Malaysia has a rich and diverse culture with Indian and Chinese influences besides Malay. This cultural diversity of course results in a vast food choice! So make sure, you eat yourself around Malaysia as long as you are visiting Kuala Lumpur! For first time visitors it’s also important to know that the climate is hot and humid all year long. Even though Malaysia is a Muslim country it’s okay to wear the typical backpacker clothing (shorts and flip-flops). Kuala Lumpur has a lot to offer for every type of traveler!
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur
Arriving in KL by plane it’s possible to take the train (KLIA express) or a taxi to the place you stay. When I arrived I chose to get a taxi to my hotel, the main reason for this was that it was accessible by public transport (monorail) but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find my hotel because of horrible sense of orientation (I could spend hours talking about stories where I get lost). In my case it was a very good choice – even though the horrible traffic in KL, because the driver never heard of the hotel before and struggled to find it first. I had the address written on a piece of paper to show him and the name of the hotel and when he said that I got first a bit insecure. After he phoned a few people he found it and I was so relieved!
KLIA Express is a shorter and cheaper alternative. So if your hotel is close to LRT it’s probably better to take that because it saves so much time – traffic jam in KL is the nightmare of a nightmare.
If you travel first to Singapore, it’s also possible to take a bus from Singapore to KL, my night bus took about 6 hours.
bus ticket price: approx. SGD 25
The currency is called Ringgit.
Withdrawing money from ATMs that accept Visa and Mastercard is no problem.
Places to visit
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
The stunning architecture of Sultan Abdul Samad Building really impressed me! It was also really clean everywhere around and all in all it’s a good place to take some pictures.
Merdeka Square is just next to Sultan Abdul Samad Building. There is also a nice water fountain on Merdeka Square and some sort of artificial waterfall, fortunately I found a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra6Owhpz0lI) from Nomadic Samuel which shows the place.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
The oldest Hindu temple is located on the edge of China Town in KL.
Closest Station: LRT Pasar Seni
Thean Hou Temple
The Hainanese community built this temple with stunning architecture, it is dedicated to goddess Tian Hou. For visiting it’s better to visit early in the morning because of the heat.
How to get there: if you take the MRT to Mid Valley, you can take a taxi from there to the temple.
It is one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur and located in walking distance from Pentaling street.
Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC Park and Lake Symphony
Petronas Twin Towers are KL’s most famous landmark – don’t forget to take an obligatory picture or selfie. KLCC is a good place to shop in KL and if you are not a friend of hawker food there is also a nice food court inside. In the evening around 8pm there is a lake symphony where the xxx dance to some music which is nice to see when you are anyway at the Petronas Twin Towers to see them by night. During day time it I would also recommend to have a walk in the KLCC Park which is just nearby.
Just a bit outside of KL you can visit the famous Batu Caves with the golden Statue of Indian god Murugan. You have to clim 272 steps to get inside the caves.
The entrance is free but you are free to donate a few bucks.
How to get there: from KL Sentral via KTM Komuter Train – the ride takes approximately 25 minutes.
National Textiles Museum
I ended up because of my love for walking around. I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was 16, so this was a nice opportunity to learn more about the traditional fashion and culture in Malaysia. They have many different costumes and dresses which represent die different parts of Malaysia. For me it was a must to visit the National Textiles Museum! Price: For free
Pentaling Street represents the China Town in KL. It is quite different from Jonker Street in Malacca, more focused on tourists. They see there basically fake handbags, watches and sunglasses which is a sad association to China. I would prefer to see there more traditional Chinese stuff but not stalls selling knock-offs of famous brands. You will find around also some hawker stall which sell Chinese food – the prices are a bit higher than the average prices for meals in KL (of course not surprising). If you go early there, you can easily avoid the crowds and look around in peace. Central Market Nearby Pentaling Street you have the opportunity to check out some souvenir shops in Central Market. You can still find around counterfeit products but in general the offer of souvenirs is much better than in Pentaling Street. Shopping malls: Bukit Bintang is the place to be if you want to leave out your inner shopaholic. Kuala Lumpur is full of massive shopping malls and small shops where you can buy souvenirs and other random things. Just be careful when you are intending on buying electronics in a mall from a shop which looks a bit suspicious, especially when you want to buy a smartphone because a guy I met told me how he almost got scammed by a fake vendor. Always trust your gut!
Nice malls for the shopaholics:
– Pavillion Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall
– Mid Valley Megamall
– Lot 10
– Berjaya Times Square
Eating in Kuala Lumpur
If you want to eat local and on a budget – you found a good city to do so! As usual, don’t eat inside or close to tourist places e.g. Pentaling Street. Compared to eating out in Europe it will be still cheap to eat at tourist spots but sometimes the experience is better at local restaurants (or food courts). Just go a few streets further – most restaurants have open spaces to sit, so you can actually judge by walking by if this is a local or tourist restaurant. Don’t worry if the people inside stare at you first, they are probably just curious about you. I had only excellent experiences with local restaurants even though it was first a bit intimidating that in the beginning people stared at me. One time a chef from the place I had breakfast one came to me and had a conversation with me – people are friendly. Just be prepared that there might be sometimes a language barrier, it’s for sure helpful to know a few words in Malay.
You will see also streetfood stalls, especially around Pentaling Street. Make sure that if you go for Streetfood that it’s actually deep fried… heard from someone who had a bad experience with streefood.
This is the most common advice on traveling South-East Asia: avoid tap water! You can buy easily at small shops or 7-elevens bottled water.
As always, use your common sense. Beware of pocket pickers, especially in the MRT – you might realize that once you enter a MRT that everyone has their bags close to their bodies. Avoid to walk in the dark in empty streets, stay on main roads where the people are. Traveling as a woman is totally fine in KL, just remember that the culture is different and for some people it can be odd to see a woman traveling by herself. Keep yourself out of trouble and stay away from drugs – this can lead to execution!
Download the GPS coordinates on your phone!