Kuala Lumpur travel information and travel guide

Kuala Lumpur travel guide

Kuala Lumpur, or simply KL, is the capital of Malaysia. Literally meaning “muddy estuary” in Malay, KL has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis of around 6.5 million (city-proper population of 1.8 million) in just 150 years. With some of the world’s cheapest 5-star hotels, great shopping and even better food, increasing numbers of travellers are discovering this little gem of a city.

Kuala Lumpur is quite a sprawling city and its residential suburbs seem to go on forever. The city also merges with the adjacent towns of Petaling Jaya (originally developed as KL’s satellite town), Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and Port Klang, creating a huge conurbation called the Klang Valley.

The city can be divided into the following areas, each of which offers a particular attraction or activity.

  • City Centre – This is the traditional core of Kuala Lumpur where you’ll find the former colonial administrative centre, with the Merdeka Square, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Selangor Club. This district also includes Kuala Lumpur’s old Chinese commercial centre which everyone refers to now as Chinatown.
  • Golden Triangle – The area of Kuala Lumpur located to the north-east of the city centre, the Golden Triangle is where you’ll find the city’s shopping malls, five-star hotels, Petronas Twin Towers and party spots.
  • Tuanku Abdul Rahman – This is the traditional colourful shopping district of Kuala Lumpur north of the city centre that moves into high gear when the festivals of Hari Raya Puasa (Eid ul-Fitr) and Deepavali approach. Located just beside the Golden Triangle (northern neighbour) with many popular budget accommodations. The gigantic Putra World Trade Centre & the traditional Kampung Baru food haven are among the most important landmarks.
  • Brickfields – This area, located south of the city centre, is Kuala Lumpur’s Little India filled with saree shops and banana leaf rice restaurants. Kuala Lumpur’s main railway station – KL Sentral – is located here.
  • Bangsar and Midvalley – Located south of the city, Bangsar is a popular restaurant and clubbing district while Midvalley, with its Megamall, is one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations.
  • Damansara and Hartamas – Largely suburban, these two districts to the west of the city house some interesting pockets of restaurants and drinking areas.

This district also merges into the northern part of Petaling Jaya.

  • Ampang – Located east of the city, Ampang is home to Kuala Lumpur’s Little Korea and most foreign embassies.
  • Northern suburbs – This huge area to the north of the city is home to several attractions, such as the Batu Caves, the National Zoo and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
  • Southern suburbs – This district may not interest travellers much, although Kuala Lumpur’s main stadium at Bukit Jalil and The Mines theme park are located here.

Get in

There are plenty of airlines offering flights to Kuala Lumpur from major UK airports including London Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen, Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, New Castle, London Gatwick.

By plane

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)

All scheduled air flights, whether domestic or international, arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) located about 50km to the south of Kuala Lumpur, in the Sepang district of Selangor. The US$2.5bil modern structure of glass and steel was inaugurated in 1998 and has been ranked as one of the top airports of the world. It replaced the former Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in Subang, which is now used for chartered and turboprop flights. Over 50 airlines call at KLIA.

A new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) opened in March 2006, and is currently used by AirAsia, Tiger Airways , and Cebu Pacific . Though the LCC Terminal is across the runway tarmac from the Main Terminal Building, it is nearly 20km away by road. Frequent shuttle buses connect the two terminals, costing RM1.50 per trip. At the Main Terminal Building, catch the shuttles at the Bus Terminal on the Ground Floor of the Car Park C building, while at the LCCT, wait for the buses at the bus bays right in front of the terminal. If transferring from the KLIA Ekspres train, make your way to Level 2 and follow the signs to Car Park C and the Bus Station.

Be careful when locating the transfer bus from the main terminal to the LCCT, as taxi drivers giving the appearance of being airport customer service personnel will try to steer tourists to a mini-bus or taxi with a cost many times greater than the actual LCCT transfer bus. Frequently they will ask for a fee similar to a taxi ride into Kuala Lumpur, typically RM90.

Subang Airport

The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (IATA: SZB), more commonly referred to as the Subang Airport, was the country’s main international airport until KLIA was opened in 1998. As it is much nearer to the city centre and less crowded than the newer KLIA, it can make a convenient entry point for those flying from Singapore or other parts of Malaysia. After the opening of KLIA, it was designated for turboprop aircraft and is currently served by two airlines:

  • Malaysia Airlines subsidiary Firefly began operating from Subang in late 2007, flying initially to Penang twice daily but now serves a whole range of destinations with new ATR aircraft in Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and to Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand.
  • Berjaya Air flies daily to/from Tioman Island, five times a week to/from Pangkor Island, and special flights to Redang Island. It also has two flights weekly to/from Ko Samui in Thailand.

Getting there/away: The airport is 25 km from the city centre and the best way to get there is by taxi. Rapid KL bus U81 (destination Mah Sing and Pekan Subang) from the Sultan Mohd Bus Hub next to the Pasar Seni LRT station goes past the airport. Fare is RM2 and the ticket is valid for the whole day for all RapidKL routes with “U” prefix.

By road

Most important roads in Peninsular Malaysia lead to/from Kuala Lumpur. The city lies about midway along the North-South Expressway (Motorway) (NSE; route numbers E1 and E2) which runs from the Malaysia-Thailand border at Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru in the south, on the Malaysian side of the Causeway to Singapore. The main expressway exits for Kuala Lumpur on the NSE are Jalan Duta (from the north) and Sungai Besi (from the south).

The Karak Highway (E8), which later turns into the East Coast Expressway, links Kuala Lumpur with the East Coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. For those who do not want to pay toll, Kuala Lumpur is on Federal Route One (the “Trunk Road”) which, like the NSE, runs through all West Coast states of Peninsular Malaysia from Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru.

Those travelling along the West Coast Road (Federal Route Five) should leave the road at Klang and get to Kuala Lumpur via the Federal Highway.

By bus

Kuala Lumpur has several bus stations or terminals/terminuses/termini(Malay: stesen bas or hentian) which handle long distance express bus services; many destinations are served by more than one terminal.

Hentian Puduraya

Note: As of 12th April 2010, Hentian Puduraya will be closed temporary for renovation. All bus services will be moved to temporary terminal at Bukit Jalil. RapidKL bus services from Hentian Puduraya to Bukit Jalil will be provided at 15-minute intervals, at a charge of RM2. The biggest (and invariably most crowded) terminal, located in the city centre near Chinatown. Beware of pickpockets, ticket touts and other undesirables, especially late at night. Access: Plaza Rakyat station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) is within walking distance; many local bus stops nearby.

To/from Hat Yai, in Thailand:

  • Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES ) (Counter 73. Tel: +60-3-20313036) has departures at 10:30 & 23:00 – RM45 one-way.

To/from Singapore:

  • Transnasional (Tel: +60-3-20703300) is Malaysia’s biggest long-distance bus company. Economy class departures to Singapore’s Lavender Street terminal at 08:45, 10:30, 13:30, 17:30, 22:30 & 23:59 – RM30 one-way and takes 5 hours.
  • Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES ) (Counter 81. Tel: +60-3-20701321) has several buses daily to/from the Golden Mile complex in Singapore.
Hentian Putra

Most East Coast services use this terminal which is in the northern part of the city centre on Jalan Putra. Access: PWTC station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) and Putra station (both KTM Komuter lines) are within walking distance. Also the Chow Kit station (Monorail train) is only 15 minutes walk away.

Hentian Duta

Many north-bound Transnasional express buses use this terminal which is located a distance to the west of the city centre on Jalan Duta. Note that Airport Coach buses to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) no longer use this terminal – they now use KL Sentral instead. Access: the only convenient way is by taxi.

Kuala Lumpur Old Railway Station

Now used as a bus terminal, but still handles commuter trains on both KTM Komuter lines, also accessible via Rapid KL City Shuttle No. 109, 115.

Plusliner luxury services (under the brand names “Nice” and “Platinum Service”) are based here; destinations include Penang, Johor Bahru, Singapore, and Hat Yai in Thailand.

Others

Pekeliling Bus Terminal is on Jalan Tun Razak to the north of the city centre, and handles local bus services to some Pahang destinations like Genting Highlands, Bentong, Raub and Temerloh. Access: Titiwangsa station is within walking distance. Rapid KL City Shuttle No. B101, B102, B103, B104, B109.

Deluxe long-distance buses leave from all over the place:

  • Aeroline uses the Corus Hotel (on Jalan Ampang) serves as the terminal for express buses to/from Singapore. Access: KLCC station is 300m away. Rapid KL City Shuttle No. B103, B104, B105, B106, B114. The company also runs the same service from various locations around Klang Valley.
  • First Coach services to/from Singapore leave Bangsar LRT station.
  • Transtar uses the Pasar Rakyat bus station off Jalan Melati, a 5-min walk from Bukit Bintang.
  • Transnasional Executive Coaches to Singapore and Penang leave from the Malaysian Tourist Information Complex (MATIC) on Jalan Ampang, between KLCC and Bukit Nanas.

By train

KTM’s intercity trains arrive at the new KL Sentral railway station, located (despite the name) a fair distance to the south of the city centre. Take the Putra LRT, which goes from Kelana Jaya in Petaling Jaya to Gombak in Kualar Lumpur. Or KL Monorail to the city centre, or RM10 coupon taxi to most destinations in the city centre.

Note that taxis hovering outside, near where the airport shuttle buses depart from, will try to get your business claiming that trains and the Monorail are not working, or finished for the day. Always check these schedules before believing a word the taxi drivers say.

Most services are available at the station, including showers (RM5 for shower only, RM15 if you want a towel & toiletries too).

By boat

Kuala Lumpur is not located by the sea. However, there are ferry connections to/from Sumatra (Indonesia) at Port Klang, about 40 km west of Kuala Lumpur.

Get around

The first phase of Kuala Lumpur’s ambitious public transport system is now complete, the city’s public transport system is fairly efficient and convenient, but as there is still a fair amount of room for improvement to the system’s integration. The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralytic traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In rush hours, it may be worthwhile combining public transport by different means. For example: soar over traffic jams by monorail to the station closest to your destination and thereafter take a taxi for the final leg.

By train

Kuala Lumpur’s public transport system consists of 3 LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines operated by RapidKL , the semicircular KL Monorail looping through the Golden Triangle and the KTM Komuter for trips to the outer northern, southern & western suburbs. Fares are cheap (RM1.2 and up), although connectivity between different lines is poor due to inadequate integration (read: you will also need to buy a new ticket for the next leg of your trip, and will likely get wet if it is raining since connections are not covered). The Touch ‘n Go card, which can be purchased for RM10 at major stations, can now be used on all lines except the airport express. Some particularly convenient stations include:

  • Bukit Bintang (KL Monorail), for shopping in the Golden Triangle
  • Bukit Nanas (KL Monorail), for clubbing at P. Ramlee
  • KLCC (Putra), for the Twin Towers and the Suria KLCC shopping mall
  • KL Sentral (Kelana Jaya/KL Monorail/KTM Komuter), for intercity trains and the KLIA Ekspres to the airport
  • Masjid Jamek (all LRT lines), for LRT interchange as well as access to Chinatown and Little India
  • Plaza Rakyat (Sri Petaling/Ampang), for Puduraya bus station

A few quirks to be aware of:

  1. The Kelana Jaya and Gombak LRT lines, formerly known as “PUTRA LRT”, is now known as “Putraline” while the Sri Petaling and Ampang LRT lines, formerly known as “STAR LRT”, is now known as “Starline”. Signage is a bit inconsistent but is slowly being updated.
  2. The KL Monorail’s “KL Sentral” station is now a bit of a haul from KL Sentral. The covered walkway and the parking lot that was once used for access has been closed off for construction. To get to the KL Monorail, you will have to walk around the parking lot which doubles the distance you had to walk before.
  3. Trains usually follow a timed schedule, with the frequency increased to two/three minutes during peak hours. Take note however that as Putraline is a “driverless” system (unlike Starline where the trains are driven by human drivers), in the event of a train breakdown, service may be disrupted for two hours or more, although such breakdowns are few and far between.

By bus

The double-decker KL Hop-on Hop-off bus service for tourists includes 42 sightseeing places. The upper deck of the buses has a crystal-glass rooftop and the rear of the deck is open air allowing cityviews. The buses are disabled-friendly and have wireless internet connections on board. Each passenger is provided with a multi-lingual commentary headset. The tickets are valid for 24 hours from purchase, and you can hop on and off the bus throughout the day. Price is RM38 for adults, RM17 for children, senior citizens and disabled. Malaysian adults and school students enjoy a discount while children below 5 years old are free of charge. However, to enjoy these features, be prepared for long waiting time as the timings are notorious. The buses are scheduled every half hour but intervals may be as long as two hours due to traffic jams. You should not plan your itinerary based on these bus schedules. Over and above, you can move around easily and more economically through taxis rather than this bus service.

RapidKL operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but the low frequencies (20-30 min on most routes) and the near-total lack of signage make this a poor option for the casual visitor, and at rush hour buses can be jam-packed. For those (few) attractions best visited by bus, specific bus information is given at each place of interest on this page.

If you do venture on board, it’s worth nothing that buses are broadly divided in three categories: Bandar (B) routes are city center shuttles, Utama (U) buses travel to outlying suburbs and Tempatan (T) buses are feeder services for train stations. For all three, you can either buy zone-based single tickets (RM 1 for Zone 1, up to RM 3 for Zone 4) on board, or use a Touch ‘n Go card (not sold on board). In addition, Ekspres (E) services use the highways and cost a flat RM 3.80. Buses run from 6 AM to 11 PM or so, with no night services.

By taxi

With RM3 flagfall (2 km) and around RM0.90/km afterward, red and white normal taxis are reasonably priced and probably the best way to get around, at least outside the congested peak hours. Bright yellow premium taxis have a RM4 flagfall and also charge a bit more by the kilometre. There are also various small surcharges for radio call (RM2), baggage (RM1 per piece), etc.

While all taxis are supposed to use the meter, drivers are often reluctant to use it and will usually demand a fixed price, which is always higher than the price when using the meter, before commencing travel. This is especially so when demand exceeds supply, such as during the rush hour or when it rains, when the price demanded can be up to 2-3 times the meter price. This is technically illegal (and reportable), and happens most often with cabbies who lurk outside hotels, stations and major malls, waiting for unwary tourists to come along. Hail cabs off the street if you can, but if you must, at least negotiate hard: RM5 should cover most cross town trips of 15 minutes or so, even with traffic. If you’re staying in an expensive hotel, give a nearby shopping mall as your destination instead. Generally speaking, Malay taxi drivers will be more willing to use the meter than Chinese and Indian ones.

It is cheaper to use the meter through the day, although the opposite is true late at night, and especially after midnight, when the displayed meter price at the end of the journey is increased by 50% (ie. at 1AM, if the meter shows RM12, then you have to pay RM12+6).

A few popular places (notably both airports, KL Sentral, Menara KL and Sunway Pyramid Megamall) enforce prepaid coupon systems, which generally work out more expensive than using the meter, but cheaper than bargaining.

Combining public transport with taxis can sometime make trips quicker if there are traffic jams.

Some taxi drivers will hang around near hotels offering tours similar to those offered by established companies. Feel free to listen to their offers and bargain with them if you like. Some of these cabbies are quite knowledgeable and you may end up with a specially tailored, private tour for less than the cost of an official tour.

By car

Kuala Lumpur has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare, with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and often confusing road signage. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motor bike drivers who enjoy weaving in and out of traffic.

Do not park at the road of busy districts such as Bangsar, Bukit Bintang etc. Other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path and then walk back.

On foot

Depending on your age, physical fitness and urban inclination (or not), Kuala Lumpur is a fine city for walking. It must rank as tops in the world for clear, well-placed signage. Street signs are jumbo sized, blue with white lettering at eye level. Most corners have multi-directional pointers. There are city maps in places. Tiled sidewalks are 5 meters in width, on average (a warning: treacherously slippery at sloped curb sides!). Main arteries are boulevard-broad and tree-lined. Most intersections have bright, yellow striped pedestrian crossings. While traffic can be daunting at times, it rarely moves fast enough to be seriously hazardous. Beware of speeding and criss-crossing motorcyclists, though!

Here is a walking tour (circle) that encompasses the main centre attractions (2-3 hours): starting at Chinatown (Petaling Street), identify on a map the following landmarks: the Maybank building, the Times Square towers, the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. Once on the street do a visual scan of these buildings. You’ll likely not need the map henceforth. Proceed from the Maybank building (vertically striped wedge) up Jalan Pudu, which turns into Jalan Bukit Bintang (Royale Bintang Hotel) at about 1 km. Stop for coffee at Bintang Walk, or check out the electronics mega-mall, Plaza Low Yat. Continue on Jalan Sultan Ismail towards Petronas. Be amazed! Wind your way from Petronas along Jalan P. Ramlee past the KL Tower and down Jalan Raja Chulan back to the Maybank building and Chinatown.

If you’re fortunate enough to do this walk on a typical Sunday afternoon, you’ll be blessed with a calmness unimaginable for a city this size.

When it rains the pavements and streets turn into small rivers and crossing a street can be an adventure. A lot of the pavement in KL becomes as slippery as ice when wet so it is advisable to wear proper footwear (such as sneakers) if there is a chance of rain.

Generally, it is safe and rewarding to walk in the city but caution must still be exercised, especially if walking alone or in a small group. Beware of snatch thieves who are known to be rather ruthless. It is not uncommon to hear of women, particularly, being knocked unconscious by bag snatchers on motorbikes. It is probably better to let them have your bag than to be dragged several metres and risk injury.

Care must also be taken with any alleyways or parking grounds that appear to be dark and deserted. Petty thieves with knives or sometimes even small firearms might mug you, at especially night time of the day.

Places to See

Despite having many attractions, Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities which is short on must-see attractions: the real joy lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it. It’s hot, humid and sometimes crowded though, so schedule some air-conditioned downtime in shopping malls or restaurants into your plan. You may find that most attractions are only crowded on weekends/holidays and deserted on weekdays.

The following gives a brief description of KL’s attractions according to district. See the respective district pages for more details.

The main attractions are spread throughout the city, although the greatest concentration of places of interest are in the City Centre, where you’ll find Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), where Malaysia would usually celebrate the Malaysian independence day (the exact spot where independence was declared at the start of Aug 31, 1957 is at the Stadium Merdeka); the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and other Colonial-era buildings surrounding the square; the modern and rather unadorned National Mosque; the Moorish-style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station which now houses a mini-museum on Malaysian railway history; many of KL’s other museums including the recently refurbished National Museum (RM2) tracing the history of the region through prehistory and the Malaccan empire to Independence, and the extremely well-regarded Islamic Arts Museum (RM12, 10-6PM), and the nearby ‘Police Museum; and the pretty Lake Gardens to the west. Within the city centre is also the fascinating narrow streets of Chinatown, KL’s traditional commercial district, with its many Chinese shops and places to eat.

Another area of interest to the traveller is the Golden Triangle. Although predominantly a shopping and night-life district, it is also home to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and the Petronas Twin Towers, once the world’s tallest building. In the nearby KL Convention Centre is the Aquaria KLCC which contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish. Just south of the Twin Towers is Menara KL Tower, which is situated on top of Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill), a forest reserve right in the heart of the city. PDA-Guided views from Menara Tower (RM38, 9AM-10PM) being at 276m, are far superior than those from the Petronas Towers (viewing deck at 170m), and come highly recommended since it allows first time visitors the chance to quickly orient themselves about the layout of the city. It is however, not a particularly easy place to reach by public transport, so use either a taxi or the “hop-on/hop-off” tourist bus that makes a continuous circuit through the city.

There are also several attractions just outside Kuala Lumpur which are worth visiting. The Batu Caves in the Northern suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, are located in a limestone outcrop and are the focal point of the fascinating annual Thaipusam festival, usually held in February. The caves are easily accessible by KTM’s kommuter mass transit rail service and RapidKL bus U6 from Titiwangsa station, though ask the driver to let you know the correct stop as the caves are not immediately obvious. Do some light cave exploring in Batu Caves which is really fascinating. The entrance is 50 ft below the main temple cave and on the left as you climb. The event will be memorable and is not risky even for children as young as 3 years. Another option is to catch Metrobus 11 for RM2 at Lorong Bas, near Central Market. Malaysia’s National Zoo (Zoo Negara) is also located in the north of the city.

  • KL Bird Park (free-flight walk-in aviary), 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, Taman Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur (Next to Islamic Art Museum in the City Centre) . 9:00-18:00. Great semi-wild habitat for many different species of mostly Asian birds. The Bird Park allows you to approach quite close to the birds which are skittish but not fearful for some very nice photos. A bit pricey, but makes for a nice long day in a mostly shaded area. Feedings and shows throughout the day give something to see at any time, and the 20+ acres provide plenty of area to walk and explore. The photo booth offers a wide array of tamed birds that will happily sit on you and pose for photos for a small price (RM 8 per person: your camera, 2 birds; RM 25 per print: glossy printout of your group covered in birds). Concession stands are priced fairly and offer drinks, ice cream, etc. Bring bug spray as the mosquitoes can be rampant. RM 42 (adult), RM 29 (child).

Things to Do

KL is the type of city where the first things that come to mind when you talking of doing anything is “shopping”, both of which are adequately covered by the Eat and Buy sections.

Those activities aside, KL has its fair share of sporting opportunities such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and even equestrian. If you’re into rock climbing, the Batu Caves in Northern Kuala Lumpur is a popular weekend haunt of those wanting to scale some heights. However, for anything more strenuous and challenging, you’re better of heading to other spots in country.

Malaysia is trying to encourage greater cultural expression and KL has several good theatres and places for performances, such as the National Theatre (Istana Budaya) and KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in the northern part of the city, the KL Philharmonic in KLCC, and the Actors Studio in Bangsar.

You can also get a good dosage of pampering in KL. For those in search of spas, there are several five-star hotel-connected as well as independent treatment centres in the Golden Triangle. You’ll also find heaps of reflexology and foot massage places everywhere but especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and Chinatown.

Food in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysians are obsessed with food and it is hardly surprising that as the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur reflects this love affair with eating. You’ll be able to find the entire range of Malaysian cuisine (although some, especially those from Penang, argue that what you get in KL is not the best) as well as food from around the world.

As far as the budget is concerned, you can eat fairly well for fairly little in KL. Just head to the roadside stalls and what Malaysians call coffeeshops (kedai kopi) – a shop which operates like a food court with many stalls selling a variety of food (some of them are halal and some non-halal, Chinese coffee shops usually serve non-halal) . Some coffeeshops offer streetside dining by placing their tables on the sidewalks of roads. Coffeeshops are found on virtually every street in KL but Chinatown (especially Jalan Sultan, Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Petaling) in the City Center and Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle have some of the greatest concentration of coffeeshops and stalls. They mostly open only at night.

Rivaling the coffeeshops in terms of numbers, as well as the price of food, are what Malaysians call “Mamak shops” – food outlets run by Indian Muslims. They can also be found at almost every street corner in KL. The food is of course halal (Food permissible by Muslim law – much like Kosher for the Jewish tradition). The streetside version, called the “Mamak stall” is also popular. One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row. The most popular food is the ‘roti canai’.

Food courts in shopping malls can also provide you with a good opportunity to sample Malaysian food in more hygienic conditions, although the prices will be a little higher than coffeeshops.

KL has a good number of restaurants, some of them offering better food than others. The Golden Triangle, Bangsar and Midvalley, Heritage Row and some areas in Damansara and Hartamas are the usual places for people looking for a restaurant meal. Beware that most restaurants close by 10 PM, so you’ll probably need to look for street food if hungry at night. the street food stalls are getting better during the late night.

In terms of ethnicity, Malay food can be found in Jalan Masjid India, Chow Kit and Kampung Baru areas in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district.Chinatown is the best place to search for Chinese (especially Cantonese) food, although all kinds of Chinese cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, can be found all over KL. Head to Lebuh Ampang in the City Center and Brickfields for Indian food. Bangsar has many high-end restaurants offering Western food. If you are dying for Korean food, head to Ampang Jaya. A lot of Arab and Middle Eastern restaurants have mushroomed in Bukit Bintang, Cyberjaya and Damai.

Stay healthy

Tap water in Kuala Lumpur is heavily chlorinated and thus safe, but unfortunately the pipes that carry it may not be. Most locals boil or filter it before use; alternatively, bottled water is cheap and ubiquitous.

There is no malaria in the city, but dengue fever can be a problem at times,so take precautions against mosquitoes.

Between May and October, KL is occasionally shrouded in dense haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo, which can be a health concern for asthmatics (and pretty unpleasant for everybody). However, the haze comes and goes, and varies greatly from year to year: it was terrible in 2006, but non-existent in 2007, and had started again in 2008.

Stay safe

Although crime is not rampant in Kuala Lumpur, it appears to be on the rise. Reports of violent crime against foreigners in KL are uncommon but instances of pickpocketing and bag snatching are rising significantly. Scams do happen too. KL is considered a very safe city for travellers, but do be wary of over friendly locals trying to con you. One common scam is for a local to say a friend or relative is going to your home country and asks for info, then wants you to go to their place to meet the person, and they want to play cards whilst waiting and it ends up as a gambling scam. Keep a close eye on your valuables in crowds, especially street markets and public transport (especially during rush hour), and hold your bag on the side away from the street if there are motorbikes around to avoid ‘bag snatching’. Avoid carrying handbags that look expensive. Strapping a handbag across you may not deter snatch thieves as they often pull victims along as they make their escape on motorbikes. Victims of snatch thieves at times suffer serious if not fatal injuries. Try to walk in well-lit and populated areas at night (avoid walking in less-lit and deserted areas at night). Women travellers especially would be wise to take additional precautions.

Taxis are generally safe, but they often refuse to use the meter and a few cabbies will gouge tourists mercilessly. If they won’t use the meter, then don’t take that taxi, as by law they are required to use the meter. However if you are desperate to use that taxi, always agree on the fare in advance, and try to get an estimate of the cost from a local before you climb on board. Do watch out for counterfeit banknotes (such as RM50) given as change by a dishonest taxi-driver, the easiest way to tell being to hold it up to the light to see the continuous silver strip. If in doubt, don’t pay with a RM100 note.

Malaysian law requires that visitors carry their passport at all times, and both police and “RELA” (civil volunteers) carry out spot checks for illegal immigrants.

Locals are very friendly to the tourists, and many in Kuala Lumpur can speak decent English. Communication with the locals is almost as easy as it is in Singapore, and significantly better than that of Bangkok especially in terms of understanding their pronunciations. Greet them well with warm smile and they will be happy to show you around. Be friendly – if you are lost, just ask anyone who’s smartly dressed on the street.

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