If you live in Australia and love to travel, chances are you’ve had at least one decent layover in Kuala Lumpur. It’s one of the bigger gateway cities for us Aussies on our way out to the rest of the world, and when you’re travelling on a tight budget, you can often find yourself with a few hours to kill before your connecting flight on to the rest of Asia or Europe.
As we’re starting to prepare for our next big adventure, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we planned for the first one; when we travelled to Europe a few years ago, we had the option of saving a few hundred dollars on our flights, with the compromise being a 14 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur. We were already going to be ticking 5 countries over 2 continents off our list, so we figured it would be a great opportunity to see a bit of the city and add another continent to the itinerary! When we told people we planned to do this, they all told us we were crazy; the standard response is to complain about the long mandatory waits, and here we were ready to take advantage of it instead (any exuse!). And with a little bit of pre-trip organisation, it’s actually not that hard to do – here are a few tips that helped us enjoy the layover…
1. Book a hotel for the day
If you’ve saved money on your flights, the small amount of money you’ll spend by booking a hotel for the day will be more than worth it! If, like us, you’re arriving into the city around 7am and leaving after dark, having a hotel room is an absolute godsend; you’ll have somewhere secure to store your luggage for the day, and be able to have a shower and get changed into fresh clothes after a day out before you jump onto your next flight. You can book a room in Kuala Lumpur online with Traveloka with hotels a stone’s throw from the airport from as little as AUD$20.00 for a day – that’ll save the stress of finding something when you land!
2. Check the booking options
Some hotels cater specifically for layover guests, like the Plaza Premium Lounge KLIA 2; they have options for stays as short as 4 hours from AUD$65.00, as well as 6 hours, 10 hour and overnight bookings. If you’re only stopping over for a few hours, you may find that you can get a better rate on a 6 hour booking rather than an overnight booking. And money saved on accommodation is money to spend on shopping and food (roti bread… ohhhh roti bread…)!
3. Check out the hotel facilities
Because the more that’s included, the easier the layover will be! A lot of hotels will offer things like airport transfers, wifi, luggage storage and 24 hour reception, and they make the world of difference when you only have a short amount of time to work with. Most hotels also have multi-lingual staff who are happy to help out, so it’s worth speaking to team on the check in desk to see if there’s anything going on in the city that may cause extra delays in getting back in time for your next flight.
4. Public transport is your friend
It’s quick, clean, efficient, and definitely the easiest way to get around. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) website offers some good information on how to get around using the Express Rail Link, which connects the airport to the main city centre in under half an hour. Much easier than car hire or taxis!
5. Be realistic
You’re only there few a few hours, so be realistic about what you’ll be able to see and do! The best bet is to pick out a couple of things close to each other, so you can enjoy a bit of time in the one area without having to rush too much. We decided to head to the Petronas Twin Towers which were every bit as spectacular (blog link) as we’d imagined them to be. We also spent a bit of time wondering around the shops below the towers at the Suria KLCC complex, and relaxed by Symphony Lake for a while.