Normally I would shudder at the idea of a 22 hour stopover, trying to kill those endless hours in an airport. But when you time it so it’s a chance to explore another city for a day, well everything changes! Kuala Lumpur was on my way home to NZ from Thailand AND it was one of the cheapest flights available, a win win!
First a couple of things…
If you have luggage with you that you don’t want to be lugging around the city (obviously!) there is a luggage storage at the airport for a decent price. Also try to have a clear defined plan of what you want to do and see. Time is limited on a stopover so you really want to make the most of it!
Here’s what you can get up to on a quick stopover to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital!
What to do
Obviously top of the list! I booked my ticket online a month or so in advance so I had it secured. As time slots can be sold out if you just turn up. They were so pretty and majestic there together. You go up to the sky bridge which has great views by itself, and I was taking so many photos, then remembered ‘duh I’m going to the top, settle down Jen’. Then you zoom up to the 86th floor in your little group and have 20 minutes at the top. There are telescopes to look around the city, it’s pretty cool. You can see people swimming in their rooftop pools!
Merdeka (Independence) Square
I love a good Independence Square! I came here after seeing it on the map I picked up from the train station. Beautiful architecture of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, sneaky views of the Petronas towers, the I heart KL sign (which is a photo-op must of course!) and the City Gallery. You can get here on the red GOKL free bus, easy peasy.
I think Malaysians love shopping as much as the Thais do. The malls here are humongous! The first mall I saw was Pavilion, in the Bukit Bintang area. As it was on my way to the Petronas Towers I had to go through its air-conditioned magnificence. Floor upon floor of high-end shopping, the cheaper shops (hello!), makeup, salons, food, it had everything.
I spent a good few hours in here, (which may or may not have been because I got lost in it…) You can literally go round and round in circles up floor after floor of travel exhibitions, clothes, cafes, a food court AND M&S! Seeing it made me a bit homesick for London, so I had to go in get some of my faves!
Where to eat
Lot 10 Hutong food hall
I’d read about this place online before arriving, KL’s most famous street food stalls come together under one roof. And if you eat meat then you will find lots to choose from. I managed to find some famous egg tarts from one shop, (kind of tasted like a quiche), delicious watermelon juice from another and bubur gandam from another shop. Yip I had no idea what that was either. Turns out it’s quite a tasty sweet wheat porridge. So that was my breakfast!
Another huge food court here, plus an outdoor but covered (thank goodness) café style street with the likes of Eddie Rockets, an Irish Bar (of course) all sorts of western eateries.
Suria KLCC mall food court
I had lunch here at the huge food hall on the 2nd floor of the mall. There was everything from Malaysian, Indian to Japanese and vegetarian. I’ll blame it on a momentary lapse in judgement but I got Indian instead of a traditional or famous Malay dish. A bit duuuh I know, but my tikka paneer and garlic naan were delicious!
How to get around
This is the train from the airport into Kuala Lumpur, leaving every 20 minutes, it’s only a 28 minute journey. Well sign posted, nice and easy. I bought my ticket online in advance as I wasn’t sure how early I would be heading in, plus you get a discount if you do. Plus see some scenery on the way, like the rows and rows of Palm Oil trees, and try to catch your first glimpse of the Petronas Towers.
I couldn’t help but sing the tune from The Simpson’s monorail episode, in my head of course! Buy a ticket from the machine and hop on! It took me from Sentral train station over to Bukit Bintang in about 10 minutes.
Bukit Bintang to KLCC (Petronas Towers) walkway
I was wondering how I was going to get from Lot 10 over to the Towers. I was worried it would be too hot to walk and I didn’t want to get a taxi. But after a quick google I read about the walkway. Saved! It’s a covered, partly air-conditioned walkway from Pavilion Mall over to Suria KLCC, and then through that mall to the towers. Genius idea.
GOKL free bus
This got me out and about around the city for a tiki tour. Although there is free wifi on the bus (although on one of them it didn’t work for me) I suggest taking a screenshot of the map for when you’re not on the bus as I found wifi a bit difficult to sign in to. The bus map is not really aligned with a normal map, so you sometimes have to guess where you are or annoy the bus driver about 5 times like I did.
Where to stay
Sama Sama Express Airport Hotel
My flight arrived in KL at midnight and I didn’t fancy sleeping on a chair in the airport so I splashed out and got a room at this really nice airport hotel. I booked it for 7 hours and I’m so glad I did. Although it was about nz$100, it was so worth it. I could shower, pack my backpack and have a semi decent sleep before exploring KL.
A budget option at the airport, but about the same price if you don’t book fast enough. Just a bed in a very small room with a shared bathroom down the hall. I would’ve taken this option if it wasn’t sold out but I’m glad I got the other one in the end!