The West Coast of Malaysia

KL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KLIA)

Global Mark : na


Description : A splendid modern structure with planes landing and taking off with happy travelers

Comments : Esthetically, it is one of the nicest airport in Asia. Things are however not as bright when it comes to basic services. 

What to do ?  On arrival : Get free maps & tips at the tourist office / Board an aero train to the main terminal / Smile at the passport official / Touch the screen of an info computer / Hug your bag / Change some money / Study the not so numerous transport options out / 

What you may not like ? Not having any tourist office in the main halls but the satellites only : if you miss it, there are no turning back ! / The lack of good info from the computer or the info centers / The pushy taxi touts / Taking the lifts too many times / The cost of the airport bus / The 70km to the city / 

How long ? As little as possible on arrival. Two hours on departure.

Where to stay ? In town if possible...

Where to eat ? You should have eaten in the plane or you will soon... The Bus station offer much cheaper alternatives to the airport restaurants. 

Airport tax ? It is included in your ticket price so there is no last minute surprises...

Changing money ? The rates at the airport are only slightly lower than in town (we are talking less than R1 here !) so there should be no worry changing here. However, shop around if changing TC : the banks charge a commission ranging from R5 to 10 (Maybank) plus R0.15 per cheque. Money changers in town have a lower rate (R3-4 less for US$100) but not commissions so they are better if changing little. 
There is only one place to change money on the arrival floor and there is no turning back there once you have done the formalities. More places are located on the 5th floor. The best place (but for very little savings only) is however Perwira Affin Bank on the ground floor of the bus station. 

How to reach KL ?

The express train is not yet ready (completion expected mid 2002) so you will have to rely on one of the following :
- A taxi ride : around R50-60 to Chinatown but you may wish to stick to the airport taxi to avoid surprises. Those can be booked at counters for a flat R66 (Limo also available for R92). 
- The "baby coach" bus service : R25 straight to one of 29 hotels (pick up one in the area you wishes to go)
- A bus to the Airport Bus Terminal at Hentian Duta (R20, 1 hour), then a local bus to Jalan Sultan (R0.9) and then another one to your destination (R0.9)

None of the above are too good considering the cost and possible traffic jams (worst from 7 to 9 & 16:30 to 19). The following is therefore recommended :
An ordinary bus from the bus station to Nilai Commuter Train Station (R2.2-2.5, 30mn, departure from 6:45 to 24:50, every 30mn) and then a train to KL Train Station (R4.5, 1 hour, 6:30 to 21:30, every 20-30mn, from KL to Nilai, trains from 5:47 to 22:45). KL train station is 5mn walk away from Chinatown (see the following story)

Backpacker's Tips : Alexey Sinchukov (Feb 03)
KLIA Express is started already - 35 ringgit one way, 60 return valid for one month.. The exchange rate at most of banks is fixed to USD1=3.762 ringgit. Better rates in the city does not make much difference 3.77 or 3.78.


The trip to Kuala Lumpur : SS / L&R / R2.2 + 4.5 / 30mn + 1 hour / Bus + KTM Train
It took me some time and a few people before I was finally revealed the well kept secret : there was a much cheaper & reliable way to reach the center of KL than the taxi or airport buses !
Overwhelmed by joy, I headed toward the opposite bus station, accessible from floor 1 or 2 at the level of gate 1 or 2. A bus was ready to leave and this old looking one cost R2.2 only.
As we stopped to fill up the tank, it took us a bit longer to reach the train station. A train had just left. This gave me the opportunity to converse with two Indians, a fortune teller and his student. I was very cautious at first but, 20mn later, they had me completely converted to their science : indeed, minutes after they declared "The train is approaching", the train showed up ! Scary...
Followed a very fresh & comfortable hour ride in the electric train. I did not care too much about the scenery, busy as I was to decode the maps I had been given, but it did not look too extraordinary. The splendid train station was however worth a look.