KL’s airport is 75 kms from the city and there is a fast train but the tickets are expensive and certainly to go into the city it is cheaper to get a cab which will take between 45 minutes and an hour. The arrival process is very smooth and you pay for your taxi in advance when you exit customs. The return fare is more expensive but a luxury air-conditioned cab door to door is not expensive for the distance. There is also an efficient and cheap express bus to KL Sentral the transport hub.
Getting around KL offers many options, there is an excellent monorail system which will take you to most places in what is called the Golden Triangle containing most of the big hotels & shopping areas. There are also 3 metro lines but these do not interchange very well. The excellent addition since our last visit is a network of 4 free bus lines called GO KL, three of the four serve the Golden Triangle area, they are efficient and some stops have timer boards.
Big hotels have fleets of taxis outside and while these are a bit pricier than the normal red and white ones they can be more efficient. There is a new alternative however called Grab, similar to Uber they are efficient and cheap and payment is by cash, simply download the App.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com, hotel prices can be a bargain and the area to stay round is Bukit Bintang or the Golden Triangle and most hotels should be handy either for Bukit Bintang Monorail or Raja Chulan Monorail and the free GO KL buses.
We stayed at the KL Journal Hotel, a fairly new addition to the city, with a rooftop bar & pool. Excellent staff and a good atmosphere plus a great location for transport, shopping and close to Changkat Bukit Bintang with its huge selection of bars and restaurants and also close to Jalan Alor for great night time eating.
Just behind Jalan Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor which every night is full of food stalls. Wander up and down decide which one you fancy, a beer seller will appear, then start ordering the food. A word of advice, go for small size dishes if there are only two or you, the medium are enormous, the large I dread to think. On our most recent visit we ate at Cha Cha, excellent food and no one trying to drag you in.
Bijan, No 3 Jalan Ceylon, close to Chankat Bukit Bintang, is modern Malay cooking and we booked in advance and loved the food, atmosphere and service and excellent value.
Opium, 50 Changkat Bukit Bintang, is a very cool looking place with a slightly pricey evening menu specialising in upmarket Chinese dishes, the lunchtime Dim Sum menu is incredible value, dishes cooked to order and lovely service.
The Pavilion Shopping Mall and The Starhill Gallery, opposite each other on Jalan Bukit Bingtang are both packed with restaurants, the Starhill has some very smart places downstairs. The Pavilion has lots of incredibly smart places on the sixth floor with bargains at lunchtime and happy hour. The food court on level 1 is just amazing, top quality sushi at Ichiban, followed by the Teppan Yaki Japanese grill, where the set meals were incredibly cheap and good. There is every sort of Malaysian food and most types of Asian as well as European on offer. This time we tried Dragon-i, which is part of a chain, very good quality and service, this one specialises in Peking Duck.
Lot 10, 50 Jalan Bukit Bintang, is a new mall since our last visit and has a food court where all outlets have been specially selected and also an Isetan, Japanese upmarket department store, food area.
The Monorail station Maharajalela will get you to within a 5 minute walk of Chinatown.
Jalan Petaling market is on all day but trebles in size at night and there are loads of places to eat really good Chinese street food. The China Town food centre, Jalan Hang Lekir which crosses Petaling Street, has very good food. At night there are also some cool bars that have opened up recently.
Nearby The Old China Cafe , Jalan Balai Polis, is a lovely place, beautifully done out with old pictures and specialising in Nonya food, which is Malay food usually from Melaka.
Central Market in Chinatown is a lovely building with great stalls for souvenirs and also good places to eat including Ginger which does good Thai food and drinks.
The Colliseum, Jalan Abdul Tunku Rahman, Little India, is a KL institution where the planters came into town to eat and you can still sit in the dining room and have the famous sizzling steak for which you have to wear a bib. Great to return and find it as good as ever, excellent service and food and a varied clientele.
The Row, Monorail Medan Tuanku, is a stretch of trendy bars and eating places worth a visit.
Bangsar, situated about 4km south west of the centre is now one of the most popular areas for eating, drinking and shopping. We spent a Saturday evening there on our most recent visit to KL and the area was buzzing with loads of places to eat and drink.
Yeast Bistronomy, 24G, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar 2, is a French bistro and bakery and we booked in advance for a Saturday dinner reservation. We were really impressed with the quality of the food and service and were delighted with our choice.
Happy Hour is everywhere in KL, usually running till about 9pm having started some time in the afternoon and is a good way to try some of KL’s bars.
Changkat Bukit Bintang, this is definitely the bar area for the Golden Triangle, loads of choice for eating and drinking, it caters for all with upmarket eating, Street food in Jalan Alor and bars offering everything from sport & karaoke to high end whisky tasting. A few of favourites from our recent visit are below.
Kill Devil, aka The Rum Bar, 47 Changkat Bukit Bintang, was our favourite. Great happy hour offers with bar snacks and also a wide selection of drinks including cocktails and of course rum and welcoming & friendly service.
The Whisky Bar, 46 Changkat Bukit Bintang, is owned by the same group as Kill Devil and is a high end bar and restaurant, pop in at happy hour and be amazed at the whisky selection available.
Taps Beer Bar, 1 Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, is a very popular craft beer bar, one of a small chain around the city. Good happy hour offers, a huge range of beers and also decent food. Nearby was a bar called Pisco which we only visited once but liked it, slightly away from the crowds of Chankat Bukit Bintang.
Vertigo, Banyan Tree Hotel, was our choice for a rooftop bar this time and we were impressed with the views and the service.
The Row, Monorail Medan Tuanku , has many smart trendy bars as well as loads of eating places.
Bangsar, as mentioned under restaurants, is a great area for bars and restaurants worth the short cab journey, particularly if using Grab.
KL has an incredible bar culture, there are all sorts from top notch roof top bars for cocktails, through wine bars, to more basic beer bars. The local beer is Anchor, a lager type, although Tiger brewed in Singapore is very popular as are the ones found all over the world such as Carlsberg. Whatever you want to drink the city will have a suitable venue. Happy Hours as mentioned above are a great way to enjoy the bar scene before heading out to dinner.
You can visit the Petronas Towers and do the Skybridge if you get up early and manage to get a ticket or you can do the KL Tower which during the week has no queues and gives you an all round view of KL.
The area round Merdeka Square with it’s fabulous colonial buildings has been re-vamped with river side walks and is a great area to explore. There are also a number of nearby museums.
The Perdana Botanic Gardens contains many visitor attractions including the Islamic Museum which is a beautiful building and contains many fascination exhibits, there is also the Bird Park, worth a visit although I was slightly disappointed when I compared it with the amazing aviary in Hong Kong.
Kampung Baru is a traditional Malay area in the heart of KL, Monorail station Medan Tuanku, it has a great Saturday night market with loads of food stalls and even at other times it is worth a visit as there are loads of places to eat, The Row is nearby.
Shopping Malls are worth classing as culture in KL, when we were there the Pavilion was probably the best although I suspect there are many new ones since.