Whether you’re on a layover or just starting your Malaysia travels, 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur is enough to see the best bits.

Although there are lots of unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur, it often gets overlooked as a destination.

If you’re anywhere nearby, don’t make that mistake – allow yourself at least two days in Kuala Lumpur to experience the Malaysian capital for yourself. 

Sure, it may not have the same Insta-worthy reputation as nearby Thailand or Vietnam. You may have even considered skipping it entirely on a trip within Malaysia itself.

And while I highly recommend checking out Kota Kinabalu if you’re heading straight to the Bornean jungle, try to add KL to your Malaysia itinerary if you can.

Kuala Lumpur certainly wasn’t on my own bucket list; I only ended up there because it was the cheapest direct flight to South East Asia from London.

Since the flight was long and I had the time to kill, I decided to spend a long layover there before heading on to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to begin my new life as a digital nomad.

But even though it wasn’t on my initial itinerary, I’m really glad we decided to give the Malaysian capital a chance.

If you’re travelling through Kuala Lumpur to get to Penang, Kota Kinabalu or one of the more popular destinations in Malaysia, it’s well worth booking yourself into a hotel to explore the city for a couple of days.


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Is Kuala Lumpur a good place to visit?

Kuala Lumpur is an unusual kind of place. Aside from the aroma of street food that fills every corner, the first thing you’ll notice is the unusual vibe this city has.

Kuala Lumpur is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city with a varied and intriguing demographic of residents.

There’s a fairly large expat community there – or so I hear, because we didn’t really see any other expats or tourists in our short time there – but the city feels very untouched by tourism.

Most capital cities are so accustomed to tourism that it’s rare to find a truly authentic travel experience. Kuala Lumpur is one of the few that has that charm that’s so hard to come across.

That means it’s easy to fall into the city’s rhythm. To get a taste of daily life in this South East Asian city.

But, despite that, KL (as it’s fondly referred to by most) somehow still has a kind of air of mystery. An elusiveness that’s hard to penetrate. It’s hard to say what or why, but you feel a strange closeness and distance here all at once – and it’s enchanting.

Even if you’ve travelled Asia extensively, Kuala Lumpur will be a totally new experience for your senses.

It’s simply unlike any other city in the world -and, for that reason, it’s a must-visit.


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What to do in Kuala Lumpur

When it comes to getting out and exploring, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Kuala Lumpur. 

Thanks to its advanced public transport system, it’s also a very easy city to get around in. That means you can cover a lot of ground, visiting attractions in every corner of the city. 

Kuala Lumpur is also a very pedestrian-friendly city. I had a lot of fun simply strolling the streets, soaking up the daily life around me.

There’s something very immersive about walking around KL, so don’t let the distances between places put you off. Just make sure you always carry water because it gets hot!


TRAVEL TIP: I recommend this bottle from HydroFlask. It’s never leaked on me once!


If you only have 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur, I recommend focuses on one or two main areas or activities. If you’re a foodie, you’ll have no trouble find new and exciting dishes to try. 

And if you prefer history and culture, there are plenty of galleries and museums to fill your time, especially around the central Kuala Lumpur station.

With Little India and Chinatown both nearby, too, the streets themselves are a history lesson. 


A woman sat on the I heart KL sign in Kuala Lumpur Malasyia
I LOVED Kuala Lumpur – or KL, as the locals know it.

Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur for a short visit

If you only have two days in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll want to stay somewhere that’s convenient above everything else.

It needs to be within each reach of the airport, but downtown transport links are a must, too.

I recommend the D’Majestic Place Hotel for its excellent location – and equally excellent view of the Twin Towers. You can even enjoy them from the rooftop infinity pool! 

Most hotels this close to the Twin Towers (or at least with views of them) can end up being pretty pricey. The D’Majestic is surprisingly affordable, though, especially given how gorgeous the rooms are too. 

Click here to read my full review of this Kuala Lumpur hotel or click here to check availability for your dates.


D'Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
The rooms at the D’Majestic are super comfy AND super affordable

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 48 hours

Kuala Lumpur may not be much of a tourist hotspot, but there are enough places to visit in Kuala Lumpur to fill at least a day or two – and the best thing is they won’t be overcrowded.

Here are some of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur, no matter where you stay.

Indulge in street food

If there’s one thing you’ll remember about Malaysia, it’s probably the food.

The food in Kuala Lumpur surprised me so much that I’m already planning when I can squeeze in a trip to Malaysia’s food capital, Penang.

The best restaurants in Kuala Lumpur aren’t really restaurants at all – they’re stalls and makeshift stands at the edge of the road. Yes, I’m talking about street food.

Although there are certain areas that are known for their street food (such as Jalan Alor), you’ll stumble across that inviting smell on almost every corner. Make sure you try a fresh juice, a street BBQ and clay pot chicken.

TRAVEL TIP: If you’re worried about falling ill while travelling in South East Asia, you’re probably safer to stick with the street food.

Despite what you might assume, I’ve heard far more stories of sickness and food poisoning from “real” restaurants than street food in this part of the world.


48 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur - things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Take in the view

We stayed in the D’Majestic Place hotel because of its rooftop infinity pool, but there are plenty other rooftops to take in the city skyline from.

The Petronas Towers aren’t hard to spot and there are many strategically placed bars that you can get a glimpse from.

If all else fails, head to KLCC and stare right up at them – and try not to be amazed at how big they are!

If you fancy heading to the top of the towers, booking online will allow you to skip the line. You can even get your tickets delivered to your hotel to save even more time!


The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia at blue hour

Hop on a bus

When all else fails, jump on a bus and see where you end up. There are plenty of ways to get around Kuala Lumpur – monorail, train, taxi, Grab, Uber, scooter and bike, to name just a few!

But the city operates a free bus service that runs past all the major attractions and restaurants. Look out for the pink Go KL bus for a free ride.

Even though Kuala Lumpur is pricier than its South East Asian neighbours, it’s still an affordable city for a short layover or city break – and definitely not a place to be overlooked.

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur is enough time to get a a good taste of both Malaysia and its people.

That said, I already can’t wait to go back and explore some of the other places in this often overlooked country.


Places to go in Kuala Lumpur on a 48-hour visit

If you want to venture beyond your neighbourhood, there are plenty of places to go in Kuala Lumpur. 

As I said, the public transport will be your best friend here. It’s so easy to use that you might just be surprised by how much you can squeeze into a 2 days Kuala Lumpur itinerary.

These are my favourite places to visit in Kuala Lumpur if you fancy seeing a totally different side of the city. 


Brickfields – AKA Little India 

Brickfields, an area to the south of the city, is more commonly known as “Little India”. And when you arrive there, it’s not hard to see why – you could well be in India.

Colourful street decoration and sari shops blasting out Bollywood music line the streets, while the smell of curry hits you as you take it all in.

There are a few sights to see in Brickfields, so allow at least a couple of hours.

The one thing you cannot miss here, though, is the banana leaf rice. You won’t have to look hard to find a restaurant serving up chicken, curried vegetables, rice and poppadoms atop a banana leaf, and you won’t regret trying this popular dish.

The locals eat with their hands but there’s cutlery available too, depending on how brave you’re feeling.

If you want to learn more about this unique neighbourhood and try some more local snacks, this 2-hour walking tour will show you parts of Brickfields you’d probably miss on your own.


A colourful street in Brickfields (aka Little India) in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Chinatown

Slightly north of Brickfields is the other part of Kuala Lumpur that doesn’t feel like Malaysia. It’s Chinatown – and you can easily whittle away half a day here.

Petaling Street is one of the biggest shopping areas in Kuala Lumpur, and should be on your Kuala Lumpur itinerary.

But, unless you’re looking for fake designer bags, shoes and sunglasses, you’ll probably be better heading up the road to Central Market to buy souvenirs.

Here, you’ll find a wider variety of goods including perfumes, soaps, local crafts and paintings, vases, rugs and more.

If you get chance, stop for a juice at the Juiceee stall in the main outdoor walkway. It’s not cheap, but the lychee and lemongrass juice is amazing!


48 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur - things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Take an excursion to the Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are just a 30-minute train ride from central Kuala Lumpur.

Sitting on the very northern tip of the city ans set inside a limestone hill, this series of caves and temples will make you feel small in all the right ways!

The main cave was under construction when we went, but the sheer size of it – and the many steep steps up to it! – made it worth a visit anyway.

And, if you love monkeys, you’ll probably want to hang around all day. Just look how cute these little guys are…



The Batu Caves are pretty easy to get to by public transport, so you can go there independently.

But, it’s also possible to hop on an organised tour. I’d recommend doing so if you’re particularly short on time and want your trip to Kuala Lumpur to be as stress-free as possible!

This one is super affordable and includes hotel pickup to maximise your time. You’ll also get to see how the Batik design and printing process, too!

Travel tip: If you’re into outdoor adventure, you can also go rock climbing at the Batu Caves!


What you needs to know before spending two days in Kuala Lumpur

Now you know what to see in Kuala Lumpur, here are a few more things to know before you go. 

You might need a visa for Kuala Lumpur 

If you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur on a layover, make sue you don’t forget about visa requirements.

This is especially true (and easy to forget!) if KL will be your only stop in Malaysia. 

You can check the entry requirements on the Malaysian government website.
 


Don’t forget travel insurance 

When buying an insurance plan – because you’re not going to leave with one, right? – make sure it covers Malaysia. Wherever your trip will take you, I use and recommend World Nomads.

You can ready more about the pros and cons of World Nomads in this post, read about my claims experience with them in this post or click here to get a free, 30-second quote

How to get from Kuala Lumpur airport to the city

You have several options for getting from Kuala Lumpur airport to the city.

I would nearly always recommend taking an Uber (or Grab) directly to your hotel – or first destination. The 55km journey takes around 50 minutes in normal traffic.

Just expect some hold ups! KL traffic is notoriously bad, and it may take you 1.5-2 hours to get from the airport to the city.

If you won’t be able to use your phone in Malaysia, it might be better to pre-book a transfer only. You can book one here for 11 Euros.


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Alajode UK travel blog and vlog by a female digital nomad
Jodie Marie Dewberry

Jodie has been travelling the world full time since 2017, sharing the most unique places in the world along with tips for living as a digital nomad. She is a passionate wildlife photographer and has worked with a number of prominent travel brands, including airlines, tourism boards, hotels and tour operators.

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