One Day in Kuala Lumpur is a guide is for people like me who don’t like to spend more than a few days in big cities and are looking to explore Kuala Lumpur in a short time. Yes, it’s possible to “do” Kuala Lumpur in one day.
Kuala Lumpur – this fast growing metropolitan capital of Malaysia is the new gateway to South East Asia. If you are traveling to South East Asia, chances are you will end up in Kuala Lumpur at some point or the other because many budget airlines fly to several other Asian countries from here.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Kuala Lumpur for business or leisure, one thing is for sure – you’re going to LOVE the food here. Seriously, this city offers a delicious culinary ride for even the pickiest of eaters.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you surely know by know how much I avoid big cities. I have lived in one for many years and I can’t handle them anymore. This is the reason why I did not spend more than two days in this city when I visited it the first time, so I have created a guide for you to help you spend the perfect one day in Kuala Lumpur.
How to get from Kuala Lumpur Airport to the City:
Public transport within Kuala Lumpur is expensive as compared to the nearby countries. The good news: I’m here to help you cut the cost.
Kuala Lumpur’s airport – Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) has two terminals that are 2KMs away from each other. Most of the flights land at the Main Terminal Building (MTB) and low-cost flights (like Air Asia) land in KLIA2. I flew Air Asia so I landed in KLIA2.
From the airport, you will most likely need to go to KL Sentral (Not a typo but the name actually starts with S) to reach your hotel / hostel. KL Sentral is close to Chinatown and connects well to nearby areas in the main city where most of the hotels and hostels are. Here’s an excellent map depicting Kuala Lumpur’s public transport that I found on Wonderful Malaysia’s website which will help you understand how to get around.
In order to get to KL Sentral from KLIA and KLIA2 both, there are two options of super fast airport rail link – KLIA EKSPRES and KLIA Transit. Out of these two, KLIA EKSPRES offers non-stop service, so obviously, it’s faster.
Think that you can cut costs by traveling on the slower train? Wrong, they cost the same. A ticket to KL Sentral from any of these trains to any of the airports costs 55 MYR, which is around 14 USD. Unless you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend you walk to the basement of the airport and get on a bus to KL Sentral to save money. It will cost you 20 MYR, which is less than $5.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur has many amazing neighbourhoods and I will tell you which one to pick, based on your specific needs.
If you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur for a conference or work, then pick Kuala Lumpur City Centre – called the KLCC. Many expats who’re in KL, stay in KLCC. Also, check this page if you’re searching for a job in KL as an expat.
Another amazing neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur is Bangsar, which is a little more relaxed as compared to KLCC’s hectic vibe. You should also check out Mount Kiara, and Bulkit Bintang, which is close to the Petaling Street.
I highly recommend Paper Plane Hostel, which is in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, just a few minutes walk away from Chinatown or Pasar Seni station. It is the coolest and the most comfortable hostel that I have ever stayed in.
How to spend One Day in Kuala Lumpur:
01 | Visit Batu Caves & Ramayana Cave
Imagine limestone cliffs with a series of caves and stalagmites formations inside the caves. The icing on the cake – there are temples inside the caves. Sounds good? Welcome to Batu Caves – one of the most popular points of interest in Kuala Lumpur.
Batu caves are just a little outside Kuala Lumpur and are super easy to reach by direct train from KL Sentral. The train ticket costs only MYR 5 one way for one person. Just get on to the KTM Seremban Line from KL Sentral, Batu Caves is the last stop on that line. The entry to the caves and temple complex is right outside the train station.
The Cave complex is free to enter but I recommend you make a small donation. These caves that are next to the Batu River, feature the highest statue of Lord Murugan in the world. It is at the height of 140 feets. The cave complex consists of 3 large caves that have a lot of stalagmite formations. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you will need to climb a lot of stairs to enter one cave from another. Oh, and be prepared to be surrounded by monkeys! They will snatch things out of your hands so don’t hold anything important.
A TIP About traveling to Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur:
If you’re visiting Batu caves just a few hours before your flight, check the train time table before reaching because sometimes the time gap between trains is as long as 30 minutes.
Once you’re in the Batu Caves, do check out the “Ramayana Cave”. The entry to “Ramayana cave” is right before Batu Caves but unlike the latter, it’s not free. The entry fee is only 5 MYRs and is totally worth it. Ramayana Cave is beautiful from inside because it depicts the story of Hindu God Ram as written in the holy book Ramayan. The story is depicted in a narrative manner with statues along the uneven cave walls.
I recommend you spend 2-3 hours here exploring the cave complex and head back to the train station. By the time you’ll be done, it will be lunchtime and restaurants around tourist areas are expensive so its time to get back to the city. From here, get on a train back to KL Sentral and further get onto a monorail (green line) for “Bulkit Bintang” station.
02 | Lunch at Bulkit Bintang
Bulkit Bintang district reflects the trendy side of Kuala Lumpur with upscale cafes, a shopping district, an “Arab Street” and more. Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities where the food is delicious almost everywhere. Pick any restaurant at Bulkit Bintang and you are sure to enjoy. Jalan Aloris is Bukit Bintang’s famous hawker food lane. Enjoy a meal of flavorful Curry Laksa, Asam Laksa or local Nyonya delicacies such as rice balls.
Bulkit Bintang district also has some of the world’s most famous malls such as Berjaya Times Square. In case the famous heat of Kuala Lumpur gets to you, you can visit one of the malls to take a little break. Sit in one of the chic cafes and sip something delicious because it’s time to chill before you hit your next stop for the day.
03 | Walk Around the KL Tower
Good news – there is a pedestrian walkway bridge from Bulkit Bintang directly to KLCC. This bridge is a little over a kilometer and is entirely air-conditioned. To be honest, we did not know about this bridge when we visited KL so we ended up walking on the road, which was a lot of fun too.
Once you reach KLCC, enjoy the view of KL Tower. You will be able to view the tower from different angles as you walk from KLCC to the Petronas Towers. This tower changes colors and it looks great from a distance. I did not want to take out time to visit this tower. This tower has an observation deck and a sky deck and the entry costs RM 52 and RM105 per person. BONUS: Adventure seekers can also base jump from KL Tower. Click here for more information.
04 | Visit Petronas Towers to enjoy Sunset
The Petronas Twin Towers are just a few minutes walk away from KLCC. These towers were the highest skyscrapers in the world from 1998 to 2004 and even today, they are the highest set of twin towers. I suggest you reach here a little before sunset so that you get an opportunity to watch how the towers change colors.
Walk around the Petronas Towers complex, as there are plenty of amazing spots to sit back and enjoy the view of the change of colors on the towers at sunset time. Watch how everything lights up as it gets dark and make sure to click a few photos!
Optional: Walk on the Sky Bridge Between the Petronas Twin Towers
If you don’t mind spending, the ticket to access the sky bridge to travel from one tower to another is RM 85 per person. The locals, of course, pay a lower price or RM 30. The sunset time is usually between 7 and 7:30 pm in Kuala Lumpur so try reaching this area by 6:45 PM or around. The entry to the towers closes at 9 PM.
I have kept this point as optional because not everyone would want to spend so much to enter the towers, like me. You can visit the official website for Petronas Towers and book your ticket online because it’s difficult to find tickets on sunset time due to limited availability.
05 | Walk Around Chinatown (Petaling Street) and Eat Dinner
It’s very easy to reach Chinatown from KLCC because you can get on a direct train to Pasar Seni station and walk directly to the market. Alternatively, you can also walk to the market from Jalan Petaling or Maharajalela Monorail stations. True to its character, Chinatown is exactly how it is in other big cities with small gadget shops, cheap imitations and a lot of food options.
At the time when I visited, the streets were decorated with pretty little red lanterns and the night market was bustling with activity. We ate dinner at one of the roadside Chinese restaurants where the prices were affordable. If you want to try some different food, head to the nearby “Little India”. I was too tired after Chinatown and ended up visiting Little India only when I visited KL for the second time.
Optional: Visit Little India for Dinner
Although KL has a bigger area that’s called “Little India”, the one that’s next to Chinatown is a smaller one and is next to Masjid Jamek station. This Little India is more like Little Madras with amazing Chettinad food (Cuisine from the Chettinad region of South India). This is the only place in the world where Indian food tastes good outside of India. I’m an Indian food snob so it’s a big compliment. I ate an amazing meal of fish curry with Malabari paratha at one of the roadside restaurants here. No, I did not eat a double dinner but these are two separate visits.
Wondering where to go after visiting Kuala Lumpur? Check out our travel guides for a few more destinations in Malaysia:
Melaka – This riverside historical town is only two hours away from Kuala Lumpur.
Penang – It’s an island in North of Malaysia that’s famous for its food.
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Have you been to Kuala Lumpur and have a few tips to share? Let me know in the comments.
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