Kuala Lumpur is regularly listed as one of the cheapest cities in the world for travel – but is it really? We put this to the test to see if we could last the day with just RM50 – excluding transportation.
The food court at ICC Pudu is home to dozens of hawker stalls peddling cheap and tasty street food – and they’re open from 5.30AM onwards to cater to patrons of the wet market within the building. For a quintessential Malaysian breakfast of butter and kaya toast paired with soft boiled eggs, head to Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea stall. Wash the whole thing down with an ice cold Hainanese coffee.
- Cost: <RM10
- Getting there: ICC Pudu is a 10-minute walk from the Pudu light rail transit station via Star LRT line
Burn off the calories from breakfast at KLCC Park, a lush 50-acre oasis of greenery amidst skyscrapers and modern shopping malls. It is also a good place to take pictures of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, and has various facilities such as gazebos, playgrounds for children and beautifully landscaped areas complete with fountains and bridges. If the weather gets hot, retreat to the air conditioned comforts of Suria KLCC, the shopping mall located at the base of the towers. One will also find the Petronas Art Gallery within, which showcases works by local and international artists.
- Cost : Free
- Getting there : LRT to KLCC station via Putra LRT Line
A 15-minute walk via an elevated pedestrian bridge takes you to Bukit Bintang, a glitzy commercial area with shopping malls aplenty. Seek out Lot 10, where you will find the charming Hutong Food Court in the basement. Dubbed a ‘gourmet heritage village’, it is home to some of Malaysia’s best heritage eateries, from Hainan Chicken Rice to Kim Lian Kee Hokkien Mee. A standout would be Soong Kee Beef Noodles – the scion of the original beef noodles along Jalan Tun HS Lee. A bowl of beefy goodness comes with dry noodles topped with a savoury meat sauce, served with beef balls and tripe.
- Cost: RM10
- Getting there: Pedestrian bridge (entrance in front of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre)
Hop on the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) bound for Muzium Negara, or the National Museum – a rich repository of Malaysia’s culture, history and heritage. Boasting a blend of traditional and modern elements in its design, as seen from the pointed Minangkabau-style roof and Italian glass murals flanking the main entrance.
Explore the different sections within, such as one dedicated to history from the Portuguese, Dutch and English colonisation, complete with replicas of buildings, life-sized dioramas and weapons such as guns, swords, armour and cannons. There are also displays of traditional Malay weaponry, ceramics, archaeological finds, antiques from trade, and many more.
- Cost: RM2 (Malaysians), RM5 (foreigners)
- Getting There: Get off at the Muzium Negara MRT Station
Batu Caves, on the outskirts of KL, is a must-visit for any traveler to the city – not only to see the impressive giant golden statue of the Hindu deity Lord Muruga, but also to to visit the cave temples within. The 272 steps leading up to the temple recently got a fresh makeover with colourful coats of paint, making it extremely Insta-worthy. The limestone caves that house the temple are a wonder of nature on its own, said to be over 400 million years old. Visitors entering the temple are expected to dress appropriately, with no exposed knees or bare shoulders.
- Cost: Free
- Getting There: Alight at the Batu KTM station. The caves are a short walk away.
It might look like any other field, but Dataran Merdeka, or Merdeka Square, was where the the Malaysia of today was officially formed. On 31 August 1957, the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the very first time. Architecture enthusiasts can marvel at the beautiful Sultan Abdul Samad Building, located just across the square, with its towering domes and Indo-Saracenic, Neo-Mughal and Moorish designs.
- Cost: Free
- Getting There: Merdeka Square is a short walk from the Masjid Jamek STAR LRT station.
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The River of Life is part of an effort by the local council to clean and beautify the Gombak and Klang rivers. The best place to experience this is at the confluence point between the Gombak and Klang rivers, which form a Y-shape as it splits, right at the site of Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad, the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur. Come evening, the entire stretch is lit up with blue lights and mist, earning the nickname ‘the Blue Pool’. Right in front of the mosque is a dancing symphony fountain.
- Cost: Free
- Getting There: Just behind the Sultan Abdul Samad Building
It’s high time, for dinner time – and Jalan Alor is the perfect place to get it. A favourite among locals and tourists alike, the street is lined with dozens of stalls and restaurants peddling street food: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Cambodian, Western, you name it, they have it. The only problem for travelers on a budget? It’s easy to rack up the bills with so many tasty and tempting food options available. One of the must-tries here are Wong Ah Wah grilled chicken wings, which are made over a charcoal fire.
- Cost: You can get a full meal of a plate of fried noodles (RM10), 2 chicken wings (RM3.50 a piece) and coconut ice cream (RM5) for less than RM25.
- Getting There: Hop on the free GOKL bus (purple line) and get off at Bukit Bintang. From there, Jalan Alor is a short walk away. Alternatively, take the monorail to Bukit Bintang.
Total damage: RM47