While the rest of Malaysia lives quietly and simply, the city of Kuala Lumpur – frequently referred to as KL – keeps up with contemporary culture and modern evolution. Glass high-rises, glitzy hotels, and hundreds of restaurants offering five-star international cuisine line the city. Despite its modernization, however, Kuala Lumpur holds its history sacred.
Whether you’re vacationing or your flight to Kuala Lumpur is a stopping point before further Malaysian travel, take some time to explore the city. Start in Merdeka Square (translated to “Independence Square”), and visit the Sultan Abdul Building, where the city’s government branches sit; the Royal Selangor Club, a high-ranking social club; and the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. The area of Jalan Petaling hosts outdoor markets and shops influenced mainly by the Chinese community. A jaunt across the river will land you in Lake Gardens where travelers can explore Kuala Lumpur’s bird park, Butterfly Park, and other gardens.
Need something to show your friends and family? How about a picture of the tallest twin buildings in the world? The iconic Petronas Twin Towers are located in downtown Kuala Lumpur and until someone builds something taller, these two towers hold the record. Take a window seat on your Kuala Lumpur flight and see the towers from 35,000 feet up in the air – it’s an awe-inspiring moment that few travelers to Southeast Asia experience.
Down on the ground, Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s dream. The Bukit Bintang area is where most shoppers go. Souvenir hunters head for Central Market, a great starting point for a wander through Chinatown (its heart is Petaling Street, home to bustling night markets) and Little India, a jumble of stalls selling brightly colored saris and food stands offering Indian snacks.
Kuala Lumpur’s annual Motorcycle Grand Prix in October is one of Malaysia’s best-loved and most popular sporting events. Taking place at the impressive Sepang F1 International Circuit, huge crowds gather together to embrace the distinctive sounds, excitement and atmosphere of Kuala Lumpur’s highpoint of the sporting calendar. The racing circuit is also home to the Malaysian leg of the Formula One, Formula BMW Asia and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia racing tournaments.
Whether you’re heading to Kuala Lumper for business or pleasure, there’s much to do and see. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip to this glittering and bustling capital of Malaysia.
When planning your cheap flight to Kuala Lumpur, take rain into consideration, or you’ll be wishing you brought your galoshes. Malaysia’s placement near the equator generates hot and humid weather all year round, with heaps of driving rainfall. Daytime temperatures soar into the 90’s (Fahrenheit) – and average in the low 80’s, with and nights fall only to the 70’s, with regular humidity reaching 90 percent on a daily basis. Rain comes in all forms, spanning from quick and refreshing showers, which is most common, to drowning monsoons in the months between October/November and March/February, which is the monsoon season. Torrential downpours and strong winds in the winter are supplemented by the bone-dry months of June and July, as well as August.
Kuala Lumpur is a feast for the senses. Visitors taking flights to Kuala Lumpur will experience a dizzying mix of architectural styles – both modern and historical – and the excellent range of food, inspired by the culturally diverse inhabitants of this bustling metropolis, including Malay, Chinese, Indian, all of which have inhabited the city over the years. Kuala Lumpur is home of the Malaysian parliament and the official residence of the Malaysian King is located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia). Here are some details on when the best time to fly to this beautiful city is, and what periods you may want to avoid if you can.
Travelers arriving on cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur at any time of year will encounter hot, humid weather, As the temperature stays steady in the 80’s (Fahrenheit) all year round. But the modern, air-conditioned buildings and retail stores make shopping a pleasant experience. Bukit Bintang, Central Market, Chinatown and Little India are also popular areas for shoppers to pick up bargains and souvenirs.
To experience the city at its fullest, book your flight to Kuala Lumpur when the crowds roll in, so you’re sure to see the town at its ultimate capacity. Malaysians crowd the city during school vacations in early April, early August, and mid-November to early January, and these are the peak periods. Thaipusam, a key Hindu festival, is dedicated as a celebration of Thanksgiving to Lord Subramaniam. The festival is held on the tenth month of the Hindu calendar which falls between mid-January to mid-February. Thaipusam is celebrated by many including the Hindu individuals of South India and the Tamil-speaking Hindu communities throughout Malaysia. During the ceremony, parades and rituals take place throughout the whole country, with the most famous ceremonial acts performing at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, which sees over one million people gather each year. Travelers and locals gather to soak up the memorizing colors, noise and activities of Thaipusam. Most hotels will be full during this period, so make sure you book your flight to Kuala Lumpur and accommodations in advance. This will also allow you to take advantage of possible cheap flight deals and avoid disappointment. Additionally, because June and July are the driest months, they also provide the perfect opportunity to walk around the city.
With its year-round, uniform climate, an off-season here doesn’t really exist, though it does have a monsoon season from November to February which heralds torrential downpours and strong winds along the east coast. March and April can also be quite wet as well. Although it can rain at any time of year, many visitors prefer to avoid the wetter months, as it makes for crowded, clammy public transportation. To be as discerning as possible, book cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur before or after these periods. While some Muslim countries might note Ramadan as an off season, Kuala Lumpur is rather liberal, so most businesses will still be open and ready for customers. The closest you get to an actual low season are the holiday weekends when many city dwellers head for the beaches. Take advantage and search for cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur and stay in some of the cheapest 5-star hotels in the world.
June, July and August are considered the less rainy months and therefore a good time to book flights to Kuala Lumpur. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come prepared for periodical showers and thunderstorms though, as these tend to occur in the morning and late afternoon. Light cotton clothing with long sleeves, a hat and sunglasses are a must to protect from sunburn while sightseeing.
Generally speaking, book as early as you can, especially if you plan to travel during the school vacations in early April, early August, mid-November and early January. Also, book early if you need a particular seat such as a window seat on the left side of the plane where, weather permitting, you generally get the best views as you descend into the city. If you can be flexible about your flight dates and times and are not worried about your seat location, you stand a better chance of finding the best deals. Flying midweek, especially on a Tuesday, tends to be cheaper than a weekend flight.
Flights from the U.S. require a stopover, typically in a European or Asian airport, so the flight time can vary according to the length of the layover. You can expect a flights from New York to Kuala Lumpur to take twenty-two hours or more, a flight from Los Angeles can take from twenty-one hours and a flight from Houston can take around twenty-three hours.
Several major U.S. airlines fly into Kuala Lumpur including United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue Airways. Middle Eastern and Asian carriers that fly in and out of the airport include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad.
Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid year round with frequent bouts of heavy rain, especially in October and November. June, July and August are the drier months. Daytime temperatures are regularly in the 90’s (Fahrenheit) and drop to the 70’s at night, offering little respite. Take comfortable, preferably waterproof, shoes, an umbrella and light cotton or linen clothing. This bustling city is mostly Muslim so the general advice is to wear pants. Women should avoid very short shorts and skirts, crop tops, and low cut necklines. If visiting temples and mosques is part of your plan, be sure to dress conservatively and take a scarf to cover your shoulders. Men should wear shirts with sleeves.
Flights land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) situated about 35 miles from the city center. Kuala Lumpur International Airport makes it easy to get to the city center once you’ve arrived on your cheap flight to Kuala Lumpur. The KLIA Ekspres – an Express Rail Link train – is the fastest way of getting downtown; the non-stop journey takes about a half hour. There’s also the KLIA Transit, a commuter service, which stops at three stations (Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya and Salak Tinggi) and takes around thirty-five minutes. The Express Coach departs every thirty minutes with a journey time of one hour.
There are also airport coaches and taxis. There are four types of taxis and limos: budget, premier Limo, super luxury and family service. Coupons for taxis and limos can be purchased in advance – which is highly recommended – at the Airport Limo counters. Many hotels can arrange for a car to pick up guests, though this is generally more expensive than taking a taxi.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore the city, you’ll find that, in general, public transportation and taxis are the way to go in Kuala Lumpur. The monorail and light rails are both fast and easy to figure out. Take the Kuala Lumpur Monorail to get to the main shopping and hotel districts or the Putra LRT to get to Chinatown. Taxis can be hailed or picked up at stands. Note that calling for a taxi will cost you a surcharge. There is also a surcharge for late-night and early-morning trips. Don’t worry about finding a taxi; there are tons, unless it’s rush hour or raining. It’s smart to make sure your driver is clear on your destination, and that he knows how to get there and that the meter is turned on.
Driving in Kuala Lumpur is not recommended. Traffic is so congested that renting a car is a waste of time. There isn’t any space on the road and traffic jams slow rush hour to a crawl. Leave this option for those who know the city well. Lastly, it’s amazing how much farther away your destination will seem after walking in Kuala Lumpur’s heat and humidity; consider distance before taking a stroll. Traffic will make your trip even slower and crossing the street can scare years off your life. Follow a group of pedestrians and cross with them if you can.
The number one attraction on most first-time visitors’ list is the futuristic Petronas Towers. To avoid waiting in line, buy tickets in advance for the forty-five-minute tour that includes the dizzying walk across the Skybridge on the 41st floor that connects these shiny stainless steel twin towers, and a trip to the observation deck on the 86th floor. For a compete contrast, step back in time with a free guided walking tour of Kampung Baru, a traditional Malay village of charming wood houses set right in the center of this modern city. Dress conservatively out of respect for the inhabitants and enjoy visiting the traditional shops and sampling some delicious street food.
Take a tour of Chinatown and visit Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest Chinese Temple to see the beautiful carved panels and to have your fortune told. Rattle a pot of sticks until one falls out and find the paper slip that matches the number on the stick. Temple staff translate your “fortune” for a small fee.
To experience the greener side of this busy metropolis, head to the Lake Gardens, officially known as the Perdana Botanical Gardens. Be sure to call in at the nearby Butterfly Reserve where you can get close to some of Malaysia’s largest and most colorful insects. If you’re feeling sufficiently brave, check out the Bug Gallery with its displays of giant centipedes and spiders. If you’re feeling hungry, climb up to the top level of the carpark overlooking the Gardens where celebrity chef Ismail’s restaurant Rebung serves up a filling feast of homestyle Malay food.
To experience shopping like a local, visit the Bazaar Baru Market. Immerse yourself in visual delights and the heady aromas, as you wander past stalls heavy with exotic fruits, fresh meats and spices, and racks of clothing, while vendors shout out their prices. Pick up a memento of your trip and gifts for family and friends.
If you are planning to extend your trip through Indonesia or Asia, or travel on to Australia or other locations, there are plenty of flight options from Kuala Lumpur. The airport is a hub for Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia and both companies offer plenty of flights to international destinations. You can find terrific flight deals for popular routes from Kuala Lumpur at https://www.cheapflights.com.my.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located about 35 miles outside the city center. The KLIA Express train that runs between the airport and city center at regular fifteen-minute intervals during peak hours, twenty minutes off-peak and thirty minutes after midnight, takes about thirty minutes and is a cheaper option than a taxi.
Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Kuala Lumpur airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.