Planning a solo trip to Kuala Lumpur? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, with over 2 million people
- A relatively young city (founded in 1857), KL started out as a mining town
- The city’s motto is “Progress and Prosper”
- Nicknames: Garden City of Lights, KL
- Currency: Malaysian ringgit (MYR)
- Spoken languages: Malay is the official language. Other languages spoken include Tamil, Mandarin, and Cantonese. English is generally understood by everyone.
- Best time to visit: from November to March (KL is very warm and humid all year round)
- Arriving via airport: train is 38 MYR, bus is 10 MYR, taxi is 75 MYR (~25 USD, fixed price)
WHERE TO STAY
- Best social hostel for solo travelers in Kuala Lumpur: PODs (has a rooftop area, great for meeting people).
- For budget accommodations, look for cheap guest houses in Chinatown (the backpacker area).
- Upscale hotels can be found in the “golden triangle” area that surrounds the Petronas Towers.
- An extensive rail network covers the city well. Note: the skytrains and regular trains are operated by different companies, so frequent transfers may be required.
- Taxis are widely available. Make sure to use official taxis and confirm that the meter is running. A trip to the train station to Chinatown will set you back about 13 MYR.
- For longer journeys, consider calling a car via Grab (Asia’s #1 competitor to Uber). It’s going to be cheaper than a regular taxi – and may get to you quicker, too.
KUALA LUMPUR NIGHTLIFE
- Drinking age is 18, last call varies (depends on the venue). Alcohol is relatively expensive in Malaysia.
- Hip scene: Jalan P. Ramlee (just south of the Petronas towers) is KL’s main clubbing spot.
- Backpacker crowd: Chinatown is the main backpacker hangout, with bars on every corner.
- For a great mix of bars and clubs, just head to TREC KL (a whole street where the night action is).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Petronas Towers are a must see. Once the world’s tallest buildings, the towers offer a visually stunning look over the city (especially at night).
- For an even better look at the city, check out the viewing deck of the KL Tower. On a clear day, you will be able to see the entire city and even the Batu Caves in the distance.
- The Batu Caves is a temple complex located within a hollowed-out limestone hill. While entrance is free to the main cave, some of the connected caves charge an entrance fee. The complex is located a couple kilometers north of KL.
- Asia’s largest aquarium is located in the KLCC shopping centre. Tickets are 50 MYR.
- The Berjaya Times Square is one of Asia’s largest malls, and contains over 1000 stores and an indoor amusement park.
- Note: Kuala Lumpur is a compact city and is very walkable. Cool off in one of the city’s many malls if the heat becomes too exhausting.
- Check out the buzzing evening market of Petaling Street in Chinatown, where you can buy anything from food and bootleg DVDs to clothes and jewelry.
- Go on a relaxing stroll through the air-conditioned old market, and then continue on to the National Mosque and Islamic Arts Museum.
- Jalan Alor is Kuala Lumpur’s main food street, and becomes one long restaurant at night (with over 100 kitchens). Located within walking distance from just about anywhere in the city, the street is definitely worth a visit.
- Malaysia is a Muslim country. While the rules are not as strict in some other Muslim nations, you are still expected to dress appropriately at all religious sites (cover your knees and shoulders).
- Must try dishes while you’re in Malaysia: Kway teow, Nasi lemak, Kari laksa, and Roti canai. You don’t need to go to fancy restaurants to get your fix of the best Malaysian cuisine – try stalls and food courts! The food in KLCC is a great starting point.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Chinatown is the place to be. Don’t be afraid to venture into the dodgy looking alleys – that’s where the greatest cooks hide out! Jalan Alor street is highly recommended. Good meals can be found for 5 MYR. Also, check out Lot 10 Hutong Food Court (great selection of hawker food stands).
- Dangerous areas: Kuala Lumpur is a very safe city with a low crime rate. In any case, exercise common sense (especially at night).
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days