- Accommodation: The Explorer’s Inn (100 ringgits/night for a double, private room with A/C and shared bathroom). The Explorer’s Inn is located right near Chinatown in KL and it’s close to a LRT stop. They only have shared bathrooms, but they are really clean and the showers have hot water, shampoo and body-wash. There are private rooms and dorms available. It’s a newer hostel and they’ve definitely thought everything through, perfectly suited for young backpackers. Definitely has a college dorm vibe. There’s free wifi in the common area and a few computers. There’s also a small kitchen with free coffee, tea, bread, jam, peanut butter etc. The laundry service is reasonably priced. It ended up being more than we wanted to spend, but Malaysia is more expensive than other SEA countries and we wanted to be centrally located to explore the city. Even though I learned to like small guesthouses better than large backpacker hostels, I would still definitely recommend Explorer’s Inn to anybody passing through KL and looking for a good base.
- Chinatown food stalls: In my experience they were very hit or miss. Try to find one with a lot of locals, which probably means it’s good.
- Sangeetha: Indian vegetarian restaurant located near the hostel, also recommended in Lonely Planet. The food was excellent and our meal was about 21 ringgits/person.
We took an Air Asia flight nonstop from Yogyakarta to Kuala Lumpur. With checked baggage fees and taxes I think it ended up costing about $100/person. The flight was really easy (about 2 hours) and we arrived at the LCCT (low cost carrier terminal) in KL, so we had to take an airport express bus to the center of the city for 8 ringgits/person. It took about an hour and it dropped us off at KL Sentral station. From there it was only one stop on the LRT to get to the hostel. The whole trip was relatively easy and everything was well marked. After settling in we explored the Chinatown night market and ate dinner at one of the outdoor Chinese food stalls. There was a bucket of live frogs and eels swimming behind us! The food was delicious but it definitely was not cheap. KL was proving to be much more expensive than I had anticipated, but still cheaper than most western cities.
The next morning we took the LRT to the KL Tower to get a good view of the city from the observation deck. The city is huge! Even though it was overcast we were able to see for miles. Afterwards we walked to the Golden Triangle area of the city where the famous Petronas Towers are located. The whole complex is very modern and the towers are stunning when they’re lit up at night. There is a large mall underneath the towers with every store imaginable in it. We got lunch at the food court one day and it was great people watching. We also did some food shopping at Cold Storage, a really nice grocery store in the mall. We were even able to find goldfish, teddy grahams and nature valley bars – some sustenance to hold us over on those long bus rides! In the afternoon we headed to Merdeka Square, which is the main green in the old part of the city.
Malaysians are quite an eclectic group – Chinese, Indians, Malays, Europeans. Most women were dressed conservatively with a headscarf and a long sleeve, floor-length tunic, although some were dressed in western clothing as well. Malaysians (or at least the ones in KL) seem to be a pretty prosperous group.
Kuala Lumpur is surely one of the most modern cities in Southeast Asia, which I admit was a bit of a surprise. I guess I just didn’t know too much about Malaysia prior to this trip, but now I definitely want to come back to explore the parts of the country I didn’t get to see!