How to survive a layover in Kuala Lumpur airport

KL Layover

Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities a lot of flights tend to go through. If you’re planning a trip to Asia, there’s a good chance you may find yourself at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport (KLIA) at some point. Heck, you might even find yourself here if you’re flying long-haul to the other side of the world, depending on which airline you go with.

If you find yourself with a layover at KLIA and need to kill a few hours or survive an overnight stop, here are my tips on things to do at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Here’s a link to an interactive map, to help you work out what’s what.  Just keep in mind there are two sections to the airport KLIA and KLIA2, with KLIA2 catering to low-cost airlines.

1. Chill out at the Sama Sama Express Lounge

If you’re in-transit and have 3-4 hour layover before you get back on the plane, head to the Sama Sama Express Lounge. It costs 94 MYR to get in, which is around $30AUD p.p. You get access to a private lounge which is really comfy, has very good wifi, showers so you can freshen up, loads of food and drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There’s TV’s and you can watch the departure times on big screens so you don’t miss your flight. I can recommend this place as I’m sitting in it right now, writing this blog post while I wait for my flight. Find the Sama Sama Express Lounge here. 

2. Go shopping

The airport is attached to a mall, called Gateway@KLIA2. There are quite a few good shops, including jewellery, clothing, shoes and electronics stores. Gateway is separate to the airport, so you’ll need to clear customs to have a look around the shops and possibly buy some things, before going back through security and customs for your flight. But, if you have 5 hours layover and want to stretch your legs, it could be worth it for you. Find Gateway@KLIA2 here. 

3. Eat amazing local food, really cheap

If you do go into Gateway@KLIA2, get yourself downstairs to NZ Curry House. It’s a big open-plan food-court style area at the very bottom of Gateway and it’s super low-key. The food here is awesome, local and really, really cheap. If you haven’t tried Malaysian food before, this is your chance! It looks to me like a lot of the airline staff eat here, which is a good sign, you always to eat where the locals eat. Try the Thosai Masala and Roti Chanai, washed down with an Ice Lychee Tea. It cost us $7 AUD for a mountain of food! Find NZ Curry House here. 

Capsule by Container Hotel at KLIA

4. Get a massage

Ohhhhhhhh yeaaaaahhhhhhhh. You cannot tell me a massage would not feel incredibly amazing when you’re in the middle of two long flights. Don’t even try! I’m not buyin it! You want it. You know you want it. Get yourself down to the Reflexology & Massage Centre for some much-needed and well-deserved foot reflexology. Drift off to sleep, get your legs and feet massaged and wake up feeling like a whole new you. Find the Reflexology & Massage centre here. 

5. Catch up on sleep

If you really need to catch up on sleep during your longer-length layover and don’t want to sleep on the airport floor, then there are a few options for you to consider:

  • Capsule by Container Hotel: situated within the airport, it offers capsule-style beds for you to sleep in for 3, 6 or 12 hour stays. They also have free wifi, luggage lockers and shower facilities so you can freshen up.
  • Concorde Inn: situated external to the airport, this is the place to go if you have an overnight stay or want to get out of the airport and experience a little bit of luxury on an extended layover. They have a free shuttle service to get you there too.
  • Sama Sama Hotel: also external to the airport, Sama Sama Hotel is best suited for extended layovers and anybody who wants to get away from the airport for a few hours to rest and refresh. There’s a 2 minute buggy ride to get there, apparently! How fun for you!
  • Snooze KL: located within the transit area inside the airport, Snooze KL offer small 3m x 1.5m rooms with bunk beds for 2 persons. You pay for a minimum of 2 hours and sleep until it’s time for you to go again. This place is great for catching up on sleep in between flights.
  • Tune Hotel: external to the airport, but only a few minutes walk, Tune offer no-frills budget accommodation perfect for getting away from the airport. The wifi here is great, the rooms are comfy and the showers are awesome.

6. Watch free movies at the movie lounge

Yep, you read that right, good friends. Get yourself down to the movie lounge, which is just a big open space with a whole bunch of TV’s on the wall showing HBO movies all day and night. It’s a great place to chill out for a few hours, especially if you’ve found yourself on a flight that doesn’t show any movies. Find out more about the movie lounge here. 

7. Explore Kuala Lumpur

If you have a longer layover you may like to go into Kuala Lumpur and see the major sights. A company called Baggage Solutions allow you to store your luggage for a fee, you can find them here. From here you can either catch the Kuala Lumpur Express (train) or a taxi into town, there’s some great information on that here. A good option for you could be to buy a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus, which takes in all the major tourist attractions and gives you a bit more free reign on when/where/what you do and see.

You could also pre-book yourself a tour. A lot of vendors understand that KL is a popular layover spot and that people want to take advantage of that, so you could do some research and find a tour operator willing to meet you at the airport, take you out for the day and show you all the things you want to see in the time you’ve got, then get you back to the airport in time for your flight.

Places you might like to consider seeing include:

  • Petronas Twin Towers
  • Chinatown
  • The Royal Palace
  • The Lake Gardens
  • Menara KL Tower
  • Merdeka Square
  • Thean Hou Buddhist Temple
  • Central Market
  • Bukit Bintang
  • Popular shopping malls, like: Berjaya Times Square, Pavillion KL, Fahrenheit 88, Starhill Gallery, Suria KLCC and Plaza Low Yat.
Putrajaya Mosque Kuala Lumpur Layover KLIA

Putrajaya Mosque

8. Head to the observation deck

If you’re looking for a cool place to get interesting photographs, get yourself to the observation deck, which is on level 3 in between the two buildings. It’s a great place to get photos of all the planes coming and going, lined up at the boarding bridges and gates. I think it would be especially pretty at night when it’s all lit-up, perfect for those long-exposure shots.

9. Eat some more

This is your chance to try good local food, so don’t squander it. Be sure to find a traditional local coffee shop and try a few of the local specialities like Kluang Coffee, Ipoh Coffee and Kaya Toast. Try typical Malay fare like Nasi Lemak and Nasi Campur, both rice based dishes. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals what ‘must try’ food there is and get stuck into it! Malay food is notoriously yummy and they’re proud of their delicious food offerings.

Garage Station at KLIA2

Garage Station at KLIA2

10. Visit Garage Station

I’ve left this place to last and put it on here separately as it’s my favourite place to visit at Gateway@KLIA2. It’s a really quirky, cool store selling new vintage-themed items like tin wind-up toys, quirky badges and pins, really cool movie posters and magnets and heaps of other things. This place is pretty new in opening up and we stocked up on all kinds of really awesome things for our home. I definitely recommend a visit!! Find Garage Station here. 

So, there are my top ten tips on things to do and how to survive your next layover at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. What are your tips? Share them in the comments below. 

Watch our Singapore for first-timers video


Phoebe Lee Travel Blogger Rainbow Beach Little Grey Box Brisbane Australia Blogger BestPhoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

 

9 Comments on How to survive a layover in Kuala Lumpur airport

  1. Found your blog while googling about this airport! Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I will definitely be looking into them! Do you know if it’s possible to sleep in the airport if arriving late at night?

    Like

  2. Hi Phoebe – I am arriving at KL airport at 10pm and flying to
    Lombok at 8am the next day. If I book in to any of the lounges or rest places do I need to book in advance?
    Many thanks Debbie

    Like

  3. Great article. Very helpful as this closely mirrors my experiences over the past couple of years in and out of KLIA2.
    You are totally correct, it can be a very long way from point to point and leave yourself plenty of time with a connecting flight but KLIA2 is a great spot to shop and eat and pass away time between flights.
    For anyone with 8 or more hours in transit strongly recommend a trip into KL onboard KLIA Ekspress.

    Like

  4. Thanks Phoebe! I am traveling to Bali in late March and I will have long layovers in KLIA while going to and from Bali – one lasting as long as 16 hours! At first, I was mortified, but after reading this article, I now see it as vacay number two! I am excited to know here is so much I can do with these valuable hours, and I have never been one to turn down an adventure. Once more, thank you! Continue doing these very helpful, informative blogs, for people like me really depend on them and are grateful to have access to them. Sending you hugs from Japan. Stay blessed!

    Like

    • Thank you so so much Kerona 🙂 I’m SO happy the blog post was helpful for you. KLIA is a very friendly, easy to navigate airport. My first thought was how you might like to get a room or find a lounge so you can have a shower and a sleep 🙂 Have a GREAT holiday xx

      Like

  5. God, this blog is the best thing to happen. Helped me thoroughly for my upcoming flight. Thanks. Can you just tell me one more thing, to go out of the airport, do we need to apply for the transit visa well in advance or is it on arrival?

    Like

    • So glad it helped! Hope you’re on your way to an amazing adventure 🙂 I’d love to answer that for you, but I’m not sure to be honest, best to find out from a proper Government authority.

      Like

  6. Wow, what a comprehensive post! I’ll have to check out that food court next time.

    I had a nightmare of a time when I left from KLIA! Have you ever found yourself panicked thinking you were going to miss a flight there? I almost did! Haha.

    If you want a laugh at my misfortunes have a look here:
    http://www.backpackerluke.com/fear-and-loathing-in-kuala-lumpur-airport/

    I’m gonna link to your website for anyone who wants ideas on how to enjoy KLIA, unlike me!

    Cheers,
    Backpacker Luke

    Like

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