Kuala Lumpur International Airport is home to two light and bright terminals. Modern and home to everything you may want on an airport layover, food courts, shopping and even a movie theatre, Kuala Lumpur Airport is consistently rated highly by your fellow travellers. Arguably, a destination in its own right!
Kuala Lumpur itself is a vibrant and thriving city; a true cultural melting pot. In the central business district alone you will find Little India, Chinatown and of course Malay influences too. Although located 55km away from the city centre Kuala Lumpur Airport has impeccable transport links into the city, that run around the clock.
Kuala Lumpur Airport, for many people, is little more than an airport lounge to wait in for your next flight. If you have more time on your hands, at least six hours, consider jumping on one of the many public transport option from Kuala Lumpur Airport and heading into the city to explore and get some fresh air too! It takes an hour to get into the city and then to return again so getting out into town is better suited to travelers with longer layovers. Allowing two hours travel time to and from the airport and then at least one hour to check back in again; you’ll need at least a six hour layover to visit Kuala Lumpur city centre. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Kuala Lumpur Airport Guide.
Hop On Hop Off Tour
The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is the best way to see Kuala Lumpur especially if you’re short on time. The tour features 23 different stops and is the perfect way to see as much of the city as possible in a short amount of time. The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour stops at all the major sites like the KL Tower, the Petronas Towers (KLCC) and Chinatown as well and visiting hidden gems like Little India and the Bird Park.
Tickets for the tour cost RM 55 and are valid for 24-hours; these tickets can be purchased online in advance, at the airport arrival hall (after immigration) or by an authorised hotel or agent.
The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is very well signposted and easy to find. Each bus stop has its own bus shelter which is very handy given that when it rains in Kuala Lumpur, it pours! The buses are clean and run very much to schedule.
Time Required: The time you spend on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is entirely up to you and your time allowance. Remember that it takes about an hour to get from the airport into the city centre. If you get the metro line to KL Sentral then this is reduced. Stops like Chinatown and the Bird Park warrant a stay up to an hour. Stops like the KL Tower and KLCC Towers can be seen and photographed in 15-minutes each if you’re not venturing inside!
On an 8-hour layover we advise that you can visit up to four stops on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour and give yourself plenty of time to explore them too!
How to Get There: From KLIA, both terminals, catch the KLIA Ekspres to KL Sentral and catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus. KL Sentral is stop 11 so is a great starting point. Alternatively get the Star Shuttle to Jalan Pudu and walk 250m into Chinatown and catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus after you’ve explored that area. A taxi from the airport will take 50 minute to an hour depending on traffic, if you ask to be taken to KL Sentral.
Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about Kuala Lumpur bus tours, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
Eco Forest Park
If you’re on a long-haul journey its safe to assume that some fresh air and some nature will do you the world of good! Look no further than Kuala Lumpur’s Eco Forest Park. The Eco Park is a real life city jungle! Did you know that Kuala Lumpur is the only city in the world to house a natural rainforest in its city centre.
Home to a wonderful array of plants the Eco Forest Park offers free entry to all! The Eco Forest Park is a great chance to reconnect with nature and explore the city from above! The park has high-rise walkways that allow you to walk amongst the tree-tops. When the leaves part you’re welcomed by spectacular views of the cityscape.
The park is clean and well kept and the walkways, although made of rope and wood, are very sturdy. This is arguably Kuala Lumpur’s best kept secret and is the perfect spot to escape to should the bright lights and air conditioned airports start to becoming too much!
Time Required: If you walk really fast then you can get around the park in half an hour, even less if you’re super fit and can run up the steps! An hour is ample time to leisurely walk around the park. There are lots of shady spots to sit with a book should you wish to stay a little longer.
How to Get There: You can get the Star Shuttle to Jalan Pudu/Chinatown which takes 50 minutes and walk up to the Eco Forest Park, this walk takes around 15-minutes. Or take a taxi from the airport right to the park gates, this will take 50-minutes.
Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Eco Forest Park, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
Kuala Lumpur Tower
The Kuala Lumpur Tower, also known as the KL Tower is the most iconic building of the city’s skyline. The KL Tower pierces the skyline at a whopping 1,379 ft tall! If you have more time available to you, why not book in for lunch, brunch or dinner at the KL Tower’s restaurant named Atmosphere 360? Tables must be booked online in advance. The restaurant not only serves brilliant food but offers breathtaking views over Kuala Lumpur. What’s more, the restaurant revolves so at every moment you look down you see the city from a different angle!
Time Required: If you’re just wanting to stand Granth the KL Tower and take a photo then you can be done within 15-minutes. If you book a table at Atmosphere 360 then you get 2-hours on the table. To get from KLIA and KLAI2 to KL Tower by public transport you should allow yourself an hour, likewise with a taxi.
How to Get There: If you get the Star Shuttle to KL Sentral the KL Tower is a short 10-minute walk away, KL Tower is well signposted and very obvious to see! Alternatively, take a taxi right to the door! Both journeys will take one hour.
Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting KL Tower, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
If you want to avoid the busy city centre but still want to experience some Malaysian culture then be sure to head over to the Batu Caves. Set just the other side of the city from the airport the Batu Caves are an important Hindu shrine complex. This limestone hill is said to be 400 million years old! The Batu Caves are high on Kuala Lumpur’s top attractions and are easily visited during a daytime layover.
There are many monkeys that live around the temple, remember not to feed them else they’ll all come out and play! The Batu Caves are a good excuse to stretch your legs too! There are 272 steps to climb!
Time Required: It takes one hour to get from the airport to the Batu Caves and you should allow yourself at least two hours to explore before heading back to the terminal. The Batu Caves are better suited for a longer layover.
How to Get There: The best way to get to the Batu Caves is by taxi, this way you bypass the city centre. A taxi from the airport to Batu Caves will take an hour if the traffic is reasonable.
Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Batu Caves, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
Before You Go: Layover Tips
Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.
- Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
- When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
- What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait-times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time-budget.
- What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Kuala Lumpur Airport Guide for information about luggage storage.
Other Useful Resources
Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly:
- Tripadvisor – Visit Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur to plan a tour or the Kuala Lumpur Travel Forum to check out past threads to see what other travellers have shared about sightseeing during long layovers at KLIA Airport and post your own questions.