Difference between revisions of "Kuala Lumpur"
Revision as of 08:41, 11 June 2018
Literally meaning "muddy river confluence" in Malay, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis of 7 million (city-proper population- 1.8 million) in just 150 years. A cultural melting pot with some of the world's cheapest 5-star hotels, 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 is a Federal Territory, and 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, Sepang, and all in the state of Selangor, (except the new administrative city Putrajaya, also a federal territory) which enclaves KL, and all with their separate local authorities. Collectively they are called Greater Kuala Lumpur, more commonly Klang Valley.
The city can be divided into the following areas, each of which offers a particular attraction or activity.
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.
Kuala Lumpur has a year-round tropical rainforest climate which is warm and sunny, along with abundant rainfall. It can even rain daily during the northeast monsoon season from October to March. Wettest month (with highest rainfall) is November (278mm). Driest month (with lowest rainfall) is June (130mm). Flooding is a frequent occurrence in Kuala Lumpur whenever there is a heavy downpour, especially in the city centre and downstream areas. Dust particles from forest fires from nearby Sumatra sometimes cast a haze over the region (especially between June and August). It is a major source of pollution in the city along with open burning, emission from vehicles and construction work.
Temperatures tend to remain constant throughout the year and hover between 31~33 °C (max. temperature) and 22~23 °C (min. temperature).
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 architect, 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 beginnings.
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 (IATA: KUL) is about 50km south west of the city, in the Sepang district of Selangor. The USD2.5 billion 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.
If you are a visitor, your fingerprints will be taken on arrival at the airport.
Transfers by train
Transfers by bus
Transfers by taxi
Travellers are told to use the coupon taxi available at the exit point. 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. It is recommended for traveler to use the ride-sharing apps such as Uber or GrabCar since they are cheaper than the regular taxi most of the time.
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" of Expressway Lingkaran Tengah) about 70km or nearly 1h away from Kuala Lumpur city centre. Exit the expressway at KLIA interchange for both the Main Terminal and klia2.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - klia2
A gigantic new USD1.3 billion low-cost carrier terminal named klia2 started operations in May 2014, replacing the former Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). Located about 2km away from the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB), it is used by AirAsia, Tiger Airways, and Cebu Pacific.
Departing passengers should note the considerable (up to 20 minute brisk) walk between Immigration clearance, this procedure alone taking on occasion up 45 minutes due to processing slowness despite small traveller numbers, and the furthest gates.
Security check requirements are different if you are flying domestic and international. For international travelers, they are expected to dispose all liquid except 100ml (including drinking water) at security check. For domestic travellers, they are allowed to go through security even with a full 1.5l water bottle. Passengers arriving from 'high-risk' countries may face extra checks by customs.
There are a few water coolers for topping up your empty water bottles after the security check. If you are at the 'J' gates, there is only one outside the toilet near gate J6.
AirAsia fly-thru passengers at klia2 are to connect via the Transfer Hall (Gate L), located between the domestic & international gates. There is no airside transit between klia2 and the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB). Passengers transiting between airlines have to clear Immigration and Customs upon arrival at klia2 and collect their baggage, before proceeding to the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB) to re-check in for flights and vice versa.
Transfers by train
klia2 is linked by the KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit to KL Sentral Terminal in the city centre. Ticket from/to KL Sentral costs RM55 one way (33 mins by KLIA Ekspres and 39 mins by KLIA Transit). All trains stop at KLIA Main Terminal before continuing on towards KL Sentral or klia2. Transfers between the KLIA Main Terminal Building (MTB) and klia2 takes just under 3 minutes and costs RM2. The train station is on the 2nd floor of [email protected]
Transfers by bus
Several bus operators run services to KL and other cities from the Ground Transport Hub on the ground floor of [email protected]
Free shuttle bus service is available for transferring between KLIA Main Terminal and klia2.
Transfers by taxi
Transfers by road
klia2 is connected to the same expressways that connect KLIA Main Terminal to the city centre.
Subang Skypark Airport
The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (IATA: SZB) (ICAO: WMSA), more commonly referred to as the Subang Skypark 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.
Transfers by bus
Skypark Coaches Sdn. Bhd.  operates a shuttle bus service to/from Subang Terminal. As of June 2014, the route to Pudu Sentral  was already in operation, with hourly departures both from Pudu Sentral (7AM-9PM) and from the airport (8AM-10PM). The fare from the airport is RM8.20 to KL Sentral or to KTM KL (Old Railway Station), RM9.30 to Pudu Sentral; oddly enough, the fare from the city is cheaper (RM6.40/7.10, respectively).
Rapid KL bus 772 (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).
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. It is advised to arrive at the bus terminal 15 minutes before the departure time.
Generally speaking, north-bound buses leave from Pudu Sentral and Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), south-bound buses leave from TBS and starting from 1Dec 14 east-bound buses from Hentian Putra moved to TBS, only few buses leave from Pekeliling Bus Terminal. Update 2017: Pudu Sentral is closed for long distance busses - all buses arrive/leave TBS
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS, Southern Integrated Terminal)
The main place to almost all the main cities in Malaysia, for south-bound buses (i.e. towards Malacca, Johor Bharu and Singapore), north-bound buses (i.e. towards Penang/Butterworth, Kedah, Perlis and Perak), east-bound buses (i.e. towards Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) is the gigantic & ultra-modern building in Bandar Tasik Selatan Selangor. TBS is served by 3 train lines - ERL KLIA Transit, the KTM Komuter Seremban line, and the RapidKL Ampang line Sri Petaling bound.
Update 2017: Pudu Central is closed for long distance buses. All buses are tranfered to TBS. Use city bus 690 (the stop is in front of terminal from chinatown side), or LRT line 4 to go there.
The most central place for buses is Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya Bus Station, once the main express buses hub in KL). Most busses at this station are travelling north to Ipoh, Butterworth, or Thailand. The station has quite bad navigation, after arriving by escalator from main street you most likely end up at the floor with the access gates to the platforms. From there you need to take the well hidden escalators 2 floors above and you will reach very well hidden ticket counters. Especially on this floor you will meet very annoying ticket touts following you, and asking "where you go?", just ignore them, they are not dangerous, just annoying. The ticket touts usually sell you tickets for a surcharge to the ticket counters - the are prone to sell you a ticket for a bus which is most profitable to them, rather than most convenient to you. Access to platforms is from the main 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).
Hentian Putra was closed in end 2014. All east bound buses were transferred to TBS.
Mainly 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.
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 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. Train services towards Thailand and Singapore have largely been superseded by the new Electric Train Service (ETS). However, the southern portion of the KTM tracks in Johor are not electrified, necessitating a transfer from ETS to conventional diesel train at Gemas station. Those who intend to take the KTM from Singapore to KL or vice-versa should be aware of this compulsory transfer. Timetables and seat availability information is available online. Online booking is available in the same website too.
The ETS to Ipoh also stops at Kuala Lumpur's architecturally impressive and more convenient old station, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station near Merdaka Square and Pasar Seni LRT station. The ETS extends from Padang Besar at the Thai border to Gemas station in Negeri Sembilan.
KL Sentral is on the Kelana Jaya LRT line and is also served by KTM Komuter trains. KL Sentral is also connected to the KL Monorail and MRT Sungai Buloh - Kajang Line. 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. Numerous hotels are also located around KL Sentral, from 5-star to budget options.
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:
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. The card can be bought from the TNG Spot in KLIA2 or TNG Hub in KL Sentral. A full list of available places to purchase the card from is available here: 
Travellers spending a short stay in Kuala Lumpur may consider purchasing a KL TravelPass. The TravelPass offers 2-day unlimited rides on LRT, MRT and KL Monorail lines. It can also function as a Touch 'n Go card by adding stored value, to be used on RapidKL buses and KTM Komuter. It can be bought at KLIA Ekpres ticket counters at KLIA, KLIA2 or KL Sentral. Both TravelPass and conventional Touch 'n Go cards can be easily be topped up at a plethora of locations.
Currently, three Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines are in various phases. The first line connecting Sungai Buloh to Kajang (SBK line) via KL Sentral and is fully completed, while the second MRT line Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP line) connecting the northeast-southwest region and the third MRT (Circle line) looping around Kuala Lumpur are expected to be completed by 2022 and 2025 respectively. Some notable LRT stations:
A few quirks:
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.
The free bus service Go KL  started 1 September 2012 in the Central Business District (CBD) with two circular bus routes. The Purple Line starts at Pasar Seni and travels to the shopping area of Bukit Bintang, where it links up with the Green Line looping around KLCC. From 1 May 2014, two more routes have been added. The Red Line connects the North of CBD with the South, linking KL Sentral to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman through the Chow Kit area. At Medan Mara it meets the Blue Line, which goes on from there to join the per-existing lines at Bukit Bintang. 
RapidKL  operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur. Recent restructuring efforts to overhaul the bus system has lead to improved frequencies and signage along bus routes. 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:
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.
MRT Bus Feeder routes are also available from selected stations along the SBK line. Frequencies for these feeder services are more reliable than ordinary RapidKL buses. The fare is a flat RM1 per ride and can be paid either by Touch 'n Go card or cash. Note that no change is given on board so do prepare exact change. The full list of MRT Bus Feeder routes can be found here: 
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. It is recommended for travellers to use ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Grab since they are cheaper than the regular taxis most of the time.
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.
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) 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!
Many locals download taxi apps such as Grab (which was conceived in Malaysia) and Uber and use that instead of trying to hail a cab. One word of caution is that Malaysian taxi drivers are now hostile towards Uber drivers and its customers within the Kuala Lumpur area. It is a safety concern and shouldn't be taken lightly.
Kuala Lumpur has good quality roads and a comprehensive expressway system, but driving in the city might be difficult at times due to traffic jams, a complicated web of expressways and road signage in the local language. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars, as well as scooters, which tend to erratically 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 road system is quite complicated and road signage is in the local language, so it is highly recommended that all travelers rent GPS units from their car rental company - such units are widely available, and are usually offered at reasonable rates. Drivers may also use navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze to get around.
Petrol and parking costs are generally low, contributing to the car-culture in Kuala Lumpur that exacerbates traffic congestion. However, it would be prudent to carry a loaded Touch 'n Go card as drivers may be required to pay for road tolls. Cash is not accepted at some toll plazas that have went fully electronic. Congestion charges are non-existent in Kuala Lumpur.
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:
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 languages, such as Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka are also spoken by smaller numbers, but even native speakers of those languages 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.
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.
And if you are looking something more authentic, then head yourself to Kampong Bharu (commonly spelled as "Kampung Baru"), which is 1 of the last surviving traditional Malay villages in the middle of KL. Here, you will able to experience a glimpse of traditional Malay lifestyle and see many beautiful Kampung houses that are still well-preserved.
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.
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. Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery is a modern museum linked to the country's national bank with well-designed galleries on Malaysian economic development, Islamic finance, the history of the central bank, and the national's banks own art 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 several theme parks around the city and in the surrounding cities. The most famous of these parks is Sunway Lagoon situated 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.
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.
Walking Tours - The Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau provides free walking guided tours which consist of 4 trails namely Free Dataran Merdeka Heritage Guided Tour, Jalan-Jalan at Kampong Bharu, Old KL & Nature Walk and Kuala Lumpur Night Walk. Every tour will bring guests to discover 7-12 heritage, cultural and nature landmarks in the city complete with a very knowledgeable tour guide. Booking and inquiry for these free walking guided tours can be done through email to [email protected] or call at +603 - 2698 0332.
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 universities in Malaysia are taught in English.
Studying abroad in Kuala Lumpur has been increasingly popular since the 1990s. Universiti Putra Malaysia is one of the elite institutions in the capital city and caters to international students' needs both academically and in extracurricular activities.
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:
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 is considered one of the major shopping capitals of Asia. KL is also 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. Both Suria KLCC and Pavilion malls are connected to each other through an elevated, air-conditioned pedestrian bridge. 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, [email protected], 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  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). If you are looking for a high-quality, authentic Malaysian-made products, then the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex which is located in Jalan Conlay would be a perfect place.
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.
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.
For something a little more authentic, BonAppetour offers the chance to dine with local hosts in Kuala Lumpur. Prices are mid-ranged, but the emphasis on the authentic home-cooked food, as well as the opportunity to dine with locals themselves.
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.
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. A wave of hipster cafes are recently mushrooming in the nation, offering many opportunities for visitors to sample freshly brewed coffee at independent coffee houses.
Budget accommodation can be found everywhere; dormitory beds can cost as little as MYR12 per night, though MYR20 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 USD16 per night with free Wi-Fi, air-con, and breakfast often included. If you are arriving on the overnight buses (arriving at 04:00) 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 MYR400 or even less (internet rate for single occupancy in the luxury 5 star "Traders Hotel" is around USD100. 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 for 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. Many hotels provide free internet access and connections. Free Wi-Fi is also available in many cafes, restaurants and shopping centres. A few examples:
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. While its summer all year long in Kuala Lumpur, don't walk around the city with your shirts off.
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. You will also be required to take your shoes off before entering anyone's home.
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.
In Kuala Lumpur, scammers will often try to sell you something. If you refuse, they will invent stories about the hardship of their families. It is your decision to buy something, but important to bargain.
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.
You can find specialist private doctors and clinics in Kuala Lumpur via MYDOC.my , MYDOC.my is a local and location based health care directory providing patients/consumers with the information that are required for them to make informed decisions on choosing their medical/healthcare service provider in Malaysia. Such information may include the doctor’s experience, ex-patients’ satisfaction, quality of the clinic and/or its facilities etc. But if you are in an emergency, please dial 999, the national emergency contact number.
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
Most locals download the MyTeksi/GrabTaxi (now simply called Grab) app on their smartphones to hail cabs. It is convenient and you will have the driver's name, contact details and number plate available to you. An estimated fare will also be displayed on the app, and drivers rarely attempt to solicit more from passengers. Other taxi applications i.e. Uber, EzCab are also available.
- Counterfeit Currency
- Street Safety
- Local Laws
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.
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