximately 40 min in clear traffic. It can take nearly 1 hr and 30 min during peak rush hour.
Transfers by taxi
The airport is 25 km from the city centre and the best way to get there is by taxi.
Most important roads in Peninsular Malaysia lead to/from Kuala Lumpur. The city lies about midway along the North-South Expressway (Motorway) (NSE; route numbers E1 and E2) which runs from the Malaysia-Thailand border at Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru in the south, on the Malaysian side of the Causeway to Singapore. The main expressway exits for Kuala Lumpur on the NSE are Jalan Duta (from the north) and Sungai Besi (from the south).
A view from Dataran Merdeka
The Karak Highway (E8), which later turns into the East Coast Expressway, links Kuala Lumpur with the East Coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
For those who do not want to pay toll, Kuala Lumpur is on Federal Route One (the "Trunk Road") which, like the NSE, runs through all West Coast states of Peninsular Malaysia from Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru.
Those travelling along the West Coast Road (Federal Route Five) should leave the road at Klang and get to Kuala Lumpur via the Federal Highway.
Kuala Lumpur has several bus stations or terminals/terminuses/termini(Malay: stesen bas or hentian) which handle long distance express bus services; many destinations are served by more than one terminal. Note that usually you will need to exchange your ticket for a 'boarding pass' before boarding the bus, so it is advised to arrive at the bus terminal 10-15 minutes before the departure time (they say 30 minutes, but that is not necessary).
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS, Southern Integrated Terminal)
The main place for south-bound buses (i.e. towards Malacca, Johor Bharu and Singapore) is the gigantic & ultra-modern TBS in Selangor. TBS is in Bandar Tasik Selatan and is served by 3 train lines - KLIA Transit, the KTM Komuter Rawang-Seremban line, and the Sri Petaling LRT line.
Transnasional ☎, +60 3 20703300 is Malaysia's biggest long-distance bus company. Economy class departures to Singapore's Lavender Street terminal at 08:45, 10:30, 13:30, 17:30, 22:30 & 23:59 - RM30 one-way and takes 5 hr.
Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES ) ☎ +60 3 20701321) has several buses daily to/from the Golden Mile complex in Singapore.
The most central place for buses is Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya Bus Station). The station has quite bad navigation, after arriving by escalator from main street take stairs or elevator one floor above, where you will end up at toilets booth, from here cross parking lot towards east and you will reach very well hidden ticket counters. Especially on this floor you will meet very annoying ticket sellers following you, just ignore them, they are not dangerous, just annoying. Access to platforms is from floor with escalators, doors to platforms are not automatic, you must press button, so don't wait for it. If you have problems with breathing polluted air it's worth considering bringing face mask, since you will wait then in bus for long time to depart in underground level full of air polluted with bus engines which can make you little bit dizzy (it's the worst air you will experience anywhere in Malaysia). The nearest LRT station is Plaza Rakyat (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines).
Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES  ☎ +60 3 20313036) has departures at 10:30 & 23:00: RM45 one-way.
Alisan Golden Coach Express, Hentian Pudu Raya, ☎ +60 3 20322273 have three buses every day which leave Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai, departure at 09:00, 22:00 and 22:30, ticket around RM45, 7 hr journey.
Most East Coast services use this terminal which is in the northern part of the city centre on Jalan Putra near PWTC LRT station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) and Putra KTM Komuter station. Chow Kit monorail station is a 15 min walk away.
Many north-bound Transnasional express buses use this terminal which is located a distance to the west of the city centre on Jalan Duta.
The only convenient access is by taxi.
Kuala Lumpur Old Railway Station
The impressive old station (now just a KTM Komuter stop) is also a bus terminal. Rapid KL City Shuttle bus Nos. 109, 115 as stop here.
Plusliner luxury services (under the brand names "Nice" and "Platinum Service") are based here; destinations include Penang, Johor Bahru, Singapore and Hat Yai in Thailand.
Most other operators have banded together in one large shared booking portal Bus Online Ticket. The boarding locations are at various places like Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) / (Southern Integrated Terminal), Hentian Puduraya, Berjaya Time Squares.
Pekeliling Bus Terminal is on Jalan Tun Razak to the north of the city centre, and handles local bus services to some Pahang destinations like Genting Highlands, Bentong, Raub and Temerloh. Access: Titiwangsa station is within walking distance. Rapid KL City Shuttle No. B101, B102, B103, B104, B109.
Deluxe long-distance buses leave from all over the place:
Aeroline uses the Corus Hotel (on Jalan Ampang) serves as the terminal for express buses to/from Singapore. Access: KLCC station is 300m away. Rapid KL City Shuttle No. B103, B104, B105, B106, B114. The company also runs the same service from various locations around Klang Valley.
First Coach services to/from Singapore leave Bangsar LRT station.
Transtar uses the Pasar Rakyat bus station off Jalan Melati, a 5 min walk from Bukit Bintang.
Transnasional Executive Coaches to Singapore and Penang leave from the Malaysian Tourist Information Complex (MATIC) on Jalan Ampang, between KLCC and Bukit Nanas.
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
East Asia -Train Travel Map
KTM's intercity and international trains arrive at KL Sentral railway station: a large, modern transport hub located (despite the name) a fair distance to the south of the city centre. There are day and overnight trains to places as far flung as Singapore, Hat Yai in Thailand and Kota Bharu in Malaysia's north-east. Overnight trains are very reasonably priced and have two classes of sleeper accommodation (two-berth compartments and open sections, similar to Thai trains) both of which provide a comfortable night's sleep. Timetables and seat availability information is available online. The ETS express trains to Ipoh also stop at Kuala Lumpur's architecturally impressive and more convenient old station, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station near Merdaka Square and Pasar Seni LRT station.
Both old and Sentral stations are on the Kelana Jaya LRT line and are served by KTM Komuter trains. KL Sentral is also connected to the KL Monorail. A RM10 taxi coupon should be enough to get to most destinations in the city centre by taxi from KL Sentral. Taxi drivers outside the station are unlikely to be honest. Various services are available at KL Sentral, including showers (RM5 for shower only, RM15 for shower plus towel and toiletries) and baggage check in for certain airlines' customers.
Kuala Lumpur is not located by the sea. However, there are ferry connections to/from Sumatra (Indonesia) at Port Klang, about 40 km west of Kuala Lumpur. See the Port Klang article for details on how to get there.
Kuala Lumpur's ambitious public transport system is sufficiently developed to be fairly efficient and convenient, but much room for improvement lies in its integration.
The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralysing traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In the rush hours, consider combining various methods of transport. For example: soar over traffic jams by monorail then finish the journey by taxi.
Urban rail comes in four distinct flavours, which are not always fully connected:
LRT - run by RapidKL, which also runs the urban buses, it is the closest thing to a metro though it is mainly elevated on concrete pillars with only the most central stations underground. There are three lines: the Ampang line, the Sri Petaling line and the Kelana Jaya line. At some stations, different lines run on the same platform, which may be a bit confusing. Also LRT map with all lines is very rare at stations so don't forget to print it or save it in your mobile/phone in advance, there are also (almost) no trashbins in LRT system so prepare to carry your trash until leaving system.
KL Monorail - entirely elevated and loops through the Golden Triangle in a semicircle. Riding its whole length gives a good overview of the city centre.
KTM Komuter - two lines that meet in the city centre and run out to the suburbs, including the Batu Caves and Midvalley Mega Mall. Trains are not as frequent as on the LRT or Monorail: plan for a 20 min wait but 5-10 min is more likely. To get in/out KTM Komuter lines you are supposed to use turnstiles, but during 6/2013 turnstiles were switched off at Kuala Lumpur and Batu Caves stations, so don't bother trying and just pass through.
KLIA - trains run between KL Sentral and KL international airport. Express trains run direct. Transit trains stop at Putrajaya and Salak Tinggi en route.
Fares are cheap (from RM1). If it rains, you might get wet when transferring between lines. From 2012, connectivity between different LRT lines has improved a lot, passengers just need to purchase a single ticket for transferring between LRT and monorail lines or inside LRT system. A notable exception are the KTM Komuter lines, a separate ticket is still required for these lines. For buying LRT tickets you must use vending machine which takes maximum RM5 banknotes, worker in the booth will not sell you ticket, he will only change your banknotes to lower value and you have to use vending machine again, so be prepared with smaller denominations.
The Touch 'n Go  card (RM10 at major stations) can be used on all lines except the airport express. Photo ID is required to buy the card and it can only be bought on weekdays and part of Saturday. Concession prepaid cards are available but require proof of qualification.
Bukit Bintang (KL Monorail) - for shopping in the Golden Triangle
Bukit Nanas (KL Monorail) - for clubbing at P. Ramlee, within walking distance of the Twin Towers
KLCC (Kelana Jaya line) - for the Twin Towers and the Suria KLCC shopping mall
KL Sentral (Kelana Jaya line/KL Monorail/KTM Komuter/KLIA trains) - while not that central, it is a comprehensive hub with connections to buses and intercity trains
Masjid Jamek (all RapidKL lines) - LRT interchange and access to Chinatown and Little India
Plaza Rakyat (Sri Petaling line and Ampang line) - for Puduraya bus station
A few quirks:
The LRT lines have had various names in the past (Kelana Jaya line, PUTRA line; Ampang line, STAR line), don't be surprised to see signage different from the names listed here.
KL Monorail's "KL Sentral" station is not that close to KL Sentral. The way between the two is signposted and generally has a steady stream of people you can follow. Briefly: from the big station leave via the exit by Burger King, go down the stairs, turn left and follow road to the street corner, then take a right to the monorail.
Despite the monorail/LRT integrated ticketing system, you may lose your token at KL Sentral when exiting through the barriers to connect between the two lines, despite the ticket machine having happily sold you a fare for the full journey. The staff will just tell you to buy a new token for the rest of the journey. It's probably best to buy separate tokens for each leg, and may actually be cheaper.
Trains usually follow a timetable, with the period between trains decreased to two/three minutes at peak hours. However, if the "driverless" trains of the Kelana Jaya line breakdown, services may be disrupted for two hours or more, although such breakdowns are few and far between.
Double-decker KL Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing tour buses serve 42 notable places. There is free Wi-Fi on board. An information commentary is given through headphones. Tickets (valid for 24 or 48hrs) give unlimited use during their validity. Children under 5 ride free.
The buses are scheduled every half hour but waits may be as long as two hours due to traffic jams, so try to maximize use of the service outside rush hours.
Two new FREE bus services (i.e. GOKL City Bus)started 1st September 2012. The purple bus service starts at Pasar Seni and travels to the shopping area of Bukit Bintang where it links up with the green bus service that loops around KLCC. 
RapidKL operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but low frequencies (2-3 per hour on most routes) and the near-total lack of signs makes this a poor option for the casual visitor. The buses themselves have clear destination information; so if you happen upon one heading in the right direction, jump on board - though be prepared for cramped waits in rush hour traffic. For those (few) attractions best visited by bus, specific bus information is given at each place of interest on this page.
If you do venture on board a RapidKL bus, it's worth nothing that these buses are broadly divided in three categories:
Bandar (B) routes are city centre shuttles,
Utama (U) buses travel to outlying suburbs
Tempatan (T) buses are feeder services for train stations.
For all three RapidKL routes, you can either buy zone-based single tickets (RM1 for Zone 1, up to RM3 for Zone 4) on board, or use a Touch 'n Go card (not sold on board). In addition, Ekspres (E) services use the highways and cost a flat RM3.80. Buses run from 6AM-11PM or so, with no night services.
Normal red and white taxis (RM3 first 1km, then RM1/km) and bright blue executive taxis (RM6 first 1km, then RM2/km) are good options if you can get them to use the meter. There are also various small surcharges for radio call (RM2), baggage (RM1 per piece), etc.
The city's rail coverage is good enough so that you shouldn't take a taxi to most hotels and tourist hotspots. But, if you must take a taxi, expect many drivers to refuse to use the meter, particularly during rush hour or when it rains. Prices then become negotiable (before setting off) and inflated (2-10 times the meter price). Although this is illegal, the only realistic thing you can do is walk away and find a different driver. A cab hailed off the street is more likely to use the meter than one that stalks tourist spots or parked.
If stuck with a driver that won't use the meter, negotiate hard: RM10 should cover most cross town trips of 15 min or so, even with traffic. If staying in an expensive hotel, hide your affluence and give a nearby shopping mall as your destination instead. If you have lots of bags, try not to let him see it during negotiations. Malay drivers are generally more inclined to use the meter than Chinese or Indian ones.
Avoid going to a taxi stand and bringing a sheet of paper with your destination written down with the intention of showing it to the driver; you will have four or five of the drivers congregate and pass around your written address. They are most certainly discussing the best way to charge you an inflated price. Have your destination memorised or, even better, hail a taxi and avoid taxi stands.
Midnight surcharge is applicable on pickups 00:01-05:59. This surcharge means meter prices are increased by 50% (e.g. at 01:00, if the meter shows RM12, you should pay RM12+6).
During rush hour it's generally best to combine public transport with taxis.
A few popular places (notably both airports, KL Sentral, Menara KL and Sunway Pyramid Megamall) enforce a prepaid coupon systems, which generally work out more expensive than using the meter, but cheaper than bargaining. Taxis from Pavilion Shopping Mall's taxi counter cost the meter with a RM2 surcharge.
Some taxi drivers will hang around near hotels offering tours similar to those offered by established companies. Some of these drivers are quite knowledgeable and you may end up with a specially tailored, private tour for less than the cost of an official tour. Know the going rates before driving a bargain!
Booking of taxis can also be done via smartphone using the app called "Easy Taxi" or "MyTeksi", a free taxi booking app. Drivers are certified safe and all will use taxi-meters. The app will also allow you to call the driver directly, with the cool bonus of tracking him real-time on a map.
If you don't have a smart phone at hand, here are some telephone numbers to book taxies:
Swift Limousine & Cab ☎ +60 3 5669 2888 (www.swiftlimocab.com.my) - Better quality and always uses the meter but only has blue executive taxis. Has own iOS or Android app.
Kuala Lumpur has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and oft-confusing road signage. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motorcyclists who tend to weave in and out of traffic.
Do not park at the road of busy districts such as Bangsar or Bukit Bintang because other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back.
Renting a car is an option for travelling in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia.
The old centre of Kuala Lumpur fairly compact and the old buildings in various state of repair are great for exploring on foot. Even plodding between the colonial area and the new glass and steel sector (see walking tour below) is enjoyable outside the hottest hours of 11:00-15:00.
Major roads are well lit, making evening strolling undaunting and pleasant. Signs are clear and well placed and pavements are wide and uncluttered, but slippery in the rain. Shady tree-lined walkways provide shade on some of the larger roads. Pedestrian crossings are common and are generally respected by drivers. Jaywalking is technically illegal but overlooked (on-the-spot fine: RM 20/30 for tourists/locals if unlucky).
This circular walking tour (2-3 hrs) starts in Chinatown and loops through the modern Golden Triangle, missing the historic buildings of the old centre:
Start in Chinatown (Petaling Street)
Head towards the vertically striped wedge of the Maybank building. Head along Jalan Pudu, passing to the left of Pudu Sentral bus station. After 800 m, turn on to Jalan Bukit Bintang at the Royale Bintang Hotel.
Jalan Bukit Bintang is a major shopping street: stop for coffee at Bintang Walk, or check out the electronics mega-mall, Plaza Low Yat.
When Bintang meets Jalan Sultan Ismail and the monorail, turn left, following the monorail.
After 1km of Sultan Ismail, turn right on to Jalan P. Ramlee. This lead to the Petronas Twin Towers. Be amazed!
Head back down Jalan P. Ramlee
Merge onto Jalan Raja Chulan near the KL Tower and head back to the Maybank building and Chinatown.
If you're fortunate enough to do this walk on a typical Sunday afternoon you will find a calm and attractive city.
Like many cities in SE Asia, KL presents a great challenge for travellers with mobility impairments. Pavements are often in disrepair, curbs are high and curb cuts are often missing or inadequate. Wheelchair users will frequently find their path of travel obstructed (poorly designed or narrow sidewalks, parked cars, motorcycles, fences, stairs, trees, etc), and will rarely be able to travel more than 50 metres without having to backtrack or divert to the road. In many areas of the city, it is virtually impossible to travel without an assistant. Crossing the road or having to wheel on the road (in case the pavement is obstructed) can be very dangerous, as many drivers neither expect nor yield to wheelchair users. You will occasionally find accessibility features like ramps or elevators obstructed or unserviceable. A notable exception are the the KLCC and Bukit Bintang areas, where shopping malls and pedestrian areas are built to modern accessibility standards. Public buildings, hotels and malls provide an adequate supply of handicap toillets. Much of the rail system is inaccessible, most notably the monorail (which is in the process of being fitted with stair lifts, but is currently off limits). Some buses are equipped with ramps, but they are assigned haphazardly and do not run on a fixed schedule. Many locals will not be used to seeing people in wheelchairs, but will be generally helpful.
As expected of Malaysia's capital, the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, is almost universally spoken and understood. English is widely spoken in major cities and towns in Malaysia.
However, Kuala Lumpur, as Malaysia's main economic centre, is also home to Malaysians of different backgrounds and ethnicities, so unsurprisingly, many other languages are commonly heard as well. The ethnic Chinese form a slight majority in KL (as they do in many of Malaysia's larger cities), and Cantonese serves as the lingua franca of KL's Chinese community. Other Chinese dialects, such as Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka are also spoken by smaller numbers, but even native speakers of those dialects usually speak Cantonese as well. Ethnic Indians, mostly of Tamil descent, are also plentiful, so how about ordering your delicious curry in their language?
In reality, despite (or perhaps because of) an official policy to learn Bahasa Malaysia on almost all levels in the primary & secondary education, many non-Malays aren't appreciative of speaking the language and get along with each other mainly in English, which is great for visitors. English is widely spoken in Kuala Lumpur, and foreigners will generally not have a problem getting by with English though some locals might have trouble understanding you if you speak in a heavy accent. Mandarin, while no-one's first language, is also widely taught and understood among the Chinese community.
Kuala Lumpur is short on must-see attractions: beyond the Petronas Twin Towers, the real joy lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it.
KL hosts an amazing variety of architectural delights. The grandest old British colonial buildings lie in the city centre and include the former offices of the Colonial Secretariat (now the Sultan Abdul Samad Building) on Merdeka Square and the old Kuala Lumpur Railway station. They blend themes from the architecture of Britain and North Africa. On Merdeka Square's west side, looking like a rejected transplant straight from Stratford-upon-Avon is the Royal Selangor Club. Near Merdeka Square is Masjid Jamek, a charming Moorish-style mosque set at a confluence on the Klang River. The National Mosque, Masjid Negara, (1965) celebrates the bold ambitions of the newly independent Malaysia. The National Monument in the pretty Lake Gardens is inspired by the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. The ASEAN sculpture garden is nearby. Also in the lake gardens is Carcosa Seri Negara, the former residence of the British High Commissioner, which now houses an upmarket hotel and colonial-style tea rooms. While some buildings in the high-rise Golden Triangle, such as the KL Tower, are uninspired copies of other famous structures, the Petronas Twin Towers are truly marvelous.
Within the city centre is also the fascinating narrow streets of Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur's traditional commercial district, with its many Chinese shops and places to eat.
KL is hot, humid and sometimes crowded, so schedule some cooling off in air-conditioned shopping malls or restaurants. You may find that most attractions are only crowded on weekends and holidays and are otherwise deserted on weekdays.
See the respective district pages for more details.
Little India. Brickfield Street near by KL Sentral Station
KL is mainly known for its eating and shopping, which are adequately covered by the Eat and Buy sections.
Other activities include usual urban sports such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and horse riding. If you’re into rock climbing, the Batu Caves in the Northern suburbs is popular. However given Malaysia's stunning terrain, you’re better off heading to other places for anything more strenuous or challenging.
Several good theatres and performance halls have emerged as part of Malaysia's drive to encourage greater cultural expression. These include the National Theatre (Istana Budaya) and the KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in the northern part of the city, the KL Philharmonic in the Twin Towers, and the Actors Studio at Lot 10.
Leading museums in the city centre are the National Museum, which covers the region's history, and the well-regarded Islamic Arts Museum, which houses a small but captivating collection.
Pampering and spas can be found in several five-star hotels and independent centres in the Golden Triangle. There's also nail parlours and beauty salons, which are generally good value, there's also high-end ones offering similar services for a premium. Reflexology and foot massage places are everywhere, especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and in Chinatown.
Kuala Lumpur also has many theme parks around the city and in the surrounding cities. The most famous of these parks is Sunway Lagoon in the neighbouring city of Subang Jaya. The theme park has rides, a huge waterpark, an extreme park for adventure junkies, a scream park for those wanting a good scare, and a petting zoo for children. Sunway Lagoon is a 40 minute drive from central Kuala Lumpur in good traffic and can be reached by bus or taxi.
You can also watch the local football match at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras. Kuala Lumpur FA is a football team based in Kuala Lumpur and currently plays in the top divison of football in Malaysia. the Malaysia Super League. Match schedule and fixture can be seen at the KLFA website.
Skyscraper Gazing - glass and steel abound, but only one (rather a pair) shine. However, the view from the KL Tower is cheaper and better than that from the Twin Towers.
Malaysia has an ambitious internationalization strategy when it comes to higher education. There are world class, high ranking universities in Kuala Lumpur and because of the country's colonial past, the educational tradition is modeled on the distinguished Oxbridge framework (Oxford and Cambridge universities in the United Kingdom). Thus, most of the courses in, for example the country's two elite universities, University of Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia, are taught in English.
While KL is more of a concrete jungle compared to other parts of the country, there are some natural gems that are accessible by public transport.
Among them are:
FRIM Forest Reserve: You can get to FRIM via KTM Komuter. Stop at Kepong and grab a short taxi ride. The hikes are easy and you can go up a canopy walkway for RM5 to get a good view of KL on a clear day. There is a nice tea house in the FRIM compound where you can sample various types of local teas and snacks. Get there early as it is more likely to rain later in the day.
Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve : Located close to KL Tower, this urban jungle is a good respite from the city heat. The forest provides for an easy trek that you can enjoy on your own; but the many specimens are likely more appreciated through guided tours which are free and can be arranged from KL Tower.
Nature Escapes Malaysia  is a good website for more details on natural trails located within or a short drive away from KL.
KL Bird Park (free-flight walk-in aviary), 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, Taman Tasik Perdana (Next to Islamic Art Museum in the City Centre), ☎ +60 3 22721010, . 9AM-6PM. Great semi-wild habitat for many different species of mostly Asian birds. The Bird Park allows you to approach quite close to the birds which are skittish but not fearful for some very nice photos. A bit pricey, but makes for a nice long day in a mostly shaded area. Feedings and shows throughout the day give something to see at any time, and the 20+ acres provide plenty of area to walk and explore. The photo booth offers a wide array of tamed birds that will happily sit on you and pose for photos for a small price (RM8 per person: your camera, 2 birds; RM25 per print: glossy printout of your group covered in birds). Concession stands are priced fairly and offer drinks, ice cream, etc. Price for locals RM25/12, hidden under "MyKad" label. Price for foreigners:RM48 (adult), RM38 (child).
Near the KL Convention Centre is the Aquaria KLCC which contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish.
If you are taking an extended trip consider spending a week or more volunteering.
Nur Salam (Chow Kids), 24A-B Jalan Chow Kit, ☎ +60 3 4045 4021, . Volunteer with the street kids of Chow Kit (KL) to "help improve the quality of life for the children of Chow Kit whose parents are usually former and current drug addicts & sex workers in Kuala Lumpur". Chow Kids offers training for volunteers who wish to spend any amount of time interacting and helping these deserving children.
SPCA Selangor, Jalan Kerja Air Lama, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, ☎ +60 3 42565312/ +60 3 42535179, . SPCA Selangor is an animal welfare organisation dedicated to protecting defenseless animals and to alleviate their suffering. Volunteer to help out at the animal shelter, SPCA's marketing and communication department or SPCA's outreach events.
Zoo Negara, Hulu Kelang, Ampang, Selangor, ☎ +60 3 4108 22219 (email@example.com), . Love animals? Volunteer at the National Zoo - Zoo Negara outside the city. Simply fill out the Volunteer Form on the website and show up for a shift at the zoo in a variety of areas. Their volunteer website gives for more information.
KL's symbol, the Petronas Twin Towers
Starhill Gallery KL
The Pavilion KL
Shopping in Kuala Lumpur is one of travel's greatest pleasures! Kuala Lumpur alone has 66 shopping malls and it is the retail and fashion hub for Malaysia. Goods are available in every price bracket.
Suria KLCC is one of Malaysia's premier shopping destinations due to its location beneath the Petronas Twin Towers.
Kuala Lumpur's premier shopping district, the Bukit Bintang area in the Golden Triangle, resembles Tokyo's Ginza, New York's Fifth Avenue and Singapore's Orchard Road and has the highest concentration of shopping outlets in Kuala Lumpur, which cater to varying budgets. Bukit Bintang, which is part of the Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle, spans over 3 roads, namely Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Sultan Ismail. It houses various cafes, alfresco (open air) dining outlets and shopping complexes such as Berjaya Plaza, Berjaya Times Square, Bukit Bintang Plaza, Imbi Plaza, Kuala Lumpur Plaza, Lot 10, Low Yat Plaza, Pavilion KL, Starhill Plaza and Sungei Wang Plaza. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is a recent addition to the cluster of shopping malls in this area and houses a wide range of international retail brands in an ultra-modern complex. Fans of electronic gadgets would delight in the multitude of choices at Low Yat Plaza, whilst shoppers hunting for the latest in affordable Asian style should definitely check out Berjaya Times Square and Bukit Bintang / Sungei Wang Plaza. It is also the location of the largest single department store in Malaysia, SOGO Kuala Lumpur which is located at a landmark site on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, one of the best known shopping streets for locals in Kuala Lumpur.
Several popular malls lie outside the Golden Triangle. The Bangsar and Midvalley areas are home to some of the best shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, namely the MidValley Megamall and the adjacent upmarket The Gardens, the more cozy Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Centre in Bangsar. The Damansara area north-west of Kuala Lumpur, though not in the city-proper, it is one of the high concentration of shopping outlets in Kuala Lumpur. It houses various shopping malls like The Curve, e@Curve, Ikano Power Centre, IKEA, Cathay Multi Screen Cinemas, Courts Megastore, NiuXehSui Ara Damansara and 1 Utama (one of the top shopping centres in Malaysia).
There are also many shopping malls in the neighbouring cities of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya. Malls such as Sunway Pyramid Megamall in Petaling Jaya and Empire Subang in Subang Jaya are very nicely designed, and it is worth making the trip down to have a look even if you don't plan to buy anything.
Despite the onslaught of malls, Kuala Lumpur still offers some Asian tradition with traditional shopping streets and markets. The best area for such shopping is Chinatown in the City Centre. This district is also the best place to hunt for souvenirs, especially in Central Market, a former produce market which has been converted into an art and craft market. It is also known as Pasar Seni in Malay.
The Little India near Jalan Masjid India offers various fabric for use. Most of the fabrics are imported from countries like Indonesia, India and China while some are locally produced. Indonesian traditional batik and songket are traditional fabric commonly found in Central Market. For greater satisfaction choose the hand made ones. You may be interested to buy ready made baju kurung or baju kebaya (the traditional Malay blouse). For peace of mind, buy from the bigger stores(e.g. Hugoclothier). Some Thai handicrafts are also sold here, alongside handmade Malaysian wooden souvenirs.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia has kick-started the mega sale event for all shopping in Malaysia. The mega sale event is held thrice in a year—in March, May and December—where all shopping malls are encouraged to participate to boost Kuala Lumpur as a leading shopping destination.
Berjaya Times Square - Its currently the 13th biggest shopping mall in the world boasting 12 levels of retail with a total of 320,000 m² (3,5 million ft²). Although initially aimed at the upper-echelon of society. It is currently positioned as a middle-class shopping mall offering youth fashion targeted at the younger crowds. For entertainment, it has the largest indoor theme park in Malaysia located on the 7th floor of the building. It also offers an exciting cinematic experience with its 3D-Imax theatre located on the top floor of the retail podium.
Starhill Gallery - Starhill Gallery is probably the ritziest and luxurious mall in the whole of Kuala Lumpur alongside KLCC. A Louis Vuitton flagship outlet flank the exterior facade of this grand structure. Renowned fashion houses whether Gucci, Fendi, Valentino you name it. It can all be found here. There is a Food Galore on the Lower Ground floor which renders an excellent culinary experience in a cosy setting that exudes grandeur.
Pavillion KL - Built in late 2007, it is targeted at the middle-upper segment of society. It offers a diverse tenant mix which makes it one of the most successful malls in Kuala Lumpur. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur contains over 450 retail shops that are spread across seven levels. Parkson, Tangs, Golden Screen Cinemas and Harvey Norman are the anchor tenants of this mammoth 7-storey retail podium. There are a number of double-storey flagship stores, of which some are street-front fashion boutiques which constitute the shopping mall, such as Burberry Prosum, Esprit (occupies four floors), Gucci, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture, Prada, Versace and others. There are several fashion and luxury goods boutiques that encompass a large portion of the mall's retail floor area. Labels such as Paul Frank, Juicy Couture, Kiehl's, Thomas Pink, YSL, Jean Paul Gaultier, Zegna, Dianie Von Furstenburg, Bebe and Shanghai Tang opened their first stores in Malaysia within this shopping mall. Several eateries and cafés also exist in the shopping mall like fast food restaurants, coffeehouse chains and a Food Republic food court. Malaysia's previous prime minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad opened his very own bakery here located strategically at the entrance.
Fahrenheit 88 - Renamed and refurbished, now again open for business but as of October 2010 still many unopened stores, previously the deteriorating KL Plaza. Poised to be the new hub for the hip and trendy of Kuala Lumpur, consisting of 300,000 square feet of lettable space spread over 5 levels of zoned shopping space. There are designated zones for Japanese and Korean fashion consisting of an entire floor each. It is widely speculated that Swedish-fashion chain H&M and Japanese Uniql and Muji will make their Malaysian open here late in 2011.
Lot 10 - When opened in 1991, it was considered the Harrods-equivalent of Malaysia housing designer outlets like Aigner and Versace. Over the span of 2 decades, time has however taken a toll on this unique landmark mall which boasts a green facade. Nowadays it is widely-reckoned as a middle-class retail destination as most outlets have shifted as a result of competition and degradation. In 2009, Nicholai by Nicky Hilton and William Rast by Justin Timberlake opened their flagship stores to cater to the Malaysian market after widespread refurbishment to the mall at a cost of RM20 million. Debenhams also made a comeback in Bukit Bintang by opening a 3 floor departmental store here for the people living here in early 2010. Its roof boasts a Garden in the City concept featuring concept restaurants and trendy bars, designer clubs and a spanking new California Fitness gym designed none-other than Yuhkichi Kawai of Super Potatoes. If food is your thing, this is heaven. A cornucopia of Malaysia's best food is on the lower-ground, its food court Hutong is just awesome.
Low Yat Plaza - Also another veteran on Bintang Walk it remains the ultimate one-stop centre when shopping for electronic gadgets. The ratio between IT outlets and F&B outlets are 70:30. Do not let its fading white-hues fool you as it has a wide range of electronic goods selling at bargain prices considering the ringgit's sub-par value. Do not always be fooled by the pricing as some unscrupulous sellers may have switched original components of devices with fakes. Verify before purchasing.
Sungei Wang Plaza - Despite being 30 years old, it remains popular, although visitors more towards the younger crowd. It features trendy fashion at low prices. Shirts/tops ranging from RM15 (US$5) and RM50(US15). The focal point of youthful, to some, outlandish self-expression, this is the place where goths and cross-dressers roam without looking out of place.
Suria KLCC - Suria KLCC is one of Malaysia's premier shopping destinations due to its location beneath the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It is on 6 floors, with anchor tenants Isetan, Parkson, Kinokuniya, Tanjong Golden Village, Signatures Food Court, Marks & Spencer, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Suria is the native Malaysian word for Sunshine. It was opened on August 31, 1999. It houses mostly luxury and fashionable shops, as well as cafes, restaurants, a 12 screen cinema, a concert hall, an art gallery, and a Science Discovery Centre, over 6 floors. It is almost directly underneath the Petronas Twin Towers, the third tallest buildings in the world (and the tallest twin towers). It is one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations.
Great Eastern Mall - Great Eastern Mall is located at Jalan Ampang which adjoined with the Menara Great Eastern. Great Eastern Mall Amidst the embassy community, Great Eastern Mall is primed to be the favourite neighbourhood mall that offers a 'fine lifestyle and relaxation' shopping experience. Alexis, the popular eatery cum jazz bar also has an outlet here.
Ampang Park - Ampang Park is recognised as one of Malaysia's first shopping centres and is located located near Suria KLCC, in Kuala Lumpur. The complex is accessible with the Kelana Jaya Line via the Ampang Park station, which is located after the KLCC Station. The train station is located opposite the shopping complex. Ampang Park is on the northern outskirts of the Golden Triangle and has clothes and jewellery shops, and money changers. It is also known as the place to go for top to toe Malay fashion and is usually packed during Hari Raya. It also houses shops dealing in electrical and electronic equipment.
Avenue K - Avenue K is on Jalan Ampang, opposite Kuala Lumpur City Centre. With its bold tagline, "style has a new address", the complex is a hip shopping haven complimented by a classy, city-living address, "K Residence". Avenue K aims to create a "shopping culture, where lifestyle, aesthetic and social elements converge." It boasts internationally acclaimed fashion brands. Long suffering from below average occupancy, Avenue K has completed a facelift in October 2013.
Cuppa Coffee Boutique - Cuppa is located at 225 Jalan Jalan Ampang (sharing the same parking facility as D'Villa Residence), next to the Chinese Embassy and opposite the Thai Embassy. It offers a unique shopping experience with wide variety of coffee products. As Cuppa carries some hard to find coffee items, it is a favorite option for the local coffee lovers in need of coffee accessories and machines, most of which are also available online.
Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof - Better known as BSC, this high end shopping centre is a favourite among expats and the locals staying around the Bangsar & Damansara Heights neighbourhood. Plenty of cafes & restaurants - a good spot to meet up with friends. BSC also features speciality stores plus the Cold Storage Supermarket. Visit Burlington Tailor shop in BSC.
Bangsar Village, Jalan Ara - This is another favourite with those staying around Bangsar & Damansara Heights neighbourhood. Bangsar Village 2 is linked to the original Bangsar Village by a covered pedestrian bridge.
K.L. is a good place for an introduction to Malaysian food as most people speak English and can explain to you what's in the dish. Most restaurants close by 10PM, but in the city centre there's always a few 24hr kedai mamak (curry houses) or fast food places if you get stuck.
Delicious food can be very cheap too: just head to the ubiquitous roadside stalls or kedai kopi (literally coffee shop, but these are all about the food). These shops operate like a food court with many stalls selling a variety of food. Some coffee shops have tables and chairs by the roadside. Chinatown (especially Jalan Sultan, Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Petaling) in the city centre and Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle have some of the greatest concentrations of coffeeshops and stalls. They mostly open only at night.
Also extremely common are kedai mamak (curry houses). One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row (Tuanku Abdul Rahman). Along with full-blown curries, these places also serve roti canai (generally RM1 each), a filling snack that is almost half chapati, half pancake but certainly wholly delicious. It is served with dhal and curry sauce.
Shopping malls' food courts provide cheap Malaysian food in more hygienic conditions, although the prices will be a little higher. Lot 10 shopping mall in the Golden Triangle has a collection of 20 street vendors who were invited to relocate in the food court. While there are some international choices, the specialty here is Chinese.
Ethnic generalizations: Malay food can be found in Jalan Masjid India and Kampung Baru in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district. Chinatown is the best place for Chinese (especially Cantonese) food, although all kinds of Chinese cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, can be found all over Kuala Lumpur. Head to Lebuh Ampang in the city centre and Brickfields for Indian food. Bangsar has many high-end restaurants offering Western food. If you are dying for Korean food, head to Ampang Jaya. A lot of Arab and Middle Eastern restaurants have mushroomed in Bukit Bintang, Cyberjaya and Damai.
The Skybar KL
Kuala Lumpur has quite a vibrant night-life and the Golden Triangle is the epicentre of most of the partying which goes on in the city. Jalan P. Ramlee, just south of KLCC, is Kuala Lumpur's central clubbing area, while the action also spills onto Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Pinang and Jalan Perak. Nearby Bukit Bintang also throbs with action, and its neon-lit nightclubs, many of them with hostesses, certainly have a more Asian feel to them.
Changkat, in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district, is arguably the most popular nightspot in Kuala Lumpur. The entire Changkat area, focused around Changkat Bukit Bintang, is a vibrant place and has over 40 eating and drinking venues. It is on Changkat Bukit Bintang just off Bukit Bintang. For the budgetary person, almost every bar has a happy hour, usually from 5-9pm. During Wednesdays they have "Ladies Night" at many venues and ladies will often drink for free for a limited time. On weekends the prices are a bit steeper, but cheaper options are still available. Every Thursday and Saturday there is a pubcrawl in Changkat, which is a good way to save money and meet other travelers, locals and expats.
Bangsar has long been one of the busiest places in Kuala Lumpur after the sun goes down. The action is around Jalan Telawi and its side streets, and is definitely the place to go for clubbing and deafening music.
Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara in the Damansara and Hartamas district have popular pubs and some clubs as well as nice coffee places. You may be able to find live performances in some of the outlets.
After a tiring night out, Malaysians like to head to Mamak stalls - street side stalls or shops operated by Indian Muslims - which offer a range of non-alcoholic beverages like teh tarik (frothed tea) and light food. In fact, these stalls have also become night hangouts in their own right, and many outlets have installed wide-screen projectors and TV where they screen football matches. Most outlets are open 24 hours. They are found all over the city and are a wonderful part of the Malaysian night scene.
Another trend that has hit Malaysia is the kopitiam fad, a more upmarket version of the traditional Chinese coffee shop. These mostly open during the day and offer some of the best tea and coffee and light meals and snacks like nasi lemak (coconut flavoured rice with fried anchovies and peanut) and the ever popular toast with kaya (coconut curd, used as a spread). If you prefer Western style coffee, there are many coffee outlets in Kuala Lumpur: most of them are part of international and local chains like Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and San Francisco Coffee. Most of them can be found in shopping malls.
Budget accommodation can be found everywhere; dormitory beds can cost as little as RM12 per night, though RM20 and higher is common. Find the cheap ones online if cost is an issue. Increasingly, newer & better ones are opening in the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Chow Kit and Jalan Ipoh areas, the so-called growth areas in the city centre. An example is the Tune Hotel - Downtown KL on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Chow Kit area). If you are willing to take the 10 minute LRT to the main attractions, then hotels can be found for as little as US$16 per night with free WiFi, A/C, and breakfast often included.
If you are arriving on the overnight buses (arriving at 4AM) from the east coast islands, buses will stop at Hentian Putra in the Chow Kit area.
Mid-range hotels are comparatively poor value in Kuala Lumpur, and it is worth it to spend a little extra (or look a little harder) for a true luxury hotel on the cheap. Kuala Lumpur is similar in price to Bangkok for 5 star luxury hotels, with rooms available for as little as RM400 or even less (internet rate for single occupancy in the luxury 5 star "Traders Hotel" is around US$100. Other luxury hotels include The Hilton, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, Shangrila and JW Marriot. Prices will vary seasonally.
Please see the individual Kuala Lumpur district pages of a list of places to stay.
Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia., ☎ +603 2717 9900, . checkin: 1500; checkout: 1200. Located in the heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur is conveniently nestled within the capital’s business and commercial district. The hotel is the destination for both business and leisure travellers seeking a true Malaysian hospitality experience. The hotel is minutes away from KL's world-famous landmarks such as the KLCC, Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. All 385 measure from 42 square metres, and feature lavish Indian silk linens, plush bed sheets with comfortable pillows on a soft inviting Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ Bed, overlooking a panoramic view of the city's skyline. The Sheraton Club Lounge on the 38th floor caters to guest who requires extra comfort and privacy. Outdoor swimming pool overlooking the scenic view of KL Tower. Fully equipped gym.
Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, No 2, Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur Sentral 50470 Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Sentral), ☎ 60 3 2263 7888, . Strategically located at Kuala Lumpur business hub, the 35-storey hotel is easily accessible through integrated rail connections and only 28 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport via the KLIA Express Rail Link and 10 minutes away from Bukit Bintang and Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) via the available train services.All 420 guest rooms are fully equipped with broadband dataport, two IDD phone lines with voicemail and satellite TV that comes with fitted dvd player. The Club Lounge on the 33rd floor caters to guest who requires extra comfort and privacy.Free-form outdoor swimming pool spanning over 120 meters with its unique sun deck chairs partly immersed in water. Fully equipped gym.
Times Square, 2 BR Apartment, . checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00pm. Boasting splendid views that are different by day and by night, this centrally located apartment has attractions such as Little India, Central Market, Batu Caves a hop, skip and jump away. Perfect for shopaholics, business travellers, young families and the foodies. USD142.
The Westin Kuala Lumpur, 199 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia., ☎ +603 2731 8333, . checkin: 1500; checkout: 1200. Located in the city along the pulsating streets of Jalan Bukit Bintang and minutes away from the Petronas Twin Towers; 443 guest rooms. The Westin Heavenly Bed® is available in all the rooms, together with luxurious bathrooms, with deep soaking bath and separate shower. Six signature restaurants or lounge; pool outside. USD150. (3.13900,3.13900)
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Sentral), . A new tWist in travel arrives in Kuala Lumpur Sentral with an urban-influenced design concept. Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is a refreshing alternative on the Kuala Lumpur hotel scene offering spacious, loft-like rooms with high ceilings and a savvy environment. The perfect getaway to the city, Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is only 28 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and connected to the main KL transportation hub such as the KLIA Express, KL Monorail, KL North – South Commuter and the Light Rail Transit. The hotel is also located adjacent to a main shopping centre and 3 office towers and is the heart of the new central business district. USD 120. (3.382,101.68707)
Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur, No 8 Jalan Madge 55000 Kuala Lumpur (U-thant area behind US Embassy, opposite U-Thant Residences), ☎ +603-21432300 (firstname.lastname@example.org), .
Villa Samadhi, Kuala Lumpur
Best described as Kuala Lumpur's ultimate treat to nest in. This ravishing villa-in-a-room boutique hotel is one-of-a-kind in the capital city. Tucked within an upscale locale just 10 minutes drive from town, Villa Samadhi becomes an immediately accessible respite to restore soul into one’s exhausted self. Its collection of 21 contemporary Asian-inspired rooms, with each spanning from 600 square-foot to over 2000 square-foot of living spaces are accented with a collage of elements to create a raw yet sophisticated Asian dwelling. Discreetly recede from street view, the most distinguishing feature of Villa Samadhi is the massive, soaring grass thatched-roof that shouts 'Malaysia'. But most eye-catching is the mysterious-looking multi-layered thatched roof structure of the rooftop bar-lounge ‘Bumbung’ which is floating above all else. Open the bamboo-clad gate and the surprise is over, a façade in absolute russet harmony.(3.156349,101.72621)
Carcosa Seri Negara | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Taman Tasik Perdana, Persiaran Mahameru, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☎ +603 2295 0888, . Tucked away in the secluded Lake Gardens area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Carcosa Seri Negara is still within considerable distance from several points of interest in the city. Here, you'll relish the hotel's tranquil setting and yet be near enough to enjoy the city’s bustle.
PODs The Backpackers Home, 1-6, No 30, Jalan Thambipillay, Brickfields, 50470, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☎ +60322601434 (email@example.com), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. PODs provides an affordable budget accommodation for backpackers and travelers. Located a stone’s throw away from KL Sentral, the city's main travel hub where most of trains and buses are in and out of the city, PODs provides easy and convenient access to both airports (KLIA & LCCT), most of the city's main attractions as well as intercities. PODs guarantees a cozy and relaxing atmosphere, free light breakfast, free wifi, safe box for laptop and gadget storage, lockers, clean linen, towel and more.MYR30-75.
Hotel Budget Inn Jalan Alor, 74, Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☎ +603-21442177 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Hotel Budget Inn provides an affordable budget accommodation for travelers. Free WIFI.MYR30-95.
Best Western Premier Dua Sentral, No. 8 Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☎ +603-2272-8888, . Best Western Premier Dua Sentral is a hotel in KLCC that is just 28 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport via the KLIA Express and 30 minutes from Bukit Bintang. It offers 357 contemporary and versatile rooms and suites equipped with individually controlled air-conditioning, rain shower and mini-bar, which have been designed specifically for the comfort of business and leisure guests alike. Some of its facilities and services are Wi-Fi internet access, Bhuvana Spa Luxe, infinity swimming pool & children's pool, concierge service, car park with valet parking service and room services. Among other tourist destinations from the hotel are: KL Sentral, Chinatown, Little India and KL Tower.
BackHome, 30, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, 50000 Kuala Lumpur (Near the intersection with Jalan Gereja), ☎ +603 2022 0788, . checkin: 3:00 pm; checkout: 12:00 noon. Clean, cosy, friendly hostel with private rooms as well as 4- and 6-bed dorms (mixed or female). Free Wi-Fi, 24-hour check-in with pre-arrangement with staff (night watchman on duty outside of hours). Attached cafe and secluded courtyard. Common room for escaping the afternoon thunderstorms. Located close to public transport and the various options for food from Chinatown.Varies, but around USD$15 for a dorm bed. (3.148722,101.697817)
Internet cafés are quite plentiful in Kuala Lumpur and you can find them in most shopping centres. If you have your own laptop, Maxis'  WLAN service is the best deal around, a prepaid RM15 card gets you unlimited use for 2 weeks. Many hotels provide free internet access and connections. Free Wi-Fi is also available in many cafes, restaurants and shopping centres. A few examples:
Malaysia Tourism Centre (MTC), 109 Jalan Ampang (between KLCC and Dang Wangi), . Formerly MATIC, this tourist information centre has a wealth of information on Malaysia, occasional cultural shows, surly staff and semi-crippled but free PCs for browsing the Net.
Starbucks, Coffeebean, Burger King and Macdonalds - offer free Wi-Fi
Air Asia Counter in KL Sentral Several computers with internet access are available for you to check out the Air Asia website (and maybe glance at your e-mail or the news quickly)
Kuala Lumpur is ostensibly a liberal city and wearing revealing clothes will rarely cause major problems. However, avoiding overly revealing clothes goes a long way towards blending in.
Many mosques and temples require covering up, and you will get more respect from officialdom if you dress up a little. Many places of worship including all mosques will require you to take your shoes off before entering.
If you can speak just a few words of the four main local languages, namely Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese (especially Cantonese), Tamil and English, it will ingratiate you a lot with the locals.
Also, while you may drink in pubs, restaurants and bars, public drunkenness is not tolerated. You will be more vulnerable to getting robbed or will find yourself in the back seat of a police car.
Tap water in Kuala Lumpur is heavily chlorinated and thus safe, but unfortunately the pipes that carry it may not be. Most locals boil or filter it before use; alternatively, bottled water is cheap and ubiquitous.
There is no malaria in the city, but dengue fever can be a problem at times, so take precautions against mosquitoes.
Between May and October, Kuala Lumpur is occasionally shrouded in dense haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo, which can be a health concern for asthmatics and pretty unpleasant for everybody. However, the haze comes and goes, and varies greatly from year to year: it was terrible in 2006, but non-existent in 2007, and had started again in 2008 and very clean after 2009 onward. However, in June 2013 the smog was so severe that a state of emergency was declared.
Crime is not rampant in Kuala Lumpur. The perception of crime is high, but in recent years the Malaysian police have managed to reduce crime significantly in and around urban Kuala Lumpur. Reports of violent crime against foreigners are uncommon but instances of pick pocketing and bag snatching have risen in recent years. Police presence, particularly around tourist areas and at night has increased in recent years. Kuala Lumpur is generally safe for travellers (it is locals who are often the targets of crime).
- Confidence Tricks
- Scratch and Win Scams are rampant in all over Malaysia. Victims are given reward tickets to scratch/tear/peel off on spot to see if they win prizes. In these cases, victims would be informed that they had won prizes in foreign lottery or lucky draws. The scammers would ask victims to make advance payment if they wanted to claim their prizes. They would even offer victims car rides to withdraw the large sums of money, reported a local news source. After which, victims would realise that the prizes never existed or were of lower value than previously promised.
- Poker Scams involving friendly locals. They normally target lone tourists in popular tourist places. It starts with a friendly approach and an invitation to their home to chat and learn about your country. Then comes poker, accumulated losses and the loss of your cash and jewellery. Such scams can also happen through couchsurfing.
- Bogus Cops, usually Middle-Easterners. You will be stopped by "plain-clothed police officers" on the pretext of checking your travel documents. You will be brought to a secluded area in the process and made to handover your wallet. Should you be stopped, you have the right to insist that you be taken to the nearest police station before saying/showing anything. While undercover policemen generally patrol the city center, they are mainly serving the vice department. A genuine police officer will be able to produce his or her police I.D. card, which is a combination of white and dark blue in color.
- Refusing to use meters. Taxis are generally safe, but they often refuse to use the meter and a few cabbies will gouge tourists mercilessly. If they refuse to use the meter, then take another taxi, as by law they are required to use the meter. However, if you are desperate to use that taxi, always agree on the fare in advance, and try to get an estimate of the cost from a local before you climb on board. Many also pretend to not know your hotel and will bring you to their preferred hotels by saying that your hotel is in a bad area, closed or far. A good idea would be to buy a public transport map and get well acquainted with the locations of stations, train times, etc. If you can use a train or bus to get to a place, it would be cheaper and safer to do so.
- Airport Taxis. At the Airport, unscrupulous taxi drivers pretending to be customer service staff may try to steer tourists to much more expensive mini-buses or taxis and try to charge RM90 for them. It is recommended to purchase taxi coupons at the airport arrival halls.
- Counterfeit Currency
Counterfeit banknotes (such as RM50) may be given as change by a dishonest taxi-driver: the easiest way to tell being to hold it up to the light to see the continuous silver strip. If in doubt, avoid and refuse larger notes.
- Street Safety
- Walking in the city is usually fine but, as anywhere, caution must be exercised, especially if alone. Snatch thieves can be rather ruthless: women have been injured by purse-grabbers on motorcycles. If this happens to you, let go of the bag rather than be dragged several metres and risk injury. Hold your bag away from the street side and try not to appear flashy if possible. Be wary in alleyways or parking grounds that appear dark and deserted, petty thieves with knives or firearms might mug you.
- During the rains, pavements and streets become small rivers and crossing a street can be an adventure. Pavements become as slippery as ice so wear proper footwear.
- Local Laws
- Public drunkeness is illegal in Malaysia.
- Carry Your Passport. Malaysian law requires that visitors carry their passport at all times, and both police and "RELA" (civil volunteers) carry out spot checks for illegal immigrants.
Locals are very friendly to the tourists, and many in Kuala Lumpur can speak decent English. Communication with the locals is almost as easy as it is in Singapore and significantly better than in Bangkok or many other Asian countries. Greet people with a warm smile and they will be happy to show you around. Be friendly: if you are lost, just ask anyone smartly dressed on the street.
Embassies and High Commissions
Argentina (General Mail: email@example.com), Suite 16-03, 16th floor Menara Keck Seng (203 Jalan Bukit Bintang 55100 Kuala Lumpur), ☎ +60-3-2144-1451. 9:00 - 17:00.
Singapore, Level 15, West Wing, The Icon, No.1, Jalan 1/68F, Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ☎ +60 3 2161 6277 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +60 3 2161-6343), . Mon - Fri : 8.30 am - 5.00 pm.
Romania, 114, Jalan Damai (Off Jalan Ampang), 55000 Kuala Lumpur, ☎ +60 3 2142 3172, +60 3 2148 2065, .
Genting Highlands - 40 min by road on the East Coast Highway, has cooler weather, theme parks for the kids and a casino for the adults. Easily accessible by buses from KL Sentral. However the outdoor theme park has been announced that it will closed for 3 years for the reason of making way for Twentieth Century Fox Theme Park on 1st of September.
Putrajaya - Malaysia's megalomanic new federal administrative centre is 30 km to the south (20 min by KLIA Transit train).
Kuala Selangor - 1 hr north-west of Kuala Lumpur, is notable for its fireflies that flash in unison, and seafood restaurants.
Klang - former Royal city with a few interesting old buildings and restaurants.
Sungai Tekala Recreation Park - 40 min south of Kuala Lumpur (near Hulu Langat District's Semenyih Dam) is a favourite recreation park with comfortable jungle trekking in concrete steps and natural waterfalls suitable for families.
Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) - at the mouth of the River Klang and its Chinese fishing villages make for an interesting day trip. Take the train to Port Klang (RM5, 1h30) then the boat to the island (RM7, 45 min).
Malacca - if you have more days to spend in Malaysia, a must-visit is the historical town of Malacca, which is one of the UNESCO's World Heritage sites. Steeped with history of its Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial period, you will find this town to be rich in culture and history.
Ipoh - 90 minutes by train for cuisine, a water theme park, hot springs, Rafflesia flower, caves and colonial buildings.
Cameron Highlands - about 200 km from Kuala Lumpur or 85 km from Ipoh, offers cooler weather and lovely highland landscapes. You will be able to visit tea plantations, vegetable farms, strawberry farms and nurseries, as well as soak in the colonial history of this plateau. Colonial cottages and bungalows as well as modern hotels, resorts and luxurious hilltop retreats can be found here. Bird-watching, jungle trekking and other outdoor activities are also available.
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