30 Oct Layover Diaries: 36 Hours in Kuala Lumpur
It’s yet another long weekend (or so I think?) AKA it’s the perfect time to leave home for a week! Or .. 10 days?
Being the wise man that I am (yeah-huh), I decided to book a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur instead of flying direct to Siem Reap in Cambodia from Manila. Why? Cheaper. Way cheaper. There is currently one airline that flies direct to Siem Reap from Manila AKA they control the prices AKA the seats barely go on sale AKA it’s very expensive. And so a layover in KL was the best and cheapest option to see Angkor and whatever else is there in Cambodia. And also cos it won’t hurt to see another city along the way, right? Two birds with one stone, as they say.
It’s not the first time I passed by KL (flew through in 2014 when I went to Burma), but this year’s visit was one with a lot of firsts – Jalan Alor being the highlight of them all. Here’s a rundown of the usuals:
What I Did
Jog / Run to KLCC and see Petronas Towers before the tour crowds get in — Best thing I’ve done yet! Maximise your morning and run to KLCC and see the Petronas Towers. It’s not open until later in the morning, so if your goal is to go up, skip the run and sleep. Otherwise, see it in the morning, before everyone else is in the area. The mood is beautiful, too. If the run to the towers isn’t enough, there’s a park with a running path behind, by the mall.
Stroll along (or shop!) at Bukit Bintang — Or complete your KL experience altogether by staying in this area. Different malls for different needs – big fashion brands, global retail brands, and every tourist’s favourite: the bargain place. The ~famous Berjaya Times Square has a Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart stall and these tarts are TOO GOOD. Malls are either along the main road, or just behind the lorongs, so you’re sure to find what you need. Staying exactly in Bukit Bintang isn’t the cheapest of options, but there are a lot of choices for all budgets.
Go souvenir shopping at Sungei Wang — Did anyone say cheap and can bargain? For all of you with extra luggage space, go grab your travel presents and souvenirs at Sungei Wang. It may or may not be the cheapest place to get them, but it’s conveniently located, plus it’s an actual mall AKA airconditioned shopping convenience. A supermarket is also available in this mall, in case you’re the type to bring home local delicacies.
Or grab an afternoon coffee and people watch at Old Town White Coffee — Just in case you don’t feel like joining your folks in souvenir shopping, outside Sungei Wang is Old Town, a local cafe serving Malaysian white coffee. They also serve toasts, sandwiches, and savoury meals, so maybe you can reconsider a late lunch? Or an early dinner? LOL. They have WiFi, in case you’re wondering.
Experience Jalan Alor — And indulge on all the good food! It’s a street food market (or food market street? Lol) with a wide range of food choices – mostly Southeast Asian style – satay, prawns, stingray, etc. Western cuisine isn’t that hard to get here, too. Alternatively, there’s KFC and McDonald’s. Most of my 36 hours were spent here, at least the evenings, as the restaurants don’t open until dinner time.
Go to Japan — Maybe? There’s a huge (but maybe not the biggest?) Isetan at Lot10, and we all know how interesting Isetan’s in the world can get. All sorts of things Japanese are there, including a cozy floor with couches (!!!) and books and artsy stuff, plus a kiosk serving third wave coffee.
Spot all the artists — Like any other city, “freelance” artists, magicians, and street performers show up late at night. Find them around Bukit Bintang (towards Jalan Alor) and enjoy their art!
Where I Stayed
Hotel Royal Kuala Lumpur — Figured it’s best to stay in Bukit Bintang, and this was the best available – normal hotel chain price (average $45, sharing), near Jalan Alor, near a monorail station. Not too shabby if you ask me.
Affordable? When compared with the other hotels in the area, it’s the best available, especially with the location considered. I haven’t stayed in a more conveniently located hotel.
Breakfast? Typical, with Asian and Western options. Barely any pork options, which is understandable, so they serve beef strips as their “bacon.” It appears that all rooms come with breakfast, but check anyway.
Amenities? There’s a pool (quite a big one) + a “gym.” The gym’s cardio machines and equipment don’t work / very old to get running. They have free weights though, which isn’t all too bad! Quick pump on a holiday lol
Where I Ate
Cu Cha Restaurant @ Jalan Alor — One of the best, if not the best, restaurants at Jalan Alor. Service could be slow, depending on the number of people in the restaurant, but food is amazing (and cheap!). Must order: salted egg prawns, seafood fried rice, sambal stingray, grilled chicken wings, and oyster omelet.
Blues & Bees @ Bukit Bintang — Western food. Basic. Nothing spectacular. Burger was okay. Salad was ordinary. Steak was bad. I only went here cos (1) it was raining hard, and (2) the place reminds me of Pulp Fiction. It’s worth seeing though, if you’re into concept restaurants. Here’s a special post about Blues & Bees.
Find the good in getting lost,