A brief stop in Kuala Lumpur with a visit to the iconic Petronas Towers and the night markets
As part of our journey to Borneo, we had a stopover in Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur. This is a bustling city with a population of about 1.6 million people – so it is not huge by global metropolis standards.
We arrived at the airport in KL at about midday and jumped on the KLIA express which gets you into the KL central station in about 28 minutes. From here we hopped on a metro train to the financial district where we were staying the night in the comfortable G Tower Hotel (conveniently right next to the metro station!)
With limited time for exploring we simply dropped our bags in our room and headed out.
One of the things that had drawn me to KL was to see the iconic Petronas Towers. These twin skyscrapers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. Each tower has 88 floors and they are connected by a sky-bridge between the 41st and 42nd floors. The towers themselves rise 451.9 metres (1482.6 feet) – so are fairly tall!
From our hotel, it was only a 10-minute walk to the towers and I was not disappointed when I got there, they are truly spectacular. It not just how tall they are but it was the way the metallic construction of the towers glistened in the sun that made them truly special. They reminded me a lot of another building that I love, the Chrysler Building in New York. I have had the fortune of travelling a lot around the World and have seen many of the tallest buildings but for me, the Petronas Towers are right up there with the best.
You can go up the towers and even cross the sky-bridge, but I personally think that a beautiful building such as this is best appreciated from the outside (could be that I just don’t like heights!). Anyway, we decided to forgo the opportunity to spend the money on the journey to the top of the towers and instead headed into the shopping mall that adjoins. To our delight, we found a Marks and Spencer store inside. Being Brits who have lived in the United States for 15 years this was a rare delight! We were tempted to buy just about everything in the store but in the end, settled for a few of our favourite snack items from the food hall. Sated, we strolled back to the hotel for a bit of rest.
Late afternoon we headed out, catching the metro to KL Central again and from there we took a short bus ride to Central Market. This is an indoor market and is a good place to go to escape the humidity. Inside there are a large number of vendors selling a wide array of goods, from upscale furniture to simple souvenirs. It was pleasurable to wander around, and the huge variety of products on sale made a pleasant change from the street markets, where you find almost every vendor selling exactly the same cheap and often nasty goods.
One of the shops inside the Market had tanks of fish that you could dangle your feet in, and have the fish eat away at the dead skin on your feet and calves. Karen has a particular horror when it comes to my feet (which to be fair are fairly disgusting) so she was delighted when I agreed to give it a go. I had seen this type of experience before, but these fish looked a whole lot bigger than one I have previously seen. As soon as I stuck my feet in the water I was attacked by dozens of these fish, who voraciously nibbled at my feet and calves. It was a weird experience and despite the fact, my feet are caked with rough, dead skin they are sensitive and I couldn’t help but laugh from the tickling of fish biting away.
After my near-death experience with fish, we walked (on my freshly groomed feet) a half-mile or so to the lively Petaling Street market in KL’s China Town. This is a more traditional street market, with a lot of vendors selling largely to the tourists – hence a lot of t-shirts and souvenirs were to be had. By this time we were hungry and sat down at a street food stand and ordered a pile of noodles – delicious. So happy was I now that I had filled my stomach I bought a lucky charm from an apparent Buddhist monk who passed by. I am not sure how genuine this person was but my luck on this vacation took a downturn from this point!
By this time we were getting weary so we found a nearby metro station and headed back, getting off at a stop near to the Petronas Towers. Having seen them during the day we wanted to experience them at night. Again we were not disappointed as they were as, if not more spectacular, than during the day. Happy, we took the short walk back to the G Tower Hotel.
The airport in Kuala Lumpur is quite a distance from the centre of the City, 55km. There are two main terminals, KLIA and KLIA2, which only takes a few minutes to get from one to the other using the KLIA express and only costs $0.5.
There are few options for getting to downtown KL, suiting different budgets and time available.
Taking a bus shuttle from the airport is the cheapest and convenient way to get to central Kuala Lumpur. It should only cost about $2.5 for the ticket. The buses are equipped with air conditioning and have comfortable seats (unlike the local buses). The journey is likely to take about an hour depending on traffic.
The quickest option is to use the KLIA express. The cost is about $13.5 for adults. It only takes around 30 minutes to reach the central station, KL Sentral, downtown. This is the option we took. The train was fabulous, with great seats and made comfortable with the air conditioning.
Another option is to use a limo or taxi service to the city. This will take about the same time as the bus and cost about the same time as the KLIA express.
When it comes to getting around the city of Kuala Lumpur, there are several great options.
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) connects many parts of KL Apart from the MRT, other rail services include the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail and KTM Komuter.
If you’re on a long visit, consider purchasing the Touch ‘N’ Go card or weekly passes for cheaper fares. The card can be used on all trains, as well as RapidKL buses.
Getting around by bus in the city is a generally comfortable experience these days. Most of them are fully air-conditioned and they get you to popular tourist attractions.
Taxi is probably one of the most convenient ways to travel from one place to another in KL. Always insist on using the metre – do not be duped into haggling for a price.
Malaysia actually has a few ride-hailing options, with Grab being one of the more popular options among locals. Utilising the service is as easy as downloading an app.
Anyone familiar with the climates of South-East Asia knows what to expect from the climate in Malaysia.
With a tropical rainforest climate Kuala Lumpur’s temperature is constant throughout the year. The monsoon/ rainy season is officially from October to March, however, in the remaining months, you can expect some heavy rainfall as well. Throughout the year it is nice and sunny in Kuala Lumpur. The only thing to keep in mind is the high humidity in some periods of the year.
Where to stay
If you are looking for upscale accommodations then you might want to check out Expressionz KLCC by G Suites
This hotel is within easy walking distance to the Petronas Towers and caters for business folks and tourists alike. It is ideally situated in Titiwangsa, one of the city’s most popular locales. There is an MRT station within 100 yds of the entrance. From here, you can make the most of all that the lively city has to offer.
The property offers recreational facilities such as a fitness centre, sauna, outdoor pool, pool (kids) and garden.
Check out the listing on Booking.com
Well situated in the Bukit Bintang district of Kuala Lumpur, KLoe Hotel is a 3-star hotel close to the Dinner In The Sky Malaysia, 0.7 miles from Starhill Gallery and 0.8 miles from Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking is available on site.
The units come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also have a city view. Guest rooms at KLoe Hotel are equipped with a seating area. See more about the KLoe Hotel on the Booking.com website.
The A&R Urban Hotel uses contemporary designs to combine comfort and utility. The hotel consists of 40 dedicatedly design rooms including 6 duplex suite rooms that has everything you expected for a get-up and go stay in Kuala Lumpur.
The hotel is located in Jalan Kuching, a stones throw away from the eateries, markets, shopping malls, corporate offices, healthcare centers and railway stations such as KTM (Taman Wahyu station) and MRT (Sri Delima Station). Furthermore, the hotel is located between Batu Caves and Kepong interchange roundabout, provides convenient access for business travellers who require travelling between Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pahang and Kelantan. Find out more on the Booking.com website.
In summary …
- Kuala Lumpur is very typical of cities in South East Asia – the centre is very modern and busy.
- You must check out the Petronas Towers – both day and night. They are stunning
- The Central Market and Petaling Street Markets definitely worth a visit
- The public transport is great and inexpensive
- Next time we visit we’ll check out more of the city, including the museums and take a trip out to Batu Caves