Travel Cheaply Around Kuala Lumpur

by Audrey Lim, Nov 1, 2004 | Destinations: Malaysia / Kuala Lumpur
The Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A holiday is fun and a great break from one's usual lifestyle; but paying for the experience can sometimes be quite painful. Having saved for months on a trip abroad, you sometimes might be a little reluctant to blow it all away on just one short vacation.

If you are looking for an affordable and interesting location to visit, why not consider Malaysia? In keeping the budget low, aim for Kuala Lumpur. Although the city used to be a backwater place many years ago, now it is a bustling and rich melting pot in which tourists will get to experience a variety of culture, ethnic backgrounds, arts, food, and lots more! A safe city to explore, visiting Kuala Lumpur is not as expensive as other metropolis of its stature and size. The city itself is rather quaint. On one street, you can find old colonial buildings. Amazingly, on the next street itself, you will find a burst of modern buildings and hot spots! It is these contrasting scenes that make Kuala Lumpur such a great place to visit. The harmonious blend of old and new offers a visitor just about anything he or she could possibly want.

As 1 US Dollar (US$1) can get you 3.80 Ringgit Malaysia (RM3.80), a foreigner to the country can pretty much have a relatively luxurious holiday if they wish. Budget hotels, inns, or backpackers place are aplenty in the city center. You can spend as little as US$15 per night (or less) for a hotel room that is located smack dab in the heart of the city. Some of these budget hotels provide breakfast with the room as well. However, you may want to forgo breakfast as there are lots of great cuisines to sample in Kuala Lumpur.

Where To Stay?

Amongst some of the budget hotels that you may want to consider is Hotel Nova, Allson Genesis Hotel, China Town Inn, Hotel Furuma and more. Hotel Nova is one of the more popular choices of accommodation because it is located along Jalan Alor, which is walking distance from the Bukit Bintang hot spots. This 3-star budget hotel is located at No. 16 - 22 Jalan Alor. Allson Genesis Hotel at No. 45 Tengkat Tong Shin is also a decent place to live in. Centrally located, you could reach both food and entertainment by foot.

The trick to making the most of your trip to Kuala Lumpur is to first determine your main interest. Are you into shopping, sightseeing, clubbing, or eating?

Eating & Shopping Variety

If you choose food and shopping as your main focus, then it is advisable to choose a hotel such as Hotel Nova or the Seasons View as these two are highly centralized. Both of these accommodations are located along Jalan Alor, a street that is highly famous for great and cheap food. A bustling street that never seems to sleep, this is where you will find mouth-watering local cuisine that promises to tantalize or even shock your taste buds! Be prepared to eat and eat and eat. The whole street is pack with food stalls and old buildings that has been converted into restaurants.

What To Expect

Of course, please don't expect five-star treatment at these food stalls. Also, if you are jittery about eating at dirty places, then perhaps these stalls are not for you either. However, if you are talking about "budget", Kuala Lumpur's food stalls are some of the best places to sample local food without having to worry about burning a hole in your pocket. Al fresco dining is what you should be expecting. Foldable tables and chairs will line the streets or tucked away on a dark alley between two buildings. Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Campbell are good places for hawker food. There are just so many things you can try. If you can take spicy food, it is all the better! Do try Malaysia's satay - barbecued meat on skewers that you normally eat dipped in a thick chili peanut sauce. Accompanying it are raw onions and cucumber pieces. Ketupat cut to small bite size will also be served. Ketupat are cooked glutinous rice that you eat dipped into the sauce as well. During the nights, Malaysians enjoy eating noodles. These places can whip up delicious plates of noodles in a jiffy. Expect them to be slightly oily and almost always a guilty fare for the weight/health-conscious. Famous choices would be Hokkien Noodle and Cantonese Fried Noodle. Of course, don't forget to try some stewed duck porridge or barbecued chicken wings (Restaurant WAW is the place to look out for) that is very famous along Jalan Alor. Dipped that in chili sauce and the aromatic honeyed taste would make you asking for more!

A short distance away is Chinatown, or better known as Petaling Street. Recently having undergone a facelift, the entire street is now sheltered from the hot sun and/or rain. Totally alive at night, be prepared to sweat it out a little if you wish to explore the street as it could get rather crowded especially on weekends. In terms of food, Chinatown is filled with delicious aroma that seems to permeate along the street, tempting a passerby to stop, look, and try. Affordably priced, steamboat is a popular fare where it is usually more advisable to consume after a heavy downpour as it could get rather hot eating it in this warm and humid country.

Basically, it is a meal where you are given a hot pot over a burner. In the pot are soup in which you dump in seafood, vegetables, meats and other available ingredients. Then you wait for it to cook. When done, simply scoop it out and dip it in the variety of tangy sauces that is offered. The soup taste absolutely divine after the second round of boiling as the delicious sweetness of the seafood would by then have absorbed into the soup.

Of course, what is Malaysian food without the various Indian or Indian-Muslim (mamak) stalls. Rich in spices and coconut milk, Indian food tend to sit heavily on the stomach after a meal but it is a cuisine not to be missed either. The delicious curry or curry noodles, fish head curry, and more is ample and affordable. Best of all, these food stalls are located very near to the suggested accommodation so you really do save quite a bit on transportation cost.

The Bargain Bin

Vendors on Chinatown basically set up stalls from late afternoon and the hustle and bustle can go way into the night. There are just so many stalls to look at; each offering interesting items such as clothes, costume jewelry, batik, food and drinks, fruits, faux watches, even kinky and some rather gaudy lingerie. Be prepared to bargain on Chinatown and be careful of your personal possession as well as the crowded area attracts pickpockets.

Another place that you can stop by for some bargain shopping is the Craft Cultural Complex in Jalan Conlay. Here you can find a variety of souvenirs and handicrafts from brassware to pewter items. There are also duty-free electronic products and watches. If you are into beadings, carvings and embroidery, then this is also the place for you. Of course, any night market in Kuala Lumpur will be a good place for bargain shopping. There is one in Kampung Baru that you may want to visit as it is great for practicing your haggling skills and who knows? You may just leave the country laden with cheap and interesting souvenirs.

Great Sights at Almost-Zero Cost

What is visiting a country if you do not include sightseeing trips? Luckily for those on a budget, sightseeing in Malaysia is also very affordable and the sights are plentiful. The common areas to visit would of course be the well-known Petronas Twin Towers, the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the National Art Gallery and more.

For those visiting the Twin Towers, which incidentally is one of the tallest buildings in the world, you may want to drop by to Suria KLCC as well for a taste of luxurious shopping in the country. Amenities are modern, the variety is amazingly huge, and the crowd on weekends is pretty large. There is also a lovely lake garden at the premise which is a good place for shutterbugs. At certain location on the park, you can even get perfect full length shot of the Twin Towers. The view taken during the day and for the night are equally different but magical in their own ways.

If you are into art and culture, then head over to the National Art Gallery or even the Kuala Lumpur Memorial Library. Entrance is free so you don't have to worry about budget here. The home of the Supreme and High Courts of the country is located at the Sultan Abdul Samad Building - a beautiful old Moorish-designed building that is located just opposite the famed Merdeka Square, where you will find the country's tallest flagpole standing majestically in the field. This is also the location for National Day celebrations and other public performances. Not far from this building is the Railway Station with its beautiful Moorish designs complete with domes, arches and minarets. Come also to view the beautiful greenery of the city. Lake Gardens in one such spot where you will also be able to go to the nearby Bird Park, Deer Park, Butterfly Park and the Orchid Garden.

The list of good sightseeing spots is endless. To find out more, a visitor simply need to drop by at the Tourism Board which is located at the Putra World Trade Center, a building in which many events and exhibitions are held each month. Next to it is The Mall, another shopping complex in the city. Here you can also find lots of affordable items for sale.

To make the most of your holidays, it would be good to plan a visit during the Malaysia Mega Sale, an event that sees the entire country going on a major sale! Almost every store you walk in to will offer tempting discounts and major price slash. This event takes place three times a year for a whole month. Catch the sale during March, August and December each year.

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Fact File:

Budget hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Agora Hotel - No. 106-110 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Allson Genesis Hotel - No. 45 Tengkat Tong Shin
Bestotel - No. 368 Jalan Ipoh
Bintang Warisan Hotel - No. 68 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Comfort Inn - No. 65 Cangkat Bukit Bintang
Hotel Nova - No. 16-22 Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang
Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur - No. 62 Jalan Sultan
Wira Hotel - No. 123 Jalan Thamboosamy, Off Jalan Putra

For more information:

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