Practical Travel Tips: 24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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We have visited Kuala Lumpur a few times and, without fail, we overeat every time while there. The food is amazing–a mix of Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Malay. We last visited there in April; despite landing at midnight, we found ourselves at a street hawker stand at 2AM, happily stuffing our faces. Dave, an American currently living in London, who previously wrote about Morocco, recently had 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Here are his practical tips for a 24 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur.

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General

  • Get small bills. Nobody has change for 50s (about $12.50 USD) and it starts becoming a real pain.
  • Malaysia is a multi-religious state (60% Islam, 20% Buddhist, 9% Christian, and 6% Hindu) and has a tremendously open and welcoming view to different beliefs. So please respect customs and attire when/where appropriate.
  • Plan around the heat. It can be 35+ Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and 100% humidity during midday (1-4pm). Don’t be outside unless you’re in a pool.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Photo: (c) 2016 - Dave Boerner

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Photo: (c) 2016 – Dave Boerner

Sites

  • As it can be really hot outside, it’s best to arrive early for essential activities like the Batu Caves (that’s a lot of stairs!).
In front of the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Photo: (c) 2016 - Dave Boerner

In front of the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Photo: (c) 2016 – Dave Boerner

  • Speaking of Batu Caves, don’t bring food or drink because the monkeys are quite bold and will literally rob people.
Monkey on steps of the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Photo: (c) 2016 - Dave Boerner

Monkey on steps of the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Photo: (c) 2016 – Dave Boerner

  • In general, Kuala Lumpur is a great city but it’s not full of must-see attractions.  What make this city great are the food, the shopping and the people. So just get out and talk to people! I found it to be an ideal layover city as you can see the sites quickly, then relax and get to know the city longer.

Getting Around

  • Taxis are plentiful and cheap. As you’ve probably guessed, many will not meter unless you ask them to ahead of time. Uber is also omnipresent and about 20% cheaper. Definitely use it to/from the airport (~$20).
  • Most of Kuala Lumpur has free city-wide wifi so it’s not absolutely necessary to buy a SIM card for a short stay.
  • Splurge on a 4 or 5 star hotel. Kuala Lumpur is well-known as the most affordable city for ultra-luxe rooms. This view cost me $125. (Editor’s Note: You definitely can get unbelievably good deals in Kuala Lumpur. If you have Hilton Honors points, one of the best value out there is the DoubleTree for 10K points/night.)
View from Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Photo: (c) 2016 - Dave Boerner

View from Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Photo: (c) 2016 – Dave Boerner

Miscellaneous

  • Be prepared to party till late! Most bars and clubs don’t start closing till 4am in Changkat, Bukit, Bintang. Definitely be sure to visit the hawker road, where the food is both amazing and inexpensive, at the end of the night to get a leg up on your hangover. (Editor’s Note – Our favorite street for hawker food is on Jalan Alor. Go to Wong Ah Wah for their wings. Delicious!).
Street hawker food, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Photo: (c) 2016 - Dave Boerner

Street hawker food, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Photo: (c) 2016 – Dave Boerner

  • As Kuala Lumpur is a major travel hub for Australia, it’s very easy to add a free day or more layover while passing through. So if Oz is your primary destination, you should throw in Kuala Lumpur as a treat.  (Editor’s Note: Formerly, this was frequently referred to as  ‘the kangaroo route’ but since Malaysia Air is pulling from long haul international service, the more common route now tends to do layovers/stopovers in the Middle East, bypassing Asia entirely).

About The Author:

Dave Boerner is an avid traveler and adventurer. Having been to over 60 countries, he is constantly on the hunt for the next culture or cuisine to dive into. Currently living in Europe and Australia, he plans to use the next year to see the majority of Eurasia before moving back to the USA.

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