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Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur or KL

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. Over 8 million people live within the greater KL area which is clearly noticeable by the huge and vast amounts of traffic that goes into the city every morning, and slowly leaves the city in the evening. Kuala Lumpur has many interesting attractions; like Merdeka Square, Chinatown, Petronas Twin Towers and much more. KL is also known as a shoppers paradise; there are are numerous huge shopping malls where you can literally shop til you drop.

Georgetown capital of Penang

Georgetown; capital of Penang Island

In 2008 UNESCO listed Georgetown as World Heritage Site because of the many original colonial (Chinese style) shophouses. Besides the many beautiful historical buildings; Georgetown also has many modern highrise buildings that often contains big shopping malls. In and around Georgetown there are many fun attractions that are absolutely worthy of a visit.

Malacca

Historical town of Malacca

Malacca is one of the most popular tourist destinations within Malaysia. Every evening the famous Jonker Street night market is buzzing with tourists from all over the world. In 2008 UNESCO listed Malacca as World Heritage Site. Besides the many beautiful historical sites Malacca is also well known for its great food. Everywhere that you look you will find places to eat; experts claim the best local dishes in Malaysia originate from Malacca.

Kuching in Sarawak

Kuching; gateway to Sarawak

Kuching is the biggest Malaysian city on Borneo and also the capital city of the state of Sarawak. Kuching is a very popular tourist destination as it serves as entry point to numerous great attractions within the heart of Sarawak. The city has enough to offer to keep tourists occupied for at least a couple of days. Popular attractions around Kuching are among others Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre and Bako National Park. There are daily flights to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bharu.

Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu is the capital of the northern state of Kelantan. The city serves as main gateway to visitors that are on their way to visit the tropical island of Perhentian. The are daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu, but you can also opt to take the bus or even the adventurous jungle train. Main attractions in the city are the many islamic museums, and also the day and night markets. Though tourist usually pass through the conservative city; there is enough available accommodation in Kota Bharu.

Getting around within Kuala Lumpur

Heavy traffic during rush hour in KL

The transportation is KL is just great. The entire city can be explored by taxi, bus, train and metro. However, the main junctions in KL city center are often extremely crowded (usually from 8am to 9am and from 6.30pm to 8pm). Apart from that you can use public transportation to travel from KL to other cities in Malaysia. You can find a summary of the different ways to get to your destination below. For that matter, when you are staying in the centre of the city, most attractions can be reached by foot. Kuala Lumpur has a modern light rail network that reaches from north to south and east to west (though unfortunately not all stations are connected). Traveling by Kuala Lumpur's metro is considered comfortable and will provide you the utmost mobility.

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RapidKL, KTM Komuter or Monorail

Inside the KL Monorail

Using the metro is a very popular way of transport in Kuala Lumpur. At each LRT station (Light Rail Transit) there are big maps that tell you all the destinations of the metro in and around the city. You can also get a map at the small counter at each station. Tickets can be bought at the machines or at the counter. You can also buy a daily pass and other special tickets, like the Touch 'N Go prepaid card that you can swipe when you go through the lrt gate. Fare between two connecting stations usually is RM1.20. There are three LRT lines in Kuala Lumpur. They are RapidKL, KTM Komuter and KL Monorail. Though stations are not always connected; together they do offer the possibility to travel through the whole city. RapidKL and KTM Komuter connect the city center with all the suburbs; while the KL Monorail runs straight through the city center. Tourists will discover that using the KL Monorail is a cheap, easy and fun way to travel through Kuala Lumpur. Though a train arrives at a KL Monorail station every 3 to 4 minutes; do try to avoid the Monorail during rush hour; as many locals use the Monorail to commute between home and work daily. The Monorail transports over 5000 people per hour on a regular weekday. You can use the metro daily between 6 am and 12pm. Tip: Always be weary of pickpockets; as they often prey on unsuspecting tourists.

Crowds at KL Sentral train station

KL Sentral is the 'central hub' for all LRT operators, the trains to KLIA (International Airport) and the trains to other parts within or outside Malaysia (neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand). Currently a new huge shopping mall is built right in front of KL Sentral. Because of this the quickest route to get from the central train station to the KL Sentral Monorail Station has been blocked. Now you have to walk around the construction site which will take you around 10 minutes.

Below the mass transit map of the following lines in Kuala Lumpur: LRT, KTM Komuter and KL Monorail. Download a .pdf that you can print easily here!

Kuala Lumpur LRT KTM and Monorail map  

Bus in Kuala Lumpur

Bus stop at Raja Chulan

Buses and taxis often go to locations where you can't get to as easy by metro. Busses go frequently and they depart from almost every LRT station. Do not forget to pay when you enter the bus, this usually costs only a few cents (at most a few RM). You can pay the driver in order to get a ticket, but a machine might be easier. When you do not know the exact price you could ask the driver. Do not try to pay with RM50/RM100 notes, for the driver's sake. Even though it may not be a lot of money to you, it sure is for most of Kuala Lumpur's habitants, so try to have enough small change with you. The biggest public bus operator in Kuala Lumpur is RapidKL. Though they did improve over the years; overall service is still often poor. This especially applies to tourists considering taking the bus as 'fun' alternative to other forms of transport within Kuala Lumpur. Often there are no signs, no routes, no maps and no current time tables. Waiting for the next bus could take 10 minutes, or 2 hours. As there is no up to date bus information available you cannot find out which bus to take to certain locations. We once spend 2 hours waiting for a bus that eventually never came as they decommissioned that particular route 6 months ago (but forgot to publish).

Bus station at Bukit Jalil

Puduraya is the central bus station of Kuala Lumpur, it is located near Chinatown. From here hundreds of busses depart daily to all the far corners of both Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia. You can easily travel to other cities from KL by bus. Especially Nice and Plusliner are two reliable companies that provide transport throughout Malaysia. Another bus station is the Bukit Jalil bus station. This station was also used as temporary central bus station while Pudu Sentral bus station was renovated (2011). Throughout Kuala Lumpur there are many more smaller bus stations, often located right next to a LRT station.

 

Hop-on, Hop-off tourist bus service

Hop-on, Hop-off tourist bus service KL

In almost every big city in the world tourists are able to use the Hop-on, Hop-off bus to explore the city in a fun and easy way. Kuala Lumpur also has its own double-decker Hop-on, Hop-off busses; easy recognizable because of the bright and flashy colors. The bus departs from over 20 locations throughout the city; often nearby or right in front of the most popular tourist attractions (the busses are wheelchair accessible). One of the best places to start the tour is right in front of the popular shopping mall Lot10 along Jalan Bukit Bintang. Here you will also find a KL Hop-on, Hop-off counter; where you can buy tickets (though you can also pay in the bus). Read more on the Kuala Lumpur Hop-on, Hop-off bus.

 

Taxi in Kuala Lumpur

Bargaining before getting in the taxi

The easiest (but often also the most expensive) way to travel within Kuala Lumpur is by taxi. Taxis are almost always available at every corner in the city center. The only downside is that some taxi drivers do not want to turn on the meter if he notices that he is dealing with tourists (though locals also often complain). There are several ways to deal with this: You can just boldly get in a cab, and by this give notice that you are not prepared to negotiate the price, this way you force him to turn the meter on. If he, however, does not turn on the meter right away you will have to exit the taxi on your turn. You can also ask the driver to turn on the meter as soon as you get into a taxi. If he refuses you can just walk to the next taxi. Another option would be to directly negotiate about the price, as soon as you enter. However, when doing this, be prepared to overpay, for a fixed price is always higher than the usual fare price. On the other hand, as a tourist in a foreign city, you will not notice when the driver takes a detour or something alike (so he could easily detour when on the meter to earn more). Regular taxi fares for trips within the city center usually never surpass RM15 on the meter. Trips to places outside of the city center usually cost around RM20/RM25 max. After midnight there is a surcharge of 50% on the regular fare (you'll notice that taxi drivers suddenly don't mind using their meters anymore).

Taxi line at Midvalley shopping mall

It is all about supply and demand, and usually you will have to overpay, or search for another taxi. Especially at places where there are fewer taxis then the amount of people that are waiting for a taxi, you will notice that drivers refuse to turn on their meter. For instance when you go to Batu Caves by taxi, be prepared to pay a higher price to get back than what you paid to get there. Also during rainfall when more people than usual rely on a taxi; taxi drivers will not use their meters if they can help it. Another example is around closing time at shopping malls. As everybody needs a taxi at that time; drivers will wait as long as it takes to find a ride on a fixed (higher) price. Around Petronas Twin Towers this practice is done every night by almost all taxi drivers. We were quoted RM40 once for a trip from the Petronas Twin Towers to our former place in Bukit Bintang (normal fare would be around RM5).

Premier taxi driver with his taxi

However, why we like transportation by taxi is because of the fact that even with a fixed price this form of transport is pretty affordable and often a taxi saves you the trouble of having to walk from LRT of bus stations to your destination. With a taxi you will always arrive in front of the doorstep. Another great thing about taking a taxi is the diversity of the drivers. For instance, when you are driven by a Chinese driver; the taxi is filled by the odor of his incenses. If your driver is Indian he could be singing along to the folksongs of his native country. While you can be talking about politics with your driver in the morning, about soccer with the next one, or about his hatred of other cultures with a subsequent one (the latter happens to us on a regular basis). Tip: Tell the taxi driver to 'flag down' to get him to use the meter.

Calling a taxi yourself in Kuala Lumpur

If you have a local SIM card you can call a taxi yourself. Make sure you know your own number as they will often call you back to let you know if they found a taxi. You also need to be able to explain where you are exactly; so they know to which location they need to send the taxi. Below some taxi operators:

  • Comfort Cabs: +60-3-62531313
  • Sunlight Taxi: +60-3-90575757
  • Public Cab: +603 62592020
  • Uptown Ace: +603 92832333
  • Unicablink: +1300 88 0303
 

Car rental in Kuala Lumpur

Hawk Malaysia rent a car

There are numerous car rental companies in Kuala Lumpur. We have great experiences with Hawk Malaysia as this is one of the bigger local car rental companies. Hawk Malaysia has two offices in Kuala Lumpur; one at KLIA (International Airport) and in the city center (along Jalan Penang nearby the Petronas Twin Towers). Another plus of Hawk Malaysia is that you can easily take the car out of Kuala Lumpur should you plan to do a road trip through Malaysia as they have numerous drop-off points throughout Peninsular Malaysia. When you drive a rental car in Kuala Lumpur make sure you either use an accurate map or rent a GPS system at the car rental company. Driving in Kuala Lumpur can be a bit scary. Luckily cars usually don't drive that fast, and nobody will notice if you are driving in Malaysia for the first time in your life. Renting a car in Kuala Lumpur is only wise if you need to be mobile 24/7 and if taxis will not do all the time. A very popular website to check and compare car rental prices is Rentalcars.com .

 

Kuala Lumpur on foot

Crossing the street at Sultan Ismail

Kuala Lumpur is like many other Asian cities extremely dangerous to explore on foot as drivers (cars, taxis and motorbikes) generally treat pedestrians as tresspassers on their turf. Crossings might show a green light that indicates pedestrians can cross the street; it is of utmost importance that you are still on high alert when crossing the street as not everybody will stop before the zebra crossing. Often you will notice that motorbikes and also the occasional car drives up to get a head start on their fellow drivers before the light turns green again for them. Just remember to look into every direction before crossing a street; no matter how deserted the street at that moment might be. Also always wear your bag crossed over your shoulders; as many tourists fall victim of snatch thieves. If you keep these ground rules in mind; then walking around in KL is a nice way to explore the city center. Kuala Lumpur is not the most wheelchair accessible (wheelchair friendly) city, so disabled persons should take this into account when planning to travel to Malaysia).

 

Map of Kuala Lumpur

Below you can see a map of Kuala Lumpur. You can simply scroll through the map with your mouse. Use the markers on the left to zoom in or out of the city map.

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