Kuala Lumpur is a mesmerizing blend of traditional and modern, and dizzying contradictions. Colorfully adorned mosques and temples of the country’s Chinese, Indian and Malay communities, mouth-watering mix of Asian culinary traditions, mega-sized shopping malls, skyscrapers, street markets and bustling nightspots. There is simply no end to the wonders of Kuala Lumpur! This is truly a charming city sprinkled with cultural gems and plenty of touring possibilities. In this 5-day suggested itinerary, you will be able to see much of the city’s best attractions, places to eat and places to go for shopping. You will also be able to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Melaka (Malacca).
Things to consider before travelling to Malaysia
1.Language – Bahasa Malay is the national and official language of Malaysia. English is taught in schools and is widely used in Malaysian cities, so do not worry about not knowing local phrases or words. It is, however, recommended to learn some Malay if you are heading towards rural areas.
2.Money and Costs – Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is the official currency of Malaysia. Exchanging money is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Asia. You can exchange currency at the airport, hotels, malls, local banks, and money changers throughout Kuala Lumpur. ATMs are plentiful, all accepting international credit cards and debit cards, so it is easy to withdraw your money in Ringgit. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels.
3.Etiquette – Despite being open to foreign influences, Malaysia remains a fairly conservative nation. Handshakes are common when meeting someone. Avoid touching someone’s head as the head is considered sacred in eastern culture. When visiting mosques and temples, it is recommended to dress modestly. Removing your shoes is also required before entering. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter a mosque during prayer time although it is okay to stand outside and look around. Chinese and Hindu temples are open to visitors but it is also required to remove your shoes.
4.Getting there – Kuala Lumpur is definitely one of the cheapest destinations we have been to – from the accommodations to the airfare, it can fit any budget. A round-trip tickets from New York can be found for 389 USD; from London, Amsterdam, Moscow and most European major airports you can get to Kuala Lumpur for less than 550 USD; from Dubai the price of the airfare is about 500 USD; from Hong Kong – 165 USD; from Manila – 130 USD and from Sydney – 310 USD (send us a message if you need help finding the cheapest options to book your fligh)
5.Where to stay – There are 3 main areas of Kuala Lumpur that makes great places to stay for tourists – Buking Bintang, KLCC and Chinatown. Bukit Bintang is where you will find the trendiest shopping and entertainment districts, as well as many options of budget to luxury accommodation. KLCC, on the other hand, is the heart of Kuala Lumpur where you will find some of the most iconic landmarks in Malaysia like the Petronas Tower. It is a good area for shopping, sightseeing and nightlife. Rooftop bars and fine-dining restaurants are also aplenty in this area. Chinatown, located in Petaling Street, is great for budget travelers and for people who want to stay in a historical area. This area is well-known for its hawker food and dirt-cheap goods.
6.Getting around – Kuala Lumpur is a busy city and traffic can be terrible, but with an extensive network of Light Rail Transit, Monorail, buses, and taxis, getting around this modern city is easy. KL Sentral, the main transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur, offers connection to and from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with the service of KLIA Express and KLIA Transit. Bus connections to and from the airport, like the Skybus, are also available. Light Rail Transit and KTM Komuter trains serves the city and the suburbs.
Sample Itinerary for 5 days in Kuala Lumpur
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur:
Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur (11 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 50250, Malaysia)
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur (12 Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur 50450, Malaysia)
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50088, Malaysia)
Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50088, Malaysia)
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur (168 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur 55100, Malaysia)
Start the day off exploring colonial buildings and areas showcasing Kuala Lumpur’s ethnic mix. In the morning, head to the Sri Mahamariamman Temple (Jalan Tun H S Lee, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia. Founded in 1873, the temple was dedicated to Mariamman, also known as Parvati, the South Indian mother goddess. Then travel to the Islamic Arts Museum, home to one of best collections of Islamic decorative arts in the world. From there, make your way to the Thean Hou Temple (65, Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), a famous Chinese temple, dedicated to Thean Hou, the heavenly queen.
In the late afternoon check out Chinatown at Petaling Street where you can go shopping. You may also check out several Chinese and Indian Temples in this area. For dinner, head to Jalan Alor for some fantastic Malay-Chinese cuisine. There are mostly Chinese restaurants in this unassuming street, where you can sit down on plastic stools along the pavement. If you still have the energy for cocktails, head to the Sky Bar on the top floor of Traders Hotel (Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50088, Malaysia).
Day 2: Kuala Lumpur
On your second day, rise early to get to the Batu Caves, just north of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Set on a massive limestone hill, Batu Caves is an iconic and popular tourist attraction in Selangor. You will be greeted by a 43 meter-tall golden statue of Lord Murugan, before you climb the 272 steps up into the shrine. Inside, there is a Hindu Shrine lined with different deities. Though it is easy to get around by yourself, availing a tour of the Batu Caves is recommended to learn its history and significance.
In the afternoon, make your way to Merdeka Square (Independence Square or Dataran Merdeka). From here, head to Bintang Walk for some shopping. If your accommodation is nowhere near Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), then you can go for dinner in this area. There are plenty of things you can do here, from shopping to dining. You can also get an amazing view of the city from Petronas Tower.
Day 3 and 4: Melaka
Melaka (Malacca in English) is the oldest trading port in Malaysia which served as a link between China and India as well as for other countries in the Far East. This charming city was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July of 2008. Conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, by the Dutch in 1641 and later by the British, foreign influences in the city’s historical structures can be found all over Melaka. St. Paul’s Church, Porta de Santiago (A’Famosa), the century old Queen Victoria fountain and the Stadthuys (Dutch Square) are some of the famous attractions in Melaka.
There are plenty of interesting attractions in Melaka so a 2-day stay is recommended for first time visitors. Melaka has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget, from beachfront bungalows to luxury boutique hotels. Travelers can also stay in guesthouses and experience local life first hand.
Where to stay in Melaka:
Casa del Rio Melaka (88 Jalan Kota Laksamana, Melaka 75200, Malaysia)
The Majestic Malacca (188, Jalan Bunga | Raya, Melaka 75100, Malaysia)
Courtyard @ Heeren Boutique Hotel (91, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Melaka 75200, Malaysia)
The Settlement Hotel (63 Jalan Ujong Pasir | World Unesco Heritage City, Melaka 75050, Malaysia)
Gingerflower Boutique Hotel (13 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Melaka 75200, Malaysia)
To get to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur, head to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at Bandar Tasik Selatan Station. There are three different train services that stops at Bandar Tasik Selatan: KTM Komuter, ERL(KLIA Transit) and Rapid KL (LRT line). The station is 10 km away from KL Sentral. Once you arrive at TBS Station, collect your bus boarding pass if you purchased online or purchase a ticket at one of the bus operators. Travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka should take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic situation.
Day 5: Kuala Lumpur
For your final day in Malaysia, head back to Kuala Lumpur and get a one last whirl through the city to take in other attractions that you might have missed. For a wide range and reasonably priced locally made handicrafts, you can explore the Central Market (Jalan Hang Kasturi, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia). This charming old art-deco market building has souvenirs and gifts of different colors, variety and quality. There are also a number of eating places inside for a much needed pit-stop between shops.
This is the end of our 5-day suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form the only way to travel the country. There are several alternative routes of travel within the country and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Malaysia!
Have you been to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka or anywhere else in Malaysia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.