While we only spent 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur on our way home from an amazing week in Langkawi, it’s such an epic city that I wanted to share our experience with you. To be honest, it got off to a bumpy start but definitely recovered.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur
We landed at klia2, Terminal 2 of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (not to be confused with KLIA, which is the main terminal) and looked at both the transportation options for the 45 kilometer journey into central KL. The price for the train, KLIA Ekspres, and a Grab taxi (southeast Asia’s version of Uber) were about the same so we opted for the latter. This would be the first time taking a Grab failed us. We spent more than two hours of precious time snarled up in traffic.
We eventually arrived downtown Kuala Lumpur and checked in at the Hilton.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
We stayed at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. It is located in the KL Sentral business district and, along with Le Meridien Hotel, is connected to the mall and downtown transit centre. During the check-in process, we learnt that by signing up for their loyalty program, we’d receive complimentary internet, two drink vouchers, and 25% off in certain restaurants (they have nine) – amazing! We were staying in the executive level, which has a private lounge on the 33rd floor. The views were extraordinary! The dress code is business casual, which means no sandals, even for ladies. This is not something we were made aware of in advance of our arrival so unfortunately I was turned away from breakfast. Not a good moment.
Kuala Lumpur Things to Do
We set out early for the Batu Caves because we wanted to beat the crowds. Learning from our mistake with the Grab, we made our way to the metro station. After buying our tickets for the KTM Komuter Train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves and proceeding to the train, we learned that it only comes every 20-30 minutes during off-peak hours (it’s every 15 minutes during peak hours). Since the drive to the caves is 20 minutes and we didn’t want to waste anymore time, we hedged our bets and hailed another Grab. It arrived instantly and we were on our way.
The Batu Caves hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and surprisingly there were already quite a few people there. I was so excited to see the colourful steps and the golden 140 foot high Lord Murugan statue with my own eyes! I was expecting a significant hike up to the caves but it’s actually only 272 steps; I wasn’t even winded. I had no idea what to expect inside the Batu Caves but what we saw was not it (watch my Instagram Highlights for video of the Batu Caves interior). Upon entering the caves, it’s a major sensory overload. There are gifts shops, blaring music, bright lights, and crazy monkeys. But the temples – wow. The bold, beautiful colours and intricate design took my breath away.
Prayers were in session when we were there and it was a delight to see them being actively used rather than just a photo op. There are several shrines within the caves and you can walk around to all of them. Watch for the monkeys though, they are bold and mischievous, and were constantly stealing the offerings from the temples. One even tipped a candle over and started a fire.
There is no cost to enter Batu Caves however you will want your taxi to drop you off at the main gate otherwise it costs 5 MYR for cars to enter. It’s very humid inside so ensure you bring water. Remember: you’re entering a religious site so dress conservatively (ladies, cover your shoulders and knees).
There are several stunning gardens scattered throughout Kuala Lumpur however since we would be back in wintry Canada the next day, we instead opted to spend a few hours relaxing at the pool in the sunshine.
We already had a lot of local Malaysian food while we were in Langkawi so opted for something we don’t have much of in Whistler – dimsum! For dinner we went to Chynna, a mix of Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine. As delicious as the food was, my favourite part might have been the tea service. The resident tea master will acrobatically pour you a specially brewed 8-Treasure Welcome Tea through a metre-long spout from his kettle. I loved the drama!
We took the metro to the Petrona Towers. I was so excited to see these iconic structures up close, and the views from the top. Little did we know that while you can technically buy tickets onsite at the booth, it’s best to buy Petrona Towers tickets in advance. The tours for that evening were already sold out, as were most of them for the following day. We were initially pretty disappointed but decided to explore the exterior and still loved our experience of seeing them in the mystic, foggy evening. If you do plan to do the tour, tickets are 80 MYR (CAD $27) and you can visit the towers 9:00 am to 8:30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Like the Kuala Lumpur experts we now were – ha! – we jumped on the KLIA Ekspress to the airport and got there in 18 minutes. While we were sad to be leaving Malaysia after such an amazing trip, I know we will be back very soon.
Is there anything I’ve missed on my Kuala Lumpur travel guide that you’d like to know? Comment below and I’ll answer your questions. All of my recommendations are also saved in my What Lynn Loves TripAdvisor travel itinerary for quick and easy research and reservations.
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