So we recently got back from a 2-night city-break in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This one has been on the list for quite a while now so I’m really happy that I finally get to tick it off!
Scroll to the bottom for my top tips for visiting KL!
We left on Friday morning around 5:30am to get to the airport for 6am. We began our journey with a nice hot latte at the airport (which was much needed after the 4am wake up).
After sleeping the whole duration of the flight (around 2 hours, I think!), we arrived in KL. If you’ve ever been to KL International airport, you know how long the walk is from the gate to the immigration desks! I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a solid 20-minute walk. We then had to queue for approximately 45 minutes before being stamped into Malaysia and given a free 90-day visa on arrival. Next on the list was to find a currency exchange to get some Malaysian Ringgit. We managed to log onto the airport’s free wifi and order ourselves an Uber to the city centre. This set us back around 80RM, which converts to $18.43. Our uber driver told us the journey would take around 50 minutes, but we hit some pretty heavy traffic and in reality the journey took 1 hour and 20 minutes.
We arrived at our Air BnB quite a bit later than we anticipated, so after settling in and greeting our lovely host (who gave us a map and a quick and very helpful low-down on the city layout), we were straight back out the door into the pouring rain to begin exploring the city. It was around 4pm by this time and we walked for what felt like forever into the city centre and straight to the Islamic Arts Museum. The ticket fee for entry into the museum costs RM14 pp. This totaled to 25.45RM for both of us ($5.86), including tax. The museum is set out over a number of floors, hosting a variety of different exhibits. The permanent galleries featured at this museum are: The Architecture Gallery, The Qur’an & Manuscript Gallery, The India Gallery, The China Gallery and the Malay World Gallery. It was really interesting and the exhibits are beautiful. It’s worth noting that the air conditioning is super powerful inside the museum and you may want to bring a light jacket or scarf to prevent you from freezing your tits off!
We then walked back to the city centre and headed to the Central Market to do some window-shopping. The market consists of lots of shops offering textiles, clothes, jewellery, souvenirs, candy and food. We were a little peckish and so decided to grab a quick snack at a little stand inside the market. I had a banana and chocolate paratha, which was quite honestly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.
In the evening, we walked around Petaling Street (China Town) and took in the wonderful smells and colours of the market. We made a quick stop at the Family Mart to purchase some toothpaste and hair conditioner (cons of not checking any luggage). Both the toothpaste and conditioner came to a total of RM8 ($1.84).
We began to feel a bit hungry again and so walked around until we found an Indian restaurant/hole in the wall and treated ourselves to some vegetarian curry and naan bread. The total cost for this small meal for 2 people was RM5 ($1.15). I couldn’t quite believe the price and so we paid and left feeling a little baffled and like we’d swindled them somehow. After filling our bellies with a delicious (albeit small) portion of curry, we wandered across the street to the Starbucks and stole their wifi to order an uber back home. For Internet whilst you’re in the city – you’re far better off taking advantage of the offer available at the airport, where you can show your foreign passport and get 3GB of Internet on a sim card for free. Don’t ask me why we didn’t do this… hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Feeling quite tired from the early morning wake up and the copious amount of walking we’d done, we arrived home around 9:30pm (I know right?) and sat up having a lovely chat and a drink with our Air BnB host.
Despite realllllly wanting to wake up early on Saturday morning, our bed was just too comfy to get out of and we didn’t rise until around 10am. We helped ourselves to a cup of tea and a breakfast of muesli with natural yoghurt and fresh mango (yum), showered and headed straight out to Batu Caves. The caves are around 30 minutes away from the city centre and you can get there by cab or by train. The train station is very conveniently located right next to the caves (only a 5 minute walk to the entrance). Luckily for us, it was not raining at this point however it was incredibly hot (don’t forget your sun screen). We bought a dodgy-looking bottle of mineral water each from just outside the entrance (would not recommend). It tasted fine, but the seal just didn’t seem legit. You’d be better off purchasing one from the shops just inside the entrance and to the right, or being organized and bringing a bit bottle with you from a convenience store in the city centre.
Before we even reached the steps to head up to the caves, I was stopped by some Japanese tourists and asked to partake in a mini photoshoot. One by one, each family member posed for a photo with me. Interesting, but it happens when you’re travelling. I’ll never forget the time Aaron and I were sitting on a bench in Phu Quoc at the Pearl Farm, waiting for the bus to leave and a selfie stick came shooting in between our heads!
We started making our way up the very steep steps to the caves at the top, stopping occasionally to look at the monkeys who hang around to take advantage of the tourists for food. Before we reached the very top, we turned left to take a look at the ‘Dark Cave Tour’ entrance. We decided to book a ticket for the next available tour (which are every 40 minutes) and headed up to the top of the stairs to see the cave there. Top tip – be careful looking up at the beautiful cave formations as you may well get water splashed in your eye. It takes a while for the rain to pass through the limestone formations, so as we entered the cave it began raining on top of us, as it had rained the day before (despite it being a lovely day outside).
The Dark Cave Tour costs RM35 ($8) pp and is absolutely worth the money. This was without a doubt the highlight of the trip and is a must visit in my opinion. As far as I’m aware the tour doesn’t run everyday and only at certain times, so if you want to do this tour, be sure to check online if it’s going to be running when you visit. For some reason, I was struck with a sudden pang of anxiety just before the tour commenced. The thought definitely ran through my head to run away and let Aaron take the tour alone! I’m really glad that I was able to overcome this and just go with it, as it was 100% worth it and not scary at all. The company offers guided tours in order to educate tourists about the need for conservation of this type of ecosystem. You also get to experience total darkness at one point, which is awesome! The tour takes 45-50 minutes in total, depending on your pace. After the tour finished, we made our way back down the stairs and treated ourselves to an ice cream in the little shop to the left of the stairs.
We then walked to the train station to get back to KL central, only to find that you basically can’t buy a ticket unless you have the exact change (TAKE NOTE!). So, we had to get a cab instead – with no available Wi-Fi to steal, we had to barter with the taxis outside the entrance. Despite the fact that the metered taxis have a note on the side that clearly state that they have to turn the meter on and that you should ask for a receipt, we were told that due to it being a public holiday they would not be using the meter and that the price would be a little higher. I smell bullshit. Anyway, we managed to negotiate a fee of RM35 ($8) to get back to the city and dropped off at the PETRONAS Towers. Note that if you have access to the Internet, an Uber would cost around RM20 ($4.61) between the city centre and Batu Caves.
When we arrived at the PETRONAS Towers, the first thing I noticed was the HUGE H&M across the street. I bought a pair of boyfriend-fit, ripped jeans in H&M, which I haven’t taken off since we left (so comfy - I'm actually wearing them whilst writing this)! After shopping, we went for a little rest and a latte in Starbucks and watched the rain pour down outside with the odd flash of thunder and lightning. We then walked across the road to the other huge shopping mall underneath the PETRONAS towers. We browsed Topshop/Topman, Zara, another H&M (where Aaron bought himself a white shirt and some new shorts) as well as Sephora (swoon) and UNIQLO.
For dinner, we treated ourselves to a well-deserved Nandos (yes, that’s right, Nandos!). After dinner, we strolled around the outside of the mall to the KLCC Park and sat at a café/restaurant next to the lake. We had a chamomile tea and we watched the light show that commenced as soon as it was dark (it runs from about 7:30). This was a great break from shopping and serves as an alternative to standing in the queue to go up the PETRONAS towers - if you don’t fancy that. Once we had finished, we walked to Bukit Bintang – an area with more malls, al-fresco cafes and restaurants and had a fruit iced tea. We then walked home around 11pm, ready to call it a night!
The following morning, we woke up around 9am and packed, got ready and had another delicious breakfast of muesli, natural yoghurt, banana and fresh mango before ordering ourselves an Uber to the airport to fly back to Saigon.
I wish we had spent one more day in KL, but all in all I feel that we saw quite a lot of the city and had a great weekend. If I were to go back, I would like to make time to visit the National Mosque, the Botanical Gardens and perhaps take a day-trip to Malacca.
Please note that all prices and conversions were correct at the time of writing.
1. Make sure you have small change at all times. Many places just do not have change for your RM50 note, including Uber/taxi drivers.
2. The air-conditioning inside a lot of places is extremely powerful, and although it may be boiling outside, you’ll freeze your arse off if you don’t have a layer to put on indoors.
3. Take advantage of the free 3GB Sim card you can get by flashing your foreign passport at the airport. This will save you having to walk around trying to steal some free Wi-Fi.
4. Uber is a great shout if you don’t feel like walking all over the city. To get across the city would probably only set you back around $2 in an Uber. You can pay in cash (local currency only).
5. If you don’t want to eat street food/have any dietary requirements, make sure you do some research on good restaurants to try in KL. I was super excited to try all of the food, and ended up not trying a lot because I failed to do some necessary vegetarian research before hand!
Have you been to Kuala Lumpur? What did you do differently? I would love to hear some other top tips that you may have or anything that is a must see that we didn’t get around to! Let me know in the comments section below.
P.S - You can watch my travel vlog from our trip here!