When is the best time to visit?
Kuala Lumpur (KL), the glittering and bustling capital of Malaysia, is a feast for the senses. Visitors flying to Kuala Lumpur will experience a dizzying mix of architectural styles and the excellent range of food, inspired by the culturally diverse inhabitants of this bustling metropolis. Kuala Lumpur is home of the Malaysian parliament and official residence of the Malaysian King is located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia).
Malaysians crowd the city during school holidays in early April, early August, and mid-November to early January. 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. Travellers and locals gather to soak up the memorising colours, noise and activities of Thaipusam. The hotels will be full, and to take advantage of flight deals and make your bookings in advance if you want to visit during this period.
With its year-round, uniform climate, KL does not have an off season. The closest you get to a 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 the cheapest 5-star hotels in the world.
Why visit KL?
The city's architecture is a mix of old colonial buildings, Asian, Malay Islamic and modern of which the most sky scraping is the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world. To enjoy the view from the Skybridge on the 41st floor (at 558ft) free, snap up one of the 1,300 timed tickets given out each day. The KL Tower offers fantastic views too, from 905ft above ground level.
Down on the ground, KL is a mecca for shoppers. 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 coloured 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.
For a brief respite from the city, Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana) is green and verdant with resident monkeys.
Kuala Lumpur climate
KL’s equatorial climate is hot and humid throughout the year with lots of rain. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 30 degrees Celsius range and nights in the 20s. The relative humidity averages 90 per cent. Although rain is common, it is usually in the form of a quick shower. The exception is the monsoon season, from November through February, with torrential downpours and strong winds along the east coast of Malaysia. June and July usually have the least amount of rain.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur
Public transport 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 KL 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 a rush hour or it’s raining. Make sure your driver is clear on your destination, that he knows how to get there and that the meter is turned on.
Driving in Kuala Lumpur is not recommended. There isn’t any space on the road and traffic jams slow rush hour to a crawl.
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.
Getting from the airport
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is one of the newest airports in the world.
The KLIA Ekspres is the fastest way of getting downtown; the non-stop journey takes 28 minutes. 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 35 minutes.
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 at the Airport Limo counters.
Kuala Lumpur insider information
- Petronas Towers isn’t just a destination for sightseeing during the day. From dusk until 10pm the Towers are lit up and the fountain at the bottom reflects the lights of the buildings around. It’s extremely popular with families and romantic couples.
- Batu Caves is easily reached from KL. The limestone caves are filled with statues to Hindu deities, as well as five temples. Climb 272 steps to reach the largest cave. If the effort is too much, take frequent pauses along the way to play with the many monkeys.
- For shopping or just people-watching, head to Central Market. The market is housed in a splendid refurbished building and you can buy any type of souvenir here, especially arts and crafts. There are also restaurants on the ground floor. Take a seat and you’re sure to catch some sort of performance – from a cultural offering on the open air stage, to watching the portrait artists at work.
- You can readily eat a variety of different cuisines in KL. Most popular is Malay, Chinese and Indian. Malay specialities include satay (skewered, barbecued meat), noodles and rice. Much of the food is cooked with lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves.
- There are lots of gardens and parks within the city, for a walk on a sunny day. Try the butterfly park, orchid garden, Kuala Lumpur bird park, hibiscus garden, deer park or the Asean sculpture garden.
- KL was the starting point for the Hash House Harriers, “The Drinking Club with a Running Problem”. Started in the city in 1938 by British colonials who were concerned about their weight, hash harrying still takes place today. It is similar to a fun run; competitors race through the jungle chasing a series of markers.