first visit to kuala lumpur

While compiling the 8 top travel tips you need to know for your first visit to Kuala Lumpur for my friends’ daughter, it helped her so much that I have decided to post it as a blog.

I have been to Kuala Lumpur several times over the years. Therefore, have many handy tips that I can share with you. So that you can avoid being ripped off and save time.

So let’s get straight into it.

Currency


Firstly, lets start with money! Have some Ringgits (RM) cash to pay for taxi upon arrival. Best rates are always in the country of destination.

Below are the currency rate comparisons between AUD and MYR (Australian dollar to the Malyasian Ringgit) on 18 Nov 2013. I know that these rates are from years ago but it gives you an indication how the rates are always best when you change in the city centre of your destination. Plus its hard to keep up with daily changing exchange rates on a blog!

AUD/MYR

Location of money changer

2.49

Travelex (Perth airport or suburban stores)

2.799  

LCCT airport, before Immigration

2.75 

LCCT airport, after Immigration

2.95 – 3.00

city centre money changers (money changers on Jalan Bukit Bintang had the better rates)

Airport Transfers

Taxi options:

Taxi services are available at the Transportation Hub located at the Level 1 of the Gateway@KLIA2 building.

There are 3 types of taxi services from KLIA2 airport:

  • 1
    Coupon Taxipay a fixed price at the Coupon Taxi counter and then wait in line for next available red taxi.  RM74.30
  • 2
    Metered Taxi – buy coupon for RM2.00 at the Metered Taxi counter, wait in line and then hand to driver. Then the driver will start the meter  when you enter cab. Some say its RM10-15 cheaper  than Coupon Taxi (up to AU$5 difference)
  • 3
    Premier Taxi the Blue taxis. Slightly bigger taxi and are always available. Prices may start from RM102.

After you have selected your taxi service at the taxi payment counter, exit through Door 4 and then stand in the correct queue to wait for your taxi. Average travel time to city centre is 50min.

On the other hand, what about in the opposite direction? Taxis are fairly cheap in Kuala Lumpur. From the hotel back to the airport, there are two types of taxis:

  • Premier (Blue) Taxi’s (that line up outside hotel foyers) – approx  RM140-150 one way (AU$46.70 - $50)
  • Normal taxi’s (hail from the street) – approx RM80 – 100 one way  (AU$25.40 - $33)

All prices are including luggage and airport fee.  Allow 1.5hrs for the journey, due to traffic jams.

Bus and Train options:

In addition, you can try the cheaper options below, such as the bus or train to KL Sentral (the central city station). Both safe and easy to use.

people seated inside of an airport bus

Inside of an Aerobus airport bus.

  • Three bus companies, which includes Aerobus, Airport Coach and Skybus, operate coach transfers from KLIA2 airport to KL Sentral station in the city for RM11. Travelling time is approx 1 hour 15 minutes depending upon traffic. You can purchase the tickets from the bus counters at the Transportation Hub (level 1) or directly pay the bus conductors on-board.
  • KLIA Ekspres train, is a non stop service from the main airport terminal. It costs RM55 and its  33 minutes to KL Sentral Station in the city.   Also, there is a KLIA Transit train to KL Sentral Station but makes a couple of stops. Therefore a slightly longer journey time of 39 minutes.

Then from KL Sentral Station you have two options to get to your hotel:
  • CHEAPEST WAY – Take a 10 minute walk (410m) via the overhead bridge, passing through the Nu Sentral  Shopping Mall to the monorail station. However, this can be inconvenient if you have full suitcases. The monorail makes a stop at Berjaya Times Square with the platform leading directly into the hotel. For the Parkroyal Hotel stop, you need to go down escalators and cross a busy street to be able to walk down to the hotel. Please note that this option is only useful if your hotel is located next to a monorail station.
  • CONVENIENT WAY - Or pre-pay for a taxi from Sentral station to any city hotel for approx. RM13. First you need to take escalators up to the top concourse. Then pre-pay the fare at the taxi booth, located inside but beside the doors that lead out to the taxi stand. And lastly hand your voucher to taxi driver. Therefore, no haggling required.

TG Tip:  Do avoid taxi drivers at the KL Sentral Station bus drop off as they will try to scam a higher fare compared to the pre-paid taxi booth upstairs.

Taxi's in the city

For short inner city taxi rides, you shouldn’t pay more than RM10 – 15 (including to Sentral station). It’s better to ask for the driver to put the meter on because it's much cheaper than negotiate a price.

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Bukit Bintang

Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang are the central crossroads for the main shopping and dining area of K.L - Bukit Bintang. The streets are very busy and noisy and contain a lot of sidewalk bars/cafes. A lot of the hotels and shopping centres are concentrated in this area.

Hotels

Following are some hotel tips for you if you want to stay close to all the major shopping centres.

Along Jalan Bukit Bintang which is literally a step away from Pavilion, Fahrenheit 88 and Star Gallery shopping centres:

Around the corner on Jalan Sultan Ismail is: Parkroyal. It's located next door to Lot 10 shopping centre and across the road from Sungai Wang Plaza. Plus its a 5 minute walk to Berjaya Times Square in one direction and 5 minutes in the other direction to the other shopping centres in Jalan Bukit Bintang. Therefore, this hotel is in a great central location.

Opposite Berjaya Times Square Hotel is the Melia Kuala Lumpur.

Nearby, behind the main shopping streets, are Novotel and Dorsett Kuala Lumpur.

Hotel Istana is an excellent location for walking distance to Pavilion, skybridge walk to KLCC-Suria (Petronas Towers) and to restaurants along Jalan Alor (Hawkers Row) and Jalan Ceylon.

To find other hotels in Kuala Lumpur, check Booking.com – it includes descriptions, maps, photos and hotel reviews.

Restaurants


While western type restaurants abound in the city, on your first visit to Kuala Lumpur, don’t be afraid to explore Malaysia’s delicious cuisine.

Cafes and bars are located on the sidewalks of the main shopping streets of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Western type restaurants and bars can also be found alongside the Pavilion shopping centre in an open air street mall. I highly recommend the Din Tai Fung, located on level 6 in Pavilion Shopping Centre. Delicious local cuisine at very affordable prices.

Hawkers Food Row – on Jalan Alor, one block down from Jalan Bukit Bintang. It's one street lined with outdoor Asian restaurants.

Jalan Ceylon, which runs down from Hawkers Food Row, is lined with more upmarket little restaurants serving mainly western food.

  • The Steakhouse:  great good with a whiskey bar attached alongside
  • Pinchos:  tapas bar, excellent food
  • The Bijan:  right at the top of the hill, keep walking up past Pinchos. The best Malaysian food in town. Exceptional service and tasty local food. The only place to know about gluten free food!

For those who love the nightlife then go to Jalan Ram Lee, which is known as the clubbing street. It's lined with large bars and loud music. Some offer food. Not worth going to unless you want to drink and party.

Trishna is an Indian restaurant located at Hotel Istana. The tastiest curry house I’ve been to.

Shopping centres


Because I've already written a blog about shopping in Kuala Lumpur, I won't expand on it here.

Touristy stuff

at the gates of a royal palace guarding a white building with a golden dome

National Royal Palace

Finally, make sure your first visit to Kuala Lumpur won’t be all about shopping only. Do some sightseeing too. Below are a couple of my favourites.

Hop On/Hop Off bus:

Very hard to see them, but we eventually found a rep dressed in purple standing beside his Hop On/Hop Off stand that is placed opposite the Grand Millennium on Jalan Bukit Bintang.The Rep is there during working hours only and then he takes the stand away.

Pay directly on the bus.  Ticket valid for a full 24 hours (RM50) or 48 hours (RM90). It takes about 2.5 hours to do the complete circuit without disembarking.

Petronas Sky Bridge and Observation Deck Tour:

The ticket booth, on Concourse Level, opens at 8.30am. People start lining up from 6am, especially during weekends and holidays.  We arrived at 8.30am and we were number 300 in the queue.

Limited number of tickets available for each specific time slot during the day, about every half hour. By the time we reached the counter, we got tickets for the 4.15pm time slot. Two thirds of the time slots were already full.

Mid 2012, they introduced online ticketing. Much more convenient than lining up and at times you can purchase up to two weeks in advance:
http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/

It’s a half hour tour with 15 minutes on the Sky Bridge on the 41st floor and then 15 minutes on the Observation Deck on the 86th floor. Great views. Its quite normal to get hazy days during March as Sumatra does its forest burning during this time of year.

first time kuala lumpur cant miss a visit to two tall towers connected by a skybrdige

 Petronas Towers

view of the northern tip of a building tower with the city in the background

Taken from Petronas Tower observation deck

What else do you want to know for your first visit to Kuala Lumpur


In conclusion, the above pointers should now have your fully prepared for your first visit to Kuala Lumpur. Comment below if there is anything else you want to know or if you have a handy travel tip to share with other travel groovers.

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About the author

Lisa is a travel gypsy by heart, having already been to over 70 countries and still counting. Founder of Travel Groove, to share travel tips, tricks and knowledge with other travellers.

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