May 10 2011

How to hire and drive a car in Kuala Lumpur – and survive

Published by at 6:03 am under Transport

My first piece of advice to anyone thinking of hiring a car to use in Kuala Lumpur would be: don’t do it! KL drivers may not be the worst in the world, but they come fairly close. Add in erratic signage, ever-worsening traffic jams, and a frightening disregard for road safety, and you can appreciate how unpleasant this city is to drive in. For travel within KL, a combination of taxis, buses and trains provides a cheaper, safer and less stressful alternative.

Driving in KL is not for the fainthearted.

But for trips out of the city, especially if you are travelling in a group, hiring a car can make a lot of sense in terms of both money and convenience. Of course, that means driving through KL before you reach the open road. Here are a few tips to stay safe (and sane):

Watch out for motorbikes at all times. They will overtake you, undertake you, drive into oncoming traffic, ignore red lights … you get the picture. Use all three of your mirrors in quick rotation, before any manoeuvre.

Motorbike mayhem.

Always use your indicators. Malaysians may have a constitutional aversion to signalling, but that does not mean you should follow suit. It could easily save your life — or someone else’s.

In the rare instance of another road user indicating, do not assume they are telling the truth. It is highly likely that a driver signalling left will in fact swing right, across three lanes of traffic, to do an illegal u-turn.

Imagine what the most stupid thing any of your fellow drivers could do in any given situation. Then prepare for it. It will happen, with alarming regularity.

Do not hesitate. If you see a gap, go for it. You will have a very long wait indeed if you expect another driver to let you in. In fact, a standard practice of KL drivers is to accelerate to prevent other cars from moving into their lane.

At toll gates, go to the lanes marked tunai (cash), unless you have a stored value Touch’nGo card (which is a sensible purchase, before a road trip). Reversing into several lanes of oncoming traffic is no fun.

When filling up with petrol, you have to pay first. This means estimating how much fuel you need beforehand. Petrol is cheap in Malaysia, so even if your fuel tank is nearly empty, filling up is unlikely to cost much more than 50 ringgit.

No guarantee the cars will be as shiny as the sign.

KL is well served by international car hire companies, like Avis and Hertz. It also has some local or regional companies, such as Hawk and Pacific, which can often work out better value. Pacific in particular has some excellent deals for daily (08:00-20:00) and weekend hires. If you want to save time, Rhino searches round for the best deals, and usually gives a competitive quote.

Main Lobby, Crowne Plaza Mutiara, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala lumpur
T: (03) 2144 4487

Lot 2, Ground Floor, Kompleks Antarabangsa, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 6433

Mezzanine Floor, UOA Centre, 19 Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur

8th Floor, The Boulevard Offices, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur.
T: (03) 2287 4118


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One Response to “How to hire and drive a car in Kuala Lumpur – and survive” ...

  1. […] that's too frightening though, here's how to hire a car, or catch a taxi.) Tags: motorcycles, pedestrians, […]

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