Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, is known for being a bustling multicultural metropolis. In 2017, it was also the 9th most visited city in the world. Compared to George Town and Malacca, it is a new city having been only founded in 1857. But its modern infrastructure and city comforts lure in millions of tourists every year. Traveling in big cities like KL always have the connotation that it’s expensive. If you can spend a day in Kuala Lumpur for less than 15 USD, why not right? Here’s a budget travel guide for a one day trip in Kuala Lumpur.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thanks to budget carriers, it is easy to fly cheaply to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is also one of the main hubs that travelers use to explore Southeast Asia and beyond.
From the Philippines, you can take any of the following flights: Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Malaysia Airlines
Search for flights: MNL to KUL
You can also travel to Kuala Lumpur by land via Singapore or Bangkok. From Singapore, you can easily get an express bus to Kuala Lumpur which will be stopping by at Johor Bahru border. You have to be quick at the immigration and do take note of your bus number because that is the same bus you’ll be returning to for your onward journey to your final stop. You also have to bring all of your things with you when you pass border control.
Visa Requirements to Malaysia
Filipinos do not need VISA to enter Malaysia. For other nationalities, you can check here if a visa is required.
Is Kuala Lumpur safe to visit?
Yes, it is generally safe to visit even for solo female travelers. Presence of mind and taking care of belongings is still a must though.
As a solo female traveler though, I have experienced uncomfortable stares and catcalls around Bukit Bintang.
As for scams, I haven’t experienced any as I have not taken any local taxi as advised by friends but instead use apps such as Uber and Grab.
Best time to visit KL
Although it is fine to visit all year round even if its humid, the best months to visit Kuala Lumpur are from December to February and May to July, which are also the driest months. The months March and April usually gets the most rainfall throughout the year. For other months, expect occasional light rainfall throughout the day.
Generally, day time temperature ranges from 29 C to 35 C while night time temperatures can go down to around 26 C.
As for holidays, Kuala Lumpur is also a popular destination in Asia for Christmas and New Year. Locals usually leave town during Chinese New Year but the days after the holy month of Ramadan called Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid ul Fitr), the city comes alive with a lot of celebration.
Getting Around Kuala Lumpur
Getting from the airport (KLIA 1 or 2) to the city center is easy enough. KLIA Ekspres Train goes from both KLIA and KLIA2 and onwards to KL Sentral, the transportation hub of the city. One way fare is 55 MYR ($13.54 as of Dec 2017) and the train ride is 28 mins. There are trains every 15 mins from 05:00 to 01:00 hours (Airport to City).
A cheaper option would be to take the bus, but do take note that the travel time will be longer. Check here for fares and schedules of buses from KLIA2 to KL Sentral.
Upon reaching KL Sentral, you can take your pick from the different modes of transportation to your next destination. There are buses, trains, and taxis available. If you’re on a day tour only and haven’t booked any hostel, do not worry because there are storage facilities available inside KL Sentral for your luggage. KL Sentral is not just a transportation hub but also a one-stop shop. Facilities include currency exchange, shops, pharmacy, ATMs and banks, ticket counters, and travel agencies.
Things to do and see in Kuala Lumpur for one day
1. Visit Batu Caves
My first stop was Batu Caves, located in the Northern suburbs. From KL Sentral, look for KTM which has a direct route stopping just a few meters away from the caves. Two-way ticket costs 5.2 MYR (1$ as of Aug 2015). Entrance to the main cave is free. Up to you if you will give a donation or buy food for the monkeys and the birds.
Update August 2018: The 272 steps leading to the temple inside the cave has gone a renovation and are now painted in the colors of the rainbow.
Tip: Best to eat breakfast before coming here and make sure to bring water!
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Kuala Lumpur 3/3: Batu Caves Not exactly in the city, but one of the recommended places to go when you're in the city. It is very much accessible via the KTM Komuter train. It's one of the most popular Hindu shrines and famous for the humongous statue of Lord Murugan. To get to the temple cave, one must climb the 272 steps. There are many caves in the area but the Temple Cave is the most popular. You will also see a lot of pigeons before getting to the stairs. And oh, beware of the hungry monkeys. ? #FUGIAN_cny020816 #FotografiaUnited
Kuala Lumpur City Tour via Go KL Bus
Back in KL Sentral for lunch and then off to wait for my favorite transportation in KL, the! Go KL is a public bus service that offers free rides for commuters within the Central District (CBD) of Kuala Lumpur. There are four routes available, and the buses operate from 06:00 AM to 11:00 PM with a 5 to 10 minute bus frequency.
Tip: Get free maps at the Tourist Information Center in the airport!
2. Masjid Negara
The second stop of the day was Masjid Negara. It has its own bus stop but this is a bit of a walk from the mosque’s entrance. I was so excited because this mosque is one of the city’s most noteworthy landmark.
Its 73-m minaret and 16-point dome are the highlights of the National Mosque of Malaysia. This structure also reflects architectural design from Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Islamic countries.
It was my fault that I didn’t take note of the visiting hours. When I got there, it was around lunchtime and found out too late that I cannot go in.
Take note that the mosque is not open for non-Muslims during the following hours: 12:00 to 3:00 PM and 04:00 to 05:30 PM (Monday to Sunday); 09:00 AM to 03:00 PM and 04:00 to 05:30 PM (Friday).
3. Merdeka Square and surrounding areas
So off I go, back to the bus stop and since Merdeka Square (Independence Square) is only a stone’s throw away, I just walked to the vicinity. The Independence Square is where you will also find the following buildings of interest:
- KL City Gallery
- Chartered Bank building
- National Textile Museum
- Victoria Fountain
- Royal Selangor Club
- St. Mary’s Cathedral
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building
- Former High Court Building
- City Theatre
- KL Railway Station
- Majestic Hotel.
There is a FREE Heritage Guided Walk of Dataran Merdeka, but again, I was too late. Tour days are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. It starts at 09:00 AM to 11:30 AM and begins at KL City Gallery. You can take a photo with the giant I LOVE KL sign here.
To book, email [email protected] or call 603-2698-0332, or drop by KL City Gallery. Bikes and tram options are also available.
After walking around in the area, and getting a nosebleed because of the heat, I boarded the Red Line again and rode to Medan Mara to catch the Blue Line. After getting off at the bus stop, you just need to wait for the next Blue Line bus at the same spot.
4. KL Tower
My next stop was at Wisma MPL to board the Purple Line that will take me to KL Tower. Menara Kuala Lumpur is the sixth tallest communication tower in the world. Surrounding it is KL Eco-Forest Park, the only remaining tropical rainforest at the heart of the city.
Again, the main entrance is a bit of a walk, uphill this time from the bus stop. There is a free shuttle however that goes up to the tower to save you from more walking. Do take note that aside from the 110-year old Jelutong tree, the other attractions are not free.
You can find the following in KL Tower: Mini Zoo, Forest Eco Park, Flavour of Malaysia, F1 Simulator, Blue Coral Aquarium, Open Deck, Megaview Banquet Hall, Observation Deck, Revolving Restaurant, and XD Theater.
After taking my shots, I waited for the free shuttle van to go down and waited for the Purple Line bus. Got off at Pavillion and chose to walk along the connecting skyway to KLCC. You can also take the Green Line and get off at KLCC.
5. Petronas Twin Towers
Of course, I cannot leave KL without seeing the Petronas Twin Towers up close. Formerly the world’s tallest buildings, it stands at a height of 452 meters with 88 floors. The design is rich in Islamic symbolism. The two tower’s eight-point star motif represents the end of a chapter (Rub el Hizb), based on the Qur’an. The Skybridge at the 41st and 42nd levels is the highest 2-story bridge in the world.
6. Shop at Pavilion and dine at Jalan Alor
When I got tired of taking photos of the towers and the park, I walked back to Pavilion to snack and explore in an AC environment. Haha! After a bit of rest, I walked all the way back to get dinner in Jalan Alor, one of KL’s street food haven, before resting in my hostel in Bukit Bintang.
Transportation: 39 MYR (KLIA Ekspres and KTM)
Food and Water: 22.5 MYR (lunch/dinner/snack/water)
Total Expenses: 61.5 MYR ($14.8 as of Aug 2015)
*Note: Expenses does not include airfare, travel tax, and terminal fee
Sample DIY Kuala Lumpur Itinerary: 1 day
Other places to go and things to do in Kuala Lumpur
- Colmar Tropicale at Berjaya Hills
- Petaling Street (Chinatown) – founded in 1857, it is also known as The Old Kuala Lumpur. Petaling Street Bazaar starts from 10 AM to late night
- Kuala Lumpur Bird Park – largest covered aviary in Southeast Asia
- Botanical Garden – oldest sanctuary in Kuala Lumpur
- Thean Hou Temple
- Little India – Lebuh Ampang
- Masjid Jamek – the first brick mosque in the city and one of the most important buildings of Moghul influence
Where to shop in KL?
For cheap and bargain finds, you can head to Chinatown (Petaling Street) or Central Market. Pavilion and Suria KLCC are the upscale malls to go to. If you’re a techie and love gadgets, head to Berjaya Times Square and Low Yat Plaza. If you’re buying for reselling, you can head to Kenanga Wholesale City. One of the famous night market is Tamman Connaught Night Market.
Where to go after Kuala Lumpur?
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