Dan and I spent a quick 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur on our honeymoon earlier this year. It was our first trip to Kuala Lumpur and we both LOVED the city! It was easy enough to navigate, it had a distinct culture to experience, and it was relatively inexpensive!
Kuala Lumpur, or “KL” as the locals call it (or maybe just us…), is the capital city of Malaysia and is located on the Western side of the Malaysian peninsula, a 4 hour drive from Singapore or a 55 minute flight. The KL airport is huge and there is a good chance anyone flying into Southeast Asia will arrive or depart from KL.
KL is a HUGE city and definitely one of Asia’s major ones. Its the cultural and financial capital of Malaysia and there is a lot going on. Given the large airport in KL, many people simply pass through the KL airport or spent a single night in the city. We found it was worth more time and should not simply be a pass-through destination.
TOP SITES FOR TOURISTS
For bucket list checkers, KL does not have many “bucket list” sites. However, KL does have a number of smaller sites that are definitely worth at least two days of your time, more if you can spare it.
KLs Towers – Probably the most well known sites of KL are the Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Tower. The Petronas Twin Towers are the twin, pointed towers that are the general symbol of KL – the two towers that are linked together with a sky bridge. The Petronas Twin Towers have the distinction of being the largest twin towers in the world. Dan & I visited the Petronas Towers and it was pretty cool, albeit pricey to visit.
In contrast to the Petronas Tower, the KL Tower is the tall, single tower that looks kind of like the CN Tower in Toronto. We did not visit the KL Tower, but its rumored to have excellent views and it looks pretty cool at night!
Since towers are all the rage in this town, I recommend checking at least one out. If your choice is the Petronas Towers, I am writing a post all about how to visit them, but know that you should 100% (read: you have to) buy tickets in advance!!
Batu Caves – Another interesting attracting in KL are the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are a Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. Its one of the most popular Hindu Shrines in the world. Located in the Gombak neighborhood of KL, it takes a big of time to get here from downtown KL (a car service is most often the best option). Once you arrive, you can climb the crazy stairs and explore the shrines in the caves. Allow approximately 2 hours for this site – there is also fun tourist shopping below!
Bukit Bintang – Bukit Bintang is a neighborhood in Singapore that has tons of lights, entertainment, and food. Young people will particularly enjoy it. This is the place to go for large malls, international brands, and people watching. It reminded me a bit of Times Square. Definitely worth a stroll if you are in the area.
Shopping – Aside from Bukit Bintang, huge shopping malls are everywhere in KL. Literally, everywhere. And they are amazing malls – Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabana, Cartier…you name it, the stores are in KL! Even if you are not looking to spend a fortune, the malls are worth checking out.
Other Activities – Since Kuala is a large, successful city, there are no shortages of extravagant experiences in Kuala Lumpur. If you want it, you can probably find it. Dan and I did our first “dining in the dark” expereince here – where you eat a meal in total darkness. Spoiler alert – the below picture is not the Dining in the Dark experience!
In addition to these sites, KL is also home to the Central Market for shoppers. We skipped the Central Market, but it is supposed to be enjoyable.
One of our favorite things about KL was its amazing selection of food, both expensive and inexpensive. Its impossible to list everything that we tried, but everything was really good!
On our first night in KL, we took a food tour with Tours with Locals through Bikit Bintang and Jalan Alor, Bikit Bingtang’s most famous food street! This was very cool and allowed us to try some of KL’s best street food. Some of our favorites were these dumplings!
We also tried some Venezuelan rum at The Whisky Bar in Kuala Lumpur. Coming from the US, we never get anything Venezuelan, so this was a special treat!
KL also has a large Indian population, so you can get really good Indian food here. Don’t miss it if you are in town!
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the lovely Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, right in KL! We stayed on points and were given access to the Club Level due to my SPG Business Card. I wrote an entire post about the Sheraton, but, in short, it was fabulous! And the Club Lounge access was awesome!
Language – like Singapore, Malaysia is a country made up of a variety of different people and English is the common language. Nearly everyone in KL speaks English.
Currency – The ringgit is the official currency of Malaysia. Everyone uses Ringgit in Kuala Lumpur – no dollars, no euros. Most shops, restaurants, and hotels also accept all major credit cards. However, you should have some cash for street food and trinket souvenir purchases.
Transportation – We arrived in KL in the late afternoon and we used Uber (now Grab) to get from the airport to our hotel. There is also a train, which is apparently a better option during rush hour. We also took Uber back to the airport, but again during off hours. Again, since Uber is no longer viable in Malaysia, you should download the Grab app on your phone before you leave. Alternatively, Malaysia has a large public transportation system, including trams, buses, and a monorail!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Kuala Lumpur: Wonderful Malaysia website on KL.
Petronas Twin Towers: Petronas Twin Tower, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open daily 9 AM – 9 PM.
KL Tower: 2, Jalan Puncak, Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open daily 9 AM – 10 PM.
Batu Caves: Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia. Open daily 6 AM – 9 PM. I recommend taking a Taxi or Grab, but bus and monorail services are avaialble. Bring something that covers your shoulders. Free entrance, however you can pay a bit extra to enter some of the smaller caves.
The Whiskey Bar KL: 46, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Open daily 4 AM – 1 AM.
Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur: Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, 50250, Malaysia. T: (60)(3) 2717 9900. Reservations can be made on their website. We accessed the Club Level through my SPG Business card.
ON A BUDGET
If you are wanting to see a large, modern city in Southeast Asia, KL is a much cheaper option than Singapore. Everything here is cheaper, from lodging to food to souvenirs. If you are visiting on a budget, save money by staying in a hostel (or other form of inexpensive loding), eat the street food, visit the free Batu caves, and skip the pricey visits to the top of KL’s towers.