The West Coast of Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR

Global Mark : 13.73    Top 5 : No5

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 1 5 5 5 2 5 2 14.50

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
22 95% (21) 55% (12) 100% 8 to 18 12.95


Description :
An impressive capital by Asian standard : great architectures & parks, good food & entertainments, OK traffic & pollution

Comments : There is plenty to see in KL and even more just outside. 

What to do ? 
- In town : Experience records : one of the world's tallest flag pole (100m), the world's tallest two freestanding towers (452m), Asia's largest computer generated wall screen, one of the largest freestanding bronze sculpture (National Monument, 15.54m), the tallest telecommunication tower in Asia (KL Tower, 421m), one of the largest bird park in S-E Asia / If in love with stairs, register for the International Towerthon : 2058 steps to climb in the heat of July ! / Shop for any fake or pirated products from software & VCD to Rolex watches or Raiban sunglasses / 
- In the surroundings : Carry on with records : the tallest Minarets and one of the largest dome ("Blue Mosque", 142.3m), one of the largest firefly colonies (at Kampung Kuantan, nocturnal tours on boat), the word's largest pewter factory & the largest pewter tankard (Royal Selangor) / Climb 272 steps toward a 100m high ceiling cave (Batu Caves, 13km) / Learn about the tin mining industry / Then have fun in formers tin mines turned into theme-parks : Mines Wonderland (R12) & Sunway Lagoon (R18 for the water park) / Walk lush forest or agricultural parks / Splash in waterfalls (incl. Sungai Gabai) / Experience the lifestyle of aboriginal communities at Gombak Orang Asli Centre (20km after Batu Caves) or on Carey Island (original votive sculptures by the Mah Meri) / Watch 160 species of birds at Kuala Selangor Nature Park / 

What you may not like ? Puduraya Bus Station / Queuing two hours at the Twins Towers to reach only the 41st floor platform where you can stay 10 minutes maximum / The non-counter policy of quite a few taxi, under various pretexts (this means you will need to agree on a price beforehand or, better, get off and find another taxi) / Getting caught at the airport with any fake product / The few cars inside the Lake Gardens and the speakers / The traffic jams during peak hours (avoid transport between 5-7pm) / The bed bugs in quite a few places / 

How long ? Two - three days inside plus one or two days outside. 


Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online & save money ! >> Hostels

Most places are located in or around colorful Chinatown : 

- Near Jalan Hang Lekir :

  • Backpackers Travelers Lodge (603 2010889), 1F, No158 Jalan Tun, corner with Jalan Hang Lekir, south-east of the Central Market / Dorm (6) 8, Sgl 22, Dbl 25, w. AC 40, w. shower 50, family room (big bed plusbunk bed) 70 / Video TV with evening movie / Go there for the cheapest bed in town and the backpackers atmosphere / What you may not like : the lack of real fan in the rooms (a poor air ventilation system instead), making any stay rather sweaty, plus the small, basic, noisy & grotty rooms
  • Backpackers Travelers Inn (603 2382473), 2F, Jalan Sultan, opposite Furama Hotel, walk east from the above and turn right at the second street / Dorm (6-8) w. AC in the evening 10, Sgl 25, Dbl w. fan 30 / Go there for the freshest dorm / What you may not like : it belongs to the same owner as the above which means the same poor standard of accomodation...

- Around Jalan Sultan :

  • Chinatown GH (233 0417), Jalan Petaling, the busy market street in the evening, left side, north of Jalan Sultan / Sgl 18-24, Dbl 25 / Fan in the rooms / Go there to check the cheapest Sgl of the area / What you may not like : the disgusting stairs and the basic & grotty rooms
  • Golden Plaza Hostel (2068559), 106 Jalan Petaling, South of Jalan Sultan / Dorm (12 & 18) 10, Sgl or Dbl (bunk bed) 18 or 22, Dbl 25, w. window 30, w. AC 50, Trpl 36, Quad 40 / Internet R7 per hour / Satellite TV & VCD / Bus & plane tickets / Go there for the "true" backpackers' atmosphere, the "100% no bed-bugs policy" and all the info provided / What you may not like : the small & basic rooms with slim & lazy walls not reaching the ceiling.
  • Chinatown Lodge (2307027), 1F, 111 Jalan Petaling, entrance at the corner on Jalan Sultan / Same owner as above / Dorm (6) 12, Sgl 25, Dbl 30, w. AC 35(1) or 40(2) / Tiny, basic & not so clean rooms at not so good prices
  • Lee Mun GH or Travelers Inn (202 3480), 5F (lift), 109 Jalan Petaling, actually entrance on Jalan Sultan, 2mn from the above / Chinese management / Dorm 9(4), Room 20(1) or 25(2), w. AC 35 / Satellite TV / Free water / Go there for the best quality price ratio in the area as it is relatively clean and the rooms have ceiling or standing fan plus space for a table / What you may not like : that this is really the best you can get as it also lack freshness and is noisy (the walls do not go to the roof)
  • Wan Kow Hotel (2382909), 16 Jalan Sulan, just west of the above / Chinese management / Rooms w. ceiling fan & sink 27 / Go there for the big rooms and the acceptable cleanliness / What you may not like : not getting a discount for Sgl occupancy
  • City Inn Hotel (2389190), No11 Jalan Sultan, opposite the above / Room w. HW shower & AC 50(1) or 60(2) / Go there for the nice clean rooms / What you may not like : hey, we are in a different price category here !
  • Sun Kong Hotel, same street, just after the Mandarin Hotel / Chinese management / Same kind of rooms as the above cheapies for R30 but no lobby and a real mess !

- On Jalan Silang, north of the above :

  • Travelers Moon Lodge (03 2306601), No36 / Dorm (4-7) 10, Sgl 20, Dbl 25, Trpl 36, Quad 45 / Rates incl. breakfast / Satellite TV / Kitchen / Go there for the backpackers atmosphere, the acceptable rooms and the cheap prices / What you may not like : the walls stop a bit before reaching the ceiling and bedbugs were reported...
  • Travelers Home (03 2013546), No23&25, opp. the road / Same management as the above / Dorm (4) 10, Sgl 20, Dbl 25-30 (outside window) / Kitchen / Go there for the rooftop with satellite TV & VCD and the correct bright & correctly sized rooms / What you may not like : it is not spotless...
  • Twin Happiness Hotel (03 2387667), No44 / Room 25, w. shower 30 / All rooms w. window / Chinese management / Go there for the size of the rooms w. ceiling fans & windows and the cheap shower / What you may not like : the approximate cleanliness, the noise if by the road and the lack of backpackers' services
  • The Odyssey Backpacker (016 2810432, yvl@tm.net.my), No46, same building as Melody Internet / Chinese management / Dorm (4) 12, Sgl 20, Dbl 26 / No TV, no free water (paying dispenser), no second-hand smoke / Go there for the cleanliness / What you may not like : the slim and lazy walls, stopping 30cm before the ceiling and the small rooms. 

- In the historic railway station, opp. KMT Station :

  • The traveler's Station (22722237, station1@tm.net.my) / Dorm (20) w. AC 15, Dbl 25, 30 or 35, w. AC 45, Trpl 50, w. AC 60 / Discount in some rooms if stay more than 2 days / TV & video (free in the afternoon but R5 in evening !) / Internet R6 per hour / Go there for the location in this great building and the correctly sized rooms / What you may not like : the lack of charm inside, the basic & noisy rooms (face the street) and the lack of kitchen & Sgl rates

- Opposite Puduraya Bus Station : 

  • Anuja Backpackers Inn (603 20479, anujainn@tm.net.my), 28 Jalan Pudu, opposite Puduraya Bus Station / Indian Management / Dorm 10, tiny Sgl 15, bigger rooms 22(1), 28(2), w. window 25(1), 30(2) or 38(3), w. AC 30(1), 40(2) or 50(3) / Most rooms with fan / HW common shower / Free water / Satellite TV / Internet R6 with R1 min / Go there for the backpacker's atmosphere, the cleanliness, the rooftop sitting area with video TV / What you may not like : the basic small rooms, the hot 3rd floor rooms, the smoke in the lobby
  • KL City Lodge (2305275), 1F, No16 Jalan Pudu, next to the above / Indian Management / Dorm (6 or 14) w. fan & AC 10, Sgl 20, Dbl 30 / All rooms w. fan / HW common shower / Go there to check the rooms, the clean atmosphere & the good small dorm / What you may not like : getting the big dorm and the small lobby with less backpacker atmosphere


Backpacker's Tips : Charlie, UK (May 05)
Another accommodation I would recommend is the Shuttle Inn on Jalan Bukit Bintang. A little more pricy than others but rooms are clean with air con and in a great location in the Golden Triangle.
Would also like to add that when arriving in KL, go to a taxi office and book your journey into the city as they will charge approx 10RM and it saves a lot of hassle with bargaining with taxi drivers especially as a lot of them won't go by the meter if there is traffic.
 

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew, Malaysia (Jan 02)
New backpackers lodge located in front of Sentral, the new hub of Malaysian railways. The Address is 84A, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields. It is fully air-conditioned with internet facilities. The rates are from RM 12 per day. The location is also within walking distance from major bus stations. It is also 2 minutes walk to the YMCA. It is managed by Travelers Network Station. 

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 01)
Since the rent decontrol acts, the costs of most places have increased.  


Where to eat ? Restoran Shameema (No206, Jalan Tun HS Lee) had cheap & tasty Indian food plus free iced water on request but wasn't so clean. A good place for lunch is the hawker floor of the Central Market. At night, Chinatown's area offer a lot of animation but it is not too cheap and some travelers have had an heart attack when the bill showed up (always clarify the price before ordering). On Saturday nights, head toward little India for the busiest night market in KL. Every night but especially on Friday & Sat, head toward The Regent Hotel's area : Jalan Bukit Bintang is bordered by trendy bars & restaurants. Some excellent local restaurants serving a good selection of seafood (with matching prices) can also be found nearby on Jalan Tingkat Tong Shin & Jalan Alur. But the most trendy place to be, to see & to be seen now is Bangsar, 7 km south-west of the City Center (taxi only) : expensive restaurants cater to the expatriates & the jet-set while food stalls deal with the more budget oriented. 

Internet ? A few places in town charging R4-6 per hour. Melody Cafe (open 9:30 to 1am) at 46 Jalan Silang : R5 per hour with R3 min (30mn) but relaxed lobby with western magazines and classical music. A cheaper option is HMI Multimedia (open 10 to 24, Frid 14:30 to 24) at 33 Jalan Melayu (north Masjid Jamek Station) : R3 per hour with R2 min (30mn). For a short time, Anuja Backpackers Inn charge R1 for 10mn. 

Change money ? Money changers can be found in or around the Central Market. Syarikat International Traders (9, Jalan Lebuh Pudu, open 10 to 19:30 daily) was offering the best rate without commission for TC at the time of writing. Syarikat RM (G17, GF, Central Market) is also competitive and close at 20:30. Banks offer better rates but they charge commissions on TC (R5 plus 0.15 per cheque) so they are interested above $100 only.

Taxi ? They are very reasonably priced at R2 for the first two km and 10 sen for every 200m thereafter. A surcharge of 50% apply between midnight and 6am. As usual, you should insist that the counter be used (get off if you do not get satisfaction) and clarify your destination with the driver. This being said, walking around is usually the best way to visit and most of the streets have some greeneries providing shade. The LRT (prices from R0.7 to 1.7) is also a faster way to travel.

Backpacker's Tips : Biro, Italy (July 02)
Sometime it could happen that taxi drivers try to charge more then what expected; the right taxi fare after midnight is 150% of what is displayed on the meter (always ask to use it)   Note : a 50% increase already sounds enough to me...


Developing photos ? If you are quality cautious, you may wish to wait to be back home or reach Khao San Rd in Thailand (much cheaper as well). Indeed, most shop keepers will look at you very strangely if you ask them to treat your negatives delicately (that is not to imprint too much fingerprints on them). Quite a few shops will actually prefer to miss the business rather than to change their dirty habits. In central KL, Foto QT (95 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee) was the most receptive to my request and reasonably priced at R0.4 for 3R sized photos on Royal Gold Kodak Paper plus R5 development. If a few films, you may get a 10% discount and shall also be given free enlargements when collecting your masterpieces. This being said, I spotted a few finger prints as well... For quality print, the Kodak shop inside Central Market could be recommended but they treat the negatives rather poorly and do not seem to be too concerned by that. 


A (very) busy day in KL ?

- Start by wandering around Merdeka Square, easy to spot with its 100 meter-high flagpole : the water fountains at the northern extremity, the Moorish-inspired Sultan Abdul Samad Bldg (designed by British architect AC Norman), the impressive Dayabumi Complex and the old & delicate Masjid Jamek Mosque are the most striking spots of the area. 

- From the Mosque, take the LRT to KLCC "Kuala Lumpur City Center" (R1.10, 10mn). Try to arrive before 9:30 and go straight to the Twin Towers to reserve a ticket to the skybridge on the 41st floor. At this time during week day, there should be no queue (in the afternoon, it can take up to 2 hours !) and you should get an admittance for between 10:00 to 10:30. This will give you the time to relax in the park behind, or even to splash a bit by the fountains. 

- After your 10mn skywalk, streetwalk 5mn west along Jalan Ampang to Malaysia Tourist Info Complex (MATIC, open 9 to 18 daily, tel : 21643929). The building is nice but infos & maps about KL or other cities are the main reason to visit. 

- Continue west on Jalan Ampang and cross the river to Little India Mosque and its exotic Middle-East atmosphere. / Alternatively, turn left at Jalan Sultan Ismail and then right at Jalan P. Ramlee. This area, known as the Golden Triangle, is a trendy place to shop or dine. Much more interesting at this time is the 421m high Menara KL

- Back where you started, head toward Central Market and wander around the souvenir shops. If buying, remember that bargaining is essential. Plenty of hawkers' food stalls are located on the first floor. 

- Walk south to the Moorish-style KL Railway Station, then to the National Mosque, one of the largest in SE Asia.

- Follow Jalan Perdana up to the Islamic Art Museum (R8, closed on Monday) and then to the Planetarium for some fine panoramas. You do not really have the time to visit I am afraid...

- Walk down south and cross the road to the National Museum (open 9 to 18 daily, R1). This large Malay building tastefully display very interesting exhibits. One hour here is a minimum !

- Go back to KL Lake Garden and take the time to relax around the 91.6 hectares of gardens and animals attractions.

- At the northern extremity, spot wild sculptures in a sculpted garden at the Asean Sculpture Garden and climb a small hill to the 15.54m high bronze National Monument.

 << Discover a few garden's sights


- Walk back to Merdeka Square along Jalan Parliamen then head toward Chinatown to experience the busyness of Jalan Petaling's night market. Jalan Hang Lekir & Jalan Sultan host plenty of food stalls but remember to always clarify the price first. 

- Have a good night sleep...


A few sights ?

- Petronas Twin Towers : Free / Open 10 to 12:45 (12:15 on Friday) & 15 to 16:45, closed on Monday / Ticket from 9:15 & 14:30 / Slippers not allowed in theory / Completed in 1996, they are, at 452m and 88 storey, the tallest buildings in the world. Visitors can unfortunately go only to the 41st floor's Skybridge but, at 170m high, it is already quite impressive. Problem is : it is very busy and it is not uncommon, in particular in the afternoon, to have to wait for hours. As you can enjoy the view 10mn only, this is a rather frustrating waste of time. Showing up during weekday before 9:30 should however guarantee a minimum queue and an early appointment (you queue up to get a ticket fixing you an appointment for the lift) / Other attractions in or around include Suria KLCC (a luxurious shopping Mall), Galeri Petronas (3F, open 10 to 20 except Friday), Discovery Centre (4F) and the great KLCC Park with the As-Syakirin Mosque.

- KL Tower (Menara KL) : At 421m, this is Asia's tallest tower and the 4th tallest in the world. It offers by far the most striking panorama from 10 to 22 daily. It cost R8 but you do not need to pay if you have reserved a table at the revolving Indonesian restaurant (tel : 2451833). Problem : the not so impressive dinner buffet cost R85 !

- KL Lake Garden : A great relaxing park set up around two lakes and boosting a few attractions, usually open from 9 to 18. Those include : 800 varieties of orchids at the Orchid Garden (free except on WE), the Hibiscus Garden (idem), the Deer Park (free), 6000 butterflies and 15000 plants at the Butterfly Park (R5) and 5000 birds at the KL Bird Park (an outrageous R19 !) plus fountains, boats to raw, green dinosaurs, soft running tracks, etc. Altogether, it is very easy to spend a few hours here...

 << Discover some architectural wonders

 

Leaving KL ? 

Most buses leave from the scary Puduraya Bus station. With so many different counters offering so many destinations, it is a bit tricky to make a choice (if open, ask at the police or info counter for tips. Prices are basically the same but the state of the bus are sometimes different and schedules vary. If you book early, you may be able to shop around. If you wish to leave the same day, you may be relieved to hear that a company has got one seat left. It is always recommended to book as early as possible. The biggest & most reliable company by far is the Government's Transnational (big busy counters) with offices all over Malaysia. Plusliner (Counter 18, 1-800-887060) also covers a lot of destination and is sometimes cheaper.

Bus to Port Kelang (R2) and Banting (R3.9) leave all day long every 15-20mn from Kelang Bus Station. 

To the airport, in addition to the solutions listed at the Airport Section, there is also apparently a bus service from Chan Sow Lin Station (Star Line). Buses were reported leaving every hour for R10. It takes 1h15. 

Backpacker's Tips : Marc Broens & Matty de Neree, Dutch (August 03)
We found it hard to find a cheap way to get from downtown Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), and we thought we were not the only ones. This is what we found. If you're staying in Chinatown, take the LRT sky train from Rakyat Plaza (first one leaves at 6 am, last one at 9.30 pm) to Chan Sow Lin station (1.70 RM), which takes about 5/10 minutes. Take the stairs down and there you'll find a table with the sign 'airport coach ticket counter'. From there you can buy a ticket (10 RM) (so if you're not staying in Chinatown, make sure you get to this place). The first bus leaves at 6.30 am and the last one leaves at 9.30 pm. It takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic. We don't know if it's the same for the return trip (KLIA to Chinatown), so you'll have to check it out at the airport.   

 

Bus Schedules ? From Puduraya Bus Station

To  Price Class D Time Counter Nb Freq.
Cameron Highland 12 ac 4-5 9,11,13:30,15:30 39,62 a few na
Ipoh 9.5 ac 3 7:30 to 22:30 a few a lot 30mn
Butterworth 16.5-18/20.2 ac/vip 5 9:30 to 23/9:30,17,23:30 a few +/3 hour/na
Penang 19.5/22.1 ac/vip 5.5 9,21:30,22/9:30,17,23:30 Transnational 3/3 na
Hat Yai 30 ac 8 22 25 a few na
Melaka '7-8 vip 2 7:30 to 21 41,50,59 a lot hour
Singapore 21.3-23 vip 5 8:30 to 24 14,25,33,44,45,52 a lot hour
Mersing 16.5 ac 6 10:30,11,12:30,22:30,23 '30,36 a few na
Cherating 13.5 ac 6 '10,16:30,24 31 a few na

Notes : more buses, more companies & more destinations / To Singapore via Johor Bahru (R20, 4.5 hrs)


The trip to Cameron Highlands : SSSS / L&R / R12 / 4.5 hrs
Before the fresh air, the gasping ! The journey indeed start at the infamously busy & suffocating Buduraya Bus Station. Buses leave from the underground and do so only after having filled the outside air with exhaust fumes for at least 10 minutes : the time it takes for the passengers to board and the AC to cool off the atmosphere a bit. 
Considering that the driver arrive and open the doors a few minutes before departure only, doctors advice not to show up there too early. I did not know about it.
I arrived at 8am, one hour before the scheduled departure time, in the hope that I could secure a seat on the right before checking some GH. But doors were locked and no driver was in sight until 8:55. By this time, most passengers were already queuing.
I managed however to get my right window seat. In theory, everyone has a seat reserved. In practice, there seem to be flexibility in switching seats as passengers do not really know what to expect (there was no drawing of the bus when buying the ticket). 
We left 15mn late and I soon realized that sitting on the right would not be as nice as expected : the sun was on this side, the window curtain was already used by the front passenger and the air cond was not too refreshing. In fact, the bus wasn't as good as expected : seats were very low by the windows, the engine was looking for retirement and something was banging below at every right turn. But the seats did recline and the first piece of scenery was boring enough to allow for a good nap. 
We stopped one hour after leaving for an unnecessarily 40mn long break to feed the driver. After a bit more of highways and sun, we finally reached the mountains at 11:50. I would finally spot something outside...
The first sight was however a few km later (36km before Tanah Rata) on the left : a big waterfall with lots of local tourists & rubbish around. Followed one hour of great forest views, exclusively on the right side. But, 5 km before reaching Tanah Rata, just after a small waterfall on the right, the most striking scenery were again on the left : the superb tea plantations panorama of Cameron Valley. 
We arrived at 13:30. Stomachs were happy to rest from the continuous turns, and the minds relieved to have survived the speedy crossing of vehicles (if you like scary experiences, seat by the driver). 

See also the trip from Seremban / The Airport