Two Days in Kuala Lumpur (or KL if You Like Things Shortened)
One of the toughest decisions you’ll have during a trip to Kuala Lumpur is how to refer to Malaysia’s biggest city. Is calling it KL pretentious? Does it sound too much like the O.C., the horrible show about Orange County starring that guy who looks a bit like a young Russell Crowe? Will your friends back home even know what KL means? Is that a good thing? Will this travel blogger ever stop rambling?
There are so many questions to ponder here, so let’s veer away from philosophy and back to travel — I’m about to show you the perfect way to spend two days in Kuala Lumpur (or, if you insist, KL). It’s time to get excited.
Or not — Kuala Lumpur isn’t exactly the most pulsating city in the world. There are plenty of things to do to keep you busy for a couple of days though, and here they are (in no particular order).
Visit Batu Caves
I’ve been to KL (or is it Kuala Lumpur…?) a few times over the last five years and have visited Batu Caves twice. I was about to go again on this most recent trip but learned it’s currently undergoing repairs. Should you still go? A good travel blogger probably would have investigated this further, but I never said I was a good travel blogger. What I can tell you is that Batu Caves make for an interesting little diversion from the city centre of KL (I’ve decided to alternate between the short and long forms — I hope that’s alright).
You reach Batu Caves via a steep staircase loaded with monkeys just waiting to steal your food. Monkeys are always entertaining, so if you like animals that look and act a bit like people you’ll love this aspect of the Batu Caves experience. At the bottom of the stairs there’s a massive gold statue (it’s probably not real gold by the way) of Murugan– it’s a striking image and is surely one of Kuala Lumpur’s most photographed things. The caves at the top of the stairs are full of small shrines dedicated to various Hindu gods — it’s a pretty awesome sight and should be near the top of your list if you only have two days in KL. A visit to Batu Caves is cheap but it will take you a few hours as it’s a fair distance from the city centre (you can get there by metro).
See the Petronas Towers
The highlight(s) of a city centre which seems perpetually under construction, the Petronas Towers are a beacon for tourists and locals alike. Crowds gather under the towers to hang out, take selfies and watch the nightly light show in the nearby KLCC Park. You can go up to the 86th floor of the Petronas Towers but I’ve never been too bothered by doing it — KL’s skyline isn’t that impressive (yet), so it seems kind of pointless. If you’ve been to the top let me know what it was like in the comments below!
Visit Merdeka Square
Less a traditional square and more a cricket ground framed by historic buildings, a visit to Merdaka Square should be near the top of your Kuala Lumpur two day itinerary. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, with its unique mix of British colonial and Muslim architectural styles, dominates the area. There are a few other interesting buildings nearby and you’ll want at least an hour or two to look around. There are a few museums in this part of KL — I visited the National Textiles Museum a few years ago, mostly because it started to rain and it was the closest shelter (it was interesting though). It rains a lot in KL, so bring an umbrella.
Buy Stuff at Petaling Street Market
If you’re looking for food, phone cases and fake versions of your favourite brands, you’ll love the Petaling Street Market. It’s a fun place to explore but it can get tiring fast — every shopkeeper claims to be your friend (“Hey my friend, come and buy something”) and hard bargaining is required.
See the Shop Houses in Chinatown
Colourful shop houses line many of the streets of Chinatown, giving people who have been dragged there to shop against their will something nice to look at. There are also a few temples around and, obviously, heaps of places to shop.
Hang out at Bukit Bintang
Bukit Bintang is full of malls and shopping outlets — it’s a pretty lively place and there’s plenty of good food around. A lot of the hotels in KL are located close to Bukit Bintang, making it a convenient place to shop and eat.
A day trip to Malacca
If you’re only spending two days in Kuala Lumpur and don’t have time to see the rest of the country, it’s worth visiting nearby Malacca. This colourful little city is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in Malaysia, as well as historic temples and great food. It’s obviously better to spend a few days in Malacca but a day trip will suffice if you can’t spare any more time. Getting to Malacca is easy — just make your way to TBS bus station and catch a bus (10-15 MYR) — it should take just under two hours. From the Malacca bus station you can catch a city bus which will drop you off in the historic part of town — from there you can reach everywhere of interest on foot.
Two Days in Kuala Lumpur: Tips
- Where to stay: There are heaps of nice hotels in the city centre and it’s a great place to stay if it’s in your budget. We recently stayed at the Pullman KLCC and it was awesome — we had massive buffet breakfasts and had a big room with a great view of the Petronas Towers. Check out Gia’s hotel review over at Mismatched Passports. If you’re after somewhere a bit cheaper head to Chinatown where there are plenty of budget guesthouses. I’ve stayed in a few there over the years — none of them were great but they did the job.
- Getting around KL: Most of the best places to see in Kuala Lumpur are within walking distance of each other. You can also get around on the various forms of rail transport, including the LRT, monorail and commuter train. It’s an easy enough system to get your head around and doesn’t cost much.
- Is two days in KL enough? Yes. There isn’t that much to do in Kuala Lumpur and to be honest you could probably squeeze it all into one (very long) day. If you have a week or two in Malaysia you should spend a day or two in the big city then head elsewhere. Malacca, Penang and the Cameron Highlands are all great places to visit and Tioman Island is a stunning tropical island close to the border with Singapore.
Are you planning a two day trip to Kuala Lumpur? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Pullman KlCC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.