Asian cities: Kuala Lumpur

Short story

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the biggest city of Malaysia. Although dominant religion here is Islam, as in most Asia countries here you can find a lot of different cultures, intercontinental cuisine and various sights. Kuala Lumpur is also an economic hub of Malaysia, therefore a lot of international companies from Europe, USA or China established their offices here.

The first establishment in the territory was built in 1859, but city status was granted just in 1972. Kuala Lumpur is a modern city with growing technologies, lots of skyscrapers, ongoing construction and just a bit of authenticity, which you can mostly see and feel in Chinatown or Litlle India.

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Kuala Lumpur International airport (KLIA) was built just in 1993 and is 45 km away from the city centre. You can reach it by most airlines from Europe and by Air Asia (Malaysia’s budget airlines which are the best in the world in their category) from any direction in Asia. The airport has two terminals: KLIA1 and KLIA2, which are easily accessible by KLIA transit train.

To/from airport

The best way to reach Kuala Lumpur city – KL Sentral – is by using one of the two train lines that go directly from/to airport – KLIA Ekspres or KLIA Transit. What’s the difference between these two? KLIA Ekspres is a fast, non-stop train and you can reach the end station in 30 min (cost 55 RM/ 12 EUR). KLIA Transit train goes the same way as Ekspres, but it stops 3 times in other stations. It will be cheaper to travel by KLIA Transit, but it will take more time. So it depends on what do you prefer: saving time or saving money.

One tricky part of KLIA Transit is that you cannot buy the ticket directly to KL Sentral from vending machine. When you choose it as your final destination, it directly offers you KLIA Ekspres. So if you have time and want to save some cash, you need to buy a ticket to Putrajaya station (8,5 RM/ 2 EUR), get off at that station, buy one more ticket to KL Sentral (13 RM / 3 EUR) and continue your trip. All trip should take about one hour.

Keep in mind, that buying a ticket from the vending machine with your credit/debit card can also save you few euros – they are giving 10 % discount. Or if you want to plan your trip to the details – you can buy tickets online.

An alternate way to get to the city is to take an airport shuttle or taxi. Expect it to be much more expensive. Plus, it also might take longer than expected due to terrific traffic in the city.

Advice: If you’re travelling by KLIA transit either way in a daytime, You can get out in Putrajaya and explore this city before heading to your direction. It’s federal administrative centre of Malaysia.

Getting around the city by public transport

KL Sentral station is a transport hub with train, light rail (LRT), monorail, bus and taxi links to rest of city. The easiest way to travel around the city is using their trains.

  • Light Rail Transit (LRT). There are three lines: the Ampang line from Ampang to Sentul Timur, the Sri Petaling line from Sentul Timur to Putra Heights and the Kelana Jaya line from Gombak to Putra Heights.
  • KTM Komuter train services run every 15 to 20 minutes from 6 am to 11.45 pm and use KL Sentral as a hub. There are two lines: Tanjung Malim–Sungai Gadut and Batu Caves–Pelabuhan Klang.
  • Kuala Lumpur Monorail is zips from KL Sentral to Titiwangsa, linking many of the city’s sightseeing areas.

For travelling around you either use prepaid MyRapid public transport card or Touch’n go card (if you plan to stay longer). The third option – you can buy tokens every time you need to use public transport. In vending machine you choose your destination, pay for it and receive a token – you tap the token on the way in and insert it in the gate on the way out.


The best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur is somewhere near KL Monorail train:

Chinatown – Near Maharajalela Monorail stop, easy access to Merdeka Square, Masjid Jamek and Jalan Petaling street.

Bukit Bintang – The central district of Kuala Lumpur, cheaper hotels are found near Monorail station Imbi.

Brickfields – Little India is the most budget-friendly place and very close to KL Sentral, but it’s harder accessible.

We stayed in Kuala Lumpur twice on our trip – we arrived and left to Europe from KL. So we have tried 2 different hotels: Rain Forest Hotel in Chinatown and Ceria Hotel.

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The famous Petronas twin towers – second tallest building in Kuala Lumpur after KL tower. Astonishing view from the bottom of the building. Being the symbol of KL it’s still a must-see building, but better view and cheaper option is KL tower.

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KL tower – the tallest building in KL.

Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve – It is a forest in the middle of the city. Really worth to visit the place just to run away from the booming and loud city. You could have a tree walk or just some free time there.

KLCC park – It’s a beautiful newly made park where you can spend some time just walking through it or watching Petronas twins from 4 different viewing points.

Chinatown – It’s one of the first districts in KL and one of the best-conserved sites of the city. Loud, full of food stalls and vendors.

Merdeka square – Or Independence square, with a huge polo stadium.

Masjid Jamek – The first mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

Batu Caves – Just outside Kuala Lumpur, 35 min drive by KTM Komuter train, there is this big mountain with a numerous of caves and temples inside. The highest of them is just 273 stairs away from the ground.

Perdana lake garden – Main city park for a quiet walking and spending some time off the busy city.

Kuala Lumpur is not the place to see a lot of cultural heritage – so do not get disappointed. It is full of skyscrapers, business centres and a crazy number of shopping malls. If you are a shopaholic – hide your credit card.

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As a multicultural city, Kuala Lumpur is full of different and interesting food experience. Here You can find Malay, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Indonesian or Indian dishes in budget street food stalls or a bit more expensive restaurants. Here are our choices:

Jalan Petaling – Street in Chinatown which is open daily from 6 PM and offers lots of different Chinese cuisine in small alleys of it or restaurants in the middle of the street.

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Jalan Alor – Street near Bukit Bintang Monorail stop. Here You can try different cuisines. The street is open in the evening with lots of restaurants and some stalls there. Different price range from budget chicken satays to more expensive seafood.

LOT10 food court – Place with a lot of choices for eating. Open all day long, so You can go there for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Hawker centres. You can find lots of food courts or hawker centres around the city. We tried one in Underground Dataran (Merdeka square) and in KL Sentral station (must try Indian food and handmade Roti bread).

3-day travel itinerary

Here you have a simple 3-day itinerary for visiting Kuala Lumpur

  • Day 1. KL Monorail to Bukit Bintang (3RM) > breakfast at LOT 10 food court > walk to KLCC park through Pavillion shopping mall > Viewpoint of Petronas twins from KLCC park > walk to KL tower (observation deck 52 RM) > go straight to Bukit Nanas forest reserve, take a tree walk > head to Masjid Jamek > Merdeka square> spend the evening in Chinatown.
  • Day 2. Go to KL Sentral and take a Komuter train to Batu Caves (2,6 RM) > Spend some time there, visit Ramayana cave > head back to KL Sentral and have a quick lunch in hawker centre > walk to Perdana lake garden > back to KL Sentral and take Monorail to Bukit Bintang (2,6 RM) > have a dinner in Jalan Alor street.

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  • Day 3. Either is it a day that you’re flying somewhere else or a free day – we recommend you to visit Putrajaya city. Take KLIA Transit train > at Putrajaya Sentral take a bus no 3, 4, 5 or 8 to Putrajaya Boulevard. You can also walk there, there is a pedestrian bridge and scenic view along the way > go through Boulevard > visit Putra mosque (check visiting time, they let the tourists in only 2 times per day) > back home or straight to the airport.

Have you been in Kuala Lumpur? What did you enjoy the most? Share your experience with us!

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