Budget-Friendly Guide to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur has always been a city that I’ve been longing to visit. Mostly because of the diverse culture, the rich experiences, and it’s not as popular of a destination for most. It is super inexpensive to travel in South East Asia but expenses do tend to add up.
My husband and I are almost always on a budget, no matter if we’re traveling or settled down somewhere. We’re young, and we like to spend money on experiences versus things. Rather this is a life lesson we have come to learn after 7 months of living abroad. The myth is that it does get expensive to travel, but it can be ‘cheap’ per say, as long as you know how to travel smarter!
Before getting into this guide, I want to point out that we booked our tickets on Skyscanner back in December. We always try to search for tickets one to two months in advance, grab the tickets, and then plan for places to go and stay afterward. We find this method to always work the best when we’re planning trips. The key is to try an be as flexible as possible with your dates.
Related Post: How to Save Money Traveling
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Where to Stay
Since our tickets were fairly cheap, we always look for budget-friendly accommodations as well. What I look for in a hotel is the cleanliness, the quality of service, and the location. These three factors are super important for me. Anytime we travel, we do tend to spend most of our time outside of the hotel, so extra amenities aren’t super important.
Our choice of hotel was located in Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur. Right in the heart of the city, near high-end shopping malls like the Pavillion, and close to monorail stations to get around. Location to us is imperative since we try to walk as much as possible (so don’t forget a good pair of shoes!)
We enjoyed the prime location, the service, and the cleanliness. I will be the first to say that the rooms aren’t huge by any means. You get the essentials in this hotel while traveling: bed, tv, desk, and bathroom. If you’re a traveler you’re not going to need or want much more. You’re mostly going to be in your hotel room to sleep and shower.
This isn’t just any hotel however, it is unique in that it features it’s very own camera museum.
The concept of Gold3 Boutique Hotel is actually quite interesting and aligns directly with my purpose as a traveler. The founder has a strong passion for traveling and experiencing different cultures, he enjoyed capturing his travel experiences by a camera. He then had the unique idea to create an affordable, minimalistic, camera-themed hotel in the heart of KL, so guests could experience KL and all it has to offer right outside your door.
Although it’s a budget accommodation, it’s nothing short of sophisticated. They offer quality amenities such as wifi, front desk services (they helped us book Grab to the airport when we departed), an exclusive lounge, and superior hospitality. Their approach is minimalistic, with the combination of the vintage charm of the cameras and golden decor.
Gold3 Boutique Hotel is a perfect selection for your travel accommodation, with it being located at the heart of the main district of KL- Jalan Bukit Bintang.
We booked a standard queen room with a window. The room was a suitable size for both Kyle and me, as we don’t need much space. We also spent most of our time either in the lounge or out wandering Kuala Lumpur. The room comes with a safety deposit box, space for your luggage to be stored out of the way, a desk, and a decent sized bathroom.
The only thing I would recommend if you stay at Gold3 is to make sure you bring a Universal Adapter for your chargers. Our fault, for forgetting one but luckily the 7/11 right near us had one. The staff was always friendly, and kind letting us into the building late in the evening.
Gold3 features it’s very own camera museum and lounge for guests. My favorite part of this stay, because it’s perfect for traveler bloggers. There’s free wifi so it’s the perfect area to do some work if you need to during your travels. Since we were only there for 2 days, I didn’t have the opportunity to use the lounge area to my advantage as much as I would have liked.
Would I recommend Gold3 Boutique Hotel?
Yes, the rooms are budget friendly, clean, the staff is great, and it has a prime location for travelers.
Thank you to Gold3 Boutique for our hosting our stay. As always all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
If you are looking for more of a luxury stay check out The Majestic Hotel
As I mentioned transportation costs can add up anywhere you travel. The local’s popular form of transportation is the monorail system. Kuala Lumpur has quite the train system, and at first looking at the map it can become quite confusing. My suggestion when navigating the monorails is to use Google Maps. It gives you the exact directions to finding the closest monorail, which monorail to take, and the stops to get off on.
Uber and Grab are also both popular forms of transportation now in Kuala Lumpur. Also an inexpensive method of getting around, however, the traffic was quite busy in the Bukit Bintang area. It was much quicker for us to walk places, and take the monorail.
You also have to option to ride the many Hop-on, hop-off buses that drive around town. However, we didn’t take one while we were there.
Where to Eat
Jalan Alor Street Market
If you know me, I love street food. I believe it’s probably the best-tasting food you will find in any Asian country. Jalon Alor is Kuala Lumpur’s popular night market for food. Kyle and I are pretty used to night markets from living in Chiang Mai, but beware it’s quite busy and many restaurants tend to be a little pushy.
The food varied from Thai to Chinese, to Malay Cuisine. There was a lot of seafood restaurants, ice cream stands, and street food snacks.
Middle Eastern Cusine
Only having 2 days to spend exploring the entire city, we really didn’t have the opportunity to eat as much as we’d like. In fact, we walked so much within those 2 days, we actually only ate 2 meals a day and felt fine. Our second evening we ate at Al-Amar, a Lebanese restaurant right across from Gold3 Boutique.
We both were in the mood for Indian Cusine across the road but were literally too tired to walk across the street. The food at Al-Amar was quite tasty. I ordered a falafel sandwich, Kyle ordered a steak sandwich, and we both shared a shawarma platter. I’m a sucker for Middle Eastern Food, and this place was pretty dang good. Especially the mint tea!
Greyhound cafe is actually a super popular restaurant located in Bangkok, Thailand. Now I know what you’re thinking, you live in Thailand?! Right, that’s what I said. Haha. We actually intended to just have a couple beers when we went to the restaurant, for their happy hour and ended up ordering food and no drinks.
Although overpriced, because we’re used to paying street food prices for Thai food in Chiang Mai, the food was pretty good. We also didn’t really order Thai food. I ordered Prawn Bisque (I started having a head cold that day), and Kyle ordered Pesto Penne.
Things to See and Do
All the things we did in KL did not cost us a penny, except for monorail fees. The moral fees are quite inexpensive, around RM1-RM5 depending. There are tons of free things to do in KL if you’re willing to use cheap transportation or walk.
KL Eco Forest
A little slice of the jungle, amongst the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur. Just a short walk (20 minutes) from Bukit Bintang, is KL Eco-Forest Park. It’s free to enter and serves as an ecotourism destination. It features a 200m canopy walk, providing you with beautiful aerial views of the treetops and the city views.
It was a little sketchy at first climbing up the towers to walk across the canopy, but you just couldn’t beat the beautiful views from above. Also, don’t forget to wear breathable clothing and bug spray!
Did you really visit KL if you didn’t get a photo of the twin towers? The iconic Petronas Towers are a popular destination for tourists, mostly to view but you do have the option to visit the towers themselves. It’s an 88-story twin structure, located in KLCC.
We opted to just view the towers from afar, and take some photos. It’s hard to get photos because everyone and their mom seemed to be there trying to get photos as well. The weather was rainy when we arrived, so it was a little eerie viewing the towers, but they were really incredible. I will say it’s probably a ‘one and done’ type of thing if you visit Kuala Lumpur unless you are interested in visiting the towers themselves.
China Town, Petaling Street
Nestled in Kuala Lumpur is their very own China Town, located on the popular Petaling Street. It’s mainly a market where goods are sold, and street stalls for food. Very similar to the Night Bazaar we have here in Chiang Mai, where you can bargain for your products, and find cheap knock-offs.
Little India, Brickfields
One of the spots we had been longing to visit is Brickfields, otherwise known as Little India. Just outside of Kuala Lumpur is Brickfields, with features Indian stores and restaurants. You’ll find traditional Indian being sold, little shops selling produce, Bollywood music, flowers, and more.
Merdeka Square was probably my favorite area in KL for the history and the beautiful architecture buildings. It is also known as ‘Independence Square’. Featuring the worlds tallest flagpole in the world at 95m displaying the Malaysian flag, surrounded by green lawns. The huge open square is where Malaysian independence was declared in 1957.
Just across from the square is the building Sultan Abdul Samad. Unique for its Moorish-style buildings. It’s a historically significant building which was used to house the superior courts of Malaysia. You’ll notice the 41m clock tower, which is influenced by British architecture.
I was surprised and impressed by how clean and well kept most areas of KL are. Especially their Botanical Gardens and Park. By far the most beautiful and well-kept park I’ve ever visited. It’s a huge park, featuring a Bird Park, Butterfly Park, and a deer park. There was also a bamboo playhouse for children, and people like me, and great beautiful greenery.
It’s amazing how an area like this and Eco Forest provide a little piece of nature amongst the hustle and bustle of KL.
Another frequented tourist attraction, are the Batu Caves and for a good reason. It’s about a 30-minute train ride outside of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a 100-year-old temple, considered an important religious landmark for Hindus. The cave houses several shrines and statues in Hindu Culture. It’s 272 steps up into the cave, where you’ll most likely run into some monkeys and a hell of a lot of pigeons (have I told you I’m most afraid of pigeons?)
The outside of the cave are limestone formations and it is quite phenomenal. The significant gold statue at the front of the caves is Hindu deity Lord Murugan.
We were a little anxious to be greeted by these fellow monkeys, as we have heard they’re eager to grab your belongings. However, they didn’t bother us more or less just startled us as we walked up the stairs. I suggest visiting early in the morning, as it can get a little busy. The stairs aren’t bad, but I would definitely bring some water.
Don’t forget to stop at the top of the stairs to get an aerial view of the city in front of you. Please respect the Hindu culture and be mindful of how you dress as well. The caves house temples, and religious shrines so your legs and arms should be covered.
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