Traveling to Kuala Lampur wasn't in the initial itinerary of this particular vacation and definitely wasn't in my travel plans when I arrived in Korea. Places like Japan, the Philippines, China and Vietnam held much more precedent in needing to be explored.
To get to Thailand I had to take Air Asia X which is the budget affiliate of Malaysian Airlines. Air Asia X is based out of the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lampur. This means its flight paths typically route you through Kuala Lampur International Airport (KLIA).
The budget friendly routes that took me from Thailand back to Korea required a 10 hour stay in Kuala Lampur in the wee hours in the morning. Since I was going to be spending at a minimum 10 hours in Kuala Lampur, I figured I might as well push my departure from Thailand up a day and make the most of my trip and see another city and country.
I'm so glad I made this decision.
Malaysians have their own language (Malay) but they all speak English. At the very least they speak at a minimum, a basic amount of English.
This being the case, you shouldn't feel the need to learn Malay, although, as I always like to point out when traveling, the locals really appreciate tourists who care enough to at least try and learn their language.
Malaysians are tri-racial. They're a mix of Indian, Chinese, and Malay. Because of this they have 52 federal and state holidays (Malaysia recognizes all religious and cultural holidays from these three groups). There are 30 some federal holidays in Malaysia so at a minimum, workers get a month off from work. Depending on where in Malaysia they live, they can get up to 52 days off from work a year. All this on top of the standard vacation days they're mandated by their employers.
Since Malaysians are a mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay, the culture of Malaysia mixes all three. Most notably the food and the languages.
Malaysia is a majority Islamic country with, as of the 2010 census, 61 percent of its population practicing Islam. The secondary religion is Buddhism with roughly 20 percent of Malaysia's population identifying themselves as Buddhist.
The population of Malaysia is one of the most diverse populations I've ever experienced. I got the idea that a substantial portion of the population of Kuala Lampur is foreign born.
Must Do's In Kuala Lampur
1. The Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas Twin Towers stand at 420 meters making them the tallest twin towers in the world. From 1998-2004 they stood as the tallest buildings in the world. Tower One was constructed by Japan's Hazama Corporation and Tower Two was constructed by South Korea's Samsung Corporation.
The towers are some of the most aesthetically pleasing building's I've ever come across in my world travels.
Seeing the towers during the day and lit up at night is an absolute must. They even offer tours up to the 86th floor for just 80 ringgit ($20 USD).
If going up to the observation deck is of interest, make sure to try and book your tickets in advance because the allotted tickets for the day often sell out. You can stop by the ticket counter inside the towers and buy your tickets in advance.
While you're inside, make sure to do some shopping if you have the time and budget. The mall at the base of the towers features some of the most popular high-end name brand stores.
The towers, the mall and the surrounding area can be accessed by train via the KLCC stop.
2. Batu Caves
Initially I thought the Batu Caves were too far outside the city and I didn't have enough time to see it. After some convincing from a local who met up with me and guided me around the city, I was convinced to go.
I'm so glad I went. The Batu Caves were very special.
The caves can be accessed via the Batu Caves stop on the Kuala Lampur metro. It is a bit outside the city as it's the last stop on the red line, but it doesn't take that long, especially if you have a guide or a friend to chat with.
The colorful stair case, the massive Hindu statue, and the hungry monkeys looking for food are a worthwhile experience.
The Batu Caves is one of the most popular Tamil Shrines outside of India.
The colorful 272 steps are worth the trip up. Take your time.
At the top you'll find there are Hindu temples inside the limestone caves. As long as you take off your shoes, you can go inside the temples.
Please be cognizant and respectful of the people there to pray and pay there respects. It's perfectly normal for tourists to take in the beauty and the uniqueness, but, don't forget that this is still a holy site for many.
3. Bukit Bintang
This bustling area of Kuala Lampur is known for its high end shopping and its main drag that features touristy outdoor hole-in-the-wall eateries. If people watching while having a good (and cheap!) meal is your thing, this is the place to be.
Simply head to the Bukit Bintang stop on the Kuala Lampur metro with an open mind and an empty stomach. Follow the crowds to the main drag that features all the places to eat and sit and enjoy the thousands of people from all walks of life pass you by while the employees of the restaurants work endlessly to grab their attention.
This area also makes for a fantastic date spot.
4. Eat the fried rice
I've had my fair share of fried rice in my 27 years of life but nothing can compare to the fried rice in Malaysia. I don't know what they do to make it so damn good, but it'll have your taste buds jumping for joy. I'll put my reputation on that.
- The Kuala Lampur metro system is perfect to get around the city. It will get you everywhere you need and want to go. It will also do that for cheap. A one one way trip will cost about four ringgit which is under one United States Dollar.
You're not buying a ticket on the the KL metro system though. At the fare machines you'll get a token with a scanning chip in it. You'll swipe it on a touch pad on the turnstiles when entering and when exiting from your trip you'll insert it into a coin slot on the turnstiles.
I found the KL metro trains to be very slow. I'm not sure if they're old (they don't look it) but they're not as technologically advanced, it appeared. So, they don't travel at high speeds.
- If you're in a time crunch you can download an app that is much like Uber or Lyft in the United States. It's called GRAB. This app is made up of friendly locals who are driving people around the city as a side hustle. Even better than Uber or Lyft, you can pay the driver in cash if you'd like.
- Careful of the SIM card stands in the Kuala Lampur International Airport. I walked off my flight and there was a rude woman who sold me a SIM card that she claimed was unlimited data for seven days. The data ended up running out within a few hours. She worked for a company that had a bright orange color scheme called U Mobile. U Mobile is trash.
I ended up picking up another SIM card from a cell phone store in the Petronas Twin Towers mall. The second company was called Celcom. Celcom had a blue color scheme and the sales woman was very friendly. I had no issues with this SIM card.
You might be better off getting a SIM card from a store in the city and not at the airport, minutes after walking off your flight.
- Much like neighboring Thailand, Malaysia is very inexpensive. The currency (called ringgit) has a bit more value than the Thai Baht, but your Malaysian adventures won't cost you an absorbent amount of money! Something that adds to the appeal of Kuala Lampur and Malaysia as a tourist destination.