Kuala Lumpur was probably great once. It might be great again one day, but for now it’s just a network of building sites connected by a web of dirty, smelly alleyways. For some reason, we thought it was a good idea to spend 4 nights in KL. This was far too long. Luckily we had an awesome Couchsurfing host, so we didn’t pay for accommodation. If you find yourself in the city for a day, here’s a suggested tour to help you enjoy your 24 hours.
Top tip: Download Uber before you arrive. We usually like to walk around cities, but it’s often impossible in KL. The public transport system is poorly planned and badly connected, so even if you get the LRT or Monorail as close as possible to where you want to go, you will usually find a 40ft concrete wall or a dual carriageway between you and your destination.
8:00 – Start at Old Town White Coffee for breakfast – This is where locals eat their breakfast if they fancy something other than chicken rice. They serve great coffee and offer a sumptuous selection of baked goods – a great way to start the day! Try some traditional Kaya toast or go for the French toast if you’re feeling continental . There are loads of these around the city, so it’s easy to find one near wherever you’re staying. Sure, it’s a chain, but trust us, it’s way better than Starbucks.
9:00 – LRT to Batu Caves – For once the LRT actually drops you off near your intended destination, although the Port Klang line that goes to Batu Caves only runs one train every 45 minutes at off-peak times. It’s best to go early in the day before it gets too hot because you have to climb 272 steps to get to the top. That, and you might be cajoled into a bit of manual labour along the way. Nick had to carry 2 heavy buckets of rocks all the way to the top and no one explained why.
The 140ft tall gold Murugan statue that guards the caves is surely impressive when it isn’t surrounded by scaffolding, and the 400 million year old caves must be spectacular when they’re not covered in discarded building materials and rubbish. On the plus side, a lot of monkeys hang out in the caves, so that’s pretty cool. Just hold on to your sunglasses!
12:00 – Central Market for lunch – Get the LRT to Pasar Seni, take the exit where the open sewer flows into the river and walk to Central Market. There are some lovely souvenirs on offer here and a food court where you can grab some reasonably priced nasi goreng or Thai chicken. It’s not the best food court we’ve ever been to (KL’s got nothing on Singapore), but the food is fairly tasty, served quickly and you can get fresh fruit juices and cheapish bottles of Skol lager – inexplicably the lowest priced beer in most Malaysian restaurants. There’s also a 3D illusion art museum on the second floor, if you like that kind of thing.
Top tip: If you go to the museum and then pretend to change your mind about visiting, they’ll give you a discount coupon.
14:00 – Menara KL / KL Tower – The viewing platform here is 100m higher than the Petronas Towers Sky Bridge and costs less. Get the free, but usually packed, GOKL bus from Pasar Seni to KL Tower, then get the free shuttle bus from the bottom of the hill on Jalan Punchak to the base of the tower. There are 2 different viewing platforms, but we recommend just paying for the first one because it’s half the price and almost as high as the second one. The view is pretty impressive too, despite what they tell you at the ticket counter!
16:30 – Amusement Square at Berjaya – Take the Monorail from Bukit Nanas to Bukit Bintang and walk to Berjaya Times Square. On the 6th floor you’ll find Amusement Square – probably the best arcade we’ve ever been to. Battle it out on Time Crisis 4, speed your way to victory on Mario Cart and try not to pee in your pants while playing Dark Escape 4D. We were lucky enough to visit on their 30th Anniversary, so we paid RM50 for both of us and had unlimited plays on all of the games. Nick thought he’d died and gone to heaven! Keep an eye out for special promotions like this on the Times Square website.
19:00 – Wong Ah Wah for dinner – Walk to Jalan Alor (otherwise known as food street) and at the far end you will find Wong Ah Wah. Famous for its BBQ chicken wings, it is a sprawling restaurant with tables and chairs all over the ‘road’. The servers carry walkie talkies and bark your order at the relevant hawker chef from your table – it’s a slick operation. We can recommend the satay and the sambal prawns!
21:00 – Grab a drink at the Heli Lounge Bar – you can walk here from Wong Ah Wah in about 15 minutes, or get an Uber for about RM3. We didn’t actually go there because they wouldn’t let us in with our cut-offs and flip-flops, but we’ve heard great things from fellow travellers. We did see it from KL Tower and thought it looked pretty cool, so if we ever have to go back to KL this will definitely be on our list. Heli pad by day, bar by night, the Heli Lounge Bar is on the roof of Menara KH and has no fence or safety rails to stop you from plummeting to your death. It’s probably best not to drink too much here, but drinking is generally frowned upon in KL anyway.
22:00 – View the Petronas Towers at night – get the monorail from Raja Chukan to Bukit Nanas, then change to the Kelana Jaya line and get the LRT to KLCC. You can exit the station right at the foot of the Petronas Towers, then walk around the KLCC Park to get a great view of them lit up. We think the twin towers look much more impressive from the outside than the inside, plus it’s free to look at them from the park.
Our ‘24 hours’ ends here because, if like us, you didn’t want to pay for accommodation, it’s probably time to head back to your Couchsurfer host and pass out with exhaustion.