Kuala Lumpur, called KL by locals, is Malaysia's federal capital and largest city at 6.5 million (city-proper population of 1.8 million). Kuala Lumpur is a cultural melting pot with some of the world's cheapest 5-star hotels, impressive shopping districts, food from all parts of the world, and natural wonders within day-trip distance.
Kuala Lumpur is a sprawling city with residential suburbs that seem to go on forever. The city proper is a 243 km2 (94 sq mi) Federal Territory managed by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and comprising eight divisions which are further split into 42 local areas, mainly for administrative purposes. The following districts have been conceptualised for visitors to Kuala Lumpur.
|Golden Triangle (Bukit Bintang, Pudu)|
Kuala Lumpur's equivalent of a Central Business District (CBD) located to the north-east of the Old City Centre. The area is brimming to the seams with shopping malls, bars and five-star hotels, along with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
|Old City Centre (Chinatown)|
This is the traditional core of Kuala Lumpur where you’ll find the former colonial administrative centre, with the Merdeka Square, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the Selangor Club and the former central railway station and railway administration building. This district also includes Kuala Lumpur’s old Chinese commercial centre which everyone refers to now as Chinatown. In 2024 the highest skyscraper in Malaysia (PNB 118) will be located in this part of the city.
|Botanical Garden |
The National Museum, the National Mosque, Botanical Garden, Bird and Butterfly Parks, Orchid & Hibiscus Gardens, Islamic Arts Museum and National Planetarium are located here. A short walk north of the garden is the National Monument.
|Brickfields and Bangsar (Brickfields, Bangsar, Bukit Persekutuan, Mid Valley, Seputeh)|
Brickfields is Kuala Lumpur’s Little India filled with saree shops and banana leaf rice restaurants. Kuala Lumpur’s main railway station, KL Sentral, is located here. Bangsar is a popular restaurant and pub district while Mid Valley, with its Megamall, is one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations. Seputeh is home of the Thean Hou temple.
|North of City Centre (Kampung Baru, Titiwangsa, Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit)|
Located to the north-west of the Golden Triangle and an extension of the Old City Centre. Home to modern shopping malls, traditional street markets and budget accommodation options. Kampung Baru, the last Malay village of Kuala Lumpur, is a food paradise of street stalls and restaurants in traditional kampung setting.
|Western suburbs (Bukit Damansara, Desa Sri Hartamas, Bukit Tunku, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Taman Bukit Maluri)|
Largely suburban, these districts to the west of the city house some interesting pockets of restaurants and drinking areas. Bukit Kiara - a secondary rainforest - is the most popular hiking and mountain biking spot of KL. This district also merges into the northern part of Petaling Jaya (PJ).
|Eastern suburbs (Ampang, Desa Pandan, Taman Maluri, Cheras, Salak Selatan)|
Located east of the city, Ampang is home to Kuala Lumpur’s Little Korea and most foreign embassies and high commissions. Cheras is a suburb with many Chinese residents here.
|Northern suburbs (Sentul, Batu, Setapak, Wangsa Maju, Desa Melawati and many others)|
This huge area to the north of the city is home to several natural wonders attractions, such as the Batu Caves, the National Zoo and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
|Southern suburbs (Taman Desa, Kuchai Lama, Sungai Besi, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Alam Damai, Bukit Jalil, Sri Petaling and many others)|
This district may not interest travellers much, although Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium and National Sports Complex Bukit Jalil are located here.
The combination of Old City Centre, Botanical Garden, North of City Centre and Kuala Lumpur/North, which has a rich history, is also known as the Diamond Triangle.
Beyond the Kuala Lumpur city proper are the adjacent satellite cities of Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Port Klang, Ampang, Puchong, Selayang/Rawang, Kajang and Sepang, all in the state of Selangor, which enclaves Kuala Lumpur. Within the same conurbation, also surrounded by Selangor, is the federal territory of Putrajaya, which is Malaysia's de facto administrative and judiciary capital. These cities all merge such that it can be hard to know where Kuala Lumpur ends and Selangor begins. The culmination of these cities is a huge metropolis known as Greater Kuala Lumpur or more commonly, Klang Valley.
Malaya was a British colony until its independence on 31 August 1957. Literally meaning muddy river confluence in Malay, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis in just around 150 years.
The evening before, crowds gathered at the Selangor Club Padang (Green). As the clock on the State Secretariat Building (today's Sultan Abdul Samad Building) struck midnight, the crowd, led by the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, shouted "Merdeka" seven times. The Union Flag was lowered and the flag of the new country was raised to the strains of the national anthem, Negaraku. The Selangor Club Padang is today's Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). The official handing over of power occurred later, during the day, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium).
Malaysia was created on 16 September 1963, when Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya in a larger federation.
As in most of Malaysia’s cities and towns, Malaysian Chinese form a majority of the population, at 55%, in Kuala Lumpur. Malays (who form the majority of Malaysia's population, overall) and Malaysian Indians are also present in large numbers in the city, and there are substantial numbers of more recent immigrants and workers from South and Southeast Asia, Eurasians, and expatriates from Western countries and the Middle East. The result is a mix of cultures that meld together to make Kuala Lumpur a modern and diverse capital.
Kuala Lumpur is said to be locked in an unofficial rivalry with nearby city-state Singapore. The ethnic Chinese-dominated Singapore was separated from the indigenous Malay-majority Federation due primarily to irreconcilable ideological differences. Singapore strove to become a viable independent state and spurred rapid development, which the Malaysians sought to keep up with by investing in Kuala Lumpur. If Singapore has a first class airport, so does KL. When Singapore got an efficient urban transport system, so did KL. As Singapore becomes clean and green, so does KL. Everywhere you go, there are swats and strips of manicured public lawns and refreshing jungle-like parks - just like Singapore. If Singapore has an aquatic park and a bird park, so does KL. Same thing with an orchid park and butterfly park. If Singapore renovates and paints its colonial shop houses with tutti frutti colours, so does KL. If Singapore builds theme parks, so does KL. And if Singapore aims to be a shopping mecca with a plethora of shopping malls and all sorts of gimmicks, so does KL. What Singapore has, KL matches, often on an even grander scale. So if you've been to Singapore, you will have seen it all in KL, a bit of déjà vu, or vice versa.
Both cities' locations on the geographically, economically and politically important Bangkok-Jakarta corridor have favoured their growth. The two cities are built from the same cultural ingredients, though in different proportions: Chinese culture is more dominant in Singapore.
Founded in 1857 under British rule as a tin mining outpost, Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go and lacks the rich history of Georgetown or Malacca. Due to the success of tin mining, Kuala Lumpur began to flourish but had problems with gang fighting in the late 1800s. Following this, Kuala Lumpur faced further misfortune after much of the city burnt down in a large fire as most buildings were built from wood and thatch. As a result buildings in Kuala Lumpur were required to be built with brick and tile. After these rough early years, Kuala Lumpur began to prosper and was made capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896.
During World War II, Kuala Lumpur and the Federated Malay States were occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. During this time the economy was virtually halted. Soon after the British regained power it was declared that the Federated Malay States were to become the Malayan Union and work toward independence began. In 1952, Kuala Lumpur was one of the first cities in the Union to hold elections. Malaya'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.
In 1972, Kuala Lumpur was given city status and by 1974 became a Federal Territory of Malaysia in its own right, hence losing the title as capital city of Selangor. The economic boom of the 1990s brought Kuala Lumpur the standard trappings of a modern city, but it was severely hit by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which stalled the Malaysian economy and led to the abandonment or delay of many construction projects, some of the partially-built structures remaining till today. Today, Kuala Lumpur has become a modern city, bristling with skyscrapers and with a modern transportation system, and is one of the world's major centres for Islamic banking. Despite this, Kuala Lumpur has still kept some of its historical charm.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
As Kuala Lumpur is only 3 degrees north of the Equator, you can expect tropical weather all year round. Shielded by the Titiwangsa Mountains to the east and Sumatra to the west, temperatures are relatively cooler than other cities within Peninsular Malaysia. Expect sunny days with temperatures above 30°C (86°F) and slightly cooler evenings, particularly when afternoon showers occur and humidity is high. Rainfall can be sporadic and quite torrential at times, but usually does not last very long. During the wet season, around October to March, the northeast monsoon brings heavy rainfall that can occasionally flood some areas of Kuala Lumpur. The months around June and July could be classed as the dry season, but even then it can frequently rain.
Occasionally, due to forest fires from Sumatra around May to October, haze can blanket the city and surrounding regions, and it is best to remain indoors if you suffer from asthma.
As the weather can be hot and humid during the day, try to dress lightly if you expect to be outside and, while it may seem obvious, don't forget to remain hydrated. Also keep in mind that mosques and some temples have strict dress codes, although many do supply gowns to cover you if you are inadequately dressed. If you do find it too hot to be outside, consider going to a shopping mall to relax and work that credit card in air conditioned comfort.
As befitting the nation's capital, Malay is universally spoken and understood by locals in Kuala Lumpur.
However, as Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur is also home to Malaysians of many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and this is often reflected in the number of languages that are used by locals in daily life. The lingua franca of the Chinese community is Cantonese, and most of the ethnic Chinese can speak Cantonese regardless of their native dialect, with a significant number also able to speak Mandarin. Kuala Lumpur is also home to many ethnic Indians, most of whom are native speakers of Tamil.
English is also widely spoken, and English-speaking tourists generally should not have a problem getting around.
Malaysia's transportation systems function well, by regional standards. Planes, trains, buses, and taxis are linked in a system conceived and constructed by, if not an order-loving Teuton, at least a dedicated amateur. The planners' aims are an ultra-modern, chic, European-style system that are a far cry from the city's humble barrio beginnings. The reality is a sound B+ with still a long way to go before hitting the top. A bewildering jumble of initials and acronyms assault any first time journey planner in KL, and it will take at least a day to decipher the scheme of things.
Kuala Lumpur is served by two airports: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is used by almost all airlines that fly to Kuala Lumpur whilst Subang Airport is limited to airlines with turboprop aircraft.
- Main article: Kuala Lumpur International Airport
- 1 Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL IATA). The primary airport serving Kuala Lumpur, 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur in the Sepang district of Selangor. The airport opened in 1998 and superseded Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, which is now only used for charter and commercial turboprop flights. Over 50 airlines call at KLIA. The airport has two terminals, with Malaysia Airlines and other mainline carriers at the "main" KLIA, and Air Asia and other low-cost carriers using KLIA2. They are connected to each other (3 minutes) and the city (28-33 min) by the KLIA Ekspres train.
- 2 Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB IATA). More commonly referred to as Subang Airport, was the city's main airport until KLIA opened, and is designated for turboprop aircraft. The airport is much closer to the city centre and less crowded than KLIA, which can make it a convenient entry point for those flying from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand or other parts of Malaysia. The airport is 25 km from the city centre and the convenient way to get there is by taxi. An alternative is to take Rapid KL bus 772 (destination: Subang Suria/Mah Sing) from Terminal Jalan Sultan Mohammad next to Pasar Seni LRT station, which goes past the airport. The ride takes approximately 40 min in clear traffic. It can take nearly 1hr 30min during peak rush hour. The airport is served by the following airlines:
- Berjaya Air is a domestic and regional airline, which focuses on resort and island destinations. It flies between Subang Airport and Langkawi, Pangkor Island, Penang, Redang Island, Tioman Island and internationally to Hua Hin, Thailand.
- Firefly is a Malaysia Airlines subsidiary that began operating from Subang in late 2007 and operates as a regional turboprop airline. Within Malaysia the airline flies between Subang and Alor Setar, Johor Bahru, Kerteh, Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Langkawi and Penang. Additionally, Firefly also operates international flights within the region between Subang and Indonesia - Batam, Medan, Pekanbaru; Thailand - Hat Yai, Koh Samui; and Singapore. Note that Firefly's flights from Singapore operate from Seletar Airport and not Singapore's main airport at Changi.
- Malindo Air is the latest airline to enter the Malaysian commercial aviation market and is a subsidiary of Indonesia's Lion Air. The airline flies between Subang and Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu and Penang, with plans to expand further.
Buses are a cheap, comfortable and popular transport option for Malaysians, with services reaching virtually all corners of Peninsular Malaysia and also to Thailand and Singapore. So it is no wonder that Kuala Lumpur has several bus stations (stesen bas or hentian) to handle long distance bus services. Despite the complexity of the network there is some pattern to the madness, with buses departing from particular stations depending on the region they travel to or from. To top that off, some buses may arrive at other locations including Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Bangsar LRT Station, Corus Hotel and the Malaysian Tourist Centre (MTC). Always confirm with the bus company where your bus will depart so that you do not miss your bus. In some cases you may need to exchange your ticket for a boarding pass, so try to arrive at the bus terminal 10–15 minutes before the departure time, although bus companies suggest 30 minutes.
- 3 Pudu Sentral (formerly Hentian Puduraya), Jl Pudu (linked to Plaza Rakyat LRT Station), ☏ +60 3 2078-6018. The most central bus station in Kuala Lumpur, serving northbound buses. Pudu got a major facelift and air-conditioning in 2011, and could now stand in for an airport. However, ticketing and information is still not centralized, so finding the next bus to your destination still requires a lot of walking around. Tickets to services departing from other stations are also available. Taxis are on the prowl around the station and can be pushy and may not use the meter. Always negotiate a price beforehand if you want a taxi or the alternative is to head to the nearby LRT station.
- 4 Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), Jl Terminal Selatan (linked to Bandar Tasik Selatan Station), ☏ +60 3 9051-2000. This gigantic and ultra-modern terminal serves southbound destinations, including Malacca, Johor Bharu and Singapore. Despite its less than central location it is extremely well connected by public transport and taxis. Three train services, KTM Komuter, Sri Petaling LRT and KLIA Transit call at this bus station, making it easy to reach from Kuala Lumpur and KLIA.
- 5 Hentian Duta (Duta Bus Terminal), Persiaran Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, ☏ +60 3 6201-4970. A small bus station serving express northbound services. There are no direct public transport services to this station. The nearest bus stop is 500 m north-west of the station close to Federal Territory Mosque. The busses there serve KL Sentral. It is more convenient to hail a taxi though.
- 6 Pekeliling Bus Terminal, Jl Tun Razak (near Titiwangsa LRT & Monorail stations), ☏ +60 3 4042-1256. This terminal handles some bus services to the East Coast, including Taman Negara and Local bus services.
There are quite a few bus companies that arrive and depart from Kuala Lumpur. Below is a list of the major companies. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
- Transnasional, ☏ +60 3 2070-3300. Malaysia's biggest long-distance bus company. Economy class departures to Singapore's Lavender Street terminal at 08:45, 10:30, 13:30, 17:30, 22:30 & 23:59 - it takes 5 hr.
- Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung, ☏ +60 3 2070 1321. Has several buses daily to/from the Golden Mile complex in Singapore.
- Alisan Golden Coach Express, Hentian Pudu Raya, ☏ +60 3 2032 2273. Have three buses every day which leave Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai, departure at 9AM, 10PM, and 10:30PM, 7-hr journey.
- StarMart Express, ☏ +60 3 21431666. Leaves to Singapore from Bukit Bintang. Tickets available there. RM45 next to Berjaya Times Suare (Jalan Imbi, under the monorail station)
The government owned Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railway or KTM) operates intercity (antarabandar) diesel rail services throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Trains arriving in Kuala Lumpur call at 7 KL Sentral, the modern transportation hub in Brickfields, just south of the city centre, and operates across Malaysia with connections to Butterworth (for Penang), Ipoh and Padang Besar and southwards to Johor Bahru with a change at Gemas. As of 2020, direct trains into Singapore and Thailand have been discontinued from Kuala Lumpur; you will need to change trains at Johor Bahru and Padang Besar respectively. Whilst still slow southbound (it's often quicker to catch the coach from TBS especially for Johor Bahru), it's the fastest option for northbound destinations.
The Electric Train Service (ETS) is the sole intercity operator for KL, as the diesel overnight trains have been discontinued. Services run between Padang Besar, at the Thai border, and Gemas near the border with Johor state, calling at major destinations along the way. All trains call at two stops in KL.
Kuala Lumpur railway station is the old British-built station, and is convenient for Chinatown and Chow Kit. There are connections to the KTM Komuter trains at the station, and links to Pasar Seni station for the Kelana Jaya LRT and the MRT by an overhead walkway. KL Sentral, the newer, purpose-built transport hub for the city, is located in Brickfields. It has more rail connections including for the KLIA Transit/Express to KLIA, Skypark Link for Subang airport, as well as for all Komuter trains. It also serves the Kelana Jaya LRT, the KL Monorail (through the Nu Sentral mall), and the MRT via a linked walkway.
Taxi services are available at both stations, but you will find more at KL Sentral and can purchase a taxi coupon when there so that drivers cannot overcharge. See the Get Around section for more information.
Tickets for KTM Komuter and ETS trains can be purchased at the KTM Intercity ticket office on level two of KL Sentral or other stations which trains call at. You can also purchase your ticket online at the KTM e-booking site up to two months in advance, but remember to print out the e-ticket or download the mobticket app. Additionally, timetables and seat availability can be found on the main KTM website. The KTMB website remains fairly unreliable at times, so it may be worth purchasing tickets via a third-party retailer like Easybook or Busonlineticket.
Belmond runs its luxury excursion train Eastern & Oriental Express two to three times per month between Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The price of a ticket matches the on-board extravaganza, starting at US$3,000.
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 Kuala Lumpur-Karak Expressway (E8), which later turns into the East Coast Expressway, links Kuala Lumpur with the East Coast cities Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu.
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 is not by the sea, so it is not possible to get in directly by boat. The nearby Port Klang, about 40 km west of Kuala Lumpur, serves as the main port for this region. Ferries operate international services from Sumatra, Indonesia and a domestic service to Pulau Ketam. Cruise ships also call at Port Klang, usually on the way to other destinations in Asia, allowing for a day trip to Kuala Lumpur. For more information refer to the Port Klang article.
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.
The network consists of the following 12 lines:
- Seremban Line (not much use to tourists besides getting to Batu Caves or Mid Valley Mega Mall)
- Port Klang Line (not much use to tourists besides getting to Port Klang or Mid Valley Mega Mall)
- Ampang Line (follows the same track as Sri Petaling Line, until diverging at Chan Sow Lin)
- Sri Petaling Line (follows the same track as Ampang Line, until diverging at Chan Sow Lin)
- Kelana Jaya Line (useful for getting to Petronas Towers and Chinatown)
- KLIA Ekspres Line (useful for getting to/from KLIA airport, faster)
- KLIA Transit Line (useful for getting to/from KLIA airport, slower)
- KL Monorail Line (connects KL Sentral and Bukit Bintang, other tourist areas)
- Kajang Line (connects KL Sentral, Pasar Seni and Bukit Bintang)
- Skypark Link Line (useful for getting to/from Subang airport)
- Shah Alam Line (not much use to tourists)
- Putrajaya Line (not much use to tourists)
The lines are operated by RapidKL (lines 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12), KTM (lines 1, 2, 10) and Express Rail Link (lines 6, 7).
Most lines travel through Kuala Lumpur's main transport hub, KL Sentral. The Kajang line stops at Muzium Negara which is physically linked to KL Sentral. To reach the Ampang/Sri Petaling lines from KL Sentral involves a simple trip on the Kelana Jaya line to Masjid Jamek.
Touch 'n Go is a reloadable smart card that can be used to pay for travel on all RapidKL, KTM and Express Rail Link lines. The card costs RM5 and is available from RapidKL ticket booths, convenience stores e.g MyNews, or at the Touch 'n Go service centre in Nu Sentral shopping mall (part of KL Sentral). It can be reloaded at the same locations except for some RapidKL ticket machines (old red style). There is a discounted rate on travel if one uses the card instead of a token. It is not sold at the airport station ticket booths, so seek out a convenience store in the terminal before heading downtown.
AMEX, JCB, Mastercard, Visa and UnionPay contactless cards are accepted on KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit. You just need to tap your card at the barrier gate upon entry and exit.
Tips and tricks
- All announcements are made in Malay and English, whether automated or not.
- KL Monorail's "KL Sentral" station is not that close to KL Sentral. The way between the two is signposted and generally has a steady stream of people you can follow. There is a bank of escalators leading up to a shopping mall, Nu Sentral at the side of the KL Sentral concourse nearest to the KLIA Transit entrance. Follow the signposts and the metal tactile marking on the floor until you reach an escalator. Descend one level, and the monorail station will be visible through the glass doors.
- The lines follow intervals that change with time of the day and day of the week. Line frequencies are typically 4-7 minutes on weekends, and 2-3 minutes at peak hours. Expect a slightly longer wait on the monorail. Service disruptions on rapid transit are relatively rare.
- Accessibility to the disabled varies between lines. The Kajang and Putrajaya lines are fully disabled accessible, and even have facilities for the hearing impaired to pipe announcements through their hearing aids. The Kelana Jaya, Ampang and Sri Petaling lines are mostly accessible to the blind and wheelchair-bound, though once out of the station it may be difficult getting around without an assistant. The KL Monorail line is not wheelchair friendly (but has tactile markings), but lifts are slowly being installed along the line. The BRT Sunway is also largely accessible. Accessibility for the disabled along the Seremban and Port Klang lines vary with station, and should not be relied upon as a given.
- The system can take a while to get familiar with, due to sometimes illogical design decisions e.g. some interchanges. Don't hesitate to ask a member of the station staff (most will be able to speak English decently) for directions, or a fellow commuter (those who are smartly dressed are most likely to speak English fluently). Signposts are your friend, they are normally extremely clear and are both in Malay and English.
Detailed information on the lines
- The MRT is a high capacity metro system. The Kajang line runs between Kwasa Damansara and Kajang. There are interchange stations at Muzium Negara (many lines, KL Monorail is a particularly long transfer), Pasar Seni (with Kelana Jaya), Bukit Bintang (with KL Monorail), Maluri (with Ampang Line) and Kajang (with Seremban). The Putrajaya line runs between Kwasa Damansara and Putrajaya. There are interchange stations at Kampung Batu (with Seremban), Titiwangsa (with Ampang, Sri Petaling, KL Monorail), and Tun Razak Exchange (with Kajang).
- The LRT is a medium capacity metro system (although the letters LRT stand for Light Rail Transit).
- The Ampang line and Sri Petaling line merge at Chan Sow Lin station and run on the same platform at all stations to Sentul Timur station. This line can be used for access to Chinatown and Pudu Sentral Bus Station at Plaza Rakyat station. There are relatively simple interchanges at Titiwangsa (with Putrajaya, KL Monorail), Putra Heights (with Kelana Jaya), Hang Tuah (with KL Monorail), Masjid Jamek (with Kelana Jaya). The interchanges at PWTC, Bandaraya and Sultan Ismail require exiting the paid area of the station and walking a long distance with no escalators or lifts.
- The Kelana Jaya line travels through several key tourist areas including Pasar Seni station for Chinatown and the central market, KLCC station for the Petronas Towers and Suria KLCC shopping centre. It also stops by the shopping and foodie areas of Subang Jaya, which are worth a stop. Additionally you can alight at Masjid Jamek station (this station can be confusing, please make sure of which direction you are heading in, which is indicated by terminus instead of compass direction) and transfer to the Ampang/Sri Petaling lines without leaving the ticketed area. Important interchange stations are at KL Sentral and Masjid Jamek. The Shah Alam line travels between Bandar Utama and Johan Setia.
- The KL Monorail is an entirely elevated line that loops through the Golden Triangle in a semi-circle. Use this line for access to Bukit Bintang, a major shopping area, or Bukit Nanas, for clubbing at Jalan P. Ramlee and the Petronas Towers. Fares are a little more expensive than the LRT lines. The monorail gets extremely congested at peak hours, and an 8-12 minute wait for a train does happen occasionally. Bukit Nanas station is listed as an interchange with the Kelana Jaya line but be aware this entails a 200-m walk under a sheltered walkway. It also links to the Kajang line at Bukit Bintang, although exiting and re-entering the system is required.
- The KTM Komuter is comprised of three lines (Seremban, Port Klang and Skypark Link) that meet in the city centre and run out to the suburbs. The service is not as frequent or efficient as other lines in Kuala Lumpur and it is not odd for trains to be late either. Despite this, the rolling stock is quite modern and fares are cheaper than the LRT lines or KL Monorail. The KTM Komuter is great for travel to Batu Caves and Mid Valley Mega Mall.
- The Express Rail Link (ERL) runs between KL Sentral and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with 2 types of train services, KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit. The KLIA Ekspres service runs non-stop between KL Sentral and KLIA, taking 28 minutes, whilst the KLIA Transit service stops at Salak Tinggi, Putrajaya/Cyberjaya and Bandar Tasik Selatan en route, taking 36 minutes. The fare costs RM55 one-way with no stops via the KLIA Ekspres as of 2020.
In the past, connectivity between the different lines was quite poor, but upgrades to the system have helped to integrate a few key stations along the LRT and Monorail lines without purchasing separate tickets. To transfer between the Kelana Jaya, Ampang or Sri Petaling lines, alight at Masjid Jamek or Putra Heights. To transfer between the KL Monorail, Ampang or Sri Petaling lines, alight at Hang Tuah or Titiwangsa. To transfer between the Kajang line and the KL Monorail line, alight at Bukit Bintang. To transfer between the Kajang line and the Kelana Jaya line, alight at Pasar Seni. Beyond these interchange stations, the only way to transfer between lines is to purchase a separate ticket for each leg and potentially walk for some of the journey.
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 48 hr) 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 in the Central Business District (CBD) with four 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. 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. The buses get very crowded during peak hours, but are efficient and clearly signposted. There are announcements in Malay and English.
RapidKL operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but low frequencies (2-3 per hour on most routes) and the near-total lack of signs makes this a poor option for the casual visitor. The buses 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.
RapidKL buses are broadly divided in two categories (refer to the RapidKL website for more information)
- Utama (no letter) buses travel to outlying suburbs
- Tempatan (T) buses are feeder services for train stations.
For all RapidKL routes, you must use a Touch 'n Go card (sold on board). When using a Touch 'n Go card, tap in once at the reader near the driver (you may need to hold the card for 2-3 seconds until it beeps) and tap out at the reader near the middle doors when exiting or you will be charged the highest possible fare. BET (Bus Expressway Transit) services use the highways and cost a flat RM3.80. Buses run from 6AM-11PM or so, with no night services.
The BRT Sunway Line is an elevated bus rapid transit line (which is part of the RapidKL network) which serves the township of Bandar Sunway, and is useful for visiting attractions like Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Pyramid. It interchanges with the Kelana Jaya line at USJ7 and the KTM Komuter network at Setia Jaya. Frequency is similar to that of the rapid transit networks.
Normal red and white taxis (RM3 first 2 km, then around RM0.90/km) and bright blue executive taxis (RM6 flagfall + a slightly higher per kilometre rate) 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.
Drivers are less likely to use the meter when demand exceeds supply, such as during the rush hour or when it rains. Prices then become negotiable (before setting off) and inflated (2-10 times the meter price). This is illegal but realistically the only thing you can do is walk away and find a different driver (by law they are required to use the meter). A cab hailed off the street is more likely to use the meter than one that stalks tourist spots. If stuck with a driver that won't use the meter, negotiate hard: RM5 should cover most cross town trips of 15min or so, even with traffic. If you are staying in an expensive hotel, hide your affluence and give a nearby shopping mall as your destination instead.
After midnight, meter prices are increased by 50% (e.g. at 1AM, if the meter shows RM12, you pay RM12+6).
During rush hour it's generally best to combine public transport with taxis.
A few popular places (notably both airports, KL Sentral, Menara KL and Sunway Pyramid Megamall) enforce a prepaid coupon systems, which generally work out more expensive than using the meter, but cheaper than bargaining. Taxis from Pavilion Shopping Mall's taxi counter cost the meter with a RM2 surcharge.
Some taxi drivers will hang around near hotels offering tours similar to those offered by established companies. Some of these drivers are quite knowledgeable and you may end up with a specially tailored, private tour for less than the cost of an official tour. Know the going rates before driving a bargain!
If you get so off the beaten track that you need to call a cab, here are some telephone numbers:
- Comfort Cabs, ☏ +60 3 6253-1313.
- Sunlight Taxi Unicablink, ☏ 1300 800 222 (local rate).
- Public Cab, ☏ +60 3 6259-2020.
- Uptown Ace, ☏ +60 3 9283-2333.
- Keeganlam Executive Taxi services, ☏ +60 17 663-2696.
- Executive Taxi Tour Service, ☏ +60 14 267-5934.
Grab (the Southeast Asia equivalent to Uber) also operates in KL. Grab allows passengers to pay fares in cash, so you do not need to register a credit card.
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 often-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 in the road in busy districts such as Bangsar or Bukit Bintang because other cars might block you by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back.
Renting a car is an option for travelling in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia.
The old centre of Kuala Lumpur fairly compact and the old buildings in various state of repair are great for exploring on foot. Even plodding between the colonial area and the new glass and steel sector (see walking tour below) is enjoyable outside the hottest hours of 11AM-4PM. 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 illegal (on-the-spot fine: RM20/30 for tourists/locals if unlucky) but is generally overlooked.
A nice sightseeing walk through downtown KL can be found in the itinerary KL Sightseeing Walk.
Travelers with disabilities
Like many cities in SE Asia, KL presents a great challenge for travelers with mobility impairments. Sidewalks 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 by poorly designed or narrow sidewalks, parked cars, motorcycles, fences, stairs, trees, etc., and will rarely be able to travel more than 50 meters 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 sidewalk is obstructed) can be very dangerous, as many drivers do not expect, nor yield to, wheelchair users. You will occasionally find accessibility features like ramps or elevators obstructed or unserviceable. A notable exception are 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 bathrooms. Much of the rail system is inaccessible, most notably the monorail (which is being fitted with stair lifts). 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 travelers in wheelchairs, but will generally be helpful.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
When people think of Kuala Lumpur the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Petronas Towers, which is in the Golden Triangle. Whilst they most certainly are an architectural delight (particularly at night), there is much more to be discovered in Kuala Lumpur. Competing with the Petronas Towers is KL Tower (Menara KL), which looks oddly similar to other famous skyscrapers. The real joy of Kuala Lumpur lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it.
Being part of a former British colony, many colonial buildings are scattered throughout, with many lending themes from British and North African architecture. The grandest colonial buildings lie in the city centre including the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, the charming Masjid Jamek at the confluence on the Klang River and the former offices of the Colonial Secretariat (now the Sultan Abdul Samad Building) on Merdeka Square. To top it off on Merdeka Square's west side, you will find the Royal Selangor Club, looking like a rejected transplant straight from Stratford-upon-Avon.
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. 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.
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.
Nature and wildlife
While Kuala Lumpur is more of a concrete jungle compared to other parts of the country, it is still easy enough to delve into nature. The Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) is a great escape from the busy life of Kuala Lumpur for RM5.30. The hikes are easy and you can go up a canopy walkway for RM10.60 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. You can get to FRIM via KTM Komuter. Stop at Kepong or Kepong Sentral and grab a short taxi ride.
For something more centrally located try the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, located at the base of Menara KL. 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. The massive Lake Gardens, located in the western part of the Old City Centre is another great option and you could literally spend a whole day venturing around the park. Within Lake Gardens are many attractions and various parks including the KL Bird Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden, Mouse Deer Park and a Butterfly Park. An indoor alternative is the Aquaria KLCC, in the Golden Triangle near the KL Convention Centre. The aquarium contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
Kuala Lumpur is well known for its wide range of shopping and eating options, which are adequately covered in the Eat and Buy sections of this article and listings within the district articles. Skyscraper Gazing is the obvious option, with glass and steel abound and excellent views available from the Petronas Towers or the KL Tower (Menara KL) viewing decks, both located in the Golden Triangle.
Arts & Culture
Like much of Kuala Lumpur, there is an interesting mix of arts and culture to experience, ranging from traditional Malay to Islamic to modern. 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 Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in the northern part of the city, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (Dewan Filharmonik) in the Twin Towers, and the Actors Studio at Lot 10. Leading museums in the Old City Centre are the National Museum[dead link], which covers the region's history, and the well-regarded Islamic Arts Museum, which houses a small but captivating collection.
Pampering and spas can be found in several five-star hotels and independent centres in the Golden Triangle. There's also nail parlours and beauty salons, which are generally good value, there's also high-end ones offering similar services for a premium. Reflexology and foot massage places are everywhere, especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and in Chinatown.
For those who are willing to be a bit more adventurous, try hunting down a fish foot spa and relax whilst fish nibble away at your feet. However do be careful which one you go to as some are of low standard and you may get an infection or even a blood borne disease. Try a fish spa in a tourist area as these tend to be better maintained.
Urban sports such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and horse riding are common in Kuala Lumpur. 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.
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 plays in the top division of football in Malaysia, the Malaysia Super League. Match schedule and fixture can be seen at the KLFA website.
Volunteering is not often the first thing you may considering doing when in Kuala Lumpur, however there are various projects to give your time and help out the community. Regardless of spending one day or even a week or more volunteering for a cause, you will probably find something that you are interested in. Below are some volunteering options available within Kuala Lumpur.
- Nur Salam (Chow Kids), 24A-B Jl Chow Kit, ☏ +60 3 4045 4021. Volunteer with the street kids of Chow Kit (KL) to "help improve the quality of life for the children of Chow Kit whose parents are usually former and current drug addicts & sex workers in Kuala Lumpur". Chow Kids offers training for volunteers who wish to spend any amount of time interacting and helping these deserving children.
- SPCA Selangor, Jl Kerja Air Lama, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, ☏ +60 3 4256 5312, +60 3 4253 5179. SPCA Selangor is an animal welfare organisation dedicated to protecting defenseless animals and to alleviate their suffering. Volunteer to help out at the animal shelter, SPCA's marketing and communication department or SPCA's outreach events.
- Zoo Negara, Hulu Kelang, Ampang, Selangor, ☏ +60 3 4108 22219, email@example.com. Love animals? Volunteer at the National Zoo - Zoo Negara outside the city. Simply fill out the Volunteer Form on the website and show up for a shift at the zoo in a variety of areas. Their volunteer website gives for more information.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
Being the retail and fashion hub of Malaysia it is no surprise that shopping is one of Kuala Lumpur’s greatest pleasures. From the local pasar pagi (morning market) and pasar malam (night market) to top end shopping malls and everything in between, you will be sure to find something to suit you budget and style. Many shopping options also exist beyond the city proper in the adjacent satellite cities of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya. For more information on shopping in these areas please refer to the buy section of these articles.
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 Times Square, Imbi Plaza, Fahrenheit88, Lot 10, Low Yat Plaza, Pavilion KL, Starhill Gallery, Sungei Wang Plaza and LaLaport Bukit Bintang City Centre. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur 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 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. Nearby Subang Jaya is home to Sunway Pyramid Megamall, known throughout Malaysia for its Egyptian-themed architecture.
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.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
Malaysian food is amazing, making Kuala Lumpur an excellent place to eat as it hosts cuisine from all around the country and beyond. 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 coffee shops and stalls. They mostly open only at night.
One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row in (Chow Kit). 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.
The Golden Triangle, Bangsar and Midvalley, Heritage Row and some areas in Damansara and Hartamas are the usual places for people looking to dine out with a bit of flair.
Ethnic generalizations: Malay food can be found in the Jalan Masjid India and Kampung Baru 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.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
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 Chow Kit 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. 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 drinks 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.
- Individual listings can be found in Kuala Lumpur's district articles
Budget accommodation can be found everywhere; dormitory beds can cost as little as RM25 per night. Find the cheap ones online if cost is an issue. Increasingly, newer & better ones are opening in the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Chow Kit, Jalan Ipoh areas, the so-called growth areas in the city centre. If you are willing to take the 10-minute LRT to the main attractions, then hotels can be found for as little as RM49 per night (sometimes below) with free Wi-Fi. Another area with low-cost accommodation is in Brickfields close to the KL Sentral monorail station.
Mid-range and splurge
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. Prices vary seasonally.
Crime is not rampant in Kuala Lumpur. The perception of crime is high, but 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.
Kuala Lumpur is generally very safe for travellers (it is locals who are often the targets of crime), but be wary of over-friendly locals trying to con you. Police presence, particularly around tourist areas and at night has increased.
Walking in the city is usually fine but, as anywhere, caution must be exercised, especially if alone. Indeed, your greatest danger whilst walking will be sidewalks that end abruptly in massive holes, or impassable 6-lane roads that you must cross. Snatch thieves can be rather ruthless: women have been knocked unconscious by bag snatchers on motorbikes. If this happens to you, let go of the bag rather than be dragged several metres and risk injury. Hold your bag away from the street side and try not to appear flashy if possible. Be wary in alleyways or parking grounds that appear dark and deserted, as petty thieves with knives or firearms might mug you.
During the rains, pavements and streets become small rivers and crossing a street can be an adventure. Pavements become as slippery as ice so wear proper footwear.
Be careful of a poker scam that involves friendly locals. They normally target lone tourists in popular tourist places. It starts with a friendly approach and an invitation to their home to chat and learn about your country. Then comes poker, accumulated losses and the loss of your cash and jewellery. Such scams can also happen through couchsurfing.
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 hand over 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.
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.
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.
Kuala Lumpur is ostensibly a liberal city by Malaysian standards 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.
Internet cafés are quite plentiful in Kuala Lumpur and you can find them in most shopping centres. If you have your own laptop, Maxis' WLAN service is the best deal around, a prepaid RM15 card gets you unlimited use for 2 weeks. Many hotels provide free internet access and connections. Free Wi-Fi is also available in many cafes, restaurants and shopping centres. A few examples:
- Malaysia Tourism Centre (MTC), 109 Jalan Ampang (between KLCC and Dang Wangi). Formerly MATIC, this tourist information centre has a wealth of information on Malaysia, occasional cultural shows, surly staff and semi-crippled but free PCs for browsing the Net.
- Starbucks, Coffeebean, Burger King and McDonalds - offer free Wi-Fi
- Air Asia Counter in KL Sentral Several computers with internet access are available for you to check out the Air Asia website (and maybe glance at your e-mail or the news quickly)
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 cities. 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.
Watch out when sending postal packages (gifts, clothes, ...) as the employees from the Malaysian post frequently overcharge tourists. Make sure to get a printed receipt with the tracking number, and verify the price at the receipt.
Embassies and High Commissions
The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains an up to date list of foreign missions within Malaysia, many present in Kuala Lumpur. For some countries, where a foreign mission is not present within Malaysia, it lists a nearby mission within other countries.
Day or weekend trips
- Genting Highlands - 40 min by road on the East Coast Highway, has cooler weather, theme parks for the kids and a casino for the adults. Easily accessible by buses from KL Sentral.
- Fraser's Hill - a bit further than Genting. Beautiful nature and fresh climate. Great for hikes and cycling tours.
- Ipoh - Around 90 minutes by train, Ipoh is well known for its food and colonial buildings. Relax in the local hot springs, hunt down the famous Rafflesia flower, shop in the local night markets or even try out white water rafting. Venture out from the main city area to one of several caves and cave temples.
- Kuala Selangor - 1 hr north-west of Kuala Lumpur, is notable for its fireflies that flash in unison, and seafood restaurants.
- Klang - Royal capital of Selangor state with a few interesting old buildings and restaurants.
- Malacca - if you have more days to spend in Malaysia, a must-visit is the historical town of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Steeped with history of its Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial period, you will find this town to be rich in culture and history.
- Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) - at the mouth of the River Klang and its Chinese fishing villages make for an interesting day trip. Take the train to Port Klang (RM5, 1hr 30min) then the boat to the island (RM7, 45 min).
- Putrajaya - Malaysia's megalomanic new federal administrative centre is 30 km to the south (20 min by KLIA Transit train).
- Cameron Highlands - About 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands offers cooler weather and lovely highland landscapes. You will be able to visit tea plantations, vegetable farms, strawberry farms and nurseries, as well as soak in the colonial history of this plateau. Colonial cottages and bungalows as well as modern hotels, resorts and luxurious hilltop retreats can be found here. Bird-watching, jungle trekking and other outdoor activities are also available.
- Langkawi - Officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah. About an hour from KL by plane, Langkawi is a popular tourist resort destination that has tax-free status and plenty of sun, sand & surf. Scuba diving, snorkelling, Kayaking and jungle trekking are just some of the many activities to do in Langkawi.
- Penang - Penang Island is also a must-visit destination well known as the 'food paradise' of Malaysia. The state capital, Georgetown, is protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich Chinese culture, century-old clan houses, majestic temples and historical colonial monuments. Penang is a very popular destination for Malaysians and going there during the local holidays could be hectic.
- Sumatra - One of the many islands of Indonesia, the primary attraction of Sumatra is nature. The island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and named The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra. Filled with jungles, volcanoes and lakes there is lots to see and do for the adventurous traveller. Reach Sumatra by boat from Port Klang, near KL, or by plane.
- Taman Negara - The largest National Park on Peninsular Malaysia with plenty of activities for those wanting to connect with nature include bird watching, cave exploring, Jungle trekking and night safaris. For something to eat try out one of the floating restaurants and relax while time goes by after a long day in the park.
|Routes through Kuala Lumpur|
|Ipoh ←||N S||→ Putrajaya|