Kuala Lumpur Travel Tips | 30 Things You Must Know Before Visiting Kuala Lumpur

I spent quite some times writing these Kuala Lumpur travel tips. Almost crack my head in the process. Nay… just kidding. But… I asked myself this question a lot. If I’m going to a far away foreign land…. what are things that I would like to know before actually going to that place?

The weather, the cultures, the people, the currency…. and so much more!

For Kuala Lumpur travel tips, I think I know what you’d like to know. The basic things about Kuala Lumpur! As you wish… here it goes….

1) When to Visit Kuala Lumpur

Travelling to Kuala Lumpur is possible all year-round! No cold winter. No chilly fall. Summer? Probably the longest summer you would ever experience. If you think that way…that is.

The rainy season would be from April to May, and October to November. But forget about the rain. There is no heavy thunderstorm for the whole day. The weather will be sunny and hot with a sudden downpour for a couple of hours in the evening. Then, it will get hot & sunny again!

2) The Climate

Average temperature in Kuala Lumpur is between 21°C and 32°C. Humidity is high, reaching a 95 % humidity rate.

3) Time Difference

Kuala Lumpur is on GMT + 8, same as Hong Kong and Singapore.

4) What to wear in Kuala Lumpur

Wear loose and light summer clothing for outdoor activities. Trust me, you’ll be sweating a lot.

Sweat wicking clothes made of Cool-Max microfibres are the best outfit. The microfibres are breathable and will also wick sweat away from your skin. The best for maximum coolness. Cotton shirts will also do just fine.

Evening wear depends very much on the setting. Jeans, t-shirts and sandals are acceptable in casual eateries and hawker stalls, but discouraged in fine dining establishments.

If you’re visiting religious sites, it is always best to be on the conservative side. Long pants & long skirts are acceptable. Long robes normally available for visitors of some famous mosques like the Putra Mosque and the National Mosque.

5) Currency

The local currency is called Ringgit Malaysia (RM). The currency’s RM3.80 peg against the U.S. dollar imposed on Sept 1, 1998 was lifted on July 21, 2005. One ringgit comprises 100 sen.

The currency comes in the form of both notes and coins. Ringgit banknotes are issued in the following denominations RM1, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100 while coins are issued in five sen, 10 sen, 20 sen and 50 sen denominations.

6) Money Matters

Money exchange is easily available as there are plenty of money changers and banks in the city centre. Banks do charge a commission but not money changers. But, their rates will definitely vary from one to another.

Resident travellers can carry into and out of Malaysia any amount not exceeding RM1,000 per person and also export foreign currency not exceeding the equivalent of RM10,000 per person.

If you are carrying in excess of these – when entering or leaving the country – you are required to obtain permission from the Controller of Foreign Exchange and declare in the Traveller’s Declaration Form the exact amount of Ringgit carried. Approval is usually given within one day of application.

Non-residents are allowed to bring in any amount of foreign currency (including traveller’s cheques). But, you’ll need to declare an amount in excess of US$2,500 in the Disembarkation Card issued by the Immigration Department.

Non-residents must also obtain permission and declare Ringgit exceeding RM1,000 when leaving or entering the country.

Credit cards are also widely accepted by all hotels, banks, most big departmental stores and restaurants. Do note that some retailers add an extra 2-3% surcharge.

7) Tipping

Good news! Tipping is not a custom in Kuala Lumpur. To tip or not depends entirely on you.

Most hotels and large restaurants have already included a 10% service charge in addition to the 5% government tax to the bill (indicated by the ++ sign on menus and rate cards) so tipping is unnecessary.

8) Tourist Police

Lost your way? Need help? Look for a Kuala Lumpur tourist police officer.

Tourist police officers are recognized by their checkered hat bands, dark blue shirts and trousers, and the letter “I” (for information) on a red and blue badge on their breast pocket.

Kuala Lumpur tourist police usually patrol KL tourist spots. They protect the attractions/monuments and at the same time they protect you!

Kuala Lumpur Tourist Police:

  • Hotline (HQ) (+603) 2149 6590
  • Enquiries (+603) 2149 6593

9) Kuala Lumpur Business Hours

Kuala Lumpur runs on a normal eight-hour working day system with Saturdays as a half-day workday and Sunday as a day of rest. All public service departments and some banks usually close on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Private sector hours are generally from 9am to 5pm (Monday-Friday) and 9am to 1pm (Saturday). Many private sector companies operate on a five-day week.

Government office hours are usually from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Most government offices are closed 12.00 noon to 2.00pm for lunch Monday-Thursday. Fridays, due to the prayers at the mosque, Government offices are closed between 12.15pm to 2.45pm.

Shopping centres and shops are usually open from 10.00am until 9.00pm or 10.00pm seven days a week.

Banking hours are from 9.30am to 4.00pm on weekdays and 9.30am to 11.30am on Saturday and closed on Sundays and public holidays.

10) Kuala Lumpur Nightlife

Bukit Bintang is the nightlife hotspot! There are many great places for nightlife action. Just explore a bit and you’ll surprised of what you’ll find!

11) Shopping in Kuala Lumpur

You can shop until you drop, or just casually browse through. There is plenty to shop for in Kuala Lumpur.

Shopping centers are like mushroom after the rain, surrounding the major hotels. The best thing. You can get anything under the sun!

Some of the best shopping centers to go to are:

  • Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman — the main shopping area at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
  • Suria KLCC — this is the latest shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Petaling Street — located in the main part of Kuala Lumpur’s busy Chinatown.

12) Visas & Customs

A valid passport (and visa if applicable) is required for all persons entering Malaysia.

For citizens of France, Germany, United Kingdom , USA, Japan, Italy, Canada, South Korea and the Czech Republic, a visa is not required if your stay does not exceed three months. For Russia and Mexico, a visa is not required if your stay does not exceed one month.

Immigration requests that your passport be valid for at least 6 months. A passport is also necessary for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as between Sabah and Sarawak.

Duty-free allowances are 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 2 kilograms of tobacco, 1 liter of alcohol, and perfume worth up to RM 200

Visitors who come to Malaysia on a visa must get the document from the Malaysian Representative Office abroad before entering the country. A visa must be used within its validity period (normally three months).

However, visitors should note that a visa is not a guarantee for entering Malaysia. The final decision rests with the Immigration Officer at the entry point.

Immigration office (Visa enquiries)

  • +603 – 2095 5077
  • +603 – 2090 5672
  • +603 – 2094 5108

Customs & Excise Dept

  • +603 – 6201 6088

13) Airport Tax

Airport tax is charged upon departure.

14) Emergency

Emergency Telephone numbers:

Police (general)/ Ambulance: 999
Fire/ Rescue: 994

15) Telephone Codes

Malaysia’s country code 60
Kuala Lumpur 03
Selangor 03
Perlis 04
Kedah 04
Penang 04
Perak 05
Melaka 06
Negeri Sembilan 06
Johor 07
Kelantan 09
Terengganu 09
Pahang 09
Kuching 082
Miri, Sarawak 085
Labuan, Sarawak 087
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 088
Singapore from Malaysia 02

Communication : Mail, Phones, the Media and the Internet

16) Mail

Pos Malaysia offers a fast, efficient postal service. The Klang Valley is particularly well-served with same-day mail deliveries in certain areas.

All major courier companies also operate in Malaysia with the most popular ones being Fedex, DHL and UPS.

17) Telephones

Cellular service in Kuala Lumpur is GSM. Major mobile operators in Malaysia are Celcom, Digi, Maxis and TM Telekoms. Most foreign mobile networks provide a roaming service within Malaysia.

Payphones operate either on a coin or phonecard (Fonkad) basis. Local calls cost from 10 sen if using the coin phones but I recommend purchasing a low-value ‘Fonkad’ should you think you may need to make several calls – just from the fact that there tends to be more Fonkad phones in working order around the city.

From the local pay phones in Kuala Lumpur, to dial any numbers out of Kuala Lumpur (STD) put a “0″ in front of the area code. For example: if the area code is “3″ dial “03″ + (local number). The international access code is 00 (international code) + country code + number.

18) Media

English Language newspapers are available i.e. The New Straits Times, The Star, Business Times, Malay Mail, Daily Express, Sabah Daily News and Sarawak Tribune. International newspapers can be obtained at most bookshops and newsstands. Several dailies in other languages include Utusan Melayu, Berita Harian, Nanyang Siang Pan, Sin Chew Wit Poh and Tamil Nesan.

English Daily Broadsheets :

  • New Straits Times Press Online – incorporating The New Straits Times and Business Times.
  • Daily_Express/ The Daily Express – East Malaysian Daily
  • Sarawak Tribune – East Malaysian Daily
  • Utusan Express – English translation of Malay broadsheet

English Daily Tabloids :

  • The Star Online

Malay Daily Broadsheets :

  • Utusan Malaysia
  • Berita Harian (Malay) and

Malay Daily Tabloids :

  • Harian Metro (Malay).

Chinese Daily Broadsheets :

  • Sin Chew Jit Poh – Malaysia’s largest Chinese daily.
  • Nanyang Siang Pao

19) Radio

Radio services are in Bahasa Melayu, English, Chinese, and Tamil.

20) Television

There are 6 television stations. TV1 and TV2 are government networks. TV3, NTV7, TV8 and TV9 are privately run. There is also Astro, the satellite TV available for subscription.

21) Electricity

The voltage is 220 – 240 AC, 50 hertz. The outlets take the large 3 prong connectors (same as most Commonwealth countries).

Most large 4 and 5 star hotels can provide transformer to convert it to 110 – 120 AC, 60 hertz. For smaller hotels you’ll need your own adapter.

22) Water

Tap water is considered safe, but bottled water is much safer.

23) Food

Kuala Lumpur is safe from most sanitation-related diseases. But, it’s wiser to take extra precautions. Make sure meat is well-cooked and peel fresh fruit and raw vegetables.

24) Public Holidays

Almost every month you will see a different festival. Some of these are declared as Public Holidays.

25) School Holidays

There are five term breaks in the year for schools throughout Kuala Lumpur. Click here for Kuala Lumpur school holidays schedule.

26) Etiquette

To avoid “cultural offenses,” here are some tips:

  • Remove shoes when entering homes and places of worship.
  • Dress neatly in a suitable attire which covers arms and legs when visiting places of worship.
  • Handle food with your right hand.
  • Do not point your foot at someone.
  • When giving or receiving money gifts to/from a Malaysian, do so with your right hand.
  • Do not serve liquor or pork to a Muslim.
  • Never give a knife, clock, watch, or white flowers to Chinese people, as such gifts symbolize death.
  • Never give products made from pigskin and alcohol to Malay Muslims, as these goods contravene the laws of Islam.

28) Language

The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu. English, Chinese and Tamil are also widely spoken. English is the principal language used in commerce and industry.

29) Titles

Many top Kuala Lumpur businessmen have been conferred awards which carry a titled name. Care must be taken that they be addressed properly

“Tun” is Malaysia’s highest form of address. Only a handful in the country have received this honour – no more than a dozen. The Economic Adviser to the Government is Tun Daim Zainuddin. Daim is his given name and Zainuddin is his father’s name. In terms of correct etiquette, he is referred to as “Tun Daim.”

The other significant award is “Datuk.” Many businessmen have been conferred “Datukships.”

The wife of a Tun is known as “Toh Puan.” The wife of a “Tan Sri” is “Puan Sri.” The wife of a Datuk is known as “Datin.”

30) Medical Facilities

Kuala Lumpur’s medical facilities are among the best in South East Asia. There are any number of well-qualified, English speaking doctors and state of the art equipment.

In the event you need medical care, there are private clinics in most housing areas. Registered pharmacies are open until 10.00pm. Most hotels have their own doctor on 24-hr. call.

31) Get Around Kuala Lumpur

Buses and taxis run throughout the city. There is also light rail trains in place.

32) Visitor Information

In Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysia Tourism Board has several offices.

The largest is at the MTC, the Malaysia Tourist Centre. Located on 109 Jalan Ampang (tel. 03-21643929).It’s open daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm.

In addition to a tourist information desk, MTC also has:

  • a money changer
  • ATM
  • tourist police post
  • travel agent booking for Taman Negara trips, city tours, and limited hotel bookings
  • souvenir shops
  • an amphitheater, and
  • Transnasional bus ticket bookings.