How to spend three nights in Kuala Lumpur
Updated: Feb 28
What will you find in this blog?
~ How to get around
~ What to see
~ Survival guide
Kuala Lumpur has been on our list for a long while. So, after deciding to book a 2-week trip to Bali, this Malaysian city seemed a perfect stop off.
The only mistake we made was not allocating enough time to spend here! We loved Malaysia with a capital ‘L’! The people, the culture, the general feel of the place, and we really only scratched the surface. So, our first tip to anyone considering Kuala Lumpur as a destination would be to allocate more time! Three nights is just not quite enough in our opinion, so it goes without saying, we cannot wait to return!
We squeezed a lot into our three days in Kuala Lumpur and the pace of our trip, combined with the heat and the jet lag made it a slight struggle, but we still fell head over heels in love with the place!
How to get around
Kuala Lumpur has a brilliant ‘Grab’ service which is basically Uber! First things first, before you go, download the app and get it set up. It’s so easy to operate, you can pay on your phone rather than barter taxi prices and its really affordable. We used Grab our entire trip as it worked out so cheap, and the one time we couldn’t get any signal to use it and used a taxi we got completely ripped off! Lesson learnt.
KL is also a really walkable city so a lot of things you can get to within 10-20 minutes’ walk and google maps works well. That said, it is very very hot if you are from cooler climates like we are, so we opted for grab most of the time to preserve our energy and avoid heat stroke! There is also a very efficient metro system with six lines running across the city which is very cheap to use. We didn’t use it as grab was so cheap but if we had been there longer, we may have ventured on!
Where to stay
We stayed in Hotel Stripes in Kuala Lumpur and whilst it wasn’t a budget option it was still very cheap compared to UK prices. Hotel stripes has a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the whole of KL with a banging view of the KL tower and we have to be honest, this was our main swaying point when picking a hotel. It’s also worth noting we usually use Air B and B but as we were there just for three nights we wanted everything to be as easy as possible hence choosing a hotel. The hotel has 4.5 stars out of 5 on trip advisor, is part of the Marriott group, has stunning rooms to suit varying budgets, has a restaurant, room service, roof top bar and the friendliest staff you could wish for! 10 out of 10 from us!
The location was also perfect, a short ten-minute walk to the Eco forest, 20 minutes to KL tower and 30 minutes to the Petronas towers if you take a slow ramble. There are also restaurants on the same street that are highly recommended on TA and by locals.
What to see in 3 days
If there was one thing, we did perfectly on this trip it was to make time for being tired and to adjust to the jet lag / make up for the lack of sleep after travelling for 15 hours!
We didn’t plan much for day 1 despite landing at 9am and if you are travelling across time zones and you are not an absolute machine, we suggest you do the same!
If you are stronger beings than us, then you could always head to Lot 10 Hutong food court for a tasty lunch in this iconic dining spot. Hutong Food courthouses more than 20 neon-lit stalls of street food vendors that have been handpicked to set up shop here! The best of the best. For us, we would have quite easily died a death and so we opted for a few hours sleep before heading out.
We had pre-booked tickets for the KL tower at sunset to get a decent birds-eye view over the city and so we headed off in what we thought was plenty of time. It wasn’t. We were queuing for well over an hour in boiling temperatures (no air conditioning units here), missed the sunset and reached the top to the night-time cityscape that was Kuala Lumpur with minor heat stroke and slightly irritable attitudes. Our plan had not gone to plan at all.
Tips for KL Tower
· If you are looking to catch the sunset you need to arrive in the queue 2 hours before sunset if you want to make it up there in time.
· Bring plenty of bottled water and a hand-held fan unless you want to be a dehydrated mess by the time you reach the top
· It's also worth noting there are different ticket types. The observation deck category is the indoor observation room (the cheapest option and the shortest queue) or the sky deck which gives you those 360 outdoor views, entry to the observation deck and also the skybox photograph opportunities. The sky deck is the one you want for photography as it is all outdoors.
· The skybox works on a ticketing system and included in the cost of the sky deck ticket. It’s a glass box that hangs over the city and you can take your own photos in there which we will admit, do look pretty cool. That said, the wait time is in excess of 2 hours! For us being there only a few days, it just was not worth it.
We then headed to KLCC park to see the Petronas towers all lit up in all their glory and to admire the dancing water fountains lit up over the lakes, something we would highly recommend seeing.
It's free, it's beautiful and the photography opportunities are pretty cool too. Just bear in mind the park closes at 10 pm and you will have the park wardens marching around blowing their whistles whilst shouting for people to leave, immediately ruining all and any ambience.
The Sky Bar
Our final stop of the day was the popular Sky Bar. Famed to be one of the best ‘rooftop’ bars with amazing views across the city coupled with colourful cocktails, we just had to go and find out if the hype was true! For us, it wasn’t. It is located at the Traders hotel, if you make your way there, the door staff will direct you on up.
The bar felt much more like a nightclub. It was all indoors which was a disappointing surprise for us. There were views on one side, but you had to reserve those tables in advance to be able to catch any glimpse of the cityscape below. The centrepiece was a huge swimming pool which by 11pm, no one had yet ventured in, not sure if this was actually used or even allowed to be used in the evening. Seemed kind of odd.
Overall the sky bar left us feeling somewhat underwhelmed. The DJ was cool playing decent music, the pizza was good but the views were no existent for us, the drinks were weak and overpriced and the whole place was LOUD! If you want a club scene then yes. If you want rooftop drinks to wind down your day with beautiful views, then give this place a miss.
KL forest eco park
We managed to crawl out of bed early and headed to the KL forest Eco Park. We had read about this before visiting and were super curious about a rain forest that has nature trails and a forest canopy situated slap bang in the middle of this modern city. It was worth the early start. The forest was buzzing with birds and wildlife and at 7am, extremely peaceful with only a few other people around. Most walking through on their way to work. There are canopy walks, nature trails, old buildings and benches and plenty of viewpoints. Despite the warning sign about lethally dangerous insects at the entrance we still decided to venture in, and pleased to say, we did not encounter any deadly species, but you have been warned!
Tips for the KL Forest Eco Park
· Its free of charge
· It is super-hot and humid in there so take plenty of water with you
· Cover yourself in insect repellent, it’s a rainforest so you know….
· Wear decent walking shoes. Some of the bridges are not all that easy to navigate
· Get there early. You want to be leaving by 8.30am as this is when the hoards if tour groups start making their way through the park
Next stop was Graffiti street. And yes, that is its actual name! And the clue is in the name, it’s a street full of graffiti. The brightest, most eye-catching graffiti we have ever seen. And not just murals or pieces of work but the entire street and all the buildings are covered in perfect colourful unison!
If you love street art then this place is not to be missed and it seemed to us that it wasn’t all too well known as there were only two other people there in the middle of the day, so double winner for photo opportunities!
Graffiti street is right near the popular china town where there are plenty of restaurants and the streets are lined with local stalls and shops selling anything and everything. The area is also home to a few colourful Hindu temples that we did not get time to see but if you are visiting the area they are worth looking up.
Heli Lounge at sunset
We finished the day with a reservation at the Heli Lounge. The Heli Lounge boasts some of the best 360 views of the city which really excel themselves as the sunsets. We had decided to book a table as we wanted to sit down and enjoy the views and get some dinner as we watched the sunset. Good idea yes? No. if you are considering doing this then do not bother. To reserve a table there is a minimum spend of equivalent to £20gbp each. To go on to the helipad, watch the sunset, grab a chair and encroach on someone else’s space that has paid for that table, it’s a minimum spend of just £10 gbp each. So, half the price. Now before I rant, I would like to point out that we don’t blame anyone for encroaching on anyone’s space. Everyone wants a good view, they probably had no idea we had to pay more to get a table right on the edge of the pad, we get it. But it is up to the staff to enforce some rules if they are going to charge more to people wanting tables. Like the fact that other people can’t come and sit next to and use their tables whilst blocking their view. Yes, it got a little frustrating. The moral of the story, do no bother paying more and reserving a table. You have less space than if you just sat in the middle on a random table and more than likely your view will be blocked every 5 minutes anyway. It's not worth the extra money. The service is also not amazing and despite us booking dinner we were not bought a menu in 2.5 hours, so we left and ate elsewhere.
Now, on to the good points! That view!!!!! Absolutely incredible! Watching the sunset behind the KL tower, as the sky changed colours every few minutes was just amazing! All of the frustration, table hogging, view-blocking and lack of dinner was made worth it 100% when we watched the sun go down.
The jet lag was not getting any easier. Despite me taking 2 nytol and washing them down with 3 glasses of wine I still had not managed to get to sleep until gone 3am. My body hates me. So it’s no surprise we didn’t wake up quite as early as we wanted to despite Steffan being fairly sprightly. The pouring rain was a slight comfort that perhaps it was best all-around that we hadn’t gone to Batu Caves all too early anyway.
After drinking three coffees each whilst staring at the torrential rain through the breakfast room windows and clutching one to take away, we decided to bite the bullet and just get a grab there and make the most of it. We both didn’t feel too well. It was humid and wet and we were so tired but seeing Batu Caves was non-negotiable in our minds and something we were just not prepared to miss.
Upon arriving we were both in awe of its sheer size and beauty as well as the green mountainous backdrop which we hadn’t noticed in the countless Instagram photos we had seen before visiting.
It was beautiful.
The Batu caves and main complex is free to enter but what you do not pay in monetary value you will pay in sweat and dehydration. IT. IS. HOT.
There are 272 colourful steps into the cave, and they are not easy to navigate in 99% humidity whilst dodging monkeys and the odd struggling tourist. But climbing them is so worth it.
Tips for the Batu Caves
· It is free to enter
· Take a lot of water, there are no words strong enough to explain how much you will need it
· Take a hand-held fan, we saw a lot of people using them and were so jealous!
· Watch your food, the monkeys are super cheeky and will make a beeline for you if they think you have something tasty
· If you want photos with not too many people get there as early as possible unlike us
Firefly tour and up close and personal with monkeys
This is something we had pre-planned to do and we can’t even quite remember how we heard of it, but it all came to light when Steffan called across our messy hotel room,
‘Did you know you can visit somewhere super close to here where you are surrounded by fire fly’s?’
Obviously, I was in.
We booked through Viator and it wasn’t cheap as we chose to do a private tour given, we were so short on time and this was our last evening. It cost around £135 for the two of us but there were cheaper options available as well.
Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly and much to our excited surprise, the trip included a stop off to a shop to buy nuts and then a visit to a nature park where there were a group of wild (but very friendly) silver leaf monkeys living and were very appreciative of any snacks you bought along.
It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had. It didn’t take long until we had around 8-10 grey curious monkeys sat next to us on the road barrier, hands held out and staring longingly at the nuts we had in little bags.
We took turns giving each monkey a nut and the first receiver was already pulling on my shirt demanding more before it was quite his turn again, I was in love. We were also lucky to have two mothers come and sit with us with their teeny tiny orange babies attached to their chest. We felt absolutely honoured that they trusted us so much they would sit just cm’s away from us taking nuts from our hands. It was a one in a million experience and aside from two other people there was no one else around. It was just us and the monkeys.
We then headed to a nearby riverside restaurant where we enjoyed a traditional Chinese and seafood dinner whilst watching the sunset behind the trees. Aside from a minor crab legs incident where I was far too enthusiastic trying to break it and the end result being crab juice all over my face, we enjoyed the meal and it was a nice way to spend an hour before heading to the highlight of the evening…. Fire fly’s!
Kuala Selangor has the largest firefly colony in the world. That’s huge. So, if you want to see fire flys in all of its flashing glory, this is the place to see them.
Fireflies, also known as Lightning Bugs, shine brightly at night to attract a suitable partner. They come out at dusk for feeding, resting and mating. Often their flashing becomes synchronised, the overall effect is just like the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree!
We were so excited we could barely breathe. Although the humidity and life jacket certainly didn’t help.
We queued patiently waiting to get on our very own rowing boat until it was finally our turn to jump on. Our guide rowed our boat slowly and calmly meandering through and past the trees, home to the millions of fire fly’s. It was honestly the most magical experience we have ever had, it was beautiful! The trees lit up every second as they all flew around and in and out of the trees and it was so quiet and peaceful with no other noise except for the odd splash of water as the paddle broke the surface gently to keep us moving along. It was amazing and worth every penny and something we would definitely recommend doing if you are in KL. Magical with a capital M.
We booked through Viator and they were amazing, service was great and a 10 out of 10 experience.
Our Favourites in Kuala Lumpur
Graffiti street – probably the coolest street we have seen to date
Firefly tour – Seeing fire flys light up the river in their millions was such an incredible experience and sitting with silver leaf monkeys, just unmissable!
We would give it a miss
Sky bar – Overpriced, loud and no view unless you reserve a table by the window
Skybox KL tower – waiting over 2 hours for a photo in a glass box just wasn’t worth it for us but it all depends on how much you want that Instagram shot
Use grab, download the app, top it up and you can order them whenever you want. So reliable and so cheap
Take insect repellent, it’s a city but its wet, humid and there are a lot of bugs!
Drink plenty of water, dehydration is no fun
Take a raincoat, the weather is changeable and it's not unusual for the sky’s to open and it to pour for hours on end
Google maps works really well in the city and if you don’t have data you can download the maps when you have WIFI and they still work when you are not connected
If you have time, get out of the city. There is so much to see, and the monkeys and firefly tour was such an amazing experience. We booked this on Viator who we would highly recommend.
If you are planning on pairing your KL trip with a visit to the beautiful Bali like we did, you can check out what we got up to in Ubud here!