Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL, is the capital city of Malaysia. This Southeast Asian country shares a maritime border with Singapore, which lies south, as well as a land and maritime border with Thailand up north.
We chose KL as the jumping point of our trip earlier this year, followed by a flight to Krabi, Thailand. We spent 3 days in Kuala Lumpur.
Here are some of the things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 3 days.
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TIP: Short on time? You can pick which parts of the article you wish to read and jump to those sections via the Table of Contents. 🙂
Kuala Lumpur at a glance
English is widely spoken in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of Malaysia, along with Malay/Malaysian.
Climate is tropical year round, so make sure to pack some light clothes! Have an umbrella handy too, for occasional rain.
Currency: Malaysian ringgit (MYR, RM)
Power plugs with three square prongs or three rectangular blades in a triangular pattern (plug type G) are commonly used. Remember to bring along an adapter if your gadgets’ plugs are of a different type. The standard electrical current is 240 volts.
In Malaysia, they drive on the left side of the road.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur has a fairly efficient transport system, although traffic jams are not uncommon, especially during rush hours. The city has an extensive network of buses, commuter trains, monorail and metered taxis.
KL Sentral serves as the main railway station, allowing passengers to travel between almost all train lines. The station also offers a high-speed train service—KLIA Transit and KLIA Ekspres—that connects to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2). KL Sentral also has bus and taxi services.
Meanwhile, KL Sentral, KLCC, Pudu Sentral, Maluri and Titiwangsa are the five major bus hubs within the KL city center.
With regard to taxis, there are local and long-distance types of taxis. You can also use Grab, a ride-hailing mobile app, to book a private car or taxi (you can also use it for food delivery) to take you around the city.
Arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and KLIA2
One of us arrived at KLIA, while the other arrived about an hour later at KLIA2 (around midday). These are two separate airport terminals, but they are connected by the KLIA Ekspres high-speed train service.
Travel SIM cards in KL
We rendezvoused at KLIA2 and bought local SIM cards before leaving the airport. You will need to present your passport when buying one. The Digi Traveller SIM cost us around RM20 each, valid for 7 days. It included mobile data and was more than enough for us since we would only be in Malaysia for 3 days. Among other mobile networks you can choose from are Tune Talk and U Mobile.
From KL airport to accommodations (and the other way around)
Once we had mobile data working, we opted to book a private car/taxi through Grab to get to our Airbnb^^ accommodation (a condo suite). Alternatively, you can hail or book a taxi yourself at the airport or take the train to the city center.
I already had Grab installed in my phone, as I live in Southeast Asia and use it often. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Grab is a ride-hailing service with a network of cars and taxis. While at the airport, you can download the free Grab app in Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Transport costs from Kuala Lumpur airport to city center
From KL airport to city center via Grab
As of January 2019, the car ride that we booked via Grab from KLIA2 to our accommodation in the Jalan Pudu area of KL cost us around RM74.80, including a RM9.80 toll fee. The trip took more or less an hour.
TIP: Sometimes Grab does have a surge in pricing, particularly during peak/rush hours, but it is indicated in the app. Best to double-check the fees and make sure you are okay with how much the fare is before booking a ride. There is no Uber in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. Just Grab. There are probably other similar apps, but we didn’t use those.
From KL airport to city center via train
They say the fastest way from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city center is to take the KLIA Ekspres. It’s also a bit cheaper than getting a taxi or booking a car via Grab for your airport transfer. Travel time takes around 28 minutes from KLIA to the city center (KL Sentral) and around 33 minutes from KLIA2 to KL Sentral.
Cost of train tickets for a single trip (as of July 2019)
From KLIA/KLIA2 to KL Sentral and vice versa: RM55 (adult), RM25 (children 2-12 years old)
The first train departs from KLIA at 5:00 AM and from KLIA 2 at 4:55 AM. The last train departs at 1:00 AM from KLIA and 12:55 AM from KLIA2.
From KL city center (KL Sentral) to the both airport terminals, the first train departs at 5:00 AM, while the last train is at 12:40 AM.
You can take a look at the train schedule here.
Exploring Kuala Lumpur, day by day
After checking in at the condo, we just explored the neighborhood and ate some local cuisine for lunch at a nearby hawker center (aka food center). We planned to go to the Petronas Twin Towers in the evening, but we were feeling too tired so we decided to go there the next day instead.
We had a full day lined up, with a visit to the Batu Caves, Perdana Botanical Gardens, KL Bird Park, Petronas Twin Towers and SkyBar.
Here’s a short video from our YouTube channel of our visit to the Batu Caves, the KL Bird Park and Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail:
One of the popular places to visit in Malaysia is the Batu Caves, a series of caves and temples in Selangor, which is about a 30-minute drive from the KL city center. We chanced upon an annual Hindu festival called Thaipusam during our visit in late January, so it was very lively and there were loads of people. I believe we were at the caves a day or two before the festival day itself, but there were already so many devotees (and tourists) around. We even met a European photographer who said she was there specifically to take photos of the festival!
We climbed 272 colorful steps to get to the top! *whew* There were monkeys frolicking around up there too. We planned to visit the Dark Cave, but it was closed at the time due to the festival.
You can get to the Batu Caves by car/taxi, KTM Komuter train, or by monorail from KL Sentral to Titiwangsa station and then a bus ride from there.
Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail
From the caves, we got a Grab ride to the KL Bird Park. Around the area was a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur that we wanted to try: Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail. We had a bit of trouble getting to the restaurant because the directions we got were a bit unclear. Apparently, you should take the lift inside a parking garage area to get to the restaurant itself.
Anyway, we finally got to the restaurant after going around the building a couple of times. The restaurant—which serves authentic Malaysian cuisine—wasn’t too expensive, but it wasn’t cheap either. The staff were very friendly. The manager gave us a warm welcome and suggested dishes for us to try. We were planning to pay for a buffet meal, but he kindly suggested going à la carte instead because it would be cheaper, knowing that we just wanted to taste a bit of everything.
We had a filling meal, although some of the dishes were a bit too spicy for us. Before we left, Chef Ismail went out of his office and greeted some of the guests himself, so we got to say “hello” and “thank you.”
KL Bird Park and Perdana Botanical Garden
We had fun at KL Bird Park (RM63 admission fee as of January 2019).
As expected, we saw a bunch of birds and got a bit of close contact with some. We then had some coffee and ice cream at the park’s Hornbill Restaurant and Café. While we were there, it rained so we stayed awhile to wait until the rain let up.
After exiting the park, we walked to the Perdana Botanical Garden (free admission) and got a few photos, but we weren’t able to explore much as the sky was still a bit gloomy. We were worried it might rain again, so we decided to just go home and have a rest.
Petronas Twin Towers and Sky Bar
In the evening, we went to the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the most popular places to visit in Malaysia and one of its most recognizable landmarks. It was nice to see at night with all the lights. There were lots of tourists taking photos, so it was a bit difficult to get a proper shot without too many people around.
We then headed to the Sky Bar (at the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel ) to have some dinner and drinks. Hungry from a long and busy day, we ordered some criss-cross cut fries (with melted cheddar cheese, tomato salsa and sour cream) and SkyBar beef burger. The burger tasted pretty good, but we think it was a bit too much for just one person! I also had the SkyBar Snuggles mocktail, one of the bar’s signature drinks. It is a concoction of peach puree, cherry puree, lemon juice and soda water.
During dinner, we didn’t get to sit near the windows with the good view because all the seats were taken, but we had a good time nonetheless. And we certainly went home with very full tummies!
At night, we went to the River of Life, near Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque, Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Building). No admission fees. They say it looks nice and romantic when the lights are on, but unfortunately we got there a bit too late at night and missed the lights.
Some parting thoughts
We weren’t able to do everything we planned in KL, but we still had had an enjoyable stay. Traffic can be really bad sometimes, so do allot some time for that too, especially when it’s time to go to the airport.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur has many options for accommodations, ranging from hotels for backpackers to five-star hotels!
We booked the place we stayed at through Airbnb^^. It was a unit/suite at a condo located at Jalan Pudu, in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur, which is around 20 minutes away from the KL city center. Our suite was spacious and clean. There was also a very nice pool in the building. Checking in and out was also fairly easy.
Apart from Bukit Bintang, other popular areas to stay at in Kuala Lumpur are the KL city center (KLCC), Chinatown, Bangsar, and Petaling Jaya.
^^If you sign up for Airbnb with my special referral link, you will get up to 2,200 PHP off, at no additional cost to you. Just click the link or paste the URL in your browser. When you book a trip or experience, I will get up to 1,200 PHP in travel credit too.
Our flights to Kuala Lumpur
One of us flew with Oman Air from London to KL, with one stop in Muscat, while the other took a direct flight from Manila to KL via Air Asia.
Massimo had a comfortable flight with Oman Air, and it arrived and departed on time (more or less). The food wasn’t bad either. On the flight home, he luckily got upgraded to business class for the first half of the trip. And that made his flight even more comfortable! The Oman Air flight arrived at and departed from KLIA.
I have flown with Air Asia a few times, and it’s pretty good for a low-cost airline. I opted for the add-on package with travel insurance, baggage allowance and food. The Air Asia flight arrived at and departed from KLIA2. The airline’s check-in service at KLIA2 is also automated, so you do a self-check in and weigh your checked-in luggage yourself.
Places to visit in Kuala Lumpur
The top landmarks to explore in Kuala Lumpur include the Batu Caves, Petronas Twin Towers, River of Life, Jamed Mosque, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Sky Bar at Traders Hotel, KL Bird Park, Perdana Botanical Garden and Central Market.
Some of the other popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur are the Petaling Street market in Chinatown, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park and Aquaria KLCC, among others.
Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur
You can visit Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail to sample a wide array of Malaysian cuisine, if you have some extra budget. We recommend eating a la carte rather than buffet style if you just want to try small amounts of a bunch of different dishes.
There are also hawker centers around the city, such as Jalan Alor at Bukit Bintang, where you can get cheap but tasty meals. We initially planned (but didn’t have the chance) to try Kaw Kaw Burger at Wangsa Maju, as we’ve heard they serve some of the best street burgers in the city. There’s also a barbecue restaurant called Stiq (near the burger joint) that offers tasty Kaw Kaw steak.
A little something for you!
We created a printable PDF document of our travel itinerary in Kuala Lumpur. We’ll post it soon as a free download!
~ Safe travels, everyone!
Have you been to Kuala Lumpur? Which things to do and places to visit there would you recommend?