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!
What is the weather like during my visit?
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). Need some inspiration on what to see and do while you’re there? Read my guide to ‘Everything you need to know about visiting Kuala Lumpur.‘
What should I pack for my trip to Kuala Lumpur?
Clothing – 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
Comfortable footwear – 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.
Swimwear – 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.
SunSmart gear – You’ll need sunglasses and you should pack a hat and sunscreen with high SPF. I always recommend the Cancer Council’s sunscreen. 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.
Hair products – Be sure to pack a few strong hair ties as well as some hairspray and bobby pins so you can tame those 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.
Medicine bag – 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.
Watch our Kuala Lumpur for first-timers video!
Day bag – 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.
Beauty products – 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.
Power adaptors – 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.
Pack light – 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.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Power board – As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one powerpoint converter (for international trips) and take a power-board with multiple plug-ins on it, like this one. It makes life so much easier! It means when you find that one, coveted powerpoint at the airport, you can charge EVERYTHING at once and maybe even share with others too.
Keep luggage smelling fresh – Put dryer sheets, an air freshener or tissues sprayed with air freshener in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Room spray 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.
Plastic bags – Stash some large plastic grocery bags and small 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! That said, I am trying to cut down on the amount of plastic bags I use (and plastic in general) so only use these in emergencies. It’s definitely a better option to rely on reusable bags wherever possible.
Laundry bag – 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.
Tupperware – I use Tupperware or similar clear, hard plastic containers to organise my luggage. I use a separate small container, each, for toiletries, jewellery and electronics like adapters, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! This also ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab it in one easy swoop, keep things together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too.
Watch our ’60 Seconds in Kuala Lumpur video!’
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.