Information you may need.
In Kuala Lumpur, Tourism Malaysia has several offices. The largest is at the MTC, the Malaysia Tourist Centre, located on 109 Jalan Ampang (tel. 03/9235-4800), and open daily from 8am to 10pm. In addition to a tourist information desk, MTC has a moneychanger; ATM; tourist police post; travel agent booking for Taman Negara trips, city tours, and limited hotel bookings; souvenir shops; an amphitheater; and Transnasional bus ticket bookings.
The monthly Time Out magazine has listings for events in KL and Malaysia. At newsstands, it costs RM6.90.
By Train — KL’s train station, KL Sentral, provides a clean, safe, and orderly base for arrivals from Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM) rail services, linking cities up and down the Malaysian peninsula. It’s also the city’s base for express train services to and from KL International Airport, as well as a hub for local mass transit commuter train services around the city; it’s got tons of facilities, moneychangers, ATMs, fast food, and shops. It also has an easy taxi coupon system (about RM10 or RM16 to central parts of the city) — it’s located not far from the city’s main tourist areas. For KTM train information, call tel. 03/2267-1200.
By Bus — If you’re arriving via executive coach, your drop-off location will vary depending on the coach company. For example, Nice buses (tel. 03/4047-7878) arrive at KL Sentral , and Aeroline buses (tel. 03/6258-8800) arrive at the Corus Hotel on Jalan Ampang; taxis are readily available from both points. Domestic companies offering standard bus services, such as Transnasional (tel. 03/2272-3634), will arrive in one of the city’s three main terminals: the Putra Terminal, on Jalan Tun Ismail; Pekililing Terminal, on Jalan Ipoh; or the Puduraya Bus Terminal, which is located temporarily at the Bukit Jalil Stadium until the permanent terminal in Jalan Pudu is renovated (slated for completion in 2011). From each of these terminals, you can find taxis to your hotel.
By Plane — The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA; tel. 03/8776-4386; http://www.klia.com.my), located in Sepang, 53km (33 miles) outside the city, opened in 1998. KLIA is a huge complex, with business centers, dining facilities, a fitness center, medical services, shopping, post offices, and a nearby luxurious airport hotel operated by Pan Pacific (tel. 03/8787-3333; http://www.panpacific.com/KLairport).
The Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT; tel. 03/8777-6777; http://www.lcct.com.my), which services budget airlines like AirAsia, is 20km (12 miles) away from the KLIA main terminal, with transfer buses that will take you back and forth between terminals every 15 to 20 minutes from 5:30am to 12:30am for RM 1.50. The LCCT also has ATMs and moneychangers, luggage lockers, dining facilities, and some shops. ATM queues can be long at both airports.
Getting into Town from the Airport
City taxis are not permitted to pick up from either KLIA or the LCCT (although you will find illegal touts — avoid them!). From KLIA, airport taxis (tel. 03/8787-3678) operate ’round the clock, charging RM200 for premier cars (Mercedes) and RM10 for standard sedans. Vans with seating capacity up to eight can also be hired for RM200. Charges may vary depending on your destination, and coupons must be purchased at the arrival concourse. From the LCCT, airport taxi counters are also located at the arrival concourse (tel. 03/9223-8080), from where you can purchase coupons to most destinations in downtown KL. Expect to pay RM75 for a standard taxi, RM102 for an executive sedan, and RM200 for a family-size vehicle. The trip from either airport is around 45 minutes in good traffic and weather conditions.
A number of express coaches provide transfers to town from KLIA or the LCCT, dropping passengers off at the KL Sentral train station, where you can catch a cab to the city’s major hotels. The express buses to KL charge from RM8 to RM10. You’ll find ticket counters at both airports’ arrival halls, or you can just go to the bus bays and pay the driver directly. The trip from either airport takes about an hour.
The KLIA Ekspres (tel. 03/2267-8000) is an express rail link that runs between KLIA and KL Sentral train station from 5am to 1am daily. Trains depart every 15 to 20 minutes and take 28 minutes to complete the journey. Tickets cost RM35 for adults and RM15 for children. KLIA Ekspres also services the LCCT, but it’s not nearly as convenient, requiring passengers to board a shuttle to the KLIA Transit station at Salat Tinggi; from there, they can catch a train that makes a few other stops on the way to KL Sentral. Frankly, the bus is less hassle. The cost of the train from LCCT to KL is RM13 adults and RM6 children. From KL Sentral, taxis are always on hand; purchase a coupon to take a taxi from KL Sentral (about RM10-RM16 to central parts of the city). Or you can catch one of the city’s commuter trains to a station near your hotel.
Kuala Lumpur is a prime example of a city that was not planned, per se, from a master graph of streets. Rather, because of its beginnings as an outpost, it grew as it needed to, expanding outward and swallowing up rural surroundings. The result is a tangled web of streets too narrow to support the traffic of a capital city. Cars and buses weave through one-way lanes, with countless motorbikes snaking in and out, sometimes in the opposite direction of traffic or up on the sidewalks. Taxis are a convenient way of getting around, but expect agonizing traffic jams in the morning rush between 8 and 10am, and again between 5 and 8pm — during these times, the commuter rail system might be a better bet, if it’s going in your direction. There’s also an easy hop-on, hop-off tourist bus that hits virtually every major attraction. Walking is the best way to see the city, but be warned of the heat and horribly buckled sidewalks and gaping gutters. Areas within the colonial heart of the city, Chinatown, Little India, and central parts of the Golden Triangle are within walking distance of each other.
By Taxi — There are two kinds of taxi service in KL, standard and executive. Standard taxis can be flagged down from roadsides or at taxi stands, and charge a metered fare of RM3 for the first 2km and an additional RM.20 for each 200m (656 ft.) after that. Between midnight and 6am, you’ll be charged an extra 50% of the total fare. Most drivers don’t like to use the meter and will tout a flat rate of between RM10 and RM20. Most (non-rush-hour) rides in the city are about RM6 to RM10 ringgit, so for RM10, I usually don’t fuss. I generally don’t argue over meter usage, because I’ve found it to be an exercise in futility. KL taxi drivers will drive you mad if you let them. Sometimes it can be difficult to even find a taxi that will stop for you, especially if it’s raining. There are a number of booking hotlines to call, but I have yet to find one with an operator who is helpful and can speak English well. Try Public Cab (tel. 03/6259-2020), which is reliable but charges an extra RM2 for booking.
If you’re lucky, you can flag down an executive taxi. They cost a bit more but are cleaner and more comfortable. Most can be found outside major hotels and shopping malls, and use a metered charge of RM6 for the first 2km (1 1/4 mile) and an additional RM.20 for each 200m (656 ft.) after that. Between midnight and 6am, you’ll be charged an extra 50% of the total fare.
By Hired Car — A car and driver can be booked for around RM60 per hour or RM500 for a 10-hour, whole-day booking from most tour operators. Try Red Fury Tours & Travel (tel. 03/2162-2693).
By Bus — The KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus (tel. 03/2141-0927; http://www.myhoponhopoff.com) cruises most of the major attractions and neighborhoods of interest around KL, with stops near almost all leading hotels. Purchase tickets from travel agents, participating hotels, or the driver; a 24-hour ticket costs RM38 for adults and RM17 for children, while a 48-hour ticket costs RM65 for adults and RM29 for children. Your ticket gives you unlimited access to the bus during the period for which you paid. Buses operate from 8:30am to 8:30pm daily.
By Rail — KL has a network of mass transit commuter trains that weave through the city and out to the suburbs, and it’ll be worth your time to become familiar with them, because taxis are sometimes unreliable and traffic jams can be unbearable. Trouble is, there are five train routes and sometimes the lines don’t seem to connect in any logical way.
The four lines that are most useful to visitors are the Kelana Jaya Line (which is still commonly referred to by its old name, the Putra LRT), the Ampang & Sri Petaling Line (which is also still commonly referred to by its former name, the Star LRT), the KL Monorail, and the KLIA Ekspres to the airport. The latter route is explained under “Getting into Town from the Airport,” above.
The Kelana Jaya Line has stops at Bangsar (featured in the section “Kuala Lumpur After Dark”), KL Sentral (train station), Pasar Seni (Chinatown), Masjid Jamek, Dang Wangi, and KLCC shopping center. The Ampang & Sri Petaling Line is convenient if you need to get to the Putra World Trade Centre. It also stops at Masjid Jamek and Plaza Rayat. Average trips on both lines will cost around RM2.
The KL Monorail provides good access through the main hotel and shopping areas of the city, including stops at KL Sentral, Imbi, Bukit Bintang (the main shopping strip), and Raja Chulan (along Jalan Sultan Ismail, where many hotels are). Fares run between RM1.20 and RM2.50.
As a rough guide, all lines operate between 5 or 6am until around midnight, with trains coming every 10 minutes or so. Tickets can be purchased at any station either from the stationmaster or from single-fare electronic ticket booths.
On Foot — The heat and humidity can make walking between attractions pretty uncomfortable. However, sometimes the traffic is so unbearable that you’ll get where you’re going much faster by strapping on your tennis shoes and hiking it.
Area Code — The area code for Kuala Lumpur is 03, and the city’s phone numbers have an eight-digit format. Numbers in the rest of the country have seven digits.
Banks — Branches for local and many international banks can be found along Jalan Sultan Ismail. ATMs as well as moneychangers are located at virtually every shopping mall and entertainment or transportation hub.
Business Hours — Shopping centers and shops generally open daily at 10am and stay open until 9 or 10pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 3pm and Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30am.
Emergencies — The emergency number for police and ambulance is tel. 999. For fire emergencies, call tel. 994.
Mail — KL’s General Post Office is on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin in the enormous Pos Malaysia Komplex Dayabumi (tel. 1300/300-300), but there are more convenient branches at Suria KLCC, Lot C21-G/H/I, Concourse Level (tel. 03/2161-8069), and along Jalan Bukit Bintang at KL Plaza, Lot C12 and C13, Blok C (tel. 03/2142-9273).
Hospitals — In the event of an accident or emergency, the best facility in Kuala Lumpur is Hospital Kuala Lumpur, on Jalan Pahang (tel. 03/2615-5555). English is spoken there.
Internet Access — Internet service in KL will run about RM3 to RM6 per hour for usage. Internet cafes come and go, popping up in backpacker areas like Chinatown and the streets around BB Plaza off Jalan Bukit Bintang. Yoshi Connection (C21-F Concourse Level, Suria KLCC; tel. 03/2161-5000) is a business center that is located just next to a Pos Malaysia post office branch; it offers Internet access for RM8 per hour, plus photocopying, fax, and executive PC services in a quiet and professional environment. It’s open 10am to 10pm daily.