Malaysia’s capital city isn’t one people rave about and maybe it’s not somewhere to book a week long trip to. But it’s location and transport connections mean that it’s a popular layover and transfer city and there are enough things to do in Kuala Lumpur to interest travellers for a few days. We spent 2 days in Kuala Lumpur on our first round through and feel it was the perfect amount of time to get acquainted with the city and see the big attractions before moving on to other areas of the country.
3 nights and 2 days in Kuala Lumpur also makes it possible as a weekend trip if you’re coming from nearby places such as Thailand or Singapore. There are plenty of cheap flights and a city break in Kuala Lumpur can give you a taste of Malaysia until you have time to come back and explore more!
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
If you only have 2 days in Kuala Lumpur you’ll want to stay somewhere fairly central so you don’t waste lots of time getting to and from your accommodation each day. However, the public transport in the city is very efficient so if you stay near to an LRT station you’ll be able to get around very easily.
We found a great deal for an apartment in a complex that had access to a rooftop infinity pool. Our studio apartment was huge, clean and had floor to ceiling windows and of course the access to the pool made it such a great deal! It was a bit above our usual budget but still cost us less than €30 a night and we thoroughly recommend it! Check it out here.
If you prefer a hostel or a hotel with some other people and amenities here are some options for your stay in Kuala Lumpur:
Budget: Paper Plane Hostel
Midrange: Expressionz KLCC Suites
Splash out: Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur City
You could also try using Airbnb as this is really popular in Malaysia. If you’re using it for the first time, sign up using this link and get €25 off you first booking.
Transport in Kuala Lumpur
The public transport system in KL is very frequent and efficient. A journey on the LRT or MRT will cost 2-6 RM (less than €1) depending on the distance and the trains run every 3-10 minutes.
There is also a network of free buses circulating popular routes in the city centre and these are a great way to see the top spots and save time in between. You can find the route map here.
If you prefer to take a taxi or there is no transport where you are then I recommend downloading ‘Grab’ an app similar to Uber which means you can order a taxi straight to your destination and the price is given in advance. You can avoid being ripped off by taxi drivers and experiencing issues trying to communicate where you want to go.
Day One in Kuala Lumpur
Sunrise in the infinity pool
If you took our advice and booked yourself into the studio apartment at Regalia Residence then sunrise is the best time to head up to the pool. The sun rises right behind the Petronas Towers creating a beautiful silhouette and there’s hardly anyone else around (unlike sunset when the area is busy with people swimming and taking photos).
Start your day with a typical Malaysian breakfast, for this you have two options. The savoury option often consists of curry and fish which we found hard to stomach in the mornings but luckily Malaysians also love toast and coffee and do it in their own special way.
At local coffee (kopi) places you’ll be served milky coffee, usually in a glass, with a side of toast with your choice of spread. Peanut butter is a popular option but our favourite was kaya and butter. Kaya is coconut jam and served between warm toast with melted butter it’s a delicious way to start the morning.
Little India Brickfields
Malaysia’s population is mainly made up of Malay, Indian and Chinese ethnicities and most cities will have a Little India and a Chinatown. Kuala Lumpur is no exception and a wander through the colourful markets and street food stalls will have you feeling like you’ve walked right into Delhi. Grab yourself some lunch once you’ve worked up an appetite.
Malaysia is known for it’s beautiful jungles and you don’t even have to leave the city to experience a little bit of natural peace and quiet. The nature walk in Kuala Lumpur city is a large park with tree top walkways and a huge swing bridge. After the hustle of little India a stroll through the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve makes a perfect relaxing afternoon.
Your Kuala Lumpur itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous Petronas Towers. At 452m these incredible structures were once the tallest in the world and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. If you fancy seeing the view from inside or on the sky bridge you can book tickets online here.
But if you’re on a budget or heights aren’t your thing simply head to the park beneath the towers which offers some great views of the iconic buildings. Get there for sunset and watch as they light up when it gets dark. There are plenty of local or international places nearby to get dinner before heading out for some drinks.
If you’re staying at studio apartment at Regalia Residence now might be a good time to head back and see the view from the infinity pool by night. But if you booked somewhere else or you fancy making a night of it head to Helibar, a bar on a helipad which offers incredible views over the city by night. Drinks are a little bit pricey (from 18 MYR) but worth it for the views.
Day Two in Kuala Lumpur
On your second day in Kuala Lumpur it’s time to get involved in the emerging café culture of the city. As well as the local coffee places there are also a growing number of places serving barista coffee with an amazing variety of brunch options. We love Antipodean and have also had great coffee at Three little Birds and have had Red Bean Bag and VCR Cafe recommended.
The Batu Caves are a sacred Hindu sight which is immediately obvious from the rainbow coloured temple sitting at the bottom of a long staircase. The stairs used to be plain concrete but as if the temple wasn’t enough colour they painted the stairs in every colour of the rainbow and it looks amazing.
I must admit the rainbow colours were a highlight for me but the huge cave at the top is interesting too. Many of the Hindu shrines relate to the story of Lord Murugan's victory over the demon Soorapadman. Read the Wikipedia article if you want to learn more about the history and religious background of the caves.
To get to the Batu Caves take line 2 from KL Sentral or line 5 to the end and jump on the free shuttle bus to the caves. Go early to avoid the crowds.
Once back from the Batu Caves have a coffee break in one of KL’s many cafes and then head towards China Town. In the lantern covered streets you’ll find markets selling anything and everything but specialising in knock-off clothing and electronics.
Around this area you’ll also find lots of interesting architecture so take a stroll and remember to look up!
If you stick around China Town until the sun sets the area really goes into full swing. Everything lights up and all the street food comes out. The markets get busier and it’s a fun place to wander and people watch. But there are also other night markets in KL depending on when you’re there. Check this post for a list of night markets in KL.