24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur: Making the Most of a Layover

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Originally Published on Half a World Away by Katie Milne

Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia—I can guarantee at least one of you have visited or passed through KL once or twice before. This vibrant city is certainly a welcomed change if you have been traveling around the rest of Southeast Asia like I had done. The vast majority of airlines stop off in KL, so, if like me you have the opportunity to spend a day in this city, here’s how you can make the most of your short stay.

Getting into the City
Landing in KL was such a refreshing change after spending three and half months traveling around Southeast Asia, where transport consisted mostly of traveling on half-broken buses fighting for a spot near the air-conditioning. The KLIA Express train is the best way to get in to the city from the airport—it’s clean, quick and doesn’t break the bank.

Where to Stay
I’d heard great things about Reggae Mansion in KL, so I booked in for a night in one of the dorms. It also had a buffet breakfast included so it was an obvious choice. After what was probably the worst flight, as well as recovering from the four weeks of partying in Thailand during Christmas, the privacy of the cubicle-style beds felt like heaven. The décor of the place is probably the best thing about this hostel! Being a renovated colonial-style building with a rooftop bar makes this hostel seem like a backpacker’s paradise compared to some of the dives in which I’d stayed. I’ve yet to stay at a hotel in KL, however, I would love to stay in one of the themed rooms at the Hotel Maison Boutique Hotel if I have the chance!

Reggae Mansion Hostel, close to China Town in KL (Photo Credit: via Hostel World)
Reggae Mansion Hostel, close to China Town in KL (Photo Credit: via Hostel World)

What to Eat
For regular readers, you may have noticed I have a bit of an obsession with food, so it’s a good thing that there is no shortage of delicious food in KL. As soon as I landed, I dropped my bags off at the hostel and went in search of my first Malaysian feed. I found myself in the middle of a huge outdoor shopping market close to the Chinatown area of KL and discovered a busy café full of local food. I went for a standard chicken- and rice-combo with a side of roti (has to be done in Malaysia). For some, the nice thing about KL is that it is considerably more westernized than the rest of Southeast Asia, so if you’ve had enough of Asian food (I swear that’s impossible), then there’s plenty of more familiar food spots for which you could opt instead.

Where to Go Shopping
Just a short walk away from Reggae Mansion is the Petaling Street Market. I was pretty taken back by the number of acceptable “knock-off” goods you could buy at this market—you can pick yourself up a Marc Jacobs bag or New Balance trainers for next to nothing if you’re not too fussed about having the real thing! Later that evening I decided to catch the train to the KLCC shopping center, as it is located right beside the Petronas Towers. It was also Christmas time, so a present from me to me was in order. This is also a great opportunity to stock up on westernized products that you can’t find elsewhere in Southeast Asia (makeup, toiletries etc.) if you have the spare cash to spend.

KLCC Shopping Centre
KLCC Shopping Centre

What to See
No visit to KL is complete without a visit to the Petronas Towers to see these spectacular skyscrapers! You can obviously buy tickets to go up the towers during the day, however, I was happy enough to check these out by night, as the towers are lit up in the evening.

Petronas Towers selfie spot—It was raining, typical!
Petronas Towers selfie spot—It was raining, typical!

As I had a flight out of KL the next morning, I headed back to the hostel instead of going out and partying (I really don’t think my body could have handled it), however, I did hear about some really cool bars. If you fancy sampling the nightlife in KL, have a read of this articlethere are some awesome bars I’ll definitely try and get to next time I pass through.

I didn’t get much of a chance to visit anything else due to me feeling unwell and having such a short timeframe. However, you could swap out visiting the markets and take a trip to the Batu Caves instead—I heard they were worth visiting but ensure you research transport options and directions well beforehand, as it might not be worth missing your flight!

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