Kuala Lumpur Insights
Arriving into Kuala Lumpur by land from Singapore was an adventure in itself.
We arrived at the border crossing station in Singapore where we went through Singapore border control and then through Malaysian immigration before boarding the shuttle train that took us across the bridge that connects both countries.
Once in Johor Bahru, Malaysia we climbed aboard our air-conditioned train for the three-hour journey.
It was a lovely comfortable train but the air-conditioning was turned up way too high, as we froze and had to put our hoodies on.
Arriving at KL Sentral railway station
We stepped off the train at KL Sentral station to the hustle and bustle of the city.
We would have to leave our exploration of the capital of Malaysia until another time as we needed to get to our Airbnb accommodation North of the city centre in the Batu area.
We found the platform for our commuter train and hopped aboard.
These trains are very modern and stylish and it whisked us to Batu in no time at all.
Our accommodation was aptly named The Bat Cave as it was only a stone’s throw away from the huge Batu Caves Temple complex.
After walking to the apartment block we had a look around and found that there was a huge swimming pool and gym we could use.
The Bat Cave Apartment
The much needed swimming pool at out apartment
The view from our apartment over Batu
The Batu Caves area is very different from the city of KL.
We soon learnt that hardly anyone spoke English as they do in the city but we got by fine.
It feels like there’s a big Indian influence in the area especially when we visited the huge Hindu Temple complex and Batu Caves which was only a ten-minute walk away from our apartment.
The huge gold statue of Lord Murugan is stunning and stands guard over the entrance to the caves.
Batu Caves Hindu Temple
Catching the train into the city was really easy and so inexpensive too.
At the time ( March 2016 ) we were there it cost us a grand total of £2.40 return for the three of us.
Catching a glimpse of the Petronas Twin towers as we entered the city was awesome, and we were soon off the train and on board one of the many monorails that criss-cross the city.
KL is a shoppers paradise with huge shopping complexes with every store imaginable.
Raised, covered and air-conditioned walkways enable pedestrians to get around some parts of the city without having to go out into the fierce heat of the day.
We took one of these walkways to the Suria KLCC shopping mall which is at the base of the Petronas Towers.
Exiting the mall into the bright sunlight and looking up at the enormous towers was amazing.
They’re beautiful in their design with the metalwork and glass shimmering in the sun.
It wasn’t long though before we had to retreat back into the air-conditioning of the shopping mall and its hundreds of shops and restaurants.
The Impressive Petronas Twin Towers And Suria Shopping Mall
We stayed late at Suria to watch the light and music fountain show in the evening which is pretty cool with all the coloured water features in time to the music.
Like any city, KL looks amazing at night time all lit up but especially because of all the neon signs everywhere.
The Fountain Light Show at KLCC
Back in Batu we loved going to the Chinese restaurant Pan Huong which was really close to our apartment.
It’s a popular place though and could sometimes be hard to get a table.
Their noodles were delicious especially with a pot of Jasmin tea to accompany them.
Eating noodles at the Pan Heong Chinese Restaurant
Busy at Pan Heong Chinese Restaurant
It may sound funny but being British we loved discovering that there was a Tesco Extra store close by, so we just had to visit it.
It was close but down the highway, so we had to catch a local bus to get to it as there were no sidewalks.
It really wasn’t that much different to the Tesco’s back in the UK except you could buy a scooter or a Hijab and the food court was amazing with lots of lovely Malay dishes.
We visited more than once just to eat at the food court.
Tesco Malaysian Style
Tesco Food Court
Tesco Food Court, Malaysian Style
We also loved eating at an Indian restaurant near the apartment called Al Kader.
The food was absolutely delicious with fried rice, great curries and naan bread and it was so cheap which is always a bonus.
They also sold honey lemon tea which we fell in love with and had with every meal we ate in the restaurant.
Al Kader Indian Restaurant
Al Kader Indian Restaurant
We did have a bit of an emergency in Kuala Lumpur.
The bank card we were using didn’t seem to work in the ATM’s which became a problem.
We were down to our last few Ringgits and visited the bank ATM but as usual, it wouldn’t work so the bank assistant suggested we try another ATM machine across town.
Luckily we found the bank and the ATM gave us some money.
It turned out that for some reason a lot of the machines didn’t like our English bank card but we did find that Maybank was always reliable in giving us cash.
I think that was the nearest we’ve come to being penniless.
One of the places we wanted to visit was Thean Hou Chinese Temple so we caught the train into the city and then the monorail to the station closest to the temple.
It stands atop a hill just outside of the main centre of the city so we needed to walk a bit to get to it.
The red and white building with hundreds of bright red lanterns came into sight and it was one of the prettiest buildings we’d seen in a long time.
Although it’s quite near the city, the temple feels really peaceful and quiet.
The grounds are beautiful with flowers and a turtle pond.
Inside there are statues to the goddess of the ocean with local people giving offerings and praying.
The Magnificent Thean Hou Chinese Temple
The Interior of Thean Hou Chinese Temple
We’ve actually stayed in Kuala Lumpur twice.
This time we decided to stay in the city itself.
We booked a room at the Ibis Styles Hotel which was ideally situated right next to a monorail station but it did involve us walking through a seemingly deserted shopping mall which was kind of like being in some apocalyptic zombie movie.
We packed a lot of sightseeing into this trip with visits to the Central Market, Petaling Market, The National Museum, Perdana Gardens and park and Merdeka Square.
It’s funny how we did so much in a short space of time and less when we were there much longer.
Sometimes it feels different when you’re living somewhere for longer than just visiting for a short time.
Fooling Around at Merdeka Square
Visiting Central Market
Our Opinion About Kuala Lumpur
Our two visits to Kuala Lumpur were completely different from each other.
Being based outside of the city gave us a real insight into local life in a KL suburb.
It had an edge to it that felt real, not in a bad or dangerous way but things like there being heaps of trash around and rats.
We’ve come to understand that this is usually part and parcel of visiting SE Asian and Asian countries but the city of KL itself is very clean and tidy and if not for the heat you could pretty much be in any city in the world.
English is widely spoken in the city but not out where we were staying.
In some ways we prefer the edginess of staying somewhere that feels different.
It’s not on show to everyone in the same way as the city is and it doesn’t have to put on a face.
Malaysia has been the cheapest destination we’ve been too so far on our travels, certainly for food and transport anyway.
KL isn’t somewhere we feel drawn towards to visit again but we did enjoy our time there immensely.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Merdeka Square
How To Get There
KL is a hub for travel.
If you book any travel around SE Asia, chances are you’ll fly through KL to connect.
Air Asia is the big SE Asian budget airline and connects all over Asia.
Many airlines fly direct from Europe to Kuala Lumpur including Malaysian Airlines.
Remember that KL airport has two major terminals, KLIA and KLIA2
The terminals are about 2 km apart and are connected by train.
There is a second airport, Subang Skyport Airport, but it’s only used by three airlines.
You can reach KL by land from Singapore to the South ( like we did ) or from Thailand to the North.
Trains run between all three countries as well as buses.
Travel is inexpensive and very reliable.
Air Asia Fly all Around Asia Connecting in Kuala Lumpur
Like most SE Asian cities public transport systems are really good and cheap.
KL has a train system called the KTW Komuter that runs out to the suburbs as well as the KTM trains that run long distance and internationally.
The cities monorail system is raised on concrete pillars and serves most of the city on a loop.
The monorail is very cheap and affordable.
There are also taxis of course but with the public transport being so cheap and efficient there really isn’t a need to use them.
There’s also a train line running out to the international airport, but it’s quite expensive.
We travelled to the airport by coach from KL Sentral railway station for a much cheaper cost.
The KTW Komuter Train
The Kuala Lumpur Monorail
On our first visit, we stayed outside of the city in the Batu area in a great Airbnb apartment called the Bat Cave, with two bedrooms.
We got to know the owner who we are still friends with to this day and he’s a really nice guy.
On our second visit, we stayed at the Ibis Styles at the Fraser Business Park just a short walk from the Chan Sow Lin monorail station.
It’s only about a ten-minute monorail ride into the centre of the city so it’s nice and close without being right in the centre.
There are literally thousands of accommodation options available from upmarket hotels to basic hostel rooms.
The Bat Cave
The Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park, KL
SE Asia is known for its food.
There is so much choice from street food ( which is really good ) to upmarket restaurants.
In Batu, we ate mostly at the Pan Heong Chinese restaurant or the Al Kader Indian restaurant.
The Pan Heong is very popular at breakfast times it’s only open until midday.
Sometimes it was too busy to get a table but the food is really good and cheap.
The Al Kader is a very simple place with curries, rice and bread.
There was also a lovely little Malay place we ate in several times with simple traditional dishes.
Oh and of course there was also the Tesco supermarket food court ( it was good, honestly ).
It was probably our favourite place to eat and the cheapest.
Do be aware that smoking is pretty much accepted in restaurants which is horrible but hey ho.
Nasi Goreng at the local Malay Restaurant
Burger at Chillis restaurant in Suria KLCC
Tasty Eats at Tesco Food Court
The shopping opportunities in KL are immense, to say the least.
There are shopping complexes all over the city.
There are stores for everything from designer fashion to cheap knockoff Chinese goods.
We went to Suria KLCC shopping mall which has hundreds of outlets but we liked sitting in the Japanese book shop ( which sells English books) and reading.
The amount of food choices in the mall is extensive with sit down restaurants and a huge food court.
We ate in Chillis restaurant a couple of times but it wasn’t anything special (we just fancied something different ).
We found an amazing candy shop packed with all sorts of goodies.
It was like walking into Willy Wonkers Factory.
The other big shopping mall we went to was Berjaya Times square which is set over eight, yes eight floors.
It also has a good cinema and believe it or not, an indoor theme park with a loop the loop roller coaster.
If you’re looking for electrical items then head to Plaza Low Yat near Bukit Bintang, which is stuffed full of outlets selling camera and computer equipment as well as accessories.
Suria KLCC Shopping Mall
The Superhero Store, Suria KLCC Shopping Mall
The Candy Store, Suria KLCC Shopping Mall
At The Thean Hou Chinese Temple