In between my teacher duties and schoolwork for my graduate studies, I successfully managed to squeeze in some of my Asian trips during the first quarter of the year. With these travels, me and my buddy normally use Kuala Lumpur as our hub for our transfer flights around Asia. And now lemme share with you some of our quick stopover trips to Kuala Lumpur.
As Philippine Passport holders, we eased our way to the Malaysian immigration office on Kuala Lumpur and was granted a 30-day free visa (visa exemption due to Association of South East Asian Nations agreement on visa-free entries on participating countries).
The now defunct KL LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) was our home base for the said flights, (they now use the KLIA 2 Terminal). Going out of the LCCT was a breeze. Buses going to downtown KL were readily available for 12 RM (156 pesos) each ride. Going back to the terminal we tried different ways; the Star Shuttle’s services (pick-up from the hotel + bus transfer) for 20 RM (260 pesos) each during our early morning flights, the bus stop at Pudu for 8 RM (104 pesos) and the KL Sentral Bus terminal for 8 RM (104 pesos). Travel time from downtown KL to LCCT was a little more than an hour.
It was our first time to explore Kuala Lumpur and choosing the right hotel was quite a task (I hardly research, which is not good). There are many areas around town that offers cheap accommodations and we chose to stay at Bukit Bintang which, for me, is the best place to hang around when you’re in KL. Shopping malls, Hawker stalls and chill-out places are easy to spot around this area. We stayed at Apple Hotel and Ceria Hotel during our stopovers in KL (check out my hotel reviews on Apple Hotel review here and Ceria Hotel review here).
Going around KL on a budget is doable especially with the GO KL bus lines which offer free rides (runs every 5 to 15 minutes) around town from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. We abused the GO KL bus (and the free wi-fi inside) which saved us a few bucks. Just make sure to study the maps and routes to properly locate the Purple and Green lines of GO KL buses. Designated bus stops are indicated also on the city maps provided at the airport.
Trains are also cheap and efficient (we tried the LRT and the Monorail). We also walked our way to some of the places just because we have plenty of time to spare in KL, the pleasure of having no plans or itineraries.
So what exactly did we do during our KL stopovers?
You’ll never go wrong with cheap food finds, bargain items and low-cost accommodations in Chinatown. It’s smacked right in the downtown area. The Purple line of GO KL bus has a certain bus stop here. From there, you can walk your way to the destination of choice.
We went here for our quick-fix chow. Hawker stalls are everywhere and you could choose where to eat depending on your cravings for that day. We found this small eatery that serves Malaysian dishes that fits our budget. There’s also a store that specifically sells cheap liquors and beers (hush, I’m doing a separate post featuring our KL Foodtrip).
Jalan Petaling, near Chinatown, is a huge area where you can find bargain products, souvenir items and food stands (think about a brighter version of Divisoria). Prepare to burn your wallets when you’re in the area and learn the art of haggling.
Our “walking tour” of the city brought us to the Kasturi Walk (still in the downtown KL area). There’s a covered walkway that houses some kiosks and eateries. Numerous antique shops, souvenir stores and other specialty shops are located in this place.
A few hundred meters walk from Kasturi Walk and we found ourselves heading to Merdeka Square. We wandered around the fountain area at the Independence Square. A huge Malaysian flag is hoisted in a 100-meter pole which is the actual pole where the first Malaysian flag was first raised in 1963 (in place of the British Union Flag).
Right across it is the Sultan Abdul Samal Building (a Big Ben-like structure) which is one of the significant landmarks in Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
By chance, we found this gallery tucked along the park near the public library (which we would love to but failed to visit for we have limited time) in Merdeka Square. No entrance fee was collected and we were free to roam around the gallery until the closing time (opens from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.).
We had the chance to have a quick glimpse on the rich cultural history of the city. I specially love the space where they exhibit a huge (40 ft. x 50 ft.) Kuala Lumpur City Model. The craftsmanship in making the tiny structures is amazing. You can actually spot some of the important landmarks around the city because it’s perfectly in scale. Too bad we didn’t get to see the other exhibits, if only we had more time.
Jalan Masjid India
A few strides more and we reached the Jalan Masjid India. Colorful textiles, scents of spices, the glistening gold and charms, the distinct music and the smell of Indian food are prevalent.
Food stalls are everywhere serving Indian dishes. There’s also this store that sells cheap beers. We bought some unknown beers and tried it. The one I had was called Cyclone for 8 RM (103 pesos/500 ml.) which has 16.8% alcohol content (San Miguel Beer Pale Pilsen has 5% alcohol content and Red Horse Beer has 7% alcohol content). Imagine me gulping it for the first time. Ahh… The sweet and tangy taste of the Cyclone beer is just a disguise for its real kick. I actually didn’t know how I finished the whole thing. If you wanna try some seriously strong beers, you have to go to this area.
|SanMig - 5%|
Red Horse- 7%
Cyclone - 16.8%
KL Tower (Menara)
From the Chinatown bus stop, we waited for a GO KL bus (Purple Line) to go to the Kuala Lumpur Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur). This stunning 1,099 ft. tower is a significant landmark in Kuala Lumpur.
Completed in 1995, the tower is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public. A revolving restaurant on the top provides a panoramic, 360° view of the city (which we didn’t get to try due to budget constraints). We settled on the open area that exhibits some of the traditional Malay houses. Food stalls and souvenir shops are also within reach.
Petronas Twin Towers
And then we walked our way to the most famous icon in Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers (Menara Petronas). Aside from being the tallest structure in the world for 6 years (1998 to 2004, surpassed by Taipei 101), it’s the most photographed icon in Kuala Lumpur (aside of course from Mee Goreng).
Completed in 1996, this 1,483 ft. structure is a glass and steel marvel. We specifically wanted to visit the towers during twilight because of its transformation into a bright and glimmering structure at night.
We hurriedly went inside the Suria KLCC (upmarket retail center) on the ground level and headed straight to the KLCC park where a fountain and light show was about to start. We settled on the park and rested on the grass. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed upon seeing the towers. But it really feels different when you’re there. I was amazed and impressed on this brilliant structure seeing it up close.
This is a happy place. Jalan Alor is my favorite amongst all the areas we’ve been to in Kuala Lumpur. A quick ride from the GO KL’s Purple Line to Bukit Bintang bus stop and then we’re there. You can also use the Monorail (alight at Bukit Bintang station).
|Jalan Alor is love!|
The former Red Light district of KL, Jalan Alor is home to Malaysia’s diverse gastronomic dishes and fun night life, the famous shopping district of Bukit Bintang is also nearby. But we ain’t here to shop, we stayed in this area to get a taste of Malaysian dishes and the fun street food night fair.
Our hotel was strategically located in the middle of all the madness. We feasted on cheap hawker food all day and night long. The whole stretch is turned into a huge party place at night with hundreds of chairs and tables spread all over. The hardest part here is choosing where and what to eat so we ended up staying up all night (on separate occasions) just to savor the local treats. And now I’m craving for Mee Goreng and Kopi Ice. Ugh!
|my bad, tsk tsk tsk|
I must admit that I’m guilty; guilty of taking KL for granted. Having a few trips around Asia using KL as our hub paved way to discovering this fun city. We didn’t have any plans ahead of time, we just followed our impulses and enjoyed Kuala Lumpur that we wished to have stayed just one more night, every layover time.
Surprisingly, me and my buddy loved the craziness of Kuala Lumpur, the hodgepodge of cultures that is. I love how everything works given the very diverse culture. And so now we’re thinking of checking Kuala Lumpur out for real really soon. But first, lemme find a knockout Mee Goreng in the metro. Do you know of any?
Check Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia accommodations here
Check Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia accommodations here