Kuala Lumpur's ambitious public transport system is sufficiently developed to be fairly efficient and convenient, but much room for improvement lies in its integration. The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralysing traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In the rush hours, consider combining various methods of transport.
Urban rail comes in four distinct flavours, which are not always fully connected. All lines, with the exception of the Ampang/Sri Petaling LRT lines travel through Kuala Lumpur's main transport hub, KL Sentral. However to reach the Ampang/Sri Petaling lines from KL Sentral involves a simple trip on the Kelana Jaya LRT to Masjid Jamek station.
In the past connectivity between the different lines was quite poor but upgrades to the system have helped to integrate a few key stations along the LRT and Monorail lines without purchasing separate tickets. To transfer between the Kelana Jaya line and Ampang/Sri Petaling lines, alight at Masjid Jamek. For transfers between the KL Monorail and Ampang/Sri Petaling lines then alight at either Huang Tuah or Titiwangsa stations. Beyond the above mentioned interchange stations the only way to transfer between lines is to purchase separate ticket for each leg and potentially walk for some of the journey.
The Touch 'n Go card (RM10 at major stations) can be used on all lines except the airport express. Photo ID is required to buy the card and it can only be bought on weekdays and part of Saturday. Concession prepaid cards are available but require proof of qualification.
A few quirks of the Kuala Lumpur Rail Network:
Double-decker KL Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing tour buses serve 42 notable places. There is free Wi-Fi on board. An information commentary is given through headphones. Tickets (valid for 24 or 48hrs) give unlimited use during their validity. Children under 5 ride free.
The buses are scheduled every half hour but waits may be as long as two hours due to traffic jams, so try to maximize use of the service outside rush hours.
Two new FREE bus services started 1 September 2012. The purple bus service starts at Pasar Seni and travels to the shopping area of Bukit Bintang where it links up with the green bus service that loops around KLCC.
RapidKL operates a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but low frequencies (2-3 per hour on most routes) and the near-total lack of signs makes this a poor option for the casual visitor. The buses themselves have clear destination information; so if you happen upon one heading in the right direction, jump on board - though be prepared for cramped waits in rush hour traffic. For those (few) attractions best visited by bus, specific bus information is given at each place of interest on this page.
If you do venture on board a RapidKL bus, it's worth nothing that these buses are broadly divided in three categories:
For all three RapidKL routes, you can either buy zone-based single tickets (RM1 for Zone 1, up to RM3 for Zone 4) on board, or use a Touch 'n Go card (not sold on board). In addition, Ekspres (E) services use the highways and cost a flat RM3.80. Buses run from 6AM-11PM or so, with no night services.
Normal red and white taxis (RM3 first 2 km, then around RM0.90/km) and bright blue executive taxis (RM6 flagfall + a slightly higher per kilometre rate) are good options if you can get them to use the meter. There are also various small surcharges for radio call (RM2), baggage (RM1 per piece), etc.
Drivers are less likely to use the meter when demand exceeds supply, such as during the rush hour or when it rains. Prices then become negotiable (before setting off) and inflated (2-10 times the meter price). This is illegal but realistically the only thing you can do is walk away and find a different driver (by law they are required to use the meter). A cab hailed off the street is more likely to use the meter than one that stalks tourist spots. If stuck with a driver that won't use the meter, negotiate hard: RM5 should cover most cross town trips of 15 min or so, even with traffic. If you are staying in an expensive hotel, hide your affluence and give a nearby shopping mall as your destination instead.
After midnight, meter prices are increased by 50% (e.g. at 1AM, if the meter shows RM12, you pay RM12+6).
During rush hour it's generally best to combine public transport with taxis.
A few popular places (notably both airports, KL Sentral, Menara KL and Sunway Pyramid Megamall) enforce a prepaid coupon systems, which generally work out more expensive than using the meter, but cheaper than bargaining. Taxis from Pavilion Shopping Mall's taxi counter cost the meter with a RM2 surcharge.
Some taxi drivers will hang around near hotels offering tours similar to those offered by established companies. Some of these drivers are quite knowledgeable and you may end up with a specially tailored, private tour for less than the cost of an official tour. Know the going rates before driving a bargain!
If you get so off the beaten track that you need to call a cab, here are some telephone numbers:
Kuala Lumpur has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and oft-confusing road signage. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motorcyclists who tend to weave in and out of traffic.
Do not park at the road of busy districts such as Bangsar or Bukit Bintang because other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back.
Renting a car is an option for travelling in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia. You may rent a car from the provider below:
The old centre of Kuala Lumpur fairly compact and the old buildings in various state of repair are great for exploring on foot. Even plodding between the colonial area and the new glass and steel sector (see walking tour below) is enjoyable outside the hottest hours of 11AM to 3PM. Major roads are well lit, making evening strolling undaunting and pleasant. Signs are clear and well placed and pavements are wide and uncluttered, but slippery in the rain. Shady tree-lined walkways provide shade on some of the larger roads. Pedestrian crossings are common and are generally respected by drivers. Jaywalking is technically illegal but overlooked (on-the-spot fine: RM 20/30 for tourists/locals if unlucky).
This circular walking tour (2-3 hr) starts in Chinatown and loops through the modern Golden Triangle, missing the historic buildings of the old centre:
If you're fortunate enough to do this walk on a typical Sunday afternoon you will find a calm and attractive city.
Like many cities in SE Asia, KL presents a great challenge for travelers with mobility impairments. Sidewalks are often in disrepair, curbs are high, and curb cuts are often missing or inadequate. Wheelchair users will frequently find their path of travel obstructed (poorly designed or narrow sidewalks, parked cars, motorcycles, fences, stairs, trees, etc.), and will rarely be able to travel more than 50 meters without having to backtrack or divert to the road. In many areas of the city, it is virtually impossible to travel without an assistant. Crossing the road or having to wheel on the road (in case the sidewalk is obstructed) can be very dangerous, as many drivers do not expect, nor yield to, wheelchair users. You will occasionally find accessibility features like ramps or elevators obstructed or unserviceable. A notable exception are the KLCC and Bukit Bintang areas, where shopping malls and pedestrian areas are built to modern accessibility standards. Public buildings, hotels and malls provide an adequate supply of handicap bathrooms. Much of the rail system is inaccessible, most notably the monorail (which is in the process of being fitted with stair lifts, but is currently off limits). Some buses are equipped with ramps, but they are assigned haphazardly and do not run on a fixed schedule. Many locals will not be used to seeing travelers in wheelchairs, but will be generally helpful.
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