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 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. Just keep in mind there are two sections to the airport KLIA and klia2, with klia2 catering to low-cost airlines.
1. Go shopping
The airport is attached to a mall, called [email protected]. There are quite a few good shops, including jewellery, clothing, shoes and electronics stores. [email protected] shopping mall is separate from 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.
2. Chill out at The Airport Lounge KLIA
If you’re in transit and have a 3-4 hour layover before you get back on the plane, head to The Airport Lounge KLIA in the Satellite Building. It costs MYR150 to get in, which is around AUD$50. You get 3 hours 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 are TVs 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 post while I wait for my flight.
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3. Eat amazing local food, really cheap
If you do go into [email protected], head downstairs to the food court. It’s a big open-plan area at the very bottom of [email protected] 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 want to eat where the locals eat. Try the Thosai Masala and Roti Chanai, washed down with an Ice Lychee Tea. It cost us very little for a mountain of food!
4. 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:
- CapsuleTransit KLIA 2 (Landside) – [email protected], Level 1: offers capsule-style beds for singles, couples and groups for 3, 6 or 12-hour stays. They also have free Wi-Fi, luggage lockers and shower facilities so you can freshen up.
- CapsuleTransit KLIA 2 (Airside) – Satellite Building, Level 2: offers basically the same but caters to singles only and it’s situated within the airport.
- Tune Hotel KLIA–KLIA2 Airport Transit Hotel: external to the airport, but only a few minute’s walk, Tune offers 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.
- 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!
5. 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 buying it! You want it. You know you want it. Get 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.
6. 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 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. It would be especially pretty at night when it’s all lit up, perfect for those long-exposure shots. Just remember you’ll need to clear customs and immigration to access the viewing area. Is it worth it? Maybe, but I’m no plane spotter.
7. Explore Kuala Lumpur
If you have a longer layover you may like to go into Kuala Lumpur and see the major sights. You can either catch the Kuala Lumpur Express (train), taxi or Uber into town, there’s some great information on that here. A good option for you could be to pre-book 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 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
- The Royal Museum (Old Istana Negara)
- Perdana Botanical Garden
- KL Tower Observation Deck
- 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 Low Yat Plaza.
If you’re looking to explore Kuala Lumpur during your layover and want some detailed insight, I wrote a guide just for you: This is what you can actually do on a Kuala Lumpur layover.
8. Eat some more
This is your chance to try the great local food, so don’t squander it. Be sure to find a traditional local coffee shop and try a few of the local specialties 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.
So, they were my top 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.
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