Only got on afternoon/evening in Kuala Lumpur, huh? Bummer.
The good news is, though, you can still have an awesome time and pack a lot of Malay culture into one evening! Take a look at a sample itinerary I created, based on what we did in 16 hours in KL (half of which were spent sleeping or at the airport).
Mid/late afternoon: Arrive at the KLIA. Store your baggage. If you’ve flown through a budget airline, chances are you arrived in terminal 2, or KLIA2. The luggage storage is on level 2 amid several shops, about 50 yards away from the KLIA train entrance. More information here. Buy your roundtrip ticket to Kuala Lumpur (28 minutes long to the city) and hop on, sans luggage.
Late afternoon/early evening: Arrive at Sentral station. Get a budget taxi by going to stand and telling the clerk the address. Pay them, then walk out to the curb with your ticket. The National Museum is about an 8 minute drive away and closes promptly at 6 pm. If you enter the museum no later than 5 pm you should have enough time to see everything you want.
Early evening: Walk or get a taxi to the National Mosque. Spend as much or little time as you like there. It’s lit up at night and during the afternoon there are gardens and parks to stroll through. Walk about 8 minutes on to the Merdaka Square and enjoy the ambiance. The sunlight hitting the yellow stone and glinting roofs is a beautiful sight. grab a picture with the “I love KL” sign, maybe grab dinner at a cafe. Most of the square’s buildings house museums, but at this point they’ll be closed for the night.
Evening: Watch Mud, a musical about KL. It’s relatively new and not many people attend, but those that do rave about it. In January showings were at 3 pm and 8 pm and lasted about an hour. It’s in a building on the corner of Merdaka Square, so easy to get to.
Evening/after sunset: Get a taxi to take you to Petronas Towers. Most taxis drop people off behind the towers, where the garden and light show is. Stroll around the popular hangout spot, watching the colored lights, water sprays, and Malay teenagers dance to their favorite tunes. Sit on the lawn beneath palm trees and try to get the twin towers in your camera screen.
Night: Catch a late dinner (the Petronas area probably won’t be cheap for food), get a last photo of the tower and walk through the mall. Watch a performance by the Malaysian Philharmonic Symphony, which performs on one of the floors of the twin towers.
Later: Don’t miss the last train back to KLIA! It’s at 12:40 am, but if you have an early flight the next morning you will be ready for bed before then. Stay at a hotel attached to the airport or grab a budget taxi that takes you about 10 miles away to the neighborhood of hotels.
Have you done a whirlwind long-layover in a city? What do you recommend? Have you visited KL? What’s a don’t-miss site in Kuala Lumpur?