Malaysia’s capital city is a blend of the new and the old and a mascot for the Malaysian Tourist board’s catch phrase welcoming tourists to Malaysia ‘Malaysia truly Asia’.
For a few years now the Malaysian Tourist Board along with Malaysian Airways has been creating campaigns in order to attract the foreign tourist to Malaysia, periodic
‘Visit Malaysia’ years as well as the Shopping Carnival held every year in March and April are some of the strategies used to attract tourists and bolster tourism. Kuala Lumpur or KL as it is popularly known is usually the point of entry for a tourist to the peninsula of Malaysia.
Malaysia was a British colonial outpost which became the federation of Malaya in 1948 and declared independence in 1957. In 1963 Malaysia was formed along with another British colony Singapore and the eastern Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Singapore seceded from the federation in 1965.
Malaysia follows a parliamentary system of democracy and it is headed by a Prime Minister, like the famous Lee Kuan Yew of neighboring Singapore it was headed successfully by an enlightened leader Mahatir Muhammad for many years and it was he who contributed much to the advancement of Malaysia.
The main industries in Malaysia, a country which is rich in natural resources are manufacturing, tin, rubber, timber, pepper, palm oil and now with the efforts of the Malaysian tourism board tourism too is developing into a major industry. Malaysia with a racing track at Sepang is on the Formula One circuit and this is yet another big draw for tourists. However, KL with its many attractions and multicultural population composed of Chinese, Malays and Indians is the crown jewel for the board of tourism in its endeavors.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur
Fly into Kuala Lumpur’s ultra modern KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) glass and steel terminal at Sepang. It was commissioned in 1998 and ranks amongst the top airports of the world. It replaced the older Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah terminal at Subhang which is now a charter air terminal. More than 50 airlines call at KLIA. In March 2006 a second terminal was opened called the Low Cost Carrier terminal and serves the low cost carriers such as Air Asia and Cebu Pacific.
The KLIA Ekspres
The fastest way into the city is by the KLIA Ekspres train which has its terminal within the airport and is extremely convenient as it has adequate facilities for passengers with luggage to use it effectively.
Trains arrive every 15 -20 minutes throughout the day and speed you into KL Sentral the transport hub in KL city. KL transit is another train one can take to KL Sentral but it takes longer than the Ekspres as it stops at three stops before it gets to KL Sentral.
At KL Sentral one can check in luggage on your return journey out of KL if you fly Malaysian, Cathay Pacific or Air Borneo airlines. Tickets on both the KLIA Ekspres and KL Transit cost RM 35.
At the airport there are counters to hire a prepaid Taxi or Airport Limo into the city. The fare to the city center by prepaid taxi is between 60 RM. to90 RM
KLIA is accessible from the city center by road on the expressway known as ‘Elite’. The journey by road from the city center takes an hour as the airport is 70km away.
KL is served by many Bus stations the oldest being Puduraya near Chinatown and also the old railway station which also serves as a Bus station. Tourists from neighboring Singapore take a variety of buses at various pick up points in Singapore and traverse the six hour journey on the Causeway and Tuas highways to get to KL . Buses also come into KL from the East and West coasts of Malaysia.
Trains come into KL Sentral from Singapore and Bangkok. Many Malaysians who work in Singapore use the overnight train to come home to KL.
Not really an option but there are ferries that come from Indonesia to Port Klang nearby
Getting around KL
Just as any other teeming and developing Asian city KL has horrendous traffic snarls. The city is still heavily car dependant with the government encouraging the use of the Malaysian built car the Proton. The development of the Light Rail Transport system known as the LRT has alleviated this problem somewhat. It is composed of 3 lines run by three private companies and the lines are called KTM Komuter which connects the northern and southern suburbs and the Star LRT and the Putra LRT.
Banks, Shopping Malls and other sections of the city are accessible by the LRT. The city is also served by the Rapid City shuttle buses, distinctive with their red disks they serve 15 routes. Red and white taxis are by far the easiest way for a tourist to get around the city and they have a starting rate of RM2. There are also the yellow cabs which are slightly more expensive. A tourist must ask the driver to use the meter on the taxi ride to avoid being ripped off. A Red and White taxi can also take you to KLIA but be sure to fix the rate with the driver. In KL haggling with the driver for the fare is quite the norm.