Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Malaysia : West Coast (Malaysia) : Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur , or simply KL, is the capital of Malaysia. Literally meaning "muddy estuary" 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. With some of the world's cheapest 5-star hotels, cheap and great shopping and even better food, increasing numbers of travellers are discovering this little gem of a city.
Kuala Lumpur is a sprawling city and its residential suburbs seem to go on forever. The city also merges with the adjacent cities of Petaling Jaya (originally developed as a satellite town), Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and Port Klang, creating a huge conurbation called the Klang Valley. The city can be divided into the following areas, each of which offers a particular attraction or activity.
This district also merges into the northern part of Petaling Jaya.
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. Like most of Malaysia's big cities, about 55% of Kuala Lumpur's population is of Malaysian Chinese descent.
KL, as hip and cool Kuala Lumpur gets, is a city locked in a "sibling" rivalry with its neighbouring sister city-state of Singapore. Its predicament started, depending on how one sees it - when ethnic Chinese-dominated Singapore withdrew from the Bumiputra majority Malaysian Federation, or Malaysia kicked her out for being a hard-headed member. Whatever it is, this political blunder that needs face saving has its outcome that proves to be a win-win for everybody. As Singapore, paranoid of being devoured by Malaysia Saddam Iraq-Kuwait style, aimed to be economically and politically a force to reckon with, keeps on raising up the ante, but Malaysia keeps on competitively closing in, never out of the game.
Another motivating factor for KL is that it sits on the very geo-politically strategic and economically lucrative Bangkok-Jakarta corridor. This lane is the superhighway for Asian growth sitting on the cultural, natural, and manpower-resources rich powerhouses of Southeast Asia - Thailand and Indonesia. And Singapore lies exactly in the middle of this. KL, wanting to get the piece of that action, does not want to be left behind while Singapore wants to maintain its status-quo epicenter position. So the tension keeps on building up.
No matter how fierce the competition is, it is kept at bay civilly and subliminally.
It now came to a point that the two cities, as one would realize, are almost culturally the same. It's just a matter of where you are. If you are on the Singaporean side, the Chinese culture is a little bit dominant, while on the Malaysian side, the Malay or Bumiputra culture is just a little bit on the edge. But there is no very distinct cultural difference between the two, the same ingredients in one melting pot. In fact the two cities have been too enmeshed with each other that people from both carry the same Singlish accent - a rythmic set of ascending tone and marked dropping staccato, repititiously in a sing-song style.
And as Kuala Lumpur tries to keep up with the Joneses, whatever Singapore has, KL is always on the lookout, aiming to attain. If Singapore has a super first class airport, so does KL. When Singapore aspired for an efficient urban transport system, KL too did it. As Singapore attains to be clean and green, so does KL. Everywhere you go, there are swats and strips of manicured public lawns, refreshing jungle-like parks - just like in Singapore. If Singapore has a aquatic park and a bird park, so does KL. Same thing with orchid park and butterfly park. If Singapore renovates and paints its colonial shop houses with tutti frutti colors, so does KL. If Singapore builds lots of theme parks, so does KL. And if Singapore aimed for a shopping mecca and builds a plethora of shopping malls with all sorts of gimmicks, so did KL. What Singapore has, KL matches. So if you've been to Singapore, you will have seen it all in KL, a bit of de ja vu, or vice versa.
Sophistication and Integration are the keywords in describing KL's transporation system. All modes of transport-air, inter-regional train, intra-urban train, inter-regional bus, intra-urban bus, and taxi as well are all linked together and one may easily switch from one to another. It strives to ultra-modernize and chic-europeanize its terminals be it land, sea, or air, a far cry from its humble barrio beginnings. The master planners and the Malaysian government was and is wise, smart, and visionary to know that the key to progress is efficient transportation.
But sophistication does not equate easily to efficiency. As KL strives to be at equal with the first class cities of Europe, equipped with the bells and whistles of internet booking, steel and glass facilities, cool signages and interiors, the whole system has become mind boggling that a first time visitor-tourist, no matter how urbanite and street savy he is will take at least a day to decipher the scheme of things in the system. Just imagine how did an urban train transport system came to have three names? What is the difference between the MRT, LRT, and Monorail when they are all overhead trains running north to south, east to west, or around the metropolis. If it were Los Angeles, London, or New York, they would be termed only as one - either the Metro, the Tube, or the Subway, period. And they may just be distinguished either by direction (example is the North Line) or by color (the Gold Line).
And as KL strives to be more sophisticated, there will be more airports and abbreviations to memorize, there will be more integrated bus and train terminals to juggle in the head, etc., etc.. And when it comes to fancy naming, there is one term that seems to give a misconception, the SkyBus. What is it - an express bus or an airplane? An attempt to pick the brains of each of the information personnel on each of these terminals was just done recently and it is so beyond them that they couldn't give an overall view, or they dismissed it right away that it may reveal how little they know.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
All scheduled air flights, whether domestic or international, arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport  (IATA: KUL ICAO: WMKK) located about 50km to the south of Kuala Lumpur, in the Sepang district of Selangor. The US$2.5bil modern structure of glass and steel was inaugurated in 1998 and has been ranked as one of the top airports of the world. It replaced the former Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in Subang, which is now used for chartered and turboprop flights. Over 50 airlines call at KLIA. Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) opened in March 2006, and is currently used by AirAsia , Tiger Airways , and Cebu Pacific . Though the LCC Terminal is across the runway tarmac from the Main Terminal Building, it is nearly 20 km away by road. Frequent shuttle buses connect the two terminals, costing RM2.50 per trip. At the Main Terminal Building, catch the shuttles at the Bus Terminal on the Ground Floor of the Car Park C building, while at the LCCT, wait for the buses at the bus bays right in front of the terminal. If you are transferring from the KLIA Ekspres train, make your way to Level 2 and follow the signs to Car Park C and the Bus Station.
Be careful when locating the transfer bus from the main terminal to the LCCT, as taxi drivers giving the appearance of being airport customer service personnel will try to steer tourists to a mini-bus or taxi with a cost many times greater than the actual LCCT transfer bus. Frequently they will ask for a fee similar to a taxi ride into Kuala Lumpur, typically RM90. A gigantic new LCC Terminal is being built close to the Main Terminal and will be called "KLIA2", due for completion in 2012. It will also be linked to the KLIA Ekspres fast train from KL Sentral Terminal in the city centre. Transfers - Main Terminal By train:
Alternatively, you can take the bus to the LCCT then connect to KLIA. Note that taxis hovering outside, near where the airport shuttle buses depart from, will try to get your business claiming that trains and the Monorail are not working, or finished for the day. Always check these schedules before believing a word the taxi drivers say. By taxi:
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. Transfers - Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) By train:
By road: The LCCT is about 20 km from the Main Terminal and can be accessed via the KLIA circular or airport cargo road. Shuttle buses link the 2 terminals for RM2.50 one way.
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 two airlines.
Subang Airport's Terminal 1 has been demolished. The Immigration Department utilise Terminal 2 for the issue of passports and local documentation. Getting there/away: The airport is 25 km from the city centre and the best way to get there is by taxi. 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.
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).
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.
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) / (Southern Integrated Terminal)
Since March 2011 all south-bound buses (ie towards malacca, Johor and Singapore) leave from the gigantic & ultra-modern TBS in Selangor. (North-bound buses operate from Puduraya). TBS is in Bandar Tasik Selatan and is served by 3 train lines - KLIA Transit on the KL Sentral-KLIA route, KTM Komuter on the Rawang-Seremban line, and the LRT on the Sri Petaling line.
Puduraya bus station reopened in April 2011 and is now called Pudu Sentral. It serves northern and inter-city buses. Southern buses operate from the new Tasik Selatan Integrated Transport Terminal. Access is from Plaza Rakyat station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) within walking distance; many local bus stops are nearby. To/from Hat Yai, in Thailand:
Most East Coast services use this terminal which is in the northern part of the city centre on Jalan Putra. Access: PWTC station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) and Putra station (both KTM Komuter lines) are within walking distance. Also the Chow Kit station (Monorail train) is only 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. Access: the only convenient way is by taxi.
Kuala Lumpur Old Railway Station
Now used as a bus terminal, but still handles commuter trains on both KTM Komuter lines, also accessible via Rapid KL City Shuttle No. 109, 115. 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:
KTM's intercity trains arrive at the new KL Sentral  railway station, located (despite the name) a fair distance to the south of the city centre. Take the Putra LRT, which goes from Kelana Jaya in Petaling Jaya to Gombak in Kualar Lumpur, KL Monorail to the city centre or RM10 coupon taxi to most destinations in the city centre. Note that taxis hovering outside, near where the airport shuttle buses depart from, will try to get your business claiming that trains and the Monorail are not working, or finished for the day. Always check these schedules before believing a word the taxi drivers say. Most services are available at the station, including showers (RM5 for shower only, RM15 towel and toiletries too).
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.
The first phase of Kuala Lumpur's ambitious public transport system is now complete, the city's public transport system is fairly efficient and convenient, but there is still a fair amount of room for improvement to the system's integration. The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralytic traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In rush hours, it may be worthwhile combining public transport by different means. For example: soar over traffic jams by monorail to the station closest to your destination and thereafter take a taxi for the final leg.
Kuala Lumpur's public transport system consists of 3 LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines. These are operated by:
Fares for these services are cheap (RM1.2 and up), although connectivity between different lines is poor due to inadequate integration. Do be aware that you cannot buy a ticket to a different LRT line (i.e. you have to purchase it at the connecting station), and if it rains, you might get wet when travelling to the connected line because they are fully covered. The Touch 'n Go  card, which can be purchased for RM10 at major stations, can now be used on all lines except the airport express. There is also a concessions prepaid card for purchase if required, but you need to show some identification to prove that you are qualified for the service. Some particularly convenient LRT stations:
A few quirks:
The double-decker KL Hop-on Hop-off  bus service includes 42 sightseeing places. The buses have free Wi-Fi on board. Each passenger is provided with a multi-lingual commentary headset. You can ride and get off this bus throughout the day as long as you can show the ticket. The ticket prices vary between adults and concession groups (i.e. 5-12 year olds, students, the disabled), and are valid for either 24 or 48 hours depending on the type of ticket purchased. Children under 5 can board for free. Although the hop-on-hop-off service is extremely convenient, be prepared for a long waiting time as the buses are not always punctual. The buses are scheduled every half hour but intervals may be as long as two hours due to traffic jams, so it may be best to use the service outside of rush hours. If you want to get full value of your time and money of this service, get on the bus early in the morning and/or buy the 2days-option, because of the time you can spend at each site, and the time for travelling (and waiting) between the sites. RapidKL  operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but the low frequencies (20-30 min on most routes) and the near-total lack of signs make this a poor option for the casual visitor, and at rush hour buses can be jam-packed. 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:
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.
With RM3 flagfall (2 km) and around RM0.90/km afterward, red and white normal taxis are reasonably priced and probably the best way to get around, at least outside the congested peak hours. Bright blue executive taxis have a RM6 flagfall and also charge a bit more by the kilometre. There are also various small surcharges for radio call (RM2), baggage (RM1 per piece), etc. While all taxis are supposed to use the meter, drivers may be reluctant to use it and will often demand a fixed price, always higher than the price when using the meter, before commencing travel. This is especially so when demand exceeds supply, such as during the rush hour or when it rains, when the price demanded of tourists can be up to 2-10 times the meter price. This is technically illegal (and reportable) and happens most often with cabbies who lurk outside hotels, stations and major malls, while they wait for unwary tourists to come along. Hail cabs off the street if you can, but if you must, at least negotiate hard: RM5 should cover most cross town trips of 15 min or so, even with traffic. If you are staying in an expensive hotel, give a nearby shopping mall as your destination instead. Generally speaking, Malay taxi drivers will be more willing to use the meter than Chinese and Indian ones. It is cheaper to use the meter through the day, although the opposite is true late at night, and especially after midnight, when the displayed meter price at the end of the journey is increased by 50% (i.e. at 1AM, if the meter shows RM12, then you have to pay RM12+6). A few popular places (notably both airports, KL Sentral, Menara KL and Sunway Pyramid Megamall) enforce prepaid coupon systems, which generally work out more expensive than using the meter, but cheaper than bargaining. Taxi Services from Pavilion Shopping Mall's taxi counter is using approved taxi meter with only RM2 surcharge. Combining public transport with taxis can sometime make trips quicker if there are traffic jams. Some taxi drivers will hang around near hotels offering tours similar to those offered by established companies. Feel free to listen to their offers and bargain with them if you like. Some of these cabbies are quite knowledgeable and you may end up with a specially tailored, private tour for less than the cost of an official tour. If you get so off the beaten track that you need to call a cab, here are some telephone numbers:
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. You may rent a car from the provider below:
Depending on your age, physical fitness and urban inclination (or lack thereof), Kuala Lumpur is a fine city for walking and has clear, well-placed signage. Street signs are jumbo sized, blue with white lettering at eye level. Most corners have multi-directional pointers. There are city maps in places. Tiled pavements are 5 m in width, on average (a warning: treacherously slippery at sloped curb sides). Main arteries are boulevard broad and tree-lined. Most intersections have bright, yellow striped pedestrian crossings. While traffic can be daunting at times, it rarely moves fast enough to be seriously hazardous. Beware of speeding and criss-crossing motorcyclists, though! Kuala Lumpur can be very hot and humid. To keep your walks comfortable, avoid walking between 11AM- 3PM, when the sun is at its hottest. Wear comfortable clothing and carry water with you. There are generally many shopping malls in the Golden Triangle area so if your walk is planned around that area, the occasional stop in an air-conditioned mall to cool down will feel very good. Be careful when jaywalking on major streets, especially near downtown. The police occasionally crack down on jaywalkers in a public awareness campaign. Luckily, the on-the-spot fine is light (RM 20/30 for tourists/locals), and the whole process is over in a few minutes, but they will check your passport for travel documents. If you see large groups of traffic officers on both sides of a road, it's probably a smart idea to use the designated crossing areas. Here is a walking tour (circle) that encompasses the main centre attractions (2-3 hr):
If you're fortunate enough to do this walk on a typical Sunday afternoon you will find a calm and attractive city.
As with much of the rest of Malaysia, Malay is the main language in Kuala Lumpur, and almost universally spoken by everyone. However, being Malaysia's capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur is a mosaic of Malaysians of many different cultures and ethnicities, and while Malay is the lingua franca, several other languages are commonly heard as well. Among these languages, the most commonly spoken ones are Tamil, which is the first language of a majority of the Indian community, and Cantonese, which is the lingua franca of the Chinese community when conversing amongst themselves (even though their mother tongues could be other Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Hakka or Teochew). As most Malaysian Chinese learn Mandarin in school, most of the ethnic Chinese are also able to converse in Mandarin. English is also widely spoken, and tourists should have almost no problems getting by with English.
Urban Malaysians are generally known to be multilingual, with proficiency in Malay, English and their respective mother tongues. Malay and English are taught in all schools from a young age, while most the Chinese and Indians also learn Mandarin and Tamil respectively in school.
Despite having many attractions, Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities which is short on must-see attractions: the real joy lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it.
Architecturally, every landmark that KL can think of is a copy of a famous one somewhere. The National Monument at Lake Gardens is a take-off from the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington (not to mention the flag itself is just a few strokes away to become an American flag). The Sultan Ahmad and the Railway Station were all cuts and pastes from the Taj Mahal, Hamayun's Tomb, Red Fort and other Mughal buildings in India. There is even one building that exactly copies the concept of La Defence in Paris. Everything here is parctically so un-original, that the only outstanding piece of architecture is the Petronas Towers, a masterpiece by Renzo Piano.
KL is hot, humid and sometimes crowded though, so schedule some air-conditioned downtime in shopping malls or restaurants into your plan, and that's the blessings about KL. Other cities in tropical Southeast Asia are not blessed with strategically placed office towers and malls blowing super cool air even up to the doorway. You may find that most attractions are only crowded on weekends/holidays and deserted on weekdays.
The main attractions are spread throughout the city, although the greatest concentration of places of interest are in the City Centre, where you’ll find Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), where Malaysia usually celebrates Malaysian independence day (the exact spot where independence was declared on Aug 31, 1957 is at the Stadium Merdeka); the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and other Colonial-era buildings surrounding the square; the modern and rather unadorned National Mosque; the Moorish-style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, a British Architectural Assistant to the Director of Public Works, which now houses a mini-museum on Malaysian railway history; many of Kuala Lumpur's other museums including the recently refurbished National Museum (which unfortunately has a discriminatory pricing policy - RM5 for foreigners, RM2 for Malaysians) tracing the history of the region through prehistory and the Malaccan empire to Independence, and the extremely well-regarded Islamic Arts Museum (RM12, 10-6PM), and the nearby 'Police Museum; and the pretty Lake Gardens to the west. 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. Another area of interest to the traveller is the Golden Triangle. Although predominantly a shopping and night-life district, it is also home to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and the Petronas Twin Towers, once the world’s tallest building. In the nearby KL Convention Centre is the Aquaria KLCC which contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish. Just south of the Twin Towers is Menara KL Tower, which is situated on top of Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill), a forest reserve right in the heart of the city. PDA-Guided views from Menara Tower (RM38, 9AM-10PM) at 276 m, are far superior to those from the Petronas Towers (viewing deck at 170 m), and come highly recommended since it allows first time visitors the chance to orient themselves quickly about the layout of the city. It is however, not a particularly easy place to reach by public transport, so use either a taxi or the "hop-on/hop-off" tourist bus that makes a continuous circuit through the city.
There are also several attractions just outside Kuala Lumpur which are worth visiting. The Batu Caves in the Northern suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, are located in a limestone outcrop and are the focal point of the fascinating annual Thaipusam festival, usually held in February. The caves are easily accessible by KTM's kommuter mass transit rail service (Batu Caves stn) or RapidKL bus U6 from Chow Kit area, though ask the driver to let you know the correct stop as the caves are not immediately obvious. Do some light cave exploring in Batu Caves which is really fascinating. The entrance is 50 ft below the main temple cave and on the left as you climb. The event will be memorable and is not risky even for children as young as 3 years. Another option is to catch Metrobus 11 for RM2 at Lorong Bas, near Pasar Seni (Central Market). Malaysia’s National Zoo (Zoo Negara) is also located in the north of the city.
See the respective district pages for more details.
Those activities aside, KL has its fair share of sporting opportunities such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and even equestrian. If you’re into rock climbing, the Batu Caves in Northern Kuala Lumpur is a popular weekend haunt of those wanting to scale some heights. However, for anything more strenuous and challenging, you’re better off heading to other spots in the country.
Malaysia is trying to encourage greater cultural expression, and Kuala Lumpur has several good theatres and places for performances, such as the National Theatre (Istana Budaya) and KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in the northern part of the city, the KL Philharmonic in KLCC, and the Actors Studio in Bangsar.
You can also get a good dosage of pampering in Kuala Lumpur. For those in search of spas, there are several five-star hotel-connected as well as independent treatment centres in the Golden Triangle. You will also find many nail parlours and beauty salons offering manicures, pedicures, hand and feet spa treatment as well as facials. These are generally not very expensive although you can also find high-end ones offering the same services for a premium. You will also find heaps of reflexology and foot massage places everywhere but especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and 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 - KL is wonderful place to admire the latest and the greatest of the steel and glass sorts of the world's skyscrapers. But buyer beware, there are some sticking sore thumb - big time. Just next to the Petronas tower stands the horrible monstrousity of the BSN building, so out-of-place. Formerly humble and prudent KL never started out as a prosperous city and never quite envisioned itself as it was going to amass tons of prosperity towards the 21st century. So the architectural and master planning civic designs were not left into the superior hands to the likes of Le Courbusier to Chandigarh or Niemeyer to Brasilia. The result - lame architectural designs on most of civic and prominent buildings, an example of which is the very neanderthal looking National Museum building. It's a piece of a matchbox. Only the iconic Petronas with its genius design - simple, appropriate, yet captivating and stunning as masterful as the design employed in the Rubic's cube where one would say in admiration, why didn't I think of that!? is memory imprinting. There are also a handful of outstandingly mediorcre and craving for attention ones but the general feel if you are gazing at these skyscrapers especially from the Menora Tower is awesome. It's just that during the building boom years, architects were so wild to explore different shapes and forms that the result runs opposite with the expectation.
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.
If you are taking an extended trip consider spending a week or more volunteering.
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. 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.
Malaysians are obsessed with food and it is hardly surprising that as the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur reflects this love affair with eating. You'll be able to find the entire range of Malaysian cuisine (although some, especially those from Penang, argue that what you get Kuala Lumpur is not the best) as well as food from around the world. As far as the budget is concerned, you can eat fairly well for fairly little in Kuala Lumpur. Just head to the roadside stalls and what Malaysians call coffeeshops (kedai kopi) - a shop which operates like a food court with many stalls selling a variety of food (some of them are halal and some non-halal, Chinese coffee shops usually serve non-halal) . Some coffeeshops offer streetside dining by placing their tables on the pavements of roads. Coffeeshops are found on virtually every street in Kuala Lumpur, but 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 concentration of coffeeshops and stalls. They mostly open only at night. Rivaling the coffeeshops in terms of numbers, as well as the price of food, are what Malaysians call "Mamak shops" - food outlets run by Indian Muslims. They can also be found at almost every street corner in Kuala Lumpur: the food is halal. The streetside version, called the "Mamak stall" is also popular. One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row (see Tuanku Abdul Rahman page). The most popular food is the 'roti canai'. Food courts in shopping malls can also provide you with a good opportunity to sample Malaysian food in more hygienic conditions, although the prices will be a little higher than coffeeshops. 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. Kuala Lumpur has a good number of restaurants, some of them offering better food than others. The Golden Triangle, Bangsar and Midvalley, Heritage Row and some areas in Damansara and Hartamas are the usual places for people looking for a restaurant meal. Beware that most restaurants close by 10PM, so you will probably need to look for street food if you are hungry at night. the street food stalls are getting better during the late night than before. In terms of ethnicity, Malay food can be found in Jalan Masjid India, Chow Kit and Kampung Baru areas in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district.Chinatown is the best place to search 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.
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. Heritage Row, in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district, is fast catching up as a popular nightspot. It occupies a row of refurbished colonial-era shop houses and is now home to one of Kuala Lumpur's swankiest clubs and trendy bars. Strictly for well heeled visitors and locals. It is on Jalan Doraisamy just off Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Dang Wangi. 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 - streetside 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 coffeeshop. 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.
Kuala Lumpur's budget accommodation can be found everywhere where a dormitory bed for the night can be as little as RM20. 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 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 including taxes 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, Shangrila and JW Marriot. Prices will vary seasonally.
Please see the individual Kuala Lumpur district pages of a list of places to stay.
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. Few hotels in Kuala Lumpur offer Internet access in their rooms. However, some hotels around the KL Sentral station have LAN cables with Internet access in the rooms. Furthermore, many hotels offer free Wi-Fi access in their lobbies. Free Wi-Fi access is also available from many dining establishments and shopping complexes in the city
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. When eating with hands rather than cutlery, do not eat with the left hand in public as it is considered impolite. If you can speak just a few words of the four main local languages, namely Malay, 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.
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 pickpocketing and bag snatching have risen in recent years. Kuala Lumpur is considered a very safe city for travellers (very often, it is locals who are targets of a crime), but do be wary of over-friendly locals trying to con you. In recent years, City Hall has increased the amount of foot and car patrols by policemen in Kuala Lumpur. It's also common in the daytime to see traffic police on the streets in the city centre. Tourist police have also set up police booths and maintain frequent foot patrol in the tourist areas of the city particularly around the Golden Triangle area with its greater density of hotels, shopping malls, foreign tourists, and locals. There are also scattered regular roadblocks in and around KL at night set up by the police to do checks on illegal racing, drunk driving, and general transport misdemeanors. Generally, it is safe and rewarding to walk in the city but caution must still be exercised, especially if walking alone or in a small group. Beware of snatch thieves who are known to be rather ruthless. It is not uncommon to hear of women, particularly, being knocked unconscious by bag snatchers on motorbikes. It is probably better to let them have your bag than to be dragged several metres and risk injury. Keep a close eye on your valuables in crowds, especially street markets and public transport (especially during rush hour), and hold your bag on the side away from the street if there are motorbikes around to avoid 'bag snatching'. Try not to wear any flashy jewelry in the first place. If you don't have to wear it, it's best not to. Care must also be taken with any alleyways or parking grounds that appear to be dark and deserted. Petty thieves with knives or sometimes even small firearms might mug you, especially at night. When it rains the pavements and streets turn into small rivers and crossing a street can be an adventure. Many pavements in Kuala Lumpur become as slippery as ice when wet so it is advisable to wear proper footwear (such as sneakers) if there is a chance of rain. Be careful of the poker scam run by people pretending to be locals. They normally target lone tourists around the popular tourist places. It starts with a friendly approach, and you will end up at their homes at the pretext of trying to get firsthand information of your home country. You will then be invited to play poker and will eventually accumulate losses. You will then be made to pay up with cash or jewellery purchases. Never go to someone's house if you meet that person on holiday. Also, some have been duped through couchsurfing and ended up being similarly scammed. The bogus cop scam is usually run by 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. 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. Also watch out for counterfeit banknotes (such as RM50) 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 RM100 notes. 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 that of Bangkok or any other Asian countries, especially in terms of understanding people's pronunciation. Greet them well with 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