What would you do if you or someone you know have only one day to spend in Kuala Lumpur aka KL, Malaysia and want to experience the rich culture?
Whether you’re transiting or just want to have a crash-trip in KL, I’ve crafted this post as your 1 Day Kuala Lumpur Express Travel Itinerary.
I was a KL tour guide for two people who had a similar situation, therefore, the inspiration of this week’s blog post 😉
But before that, let me share the story behind this. The whole idea of being a tour guide in a city where I’ve lived in for more than 10 years is inspired by my former university lecturer, Syahrulfikri Salleh.
The Story Behind the KL Tour Guide Idea
He was my graphic design lecturer who quit his job to travel the world and make art. Sounds like an advertising slogan? It may is.
But in fact, the dreamy idea “Quit Your Job, Travel The World & Make Art!” made him the winner of Levi’s Malaysia Go Forth 2012 campaign.
He shared his travel stories, how he travelled the world by land from Malaysia and ended in Spain, for two years. He then returned to Malaysia and accepted a job offer from a prestigious advertising agency in Cambodia.
After he returned to Malaysia, he shared in one of his Facebook posts that he signed up as a Couchsurfing member and had been a host for some travellers around the world.
“If I can’t travel the world, I’ll bring the world to me.”Syahrulfikri Salleh
Back then, I was just a broke student who only been to Singapore. I then, too, signed up (not as a host) and soon found myself as a friend and KL tour guide for a South Korean jewellery designer, YeJin Lee.
I had only two selfies with her. So, the second time I became a KL tour guide for an amazing American energy healer and guruji, I asked his permission to use some photos for this blog post.
1 Day Kuala Lumpur Express Travel Itinerary
There are so many things to see, do and (probably the most important) eat in KL.
However, if you have only one day, I’ve made a one day Kuala Lumpur express travel itinerary for you:
Starts: 1pm | Ends: 9.30pm
Go KL City Bus (free shuttle bus), an interconnecting bridge between KLCC and Pavilion
- Check out the Central Market (Pasar Seni) and Petaling Street (Chinatown) for traditional arts and crafts
- Enjoy local Malay lunch
- Check out the famous Petronas Twin Tower at Suria KLCC Mall
- Enjoy Malay tea time
- Check out Starhill (Bukit Bintang) area
- Check out the famous Alor Street (Jalan Alor) for street foods
- Check out the famous Lot 10 Hutong food court for the best Chinese foods
- Experience KL nightlife in Changkat (bars, similar to Kuta Street in) or/and fantastic KL night view at the Helipad, Marini’s 57, Troika or SkyBar (Traders Hotel) – optional
The Pasar Seni and Chinatown, KL
Central Market or Pasar Seni in Bahasa Malaysia is the place for sightseeing and shopping for traditional arts and crafts. The location is close to the Chinatown, so you can kill 2 birds with one stone.
If your hotel or hostel is in Starhill or KLCC, you can take the Go KL bus (pink colour) with “Purple Line” as the destination, indicated at the top of the bus.
If your starting point is from the airport: take a bus or KLIA Ekspress train to KL Sentral > LRT to Pasar Seni > exit, escalator down to the bus station where all pink buses are > get on the “Purple Line”.
In the Pasar Seni area, there are a lot of small shops, hostels, cafes, eateries and restaurants where you can indulge local Malay dishes at affordable prices.
Luckily, the Central Market aka Pasar Seni building is a full air-cond room so after you finished wandering around the area, you can go inside to escape the heat.
Enjoy Local Lunch in KL – Malaysian, Chinese, Indian
I took Barton to my favourite place in Pasar Seni – Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock.
I personally recommend Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock as the place serves yummy Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cuisine – in a humble, old kopitiam atmosphere.
In case you don’t realise, Malaysia has three races living in the country thus it is blessed with so many varieties of food. If there are one local drink and dish that you have to try when traveling to KL, that would be Teh Tarik and Nasi Lemak.
Some of the local Malaysian foods and drinks that I recommend to first-time travellers are:
- Nasi lemak with beef or chicken rendang
- Bak kut teh (pork in herbal soup or spicy pork in claypot)
- Curry noodle
- Nyonya laksa
- Prawn mee
- Banana leaf rice (Indian mixed rice, eaten on a banana leaf instead of a plate)
- All kinds of roti (bread) at the mamak (Indian shop) – trust me, it’s different from the ones you tasted in India!
- Toast bread with butter and kaya jam + half-boiled eggs (local breakfast style)
- Teh tarik (tea with condensed milk)
- White coffee
- Kopi Cham (coffee, tea and milk)
- Iced/Hot Milo at mamak (the best place for the chocolate drink)
- Soy milk (go for the fresh instead of canned ones)
Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC
Yes, it is touristic. But just like other iconic buildings in the world, if you haven’t seen the Petronas Twin Towers, you’ve never been to Malaysia!
There are a few ways to reach KLCC from Pasar Seni:
- Go KL City Bus “Blue Line”
- take the Go KL City Bus “Purple Line” then use the interconnecting bridge to KLCC (for those who enjoy walking)
Besides the iconic towers and a high-end shopping mall, you can enjoy a walk in the park there. The KLCC park is huge – complete with water fountain, playing area for the kids, jogging track and tap waters to quench your thirst.
Enjoy Malay Tea Time – Madam Kwan’s and Nyonya Colours
Your trip to Malaysia is not complete without trying the local desserts, hence I’m including this in the 1 Day Kuala Lumpur Express Travel Itinerary.
My two favourite places in KLCC are Madam Kwan’s and Nyonya Colours.
Madam Kwan’s offers premium local dishes with modern-setting environment while Nyonya Colours let you dwell in the Peranakan-style interior design.
However, if your sole purpose is sampling Malaysian desserts, I feel Nyonya Colours is the best choice as it offers an array of kuih muih (traditional cake), cold and hot desserts & drinks.
Some of the local Malaysian desserts that you must try when travelling in KL are:
- Es cendol
- Es kacang / ABC
- Nyonya kuih
- Hot desserts (red bean soup, green bean soup, ginko barley soup, soy milk with glutinous rice, etc)
Starhill (Bukit Bintang) and Alor Street (Jalan Alor), KL
My dear friend Barton, the energy healer, said that the Starhill area was similar to New York.
It is! With big giant ad screens, tall buildings, junction and a crowd of people crossing the streets, the area is very modern and lively, especially at night.
If you’ve been to Thailand, Alor Street won’t surprise you. However, it’s a different feeling to sample street foods at the roadside with a crowd of travellers from around the world.
Please take note that the food there is mostly Chinese food.
Lot 10 Hutong, the Best Chinese Hawker Stalls Under One Roof
If you prefer to have a yummy, affordable local Chinese foods in a decent place with air-cond, Lot 10 Hutong is the best place.
The famous food court is built by the YTL Corporation as a tribute to one of the best-loved national treasures – great local cuisines.
This is a perfect place for travellers and as you don’t need a car for food hunting in Malaysia. The management hand-picked more than 30 of the country’s best eateries and gathered them under one roof!
Seriously, all the food there is super yummy.
This is not a joke. To tell you honestly, if I’m craving for hawker food, I’d rather eat at Lot 10 Hutong than Alor Street.
If you travel in a group, you have the privilege to order as many as different dishes as you want and share it with your friends. For those who crave Western food, no worries! You can find some Western dishes there.
What I Learnt from My KL Tour Guide Experiences
YeJin Lee, my South Korean friend, taught me not to let go of my dream and work for it.
“I earn my own money and now I want to travel,” she said. She had been travelling for two months by the time we met and perhaps for a couple of months more.
As for my dear American friend, Barton, he taught me to live a simple life, be grateful and go for experiences instead of collecting worldly possessions.
After the tragic road accident that killed his wife and made him paralysed for two years in the hospital, he realised that his possessions were a burden to him. So, he sold them all.
During his recovery, he discovered yoga and started his spiritual journey in India where he managed to balance his chakras, opened his Third Eye and Crown chakras, became an energy healer and a reiki practitioner.
He enjoyed his simple, modest life by teaching yoga every morning, managing a Himalayan travel company and helping the stray animals.
I’m so glad that I met them. I’m not rich but my travel experiences and the people I met have enriched my life.
If you’re going to transit in Malaysia or have only one day in Kuala Lumpur, I hope this express travel itinerary helps 🙂