Travel to Kuala Lumpur

Petaling Street in China Town, Kuala Lumpur

If you are visiting Malaysia, then most likely you will travel to Kuala Lumpur, or at least through it! Kuala Lumpur is commonly referred to as KL. It is the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia. There are some impressive skyscrapers including the recognisable Petronas Towers. However, there is also a lot of green space with large parks and even forest walks within the city centre.

As with most of Malaysia, there is a mix of cultures in KL. This is apparent with the mix of mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples. The food is also very diverse. The typical Malaysian food has some similarities with Indian food and Chinese food. However, there are some must-try typically Malaysian dishes including nasi lemak and roti canai! Be prepared for spice.

Kuala Lumpur Tower
Kuala Lumpur Tower
View from Kuala Lumpur Tower
View from Kuala Lumpur Tower
Malaysia Batu caves
Malaysia Batu caves

Highlights

  • KL Tower
  • Petronas Towers
  • Merdeka Square
  • KL Forest Eco Park
  • China Town
  • Petaling Street Market
  • KL Lake Garden – pedal boats, butterfly park, orchid garden, bird park, deer park
  • National Museum
  • Day out to Batu caves

Before you go

  • Almost everyone refers to Kuala Lumpur as “KL”
  • The weather is hot and humid the whole year round
  • Mosquitoes are present, so bring water-proof repellent
  • If you want to visit the Petronas Towers, then book in advance on the official website
KL Lake garden
KL Lake garden
Traditional dance at KL Tower
Traditional dance at KL Tower
Taking a paddle boat at KL Lake garden
Taking a paddle boat at KL Lake garden

Transport

  • There are two main airports in KL so ensure that you go to the correct one. The larger one is Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and the smaller one is Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB). However, budget airlines like Air Asia fly in and out of KUL
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is located quite far south of the city centre. A car will take about an hour with light traffic. Public transport can take 1.5 hours or more.
  • Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (often called Subang airport) is located close to the city. It is smaller than KLIA and serves few airlines.
  • To get around the city, it is easy to take buses, trains or the monorail run by Rapid KL
  • Batu caves can easily be reached by train

Accommodation

  • For those on a budget, the YMCA in Kuala Lumpur is a great place to stay. My friend living in KL at the time recommended it. It is in a central location, budget-friendly, clean and safe. I had my own room and enjoyed the stay. There are also a lot of good, casual restaurants surrounding the hostel.
  • In 2010, to catch an early flight from KL, I stayed at the┬áConcorde Inn KLIA right at the airport. This is now permanently closed. However, there are other hotels located at the airport. Since the city is a bit far, these can be useful for early flights.
Dinner at KL Sentral food court
Dinner at KL Sentral food court
Ice Kachang, Malaysian dessert
Ice Kachang, Malaysian dessert
Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak in KL
McDonalds at KL Airport
McDonalds at KL Airport

Food

For affordable and delicious foods, visit either the Central Market or KL Sentral food court. There is a great variety of choice, something for every taste. Both places are very casual and they’re usually busy with a mix of locals and tourists.

I tried ice kachang for the first time at the Central Market. It is a very popular dessert and I loved the fruity, creamy shaved ice. However, there are a lot of beans at the bottom and those were not my favourite so they got left behind…

China Town is a fun place to walk around, and also a great place to eat. There are many restaurants to choose from and I would also recommend trying the Chinese bakeries. All of the aromas are very tempting!

A typical dish is roti canai, which can often be found as a street food. It is a flat bread served with curry and dal. Although I did not take any photos, I had this dish many times. Usually, I just ordered from hole-in-the-wall restaurants like those around the YMCA hostel in KL.

If you don’t feel like Asian food, there are also western options. And lots of fast food like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC etc.

FAQs

Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, not to visit KL itself. However, if you want to travel to the surrounding areas then you could opt for a tour.

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Yes, most people speak English

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: No, the places to see are quite spaced out around the city. You can walk in some areas, but will probably need to take the public transport or taxis.

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