Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- I Couldn’t Paint It Greener If I Tried.
Kuala Lumpur (KL) was a great surprise. It was surprising in the look, the feel, and the people. Unfortunately, whenever a Southeast Asian country came to mind in the past, it was always thought of as very poor. The images in the media and on the internet does not give Malaysia or KL the justice it deserves. My trip to KL changed my mind. Not only did I stay with a wonderful woman who gave me insight into KL, and made an impression on me that makes me want to go back soon.
If they say first impressions are everything, then Kuala Lumpur has already hit it out of the gate with their airport. I have flown into a few airports and just like any traveler have my favorites (Helsinki- sleeping pods), but Kuala Lumpur has shot up to first place. Kuala Lumpur’s airport is modern, very modern. The designs are sleek and eye-catching. Everything is in English and the directions are clear. Outside the bathrooms are signs letting you know where the next bathroom is- genus I will tell you. Genius. This is genius because there have been many times a long line formed in the women's bathroom and you have to go, but aren't sure where the next bathroom is. Is it close enough for the risk? Is it too far that you might have an accident? This is all cleared up with signs telling you where the next bathroom is.
Immigration took about one minute and only that long because I was waiting for the first agent to open up as there were about six agents with only one person. It was the waiting game. My passport was looked at, my fingerprints taken and I was off. Down the escalator to the joy of this amazing airport. I say joy because if you know me, you know I love food. When I came down the escalator it was a winter wonderland of food and snack options. The signage says this is a mall with an airport, not the other way around and I can agree with that statement. They have a grocery store in the airport… YA’LL a grocery store. This grocery store makes some bomb chicken satay, so if you are in this airport you need to try them, they are delicious. But know they take their time and are a wee bit slow.
There are so many options for food, I could have stayed in the airport for days. If I had to stay in the airport like that movie The Terminal, I would gladly do it in this airport. I finally settled on the chicken satay kabobs and mr. siew bao which is a variety of buns and pastries. They were yummy. They have both meat pastries and dessert pastries. I am currently eating the wedding pastry with lotus in it. It is delicious- wonder if that means I am getting married.
The airport will be your best place for grabbing cash out of an ATM. They have about six ATMs located near the grocery stor for you to grab cash. You will be happy you grabbed cash here when you go to Chinatown and Central Market and am wandering around looking for the nearest ATM.
Kuala Lumpur has a great subway system called KLIA. The subway leaves from the airport, and they take different payment methods so you don’t have to have cash right away. They have a great card for tourists like me called the One Card (70MYR- single way/ 115MYR- return trip). The One Card allows you to use all the trains and buses unlimited for two days. The One Card is a great deal for people who like to run around, take the local transportation, but get tired of always making sure there is cash on hand to pay for trains and buses.
As an FYI: One of the trains not included on the One card is the train to the BATU Caves. From the KL Sentral station, you will go downstairs to take a free bus to KL Sentul, from KL Sentul you can take a train which is 3 MYR one way/ 5 MYR round trip. The bus takes about 20 minutes and the train 20 minutes as well. It is a great price for how far you have to go.
Kuala also has Uber if you want to use that to get around the city. You can schedule an Uber for early morning flights with easy, and mine was reliable. Check to see what time your flight leaves from the airport because that will determine if you buy the one way or round trip One Card. The train to the airport does not start until 5am, but the buses/trains to KL Sentral to do start until 6am which can cause problems if your flight leaves early. One way to solve it is the Airport Express bus to the airport. It leaves at 3am and goes every 20 minutes. It takes about 45 minutes to KLIA2 and is very comfortable. The bus was very cheap, around 12 MYR, clean, and an easy ride. One that I would suggest if you are leaving to early for the train.
The KLIA system is nice as heck. It is a fast train that takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to KL Sentral which is the central transportation hub. The train is very clean, comfortable seats, and select seats have outlets to charge up everything which is nice, because the only downside of now my favorite airport is the lack of outlets and seating without having to buy food. But anywho, the train gives you a very nice smooth and comfortable ride. The only problem is that these are great napping seats.
As the train speeds through Malaysia to the city central my eyes are lucky to see such amazing and lush greenery. It is absolutely majestic with the trees and fields. This is a great ride with picturesque views. I really feel we have been sleeping on Malaysia because this is definitely not what I expected. The high rises were all different shapes that spoke of the creativeness within Malaysia.
Really it is all about the street food and the odd little food shops. There are so many tasty things to have. I literally walked around, and when I got hungry found the closest shop to me. I enjoyed everything I ate. Try some new things, you never know what you will like.
I was surprised at the number of great things to do in KL. I think if you are in KL for a solid three days you will get most, if not all of the sites visited.
Art: They have some fun art around the downtown area of the city! Walk around and check it out!
Batu Caves: Free. This a beautiful site with temples in and outside of a large cave. Worth going to as it is out of town. To get to Batu Caves you will take a free bus from KL Sentral to KL Sentul. From there you will take a train which is 3 MYR one way/5 MYR round trip. The train drops you off right in front of the caves. You will have to walk up a lot of stairs so be mindful of what you wear. Also, women cannot have shorts on so bring a wrap or you can rent one from the bottom of the caves. There are great restaurants around the caves that you can go eat at to get some energy before you hike the stairs.
Bird Park aka the World’s Largest Free Flight Aviary: 67 MYR. This park has a nice variety of birds flying and walking around. I didn’t go in, again because I am cheap, but I do know that you will need to pay attention as you might get pooped on. You want the real experience; you will get the real experience.
Butterfly Garden: 22 MYR. I didn’t make it here, but it is said to be one of the largest butterfly parks in the world. http://www.klbutterflypark.com
Canopy Walk: The canopy walk is free! This walk is in total 150 meters and is 30 meters off the ground. You are suspended between trees and get to walk on a wooden bridge taking in the amazing views of KL. https://www.frim.gov.my/en/attractions/canopy-walkway/
Central Market: This is a fun place to go because it is a condensed and air-conditioned version of Chinatown, although there are some things that I didn’t see in Chinatown to get here. It is a nice area to walk around, but you won’t be able to barter as you can in Chinatown. At the back is a nice art area to see with some interesting pieces of art. In front, there is a nice Central Market sign that gives a great photo opportunity.
Chinatown: This is where I spent most of my time because it has great trinkets you can buy for friends, a variety of street food, and cheap massages. I enjoyed walking through these few streets because they had so much energy. Around 4/5pm the walkway is filled with more stores popping up, so the walkway through becomes aisles about two people wide, if that. It just adds to the energy.
KL Tower: Observation Deck (52 MYR)/ Sky Deck (105 MYR). There are also combo deals to make both cheaper. The KL Tower, along with the Petronas Twin Towers also gives a great view of KL. You can go on the observation deck or the sky deck. I honestly didn’t want to pay to go up there as I am a cheap person. If you are like me and don’t want to go up in the tower, there is a great I Love KL tower sign in the front you can take pictures with.
National Mosque: This is a gorgeous mosque that is situated on 13 acres and is in the center of the city. It has amazing colors and archiecture on the outside, so I now the inside was amazing. The hours I was there did not allow non-Muslim tourists to enter, so please pay attention to the time you want to go in if you are a non-Muslim tourist. Also, if you did not bring appropriate garments to cover yourself, they have some available.
Orchid and Hibiscus Garden: This is a great garden to visit. Depending on the day, you will have to pay 1-2 MYR, or it will be free. It is worth 45 minutes to wander through. It closes at 6 pm and I was there around 5 pm which allowed me to walk around without the sun beating down on me. They have a great variety of both flowers and have a wonderful smell wafting around. I saw some people sitting around with a blanket and some snacks, which I think would have been wonderful to do had I had the time.
Petronas Twin Towers: 85 MYR. Tickets for the towers sell out pretty fact online. You probably will not get a ticket if you wait for the day of going. They sell the tickets online for specific time slots, so if you wait there might not be any time slots available. This is probably the #1 site in KL to see. You get an amazing view of KL and the towers are gorgeous.
Thean Hou Temple: Free. Let me tell you about my love affair with this temple. When I was riding the train to my friend’s house I would see the rooftop and knew I needed to see this temple. I walked around for miles trying to find it because I did not know the name, I barely knew the general direction it was in. If you know me, you know I am stubborn and was going to find this temple regardless of how long it takes me. Fast forward a couple of hours as I pass by the temple again and am better able to pinpoint the location. It is now 9 pm when I start the journey to find the temple. It is about a mile and a half from the train station and I start walking. I walk through neighborhoods at night, up hills, and hope I am going the right way to the temple I wanted to see. Well luckily, I found it and it was as gorgeous as it looked from afar. I am sad I only saw it in the dark because it was magnificent. This to me, is the top site because of the history behind it. It looked so regal among the green trees.
1. Voltage: Malaysia uses 220V which means if you use your American/Canadian hair dryer or straightener at 110V you will blow your stuff up and probably blow a fuse in the house.
2. Most places only take cash, though the major sites (KL Tower, Petronas Twin Towers, and etc.) have the ability to be paid for by credit card.
3. You have to try the durian fruit. You will either love me or hate me for this, but you have to try it.
4. Malaysia is a Muslim country so bring a sarong with you so that you can cover your legs or head if need be.
5. Traffic is opposite of America, the drivers drive on the left side of the street so please do not get ran over.
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