A sprawling city where huge skyscrapers tower overhead, the glittering lights of the Petronas Towers making them look like Great Gatsby-style antiques. In side streets, vendors selling a huge array of quick bites, entire streets dedicated to food and an incredible, multicultural mix of people. If you haven’t visited before, Kuala Lumpur is a feast for the senses and a wonderland of sights, smells, flavours and experiences just waiting to be unearthed. If you’re planning a trip but aren’t sure what you need to take with you on your trip, here’s my guide to everything you need to pack for Kuala Lumpur!
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What to expect from the weather
With its warm weather, Kuala Lumpur is a great destination pretty much all year-round. That said, you’ll find the wetter months to be March to April and September to November. Peak season tends to be May through August and December through February. It’ll be hot and humid during these times, but storms tend to cool things down a bit. Prepare to get hot and sweaty if you’re walking around and always be prepared for a sudden storm (don’t worry, they don’t usually last all day, it’s more of a sudden, crazy storm followed by fine weather).
What to pack
The heat and humidity in Kuala Lumpur can be really intense, so it’s important you pack clothing that will help you stay cool. There’s a significant Muslim community in Malaysia so please dress and behave in a culturally respectful way (i.e. be mindful of showing cleavage, wearing super short-shorts and exposed midriffs etc). It’s just part of being a good human and culturally respectful traveller.
- Pack lots of light, breathable clothing options – you might like to pack sweat-wicking gear
- I’d recommend packing flowing cotton skirts, denim shorts, skirts and cotton dresses
- Consider packing vest/singlet tops as well as t-shirts and blouses too
- You may want to pack a few ‘nice’ outfits for special dinners or nights out
You’ll most likely be doing a LOT of walking so it’s important you wear sensible shoes that are very comfortable. I’d recommend packing a pair of sneakers or converse-style shoes as well as flats and sandals.
Be sure to put your swimwear in your suitcase so you can take full of advantage of your hotel pool if you have one. Don’t forget to pack aqua-ear medicine, goggles, swimming cap or whatever else it is you usually like to swim with.
You’ll need sunglasses and you should pack a hat and sunscreen with high SPF. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. It may sound odd, but it’s important to be sun smart and just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean UV rays aren’t getting through the clouds. Find Sunscreen here.
Be sure to pack a few strong hair ties as well as some hairspray and bobby pins so you can tame wild flyaway’s caused by the humidity and slick your hair back into a ponytail or bun if the humidity starts to kick in. Otherwise, I mostly wore my hair out and found it to be not too annoying.
Pack a small medicine bag with all your prescription medicines and essentials, just in case you become ill late at night or can’t find a pharmacy. My kit always includes paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamine, cold and flu medicine, travel-sickness tablets, Imodium, hydralyte, pocket tissues, band-aids, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Find Medicine Bags here.
Pack a smaller backpack or day bag you can throw all your gear into for day trips (camera, water bottle, umbrella etc). Just be sure to take a bag you can secure to your body, like a backpack with two over-the-shoulder straps, as there have been cases of bag snatching in Kuala Lumpur. We didn’t see this or feel unsafe, but that could be because we took those safety precautions into consideration.
Be sure to bring all your favourite beauty products with you, especially if you have sensitive skin. I’d recommend packing a trusted deodorant, one you know can help you beat the heat.
In Kuala Lumpur, power sockets are G Type, which is the boxy one with three thick, rectangular prongs. You can check it out here. Be sure to pack an adaptor so you can charge all your electronics.
Finally, be sure to pack light! If you love shopping, KL is a bit of a shopper’s wonderland and you’re going to need room in your suitcase for all those new purchases! So, keep it light.
Packing hacks and tips
A few tips and tricks to help you hack your packing!
I always pack a power-board with me so I can charge my iPhone and cameras while using my laptop and only need one converter. Yep, I’m a technology addict. If you forget a converter you can buy one there pretty cheap, so don’t stress. Find Power Boards here and Find Power Converters here.
Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip. If you don’t have dryer sheets, a few drops of essential oil on a tissue, laid flat in-between layers of clothes, works wonders. I also have a little bottle of spray which instantly freshens up clothes, it’s from The Laundress and it’s amazing! No musty smelling clothes for you, my friend. Find Dryer Sheets here.
This one is great– I’ve been travelling as part of a couple for a very long time now and one of the most important things I’ve learned is how important it is to have a room spray with you. A hotel room can be a very small space and you don’t always have the luxury of allowing the, ahem, ‘air to clear,’ while getting ready and sharing a bathroom (or after a dodgy vindaloo). I always put a small bottle of air freshener in my luggage, just to make life more bearable for everyone involved. as it’s non-aerosol and very strong.
Stash some eco-friendly bags and reusable sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes! Find Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags here.
Stay organised and put an end to the horrible misfortune of mixing up your clean and used undies by using a laundry bag. It’s a great way to keep your smelly clothes away from your fresh ones and keep an eye on how much laundry you have to do and which clean clothes you have left. I also put all my clean underwear in one of these, just so there’s no horrible moment where all my unmentionables go flying across an airport floor.
I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! Find Storage Containers here.
Useful travel resources for your trip to Malaysia
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Agoda – our go-to site for booking hotels
Skyscanner – our go-to for booking flights
RentalCars.com – great search engine for car rentals
Motorhome Republic – our go-to site for booking RVs
Booking.com – another go-to site for booking hotels
TourRadar – great search engine for tours
Uber – our go-to transport option