The first time we visited Malaysia was in 2016 when we did a day tour of Legoland in Johor Baru from Singapore. The visit was less than 24 hours and was spent in a theme park. Therefore, we cannot cross out Malaysia from our bucket list yet. I never really had a strong desire to visit the country due to its similarities with the Philippines, atleast based on the stories of my friends who have been there. The fact that it’s also just 3 hours away from Manila made me feel like it’s a trip than can be done spontaneously.
We did a side trip to Malaysia last year after our vacation in Hanoi, Vietnam and explored the capital city of Kuala Lumpur in 3 days. I must admit that I had very little expectations coming to this country but was pleasantly surprised with what it has to offer as soon as we settled in.
On this blog, The Daily Phil will give you some useful information that will help you plan your trip to Kuala Lumpur based on our personal experiences.
Table of Contents
- Day 1
- Sri Mahamariamman
- Batu Caves
- Petronas Towers
- Day 2
- Istana Negara
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building
- Masjid Jamek
- Merdeka Square
- Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
- Day 3
- Malaysian Food Trip
- Day 1
- Final Thoughts
- The Daily Phil on YouTube
We did a 6-day tour of Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur last November 2018. We scored one way tickets from Manila-Hanoi for only PHP 1,602.00 (2 people) and Kuala Lumpur-Manila for only PHP 1,607.99 (2) during one of Cebu Pacific‘s Piso Seat Sale last 2017. After a couple of months, we booked one way tickets from Hanoi to KL via AirAsia for PHP 8,528.36 (2) to complete our flight itinerary.
Cebu Pacific and AirAsia fly daily from Manila to Kuala Lumpur with regular roundtrip tickets priced at more or less PHP 5,000.00. Malaysia Airlines and Philippine Airlines also have non stop flights to Kuala Lumpur.
Philippine passport holders do not require a visa when entering member countries of ASEAN. Filipinos are granted visa-free entry to Malaysia for 30 days.
We booked a room in Crest Residences in Jalan Cendana for PHP 1,500.00 / night. It was only after some email exchanges between John and the owner when we realized that our accommodation is a room out of a residential condominum and not a hotel. We booked it via Agoda and not AirBnB though. Many budget travelers prefer reserving rooms through AirBnB because it is cheaper, more flexible and has more amenities.
Our hosts were friends Ronnie and Roxanne, expats living in Malaysia doing online marketing. They share a 3-bedroom unit in the 26th floor. We rented out the master bedroom which has a king size bed, huge modern bathroom, big cabinets for storage and a high tech air conditioning system. The main highlight of this room is its tall and wide window that provide a panoramic view of the KL skyline. The Petronas Towers can be seen on the right side as it is just a couple of blocks away from the building. This is one of the best accommodations we have ever stayed in primarily due to the breathtaking view. We also have access to the living room and kitchen which we did not take advantage of.
This set up forces you to interact with your host which the two of us were not prepared for. There were awkward moments in the morning and evening when we are coming in or out of the room and finding our hosts casually chilling in the living area. It feels weird realizing that you are literally sleeping at a stranger’s house. It did get better after the first night. Other than that, we had a fantastic stay at Crest and might consider this type of accommodation in our future travels.
We purchased a Celcom sim card with 2 GB of data valid for one week at one of the many telco kiosks at the arrival area of KLIA 2 for MYR 10.00. The data is shared between our 2 phones via mobile tethering. We used it primarily to update our social media accounts and access Google Maps.
It turns out that this data allowance is more than enough for our 3 day stay. We only used it when we are outdoors as our unit in Crest Residences comes with free wifi. Celcom along with Digi, Maxis and U Mobile are the largest cellular networks in Malaysia all offering 4G services.
Grab, Southeast Asia’s number one ride sharing app, is our choice when it comes to getting around Kuala Lumpur. While the city can be explored using trains or buses, most of the tourist attractions we visited are far from the station and requires a lot of walking under the scorching sun.
Most of the time, booking a Grab ride is cheaper than the cost of 2 people taking the train. For instance, we traveled from KLIA 2 to Crest Residences using a Grab car for MYR 65.00, taking the airport rail would cost us MYR 55.00 each.
We arrived at our accommodation in KL at around 3:00 pm, ate late lunch / early dinner at a “Mamak” across the street and went to bed early to recharge for a full day tomorrow. There were some light showers the next morning and remained gloomy until the afternoon. We booked a Grab car to Chinatown in Jalan Bandar, shopped for souvenirs and walked our way to our first stop.
The Sri Mahamariamman is the oldest Hindu temple in the city. A magnificent 5-tiered tower intricately decorated with carved Hindu gods greets visitors at the entrance. Access to the temple is free but a minimal fee for the shoe locker is collected as you have to come in barefoot. The main shrine is dedicated to Maha Mariamman who is worshipped by Tamil Indians as she protects them during their temporary stay overseas. It is our first time to enter a Hindu temple and it was fascinating to observe how the locals celebrate their faith and culture.
Our next stop is one of the most popular tourist destination in Malaysia, The Batu Caves located in Gombak, Selangor. We took the KTM Seremban Line at Kuala Lumpur Station and alight after 7 stops. The trip lasted for more or less 30 mins. After a 2 minute walk from the exit, the mighty statue of Lord Murugan will welcome tourists. This is tallest statue of the Hindu deity with a height of 42.7 meters.
The Batu Caves is a limestone hill with several caves that were transformed into worship temples. Visitors must first climb through 272 concrete steps to reach the cathedral cave so you get your cardio fix for the day. The steps were beautifully repainted last August 2018. On your way up, you will encounter several macaques so be extra cautious as they tend to steal food or attack when provoked.
Monkeys are considered holy animals in Hinduism as they take the form of Hanuman, one of the central characters of the epic, Ramayana. Look up inside the cathedral cave for some magnificent views.
The irregularly shaped limestomes and the sunlight beaming through the openings create the perfect atmosphere for worship. Access to the Batu Caves is free. We went here on a moderately crowded Tuesday.
After going home from the Batu Caves, we rested and waited for the sun to come down before walking our way to The Petronas Towers, the tallest building in the world from 1998 until 2004. It was then surpassed by Taipei 101 in Taiwan. We intended to see the towers at night time when it glows with fancy lights.
The goal is to take the most important selfie of the trip with the building right behind us. However, getting the shot is harder than it seems with hundreds of tourists trying to do the same thing. There are locals offering to take your picture using wide angled cameras for a very expensive fee. The trick is to go to the left or right staircase, have your photographer work on the angles and you will end up with something like this.
You can also climb up to the observatory to get a bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur. We did not bother to do this since we are trying to save money plus we thought the view would be pretty generic after going up similar tall buildings like Macau Tower, Taipei 101 and N Seoul Tower in our previous trips.
The next day, we hired a Grab car again to reach the National Palace, the official residence of the head of state of Malaysia. The palace complex is gated and cannot be accessed but tourists are free to roam around the area near the entrance and take pictures. Renting a Grab car or hailing a metered taxi is the only way to get here as there are no bus stop or train staion with pedestrian walkway that will lead to it. However, you can get on the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus and alight at stop no. 18.
It was a hot day when we got there, I did not find any areas to sit or any shaded area to rest. You can get decent pictures of the castle when you get close to the gate but other than that there is really nothing much to do here. I can afford missing this one out when in KL. I am not sure if you can get a taxi to get back to the city center unless one is dropping off a passenger. Luckily, we did not have a hard time booking a Grab car on our way back.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Our last stop is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building which is the former offices of the British colonial administration. Today, the building houses the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia. It was built in the late 1800s and showcases architecture in Classical Renaissance style.
Some of the features of the building are the clock tower, the Masjid Jamek where the Klang River and Gombak River meet. The Merdeka Square where one of the tallest flagpole in the world stands is right in front of it. Also within the vicinity is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery which tells the story of the city through miniature models. There is an entrance fee of MYR 10.00.
Malaysian Food Trip
On our last day, we feasted on some of the best Malaysian cuisine Kuala Lumpur has to offer such as Char Kuey Tow, Curry Laksa, Chili Pan Mee, Nasi Lemak and many more. Check out our Malaysian Food Trip blog post right here.
Malaysia’s diverse culture and ethnicities definitely reflects in it’s vibrant capital, Kuala Lumpur. We got to experience the city’s rich heritage, faith and traditions as well as its continuous rise towards modernity. We were satisfied with our itinerary but felt we could have squeezed in some more places to visit.
Malaysia is must stop in South East Asia and deserves more than just a quick side trip. I would love to come back some day and discover other places like Malacca for its history, Penang for its street food scene or Langkawi for some tropical paradise.
The Daily Phil on Youtube
We made a Kuala Lumpur Travel Vlog on our YouTube channel, The Daily Phil. Make sure to check it out to see an up close preview of what the city has to offer.
This is The Daily Phil, conquering the world, one country at a time, using a Filipino passport.
Until next time, Travel Now, Bills Later!