Kuala Lumpur is officially known as the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and is colloquially referred to as KL. It is the capital city of Malaysia, which name literally means ‘Muddy Confluence’. The name describes the intersection between the rivers of Klang and Gombak, where this city was founded. Today, Kuala Lumpur is home to many skyscrapers and numerous highways, not to mention several cultural heritage sites that hold the history of Malaya, now known as Malaysia. So, let me tell you all about Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur in my travel guide!
Who Am I?
My name is YeeMei, a Malaysian Chinese; born, raised, and currently living in Kuala Lumpur. I am very active on social media, so my travel style is mainly about capturing beautiful moments and sceneries. Being a foodie as well, I love to indulge my taste buds while traveling. Furthermore, the aim of any trip I go on would be to immerse myself in a new culture and discover hidden gems along the way!
1. Duration of Ideal Stay and Visiting Season
Malaysia does not have four seasons as the country is located close to the equator. Expect high temperatures and humidities, and be sure to bring an umbrella for the hot sun or rainy days.
A few days in Kuala Lumpur would be great to explore around the city, although you may expect longer queues during the public holidays and weekends. You can also extend the trip to a week to explore Selangor, the state surrounding Kuala Lumpur, where more tourist attractions and cultural sites await.
2. How to Get to The City from Airport?
Another thing that must be on the Kuala Lumpur travel guide is the transportation from the airport to the city. If you are looking for the fastest and cheapest way, opt for KLIA Ekspres, which is a non-stop airport rail link servicing the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
There are two main airports in Kuala Lumpur, which is KLIA, as well as its low-cost terminal, klia2. You may travel from either of these airports to one of the following stops: KL Sentral, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya & Cyberjaya, Salak Tinggi. The cost can go up to RM 55.00, depending on your starting point and destination.
Alternatively, you may hail a car using the Grab app (the equivalent of Uber) from RM 65.00, not inclusive of tolls. Otherwise, there are also many private airport taxi/van transfers available at the airports.
3. Where to Accommodate in Kuala Lumpur?
Here are just some of the many hotels you can find here in the city center:
- Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur
- Shangri-La Hotel – Kuala Lumpur
- The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Autograph Collection
- Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
- Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
- PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur
- Impiana KLCC Hotel
- Hilton Kuala Lumpur
- Hotel Sentral Kuala Lumpur
- Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur
You may also like to consider Airbnb as an affordable option. I have been to Arte Plus in Jalan Ampang, which is very accomodating to local and international visitors. There are also many cool Instagrammable facilities such as Swedish Garden, Lazy River Spa, Floating Fantasy Garden, and so on. Another budget option would be to opt for OYO Hotels, which can be found almost anywhere.
4. In City Transportation
There are many different ways to travel around Kuala Lumpur. Since looking for car parking is a hassle in the city center, I would not suggest renting a car if you are just exploring around Kuala Lumpur. If you would like to hail a car, be sure to install and use the Grab app. You can also take the Light Rapid Transit and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and these two are not to be confused as they are two different public rail transport services with different route maps. RapidKL buses are often seen traveling back and forth to famous tourist sites in Kuala Lumpur and the fares are very affordable.
Another popular hit with tourists is the KL Hop-On Hop-Off, which runs from 9 am to 8 pm daily at 30-minute intervals. There are 23 stops whereby passengers can hop on and hop off the bus whenever and wherever desired. One standard ticket of 24 hours usage costs RM 45.00, whereas 48 hours costs RM79.00.
5. Suggested Budget for Kuala Lumpur
Depending on how much you intend to visit, shop, or eat, I would suggest about RM 100 to 300 a day for budget travelers. Money changers can be found anywhere in malls and can also be spotted along the Bukit Bintang area.
6. Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
Let me continue with one of the most important parts of the Kuala Lumpur travel guide! Firstly, let me list you the places that you must visit in Kuala Lumpur!
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Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)
In the heart of the city is Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), which hosts the tallest twin buildings in the world, standing at 451.9 m. KLCC also houses a shopping mall called Suria KLCC, as well as office towers and hotels, all located around Jalan Ampang, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Binjai, Jalan Kia Peng, and Jalan Pinang. Within the mall is a science and technology museum called Petrosains, where you can expand your knowledge while having fun if you have children with you. There are also pedestrian walkways to the Bukit Bintang shopping district, which I will explain more in section (b). The twin towers are also connected to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, where conventions and exhibitions take place occasionally, and these two different sites are not meant to be confused.
Kuala Lumpur Tower
With a height of 421m, the Kuala Lumpur Tower is the seventh tallest telecommunication tower in the world and the tallest in Southeast Asia. Constructed in 1995, the bottom of the tower consists of a stairwell and an elevator. There are annual races where participants would race to the top using the stairs. The upper area contains an observation deck and a revolving restaurant, providing diners with a panoramic view of the city. Visitors also frequent the Observation Deck for a spectacular view especially when the city is beautifully lit at night. Opt for admission to the Sky Deck to take panoramic pictures from a glass skybox at 300m above the city.
Known as one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions, this limestone hill houses the iconic 272 rainbow steps where you can ascend to a famous 100-year-old Hindu temple. This religious landmark also serves as the focal point of the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam, which is usually celebrated at the end of January, hosting one of the largest gatherings in the world. Like many temples, you are not suggested to wear short pants or miniskirts, or you will need to purchase a long scarf at the stairs entrance to cover up.
Thean Hou Temple
The six-tiered temple of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu is also known as one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia. This place of worship is built with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, featuring a huge octagonal hall for events and a modern Buddhist pagoda. There is also a marriage registration office located in the basement, making this temple a popular venue for non-Muslim couples to have marriages solemnized and registered. A pleasing view of the city awaits you at the top of the temple, so be sure to bring your camera. The temple is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Located along Jalan Raja is the late-nineteenth-century Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which originally housed the offices of the British colonial administration and was known simply as Government Offices during then. This historical landmark was then renamed after the reigning sultan of Selangor in 1974. A central clock tower is included in the design to echo Big Ben in an Indo-Saracenic style. This landmark now serves as the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Culture.
Situated just in front of Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad is Merdeka Square or Dataran Merdeka. It was at this very spot that the Federation of Malaya proclaimed independence on August 31st, 1957 (before Malaysia was formed later in 1963). These perfectly manicured green lawns house a 95-meter flagpole, which is one of the tallest in the world, proudly displaying the Malaysian flag, Jalur Gemilang. The colonial buildings surrounding Dataran Merdeka would make for awesome panoramic photos, group pictures, and even jump shots.
National Museum of Malaysia (Muzium Negara)
Guardian of the nation’s history, the architecture of the National Museum of Malaysia is based on traditional Minangkabau design. Learn more about Malaysian history and culture through artifacts and exhibition displays. Open your eyes to unique archaeological findings such as Paleolithic stone tools and even a skeleton from about 10 or 11 thousand years ago. The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Tickets for non-Malaysian citizens cost RM 5.00 each.
National Palace (Istana Negara)
Built-in 1928, the national palace along Jalan Istana used to be the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the monarch of Malaysia. It was later replaced by a new, extravagant palace worth RM800 million located near Jalan Duta. Just like Buckingham Palace, cavalry members fully dressed in uniforms guard each side of the arch. The walls and fenced pillars feature the Royal Insignia of His Majesty. The palace grounds are not open to the public; however, you will find tourists taking pictures at the Main Palace Entrance.
Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur
TREC KL, Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur’s largest entertainment and F&B hangout are always equated with the nightlife in Kuala Lumpur. You will often find many young adults here partying until late at night. There are an array of clubs and bars to explore, such as Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur and The Iron Fairies KL.
Shopping/Souvenirs in Kuala Lumpur
Shopaholics can never get enough shopping at the Bukit Bintang shopping district, the main shopping area of what is known as the Golden Triangle, Kuala Lumpur’s commercial, shopping, and entertainment hub. These bustling streets are lined with malls like Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang, Lot 10, Fahrenheit88, Pavilion, and Pavilion Elite. You can also find restaurants, hotels, and money exchange centers lining the pedestrian walkways.
For a unique shopping experience, check out Petaling Street, also known as Chinatown. This heritage site is well known for its counterfeit branded goods like watches and clothing. Always remember to haggle with the vendors for the best price! There are also many local Chinese cuisines along this street that you can enjoy while resting your feet.
Walk three minutes from Petaling Street and you will reach Central Market, a center for Malaysian culture, art, and craft. Here you can find boutiques, handicrafts, and souvenir stalls inside and outside of the building. For those who love souvenir shopping, souvenirs here are also reasonably priced!
7. What to Eat/Drink at Where?
Now, let’s continue with the most delicious part of the Kuala Lumpur travel guide!
Malaysia is proud of its Malaysian food and there is never a shortage of eateries in Kuala Lumpur.
Have a taste of Malaysia at a Kopitiam or Mamak! A Kopitiam is a simple coffee house serving a variety of traditional Malay and Chinese fare, whereas a Mamak is an open-air stall or shop that serves Indian Muslim cuisine. You can find these anywhere and everywhere you go. Speaking of kopitiams, many local tourists from other states would flock to Restoran Win Heng Seng in Pudu for their signature pork noodles. If you happen to be in that area, be sure to check them out!
Is traditional Cantonese cuisine something you would enjoy? Restoran Sek Yuen is a 72-Year-Old Cantonese Restaurant situated in Pudu since World War II. Savour their legendary roast duck with sweet plum sauce in one of KL’s oldest surviving restaurants. Their cold jelly chicken and butterflied roast duck are some of the dishes that have been made since its inception.
I am always told that Imbi Market has some of the best food you can find in Kuala Lumpur. This market used to be in Jalan Melati but has now been relocated to ICC Pudu. Here are some stalls to take note of:
- Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea & Coffee
- Ah Fook Chee Cheong Fun
- Sisters Crispy Popiah
- Sam Kee Wanton Mee
- Bunn Choon Egg Tart
If you’re looking for international cuisine instead, I recommended these restaurants in Kuala Lumpur:
- El Iberico
- Halab Restaurant
- Ozeki Tokyo
If you are not tired from a whole day of walking, drop by some of our night markets (Pasar Malam) in Kuala Lumpur! My favorite is definitely Pasar Malam Taman Connaught, which stretches 2km along with Taman Connaught and operates from 5.00 pm to 1.00 am. Here you can find all sorts of food, refreshments, and daily goods.
8. Warnings, Tips, and Tricks
When traveling around open streets especially in central Kuala Lumpur, be careful of pickpocketers on motorcycles or foot. Try not to bring too much cash with you when you are out. If you are driving or seated in a car, it is best to ensure that your bags are not easily seen from outside of the car to prevent any robberies from happening at traffic light stops. If you have a laptop, always bring it with you and do not leave it unattended inside a car. All in all, always be aware of your surroundings.
I hope you enjoyed my Kuala Lumpur travel guide! Please let me know your thoughts about my Kuala Lumpur travel guide in the comments below!