Hostelworld Guide for Kuala Lumpur


Kuala Lumpur has all the trademarks of a South-East Asian capital. The shopping is cheap, the weather is hot, the traffic is chaotic and the food and drink is plentiful. Commonly abbreviated to KL, it is also the cultural, political and commercial centre of Malaysia. During a visit one can witness the hectic lives the locals lead in its distinctive neighbourhoods, see the buildings where the country is run, and marvel at some of the most famous skyscrapers on the planet.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Flights from international destinations touch down in Kuala Lumpur International Airport which is 55km from the city. It is connected to the city centre via the KLIA Ekspres train.

Flights on budget airlines arrive in the nearby LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) which is connected to the main terminal via shuttle bus.

By train: KL's modern Kuala Lumpur Sentral is the main train station and opened in 2001. It is located just 1.5km from the city centre.

By bus: Located right beside Chinatown, Puduraya Station is the city's main bus hub.

Getting Around

On foot: While Kuala Lumpur is a big city, you can walk to and from different parts of the city such as Chinatown and the Golden Triangle.

By LRT (Light Rail Transit): The city's LRT network operates three lines. They are an efficient and cheap way of getting around the city.

By monorail: Kuala Lumpur's monorail is like no other type of public transport in South-East Asia.

There's only one line in operation but it's quick and also cheap. It is particularly convenient for those staying in the Golden Triangle.

 Kuala Lumpur facts

Name: Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital city of Malaysia, is also known simply as KL.

Population: Almost 2 million people live in Kuala Lumpur.

Location: This, the largest city in Malaysia, is situated in the west of Peninsular Malaysia.

Area: The city covers an area of around 245 square kilometres.

According to inhabitants of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur has three climates - hot, hotter and hottest. This city has a year-round tropical climate and it can get extremely humid at times. It also rains regularly all year round, and the wettest periods are from March to April and then again from October to December. During this time it experiences particularly heavy downpours.


 Good to know...

Language: Malay, English widely spoken
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit
Electricity: 240V 50Hz. 2/3-pin plug.
Telephone Codes: +60 (Malaysia), 03 (Kuala Lumpur)
Emergency Codes: Police 999 / Ambulance 999 / Fire 994
Time Zone: Mountain Standard Time, GMT +8
Central Post Office: Dayabumi Complex, Jalan Hishamuddin
Main Tourist Office: Kuala Lumpur Tourist Information Centre, Jalan Parlimen


USA: +60 (0)3 2168 5000
UK: +60 (0)3 2170 2200*
Canada: +60 (0)3 2718 3333*
Australia: +60 (0)3 2146 5555*
South Africa: +60 (0)3 2170 2412*
Ireland: +60 (0)3 2161 2963
Germany: +60 (0)3 2170 9666
Spain: +60 (0)3 2148 4868
Italy: +60 (0)3 4256 5122
New Zealand: +60 (0)3 2078 2533*
France: +60 (0)3 2053 5500

* High Commissions

Hostelworld Guide for Kuala Lumpur

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Meng Kee Grill, 39 Jalan Alor, Golden Triangle It's hard to walk down Jalan Alor without being approached by at least one hawker. If those working here coax you inside you won't be disappointed. The speciality here is grilled fish, and you can choose from swordfish, stingray and others. There are meat and veggie options too. Open Wed-Mon 6pm-3am.

 Street eats

Street stalls You'll never starve in South-East Asian cities due to the amount of food stalls on the streets. These are usually loaded with chicken skewers, noodles, pancakes and other snacks. In KL, the best places to feast on streets are Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle, and all over Chinatown and Little India. Food sometimes may not look the most enticing, but it can be devilishly tasty sometimes, and frightfully cheap.

Chinatown Pavillion, 25-27 Jalan Hang Lekir, Chinatown This busy restaurant is located at a lively intersection in Kuala Lumpur's Chinese quarter and, with seating inside and out, is popular with both locals and tourists. After you've perused the menu that's packed with staple dishes like noodles and rice, watch life go by in one of the city's most exciting areas. Open daily from 6.30am-1am.

ABC Food's Corner, 1009 Jalan Masjid India, Little India Standing for 'Always Best Choice', the name might sound a bit tacky but when you see the number of local Indian inhabitants eating here you might give it a chance. Choose from set menus, or separate dishes, and don't forget the naan bread to wipe up the sauces. Open daily 24 hours.

Estana Curry House, Jalan Nagansari, Golden Triangle Curries or noodles are what you should try here. If you want a typically Malaysian dish opt for 'nasi goreng kampung' - fried rice with prawns, egg and chicken. Open daily from 12 noon-midnight.

Luna, Menara PanGlobal, Jalan Punchak, Golden Triangle While this bar is extremely swish and stylish, it boasts one of the most breathtaking views in Asia thanks to its location on the 34th floor of the Pacific Regency Hotel Apartments. You won't need to worry about what to talk about as you gaze at the Petronas Towers lit up in all their glory. Open daily from 6pm-1am (until 3am at weekends).

The Green Man, 40 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Golden Triangle Marketing itself as an English bar, yet at the same time emphasizing the fact that you can buy Guinness and other Irish beers here, The Green Man seems a confused man. Nevertheless, this bar is popular with expats and is a good place to catch up with friends. Open daily from 11am-1am.

 Gay / Lesbian Kuala Lumpur

KL's gay scene is widespread but still largely underground due to British colonial law and Muslim attitudes. Most gay bars and nights are found in bars and clubs around the Golden Triangle. The city's (and country's) oldest gay club is Blue Boy (54 Jalan Sultan Ismail), while nearby Frangipani (25 Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang) hosts gay nights on Fridays. Liquid (Central Market Annexe) is one of the city's most popular gay clubs.

Zouk, 113 Jalan Ampang, Golden Triangle 15 years after opening its flagship club in Singapore in 1991, Zouk moved to Kuala Lumpur. Now firmly established as the Malaysian capital's number one club, it regularly attracts the world's top DJs for one-off events. There is also a separate 'Velvet Underground' section which isn't so full on. Open Thurs-Sat 9pm-3am; admission charge.

Beach Club Café, 97 Jalan P Ramlee, Golden Triangle Located on one of the city's most vibrant strips, the Beach Club Café does everything in its power to ensure you feel close to the sea and by the beach. It's an outdoor bar in beach-hut style, there are palm trees galore and lots and lots of cocktails being sipped. Open daily from 6pm-3am.

Bangsar Avenue, 18 Jalan Liku, Bangsar Bangsar Avenue is in KL's other part of town popular after dark - Bangsar, so no prizes for guessing how they came up with the name. This large establishment has something to suit all tastes. There's an outdoor terrace for some al fresco socialising, a pool table for some activity, and a club for some dancing. Open daily from 11am-3am.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Golden Triangle KL's iconic twin towers are something of an emblem for the Malaysian capital and are remarkably pleasing on the eye. Some would argue they are the city's most beautiful structures. Visit them twice - once in the day and again at night when they are even more spectacular.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple, 163 Jalan Tun HS Lee, Chinatown Founded in 1873, this is the oldest practising Hindu Temple in Malaysia. Its façade is fascinating, as is its main prayer hall, which houses the famous 'silver chariot' which is marched to the Batu Caves during the Thaipusam festival. Open daily from 6am-9pm; admission free.

Massage in the Golden Triangle All around the Golden Triangle are places offering all types of massages. Head, feet, full...the list goes on. They are cheap in comparison to similar massages in the western world and are perfect for unwinding.

 The climb to the caves

Batu Caves These caves 13km from KL's city centre shouldn't be missed. Guarded by the world's largest statue of Hindu god Murugan and a spate of monkeys, they were discovered in 1878 by American Naturalist, William Hornaday. To get to the caves you have to climb a grand 272 steps. Once inside, the noise of Hindu music and dripping water, along with the sight of the numerous shrines, make this a truly unique experience. Open daily from 7am-9pm; return taxi from central Kuala Lumpur RM40.

Menara KL, 2 Jalan Punchak, Golden Triangle Better known as KL Tower, this is Kuala Lumpur's other skyscraper. While it isn't as famous as its counterpart, it boasts the city's highest viewing deck and the views from the top are unrivalled. Open daily from 9am-10pm; admission RM38.

January - Thaipusam Every year, more than a million devotees gather at the Batu Caves, one of Malaysia's natural wonders, to celebrate the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. The sheer amount of people and the beauty of the landscape means this can't be missed.

February - City Day Parades, fireworks displays, cultural shows and a general carnival atmosphere is the order of the day throughout the city every 1st of February.

March - Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair The KLIBF is attended by over 1 million people each year. Held at the Putra World Trade Centre, this festival includes book launches, conventions and plenty more, and is a must for book lovers.

June - Starlight Cinema The annual Starlight Cinema festival is the largest outdoor film festival in Asia and is staged in Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Kiara Country Resort. On the grounds there's also a food village meaning you can really make a night of it.

July - Flora Festival & Parade For this week-long festival in July flower sales and exhibitions are held in various locations throughout the city, while the highlight is the parade at the end of the week.

August - KL International Tower Jump After Aziz Ahmad asked for permission to jump off Kuala Lumpur's tallest building in 1999, this festival was born, and is now held once a year, usually in August.

August - National Day The country celebrates its independence on 31st of August with parades and shows, and Kuala Lumpur is the focal point for the celebrations.

September - Malaysia Fest Also known as 'Colours of Malaysia', the two-week long Malaysia Fest is a huge event and is celebrated all over Malaysia and celebrates the culture, cuisine and handicrafts of the country's thirteen states.

October - Mega Shopping Carnival Held annually in October, there are bargains galore at every shopping venue in Kuala Lumpur during this annual two-week shopping extravaganza.

November - Deepavali Also known as the 'Festival of Lights', this event is a Hindu celebration. During the festival you can expect to see even more lights shining across the city.

Hostelworld Guide for Kuala Lumpur

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown dates back to the mid-19th century and is best-known for its shopping along Jalan Petaling. Rather than shop, it's sometimes better to soak up the atmosphere along the less hectic Jalan Tun Hs Lee and Jalan Sultan which run parallel to it. It's a good place to eat out and there are lots of temples to visit also.

Kampung Baru Founded in 1899, Kampung Baru is the oldest Malay residential area of Kuala Lumpur. Walking around its streets you can still see the wooden houses that are standing since the neighbourhood first existed. Its main attractions are the Kampung Baru Mosque and the 'Sunday Market' which actually begins on Saturday evenings at 6pm.

 A piece of India in KL

Little India Kuala Lumpur's Indian quarter is a colourful district, albeit a small one. Centrally located, it is just a stone's throw from Chinatown. Its main thoroughfares are Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Stroll along these streets and you will encounter shops packed with bright saris, others selling traditional medicines and herbs, and restaurants specialising in cheap, Indian food.

Golden Triangle Home to both of Kuala Lumpur's celebrated skyscrapers, the Golden Triangle is also the city's main shopping and nightlife district. Along Bukit Bintang shops are plentiful, as are the bars as this was once the most vibrant part of the city. Today that accolade belongs to Jalan P Ramlee and Jalan Sultan Ismail, both in this part of town.

Brickfields Ask a local how to get to Little India and they may well send you here as Brickfields is also home to an extremely large Indian population. It is easy to get thanks to KL Sentral and a monorail stop. Once there don't miss Sri Kandaswamy Hindu Temple on Jalan Thambipillay.

Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Golden Triangle Located at the base of the Petronas Towers and covering a staggering 1.5 million square feet, this enormous shopping centre is the city's flagship shopping mall. Here you will come across stores belonging to Levi's, Zara, GAP and FCUK to name but a few. If you're not in the position to shop you may find yourself visiting for the air-conditioning alone. Open daily from 10am-10pm.

 Bargains galore

Jalan Petaling, Chinatown Open from early morning until late at night every day, Kuala Lumpur's famous Jalan Petaling doesn't come alive until the sun sets. Then the hawkers really let loose, telling you of the 'good price' they can offer you for their leather handbags, counterfeit t-shirts, pirated DVDs, shades and so much more. Open daily from 10am-11pm.

Chow Kit Market, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampung Baru One of Kuala Lumpur's 'wet' (food) markets, the daily Chow Kit market is a colourful place. Just meters from Chow Kit monrail station, on the stalls are fruit, vegetables, spices, meat, and all types of seafood. At night though, clothes and other products can be bought. Open daily from 8am-8pm.

Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Downtown KL Specialising in local artwork and antiques, this shopping mall between Chinatown and Little India is a great place to go to see Malaysian art and culture. There are other things available too, such as pleasant-smelling toiletries and souvenirs. Open daily from 10am-10pm.

Plaza Low Yat, 7, Jalan Bintang, Golden Triangle If you're a high-tech buff and you're looking to pick up a bargain try this shopping mall off Jalan Bukit Bintang as its second floor is known as 'Computer City'. Open daily from 10am-10pm.

 Budget Tips

 A Day in Kuala Lumpur...

Visit the National History Museum Conveniently located on Merdeka Square, this museum is the only museum in Malaysia dedicated to the country's history from its early age until today. Some of the galleries include 'The Advent of Islam', 'Malay States', 'Japan Occupation' and 'Formation of Malaysia'. Open daily 9am-6pm; admission free.

Don't get scammed! More a warning than a money-saving tip, make sure not to get scammed when in Kuala Lumpur. Taxi men are notorious for overcharging, but the prices they overcharge tourists aren't exactly extortionate. Instead be more wary of a scam carried out around the Petronas Towers. Tried by over-friendly locals, they will ask you where you are from, then tell you their sibling is studying there. Once they tell you that, stop talking to them as they're trying to scam you!

Check out the National Art Gallery Opened 50 years ago in 1958, Kuala Lumpur's National Art Gallery on Jalan Temerloh (off Jalan Tun Razak) houses five different galleries and over 2,500 separate works of art. Open daily from 10am-6pm, admission free.

Ride the monrail Go on a trip on KL's monorail that zooms about the city centre and you will be treated to a bird's-eye view of some of the city's sights as well as city life below. Each journey is a mere RM2.50 which is less than $1 (US or AUS), €1 or £1.

 Different to its counterparts

Visit the Petronas Towers' 'Skybridge' Unlike other viewing decks around the world, you don't have to pay for your ticket to the Petronas Towers' 'Skybridge'. Instead 1,400 free tickets are issued daily which permit you to a 15-minute visit to the bridge. The ticket desk opens at 8.30am and they're given out on a first-come first-served basis so get there early.

Begin your day by visiting the 'Skybridge' at the Petronas Towers. The visit starts with a 3D film before stepping inside the elevator to go up 42 flights in 42 seconds!

Go from one skyscraper to another and visit KL Tower. Its viewing deck is higher than that of the Skybridge and boasts the best views of the Malaysian capital.

Take the short stroll to Chinatown. This vibrant neighbourhood is full of temples, restaurants and is great for shopping.

Afterwards visit Little India. Another colourful neighbourhood, it is full of shops selling traditional Indian goods. Grab a bite to eat either here or back in Chinatown.

Jump in a cab bound for the Batu Caves. Just 13km from the city, they aren't to be missed. Watch out for the monkeys on the way up the 272 steps to the caves.


Upon returning to the city centre, go back to Chinatown to the market on Jalan Petaling. It is far livelier at night and you'll find something within your budget.

Situated in the Golden Triangle, Jalan Alor is peppered with restaurants. After some shopping make your way here. Try something Malaysian or some seafood.

Return to the Petronas Towers. While they are truly amazing any time of the day, at night when they are lit up they will really take your breath away.

Finish the perfect day off in the Malaysian capital partying the night away in one of the bars along Jalan P Ramlee or Jalan Sultan Ismail, the liveliest strips in town.

Hostelworld Guide for Kuala Lumpur