I love long layovers. Yes, big surprise. By long layovers, I mean those that can turn into a few days transit in a foreign country. On my way back to the Philippines from Bali, my cheapest option was to make a stop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is a city that I’ve never been so, I might as well make lemonade out of it. I booked my flights by segments and arranged to have a 2-day stop in KL. It was made more exciting when my long time friends based in Singapore made a kind gesture to join me on this quick stopover.
Kuala Lumpur is a huge metropolis yet the most popular tourist spots can easily be covered in 2 days, provided that you had proper planning beforehand. For longer trips, I just wing it usually however for short trips such as this one, every hour is of the essence. So, I did the planning and research bit (aka stressful part) of the trip because apparently being a travel blogger now equals to travel planner as well. 🙂
My travel buddies were eager to try a backpacker’s style of travel so, it was great pleasure to join them on this trip. We rendezvoused in KL Sentral on a late night and stayed at a hostel in Little India. Frankly, our room was quite expensive for what it is – old, dingy and musky. But, for a few hours rest and hot shower, we made do of what we found in the area. There was not much to see in Little since, it used to be a simple residential neighborhood but was recently transformed into a wide street with Indian stores and restaurants run by the country’s Indian community.
First on the agenda the next morning was to find a budget friendly hostel somewhere else so, we headed to Petaling Street, the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. It was quite easy to find a cheaper room since this part of the city is sprawling with cheap hostels with prices starting from RM 90 for a triple room.
After dropping off our bags, we headed out to explore Chinatown. It is the shoppers’ paradise if you want to bargain your way to some cheap things. There is almost everything here from clothes, souvenirs to electronic items to fabrics. Other than cheap stuff, it is renowned for selling imitation goods like handbags, wallets, watches and shoes from brands like Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Nike and so on. So, if you are into these kind of things, knock yourself out here!
We circled around Chinatown and found ourselves at the Central Market, one of KL’s most familiar landmarks and a popular tourist attraction. Built in 1928, it is a short walk away from Petaling Street, along Jalan Hang Kasturi. Also called Pasar Seni, it used to be a simple wet market but in the early 1980s was revamped into a handicrafts outlet.
There’s a food court located on the second floor with plenty of choices with prices starting from RM 5 for a full meal. Of course, I didn’t miss the chance to have one of Malaysia’s popular spicy noodle soup called curry laksa. It consists of rice noodles with chicken, prawn, served in spicy soup based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk. It was divine!
With our tummies full, we headed out to KL Sentral (Stesen Sentral), Malaysia’s largest transit hub, to hop on a KTM Komuter train towards Batu Caves.
The Batu Caves are situated 13 kilometers (7 miles) north of KL. Site of a Hindu temple and shrine, it attracts thousands of worshipers and tourists. Its main attraction is the large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance, besides a steep 272 steps to climb up to finally view the stunning skyline of the city center. Monkeys frolic around the caves which were otherwise tempered than those I saw in Bali.
Next on the agenda was to head back to KL Sentral in time for late lunch before heading to see the iconic Petronas Towers. We took the LRT towards Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) and followed the signs leading to the Twin Towers. Standing 452 meters tall, the Petronas Twin Towers retained its world-title claim to fame until 2004 when Taipei’s 101 was built, measuring 508 meters tall. Today, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (opened in 2010) retains the spot as the world’s tallest building.
Stretching out to the side of the Petronas Twin Towers is the spacious and beautifully landscaped KLCC Park which features a jogging track, walking paths, a water fountain and a wading pool for children.
Completely satisfied with our day, we went back to our hostel to rest our weary muscles. Our hostel, being a backpacker’s haven, is a 3-floor walkup which can only mean worse for tired explorers like us. Well, we didn’t really expect 5-star convenience so I guess for a RM 90 triple room, we got what we paid for.
Our following morning started quite early to avail the free breakfast offered in the hostel. It was not much but enough to start the day. We packed our bags and left them at the baggage room and off we went to Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka), the core of KL’s history.
Within the colonial core of Kuala Lumpur, where the remnants of the British empire are especially evident, Merdeka Square seems to be nothing more than a giant field with perfectly manicured green lawns and a centrepiece of the tallest flagpole in the world (95m) proudly displaying the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag).
At the corner of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut, Merdeka Square is made up of a padang (field) that was once the Selangor Club cricket pitch.
The remaining hours before my flight back to Cebu were spent together with my former colleagues who are now based in Kuala Lumpur. Our group grew in size which can only mean more fun and catching up to do over a sumptuous lunch on a residential part of KL. It was an awesome way to reunite with old friends in a foreign land.
As much as I would like to see more of KL, unfortunately, I had to drag myself back to KLIA to take my flight back to Philippines. Sure, there are tons of other things to do in Kuala Lumpur which means 2 days on this enormous city is obviously not enough to see every one of them. But, with proper planning and visiting only the sites that interests us, we made the best of our 48 hours in KL.
Have you been to Kuala Lumpur? Which attractions did you visit?