Getting there and away
Kuala Lumpur is served by three airports: KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), the main hub for international and domestic flights on full-service airlines; LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal), the main hub for international and domestic flights on budget airlines, principally Air Asia; and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, most commonly known as Subang, which handles a small number of domestic and short haul international flights.
KLIA is one of the busiest airports in the world, handling more than 34 million domestic and international passengers in 2010. More than 50 airlines use the facility, the main ones being:
(City) Level 7, OSK Plaza, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Lot S29 & 30, 4th F1, MTB Mezzanine Level, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (03) 2166 1999T (city): (03) 8787 1890 (airport)
14th Floor, Bangunan Angakasa Raya , 123 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2142 0166 (general); (03) 2592 5152 (bookings)
Suite 1, Level 22, Menara IMC, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2035 2777 (reservations); (03) 2035 2788 (general); (03) 8787 2808 (airport)
Lot 3.1, Level 9, Pavilion,168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 6207 4999
Ground Floor, Menara Park, Megan Avenue II, Block D, No 12 Jalan Yap Kwan Sen, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2162 2811
Suite 1, 18th Floor, Central Plaza, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2141 2676 (call centre); (03) 8776 4775 (information)
Lot N14-16, 4th Floor, Mezzanine Level, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (1800) 81 3366
(City) Unit 6, 1st floor Park Royal Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Lot S37, Level 4, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (03) 2711 2300 (general); (03) 7712 4555 (sales/service); T: (03) 8776 6253 (airport)
5th Floor, Menara Hap Seng (MUI Plaza), 1-3 Jalan P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2030 0200
(City) 18th Floor, Kenanga International, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) S43, Level 4, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (03) 2052 3428 (general); (03) 2052 3428 (reservations)
(City) Level 1, Departure Hall, KL City Air Terminal, KL Sentral Station, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Level 3 (Arrival Level), Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
(03) 7843 3000 (call centre); (03) 2272 4248 (ticketing)
Ground Floor, Central Plaza, 34 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2118 6100 (reservations); (03) 8776 6250 (airport)
10th Floor, Menara Multi-Purpose, Capital Square, 8 Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2698 7033 (general); (03) 2692 3122 (reservations and ticketing)
Sri Lankan Airlines
Lot 2, 1st Floor, Kompleks Antarabangsa, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2143 3353 (reservations)
(City) Lot 2, 1st Floor, Kompleks Antarabangsa, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Room 6, Central Zone, Mezzanine Level, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (03) 2143 3353 (reservations); (603) 2034 6900 (ticketing); (03) 8787 3522 (airport)
(City) Lot 5, Level 5, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Lot S5, Level 4, Main Terminal Building, KLIA, Selangor
T: (03) 2031 1666 (general); (03) 2031 1555 (reservations and ticketing); (03) 8776 4620 (airport)
Getting to and from KLIA
In a triumph of politics over convenience, KLIA is located more than 70km from central KL. By far the quickest way to get to the airport, is by the KLIA Ekspres, which takes just under half an hour to reach KL Sentral. The first trains in each direction leave at 05:00, and run every 15 minutes during peak hours (Mon-Fri 06:00-09:00, 16:00-22:00), and every 20 minutes at other times. The last train from KLIA leaves at 01:00, and from KL Sentral at 00:30. It costs 35 ringgit per person, so unless you are travelling solo, it ends up costing at least as much as a budget taxi (see below).
The same company also operates the KLIA Transit, which stops at three stations between KL Sentral and KLIA: Bandar Tasik Selatan (next to the TBS bus station), Putrajaya and Salak Tinggi. The first train leaves KLIA at 05:52, and runs every half an hour until 23:57, with a final train at 01:03. From KL Sentral, it runs every half an hour from 04:33 to 00:03.
The full journey between KL Sentral to KLIA costs 35 ringgit, exactly the same at the KLIA Ekspres. But fares between intermediate stations are much more reasonable, for example it costs 12.50 ringgit go from KL Sentral to Salak Tinggi, and 3.20 ringgit from Salak Tinggi to KLIA. So you can break your journey at Salak Tinggi, and pay only 15.70 ringgit, rather than 35 ringgit, to travel between KLIA and KL Sentral.
KLIA Ekspres (and KLIA Transit)
T: (03) 2267 8000
KLIA clearly wants tourists to take the most expensive option, the KLIA Ekspres, but buses offer a much cheaper alternative. Airport Coach runs an hourly service between KLIA and KL Sentral, which takes about an hour, depending on traffic. The first bus leaves KLIA at 05:00, then goes on the half hour, from 06:30 until 00:30, with a final bus at 02:00. In the other direction, the first bus leaves at 05:00, and runs hourly until 23:00, with final buses at 00:30 and 03:30. Tickets cost 10 ringgit one way and 18 ringgit return. It has also introduced a new service, to and from hotels in central KL, which has to be booked in advance (25 ringgit).
Star Shuttle also runs an airport to hotel service, costing 18 ringgit from KLIA, and 20 ringgit from city hotels. Contact Star Shuttle for more information.
Another useful service Star Shuttle run links KLIA and Ipoh (09:00, 10:30, 12:15, 14:30, 16:30, 18:30, 21:30, 23:30, 02:30 from KLIA; 01:00, 02:30, 04:30, 07:30, 09:30, 13:30, 17:00, 21:00, 23:30 from Ipoh; 3.5-4 hours; 42 ringgit one way, 75 ringgit return).
Transnasional operates a particularly useful service between KLIA and Melaka. It sets off from KLIA at 09:15, 11:45, 14:15, 16:15, 21:15; with departures from Melaka at 00:15, 05:00, 08:00, 12:30, and 14:30. Tickets cost 21.90 ringgit, and the journey takes 90 to 105 minutes. As both KLIA and Melaka lie considerably to the south of KL, this service is potentially a big time, money and hassle saver. This is the same service that links Melaka with LCCT, so make sure you get off at the right airport.
Airport Liner (which is run by Airport Coach), operates a regular service between KLIA and LCCT, from 05:00 to 00:30. Buses leave every 20 minutes, and the journey takes about 25 minutes. It costs 2.50 ringgit. All services leave from the bus terminal, on the ground floor of block C, of the short term car park.
Airport Coach and Airport Liner
T: (03) 8787 3894
T: (03) 4043 8811
T: (1300) 88 8582
Taxis might be a wild extravagance at many airports around the world, but from KLIA they are fairly decent value, so long as you use a budget taxi. A journey into central KL should cost 70 to 75 ringgit. A surcharge of 50% is in effect between midnight and 06:00. For roughly 100 ringgit you can get a premier cab into town, while the luxury and family (eight-seat van) services cost about 200 ringgit.
All taxis at KLIA are run by Airport Limo and can be booked online or over the phone. Make sure you use one of the official taxi coupon counters, and insist on the service you want, as some tourists have reportedly been strong-armed into taking a more expensive option. In the other direction, all taxis are allowed to drop off at the airport, with 70 ringgit the most commonly quoted fare, with a 50% surcharge between midnight and 06:00.
T: (1300) 88 8989
LCCT started life out as a deliberately crappy facility for budget operator AirAsia, in a futile attempt to shield national carrier Malaysian Air from competition. But as AirAsia has gone from strength to strength, so has its main hub. It now handles hundreds of domestic, regional and long haul flights every day. Although officially the low cost terminal of KLIA, it is to all intents and purposes a major airport in its own right. At present only three airlines use LCCT:
(City) Unit 11, Level 1, KL Sentral Station, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Southern Support Zone, LCCT, Jalan KLIA S3, Selangor
T: (03) 2171 9333 (automated); 600 85 9999 (premium, charged at 1.95 ringgit/hour)
T: (03) 7849 4608
Getting to and from LCCT
LCCT is located more than 70km from central KL. And despite being a supposed terminal of KLIA, about 20km separate the two by road – it's almost as though the authorities wanted to make it as difficult as possible to get to. If that was the intention, then it failed, which is good news for LCCT's growing number of passengers. The budget airport is extremely well served by buses, both to central Kuala Lumpur, and further afield, and can now be accessed easily by train too.
LCCT has no direct rail link with central KL, or anywhere else in Malaysia for that matter. But it does now have a new shuttle bus link to the nearest stop on the KLIA Transit, Salak Tinggi. The shuttles are timed to coincide with the next departure to KL Sentral, with some wiggle room for traffic. The first one leaves LCCT at 07:25, and runs every half hour until 23:25, with a final departure at 00:35. In the other direction, the first train leaves KL Sentral at 04:33, and runs every half hour until 00:03. Full schedule.
The journey takes about an hour. Tickets cost 12.50 ringgit one way, and 22 ringgit return, and can be bought from a special counter at LCCT, as well as at KLIA Transit stations. For anyone wanting to spend as little time as possible in KL, the second to last stop, at Bandar Tasik Selatan, is very useful, as it is next door to TBS bus terminal, and linked by the LRT to Puduraya (Plaza Rakyat station) and Putra (PWTC station) bus terminals. Tickets cost 10.80 one way.
T: (03) 2267 8000
Two main companies run regular shuttles between LCCT and KL Sentral: Skybus, and Aerobus. Both services take about an hour, depending on traffic. The Skybus service starts from LCCT at 07:00, with another departure at 08:00, and then every half hour from 09:15 until 03:15. In the other direction, services run every half hour, from 03:30 until 22:00. Tickets cost 9 ringgit one way, which is discounted to 6.50 if bought with an AirAsia booking. Aerobus runs buses from LCCT every half hour from 04:30 to 01:30. In the other direction, it's every half from 03:15 until 21:45, followed by a final bus at 22:30. Tickets cost 8 ringgit one way, and 14 ringgit return.
Skybus has also starting running services between LCCT and One Utama shopping centre. If you happen to be staying nearby, it is a real timesaver, but for most tourists it's far more convenient to use the KL Sentral service. The buses leave LCCT at 07:00, 09:00, 10:15, 12:00, 13:00, 14:45, 16:00 and 18:30; and One Utama at 04:45, 07:00, 09:00, 10:15, 11:30, 13:15, 14:15 and 16:30, and take about 70 minutes. The fare is 15 ringgit one way.
Star Shuttle runs a useful service between LCCT and Puduraya bus station. Services leave LCCT every 30 to 45 minutes between 06:00 and 02:00; with the same frequency in the opposite direction, from 04:15 to 22:30. Tickets cost 10 ringgit from LCCT, and 12 ringgit from Puduraya. The journey takes about 75 minutes. Star Shuttle also runs an airport to hotel service, for 18 ringgit from KLIA, and 20 ringgit from city hotels.
Further afield, Star Shuttle runs a useful service to between LCCT and Ipoh (08:30, 10:00, 11:45, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, 21:00, 23:00, 02:00 from LCCT; 01:00, 02:30, 04:30, 07:30, 09:30, 13:30, 17:00, 21:00, 23:30 from Ipoh; 3.5-4 hours; 42 ringgit one way, 75 ringgit return). Contact the company for more information about all three services.
Transnasional operates a particularly useful link between LCCT and Melaka. It sets off from LCCT at 09:00, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 21:00; with departures from Melaka at 00:15, 05:00, 08:00, 12:30, and 14:30. Tickets cost 21:90 ringgit. The journey takes between 90 and 105 minutes. As both LCCT and Melaka lie considerably to the south of KL, this service is potentially a huge time, money and hassle saver. This is the same service linking Melaka with KLIA, so make sure you get off at the right airport.
Several buses a day also operate between LCCT and the Genting resort and entertainment complex. This is great news for people who want to have a quick and easy link between the two places as it avoids going through central KL. Aerobus runs buses from LCCT at 09:00, 11:00, 13:15, 15:15, 17:15 and 20:30; and from Genting at 08:00, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30 and 20:00. The journey takes two hours 30 minutes, and costs 31.50 ringgit one way.
Airport Liner, operates a regular service between LCCT and KLIA, from 05:00 to 00:30. Buses leave every 20 minutes, and the journey takes about 25 minutes. It costs 2.50 ringgit.
It is important to remember with all bus services out of LCCT that the situation is in a constant state of flux. Timetables change with alarming regularity. New services start; others cease with almost no notice. So please double check with the relevant companies, by phone or email.
T: (016) 217 6950
T: (03) 6189 2711; (010) 292 3888 (24 hours)
T: (03) 4043 8811
T: (1300) 88 8582
Airport Coach (which runs Airport Liner)
T: (03) 8787 3894
Because LCCT is now so well linked by buses to central KL and beyond, at no time of day or night is it essential to get a taxi. But if you are travelling in a group, it is still a reasonably affordable option. A cab into central KL should cost 75 ringgit. A surcharge of 50% is in effect between midnight and 06:00. For roughly 100 ringgit you can get a premier cab into town, while the luxury and family (eight-seat van) services cost about 200 ringgit.
Make sure you use one of the official counters, and insist on the service you want, as some tourists have reported being strong-armed into taking a more expensive option. In the other direction, all taxis are allowed to drop off at the airport, with 70 ringgit the most commonly quoted fare. The LCCT Limo Taxi Booking Centre, can reserve cabs (including budget) both to and from the airport.
LCCT Limo Taxi Booking Centre
T: (013) 366 3559; (017) 311 6118
Subang (Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah) Airport
Choosing to place KL's two main airports more than 70 kilometres from the the city centre was obviously not the brightest move in the world. But then only allowing two airlines to fly from a third airport, which is much closer to the city centre, is sheer stupidity.
For the time being, Subang or Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, which can be reached in less than half an hour from central KL, only operates flights from Berjaya Air and Firefly. The commercial passenger terminal at Subang is now known as SkyPark, after a major refurbishment. Subang is to all intents and purposes a shopping centre, with a few flight services attached.
(City) 85-96, 8th Floor, Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Ground Floor, SkyPark, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang, Selangor
T: (03) 2116 9999; (03) 7845 8382
(City) Level 1, Departure Hall, KL City Air Terminal, KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur
(Airport) Ground Floor, SkyPark, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang, Selangor
T: (03) 7845 4543 (call centre); (03) 7846 3622 (airport)
Getting to and from Subang
No designated bus or train services link the airport to the city centre, but a couple of town buses pass by the main road outside: Rapid KL number U81, from Pasar Seni to Subang Suria; and Metrobus number 9 from Pasar Seni to Mah Sing. Both buses also stop near KL Sentral. The fare should be less than 3 ringgit. For buses into town, go across the bridge over the highway, and turn right. It's a couple of hundred metres to the bus stop.
T: (03) 7885 2585
Metered taxis to the airport should not cost more than 25 ringgit from central KL, assuming you can get the driver to go on the meter. A marginally cheaper option is to get the LRT to Kelana Jaya, and get a taxi from there. A budget taxi from the airport is about 40 ringgit, which is rather steep. Oddly enough, the premier taxis are better value, because you only pay a 2 ringgit fee at the coupon counter, and the taxi goes on the meter. Getting a cab to Kelana Jaya LRT would work out cheaper, but if money is crucial, getting the bus works out to be much less expensive.
Unfortunately, taxis provide the only direct link between Subang and KL's two main airports. At about 65-70 ringgit the fare is less of a rip-off than the trip into town, but if it's still too rich for your blood, the only real alternative is to go by bus to KL Sentral, and take one of the many services from there to LCCT and KLIA. Leave at least two hours for this journey.
Malaysia's railway system has been woefully neglected for decades, but somehow it keeps pottering on, providing some sort of alternative to road and air travel. If you are looking for speed or efficiency, it's best to opt for other forms of transport, apart from the new ETS service to Ipoh. But, if you have time to spare, it's really not a bad way to travel long-distance. Taking a sleeper train offers a much more comfortable way to travel than an overnight bus.
Going north, five trains (05:30, 09:25, 12:55, 18:05 and 21:45) head to Ipoh (3 hours; 12-18 ringgit, seat); three trains a day (08:05, 14:54 and 22:00) go to Butterworth (7-9 hours; 17-67 ringgit, seat; 43-85 ringgit, sleeper); while one train a day (21:15) heads to Hat Yai in southern Thailand (14 hours; 52-57 ringgit, sleeper). The Butterworth and Hat Yai trains all stop at Ipoh.
Going south, three trains a day (09:00, 14:00 and 23:00) head to Johor Bahru (6-7 hours, 33-64 ringgit, seat), and then Singapore (7-8 hours; 34-68 ringgit, seat; 43-86 ringgit, sleeper).
If you are planning to come back by rail from Singapore, it is much cheaper to buy a return ticket in Malaysia. All three southbound trains stop at Gemas (3 hours; 20-35 ringgit, seat), the interchange for the East Coast line, which goes all the way up to the far northeast.
Tickets can be booked 30 days in advance in person at KL Sentral. An online system does exist, but fails to work more often than not. For further information about timetables and fares contact KTMB.
Apart from the regular intercity service, KTMB also runs a new electric line, the ETS Express, which links KL Sentral with Ipoh to the north, and Seremban to the south. The journey to Ipoh takes 2 to 2.5 hours, and costs 25 to 45 ringgit, depending on the number of stops. In terms of comfort, speed and efficiency, it leaves the rest of the Malaysian rail network trailing far behind.
Level 2, KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur
T: (1300) 88 5862 (Malaysia); (03) 2267 1200 (overseas)
Electric Train Service (ETS) Express
Level 2, KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur
T: (1300) 88 5862 (Malaysia); (03) 2272 3392 (overseas)
For Malaysians and travellers alike, long-distance buses offer the most convenient, affordable and efficient way to get to and from KL. In what must be one of the least integrated systems in the world, Malaysia has dozens of competing express bus companies. The quality, reliability and safety standards vary greatly between them, although pricing is fairly similar.
It pays to choose one of the bigger firms, which between them offer almost all the services you might need. Transnasional, which also runs Plusliner, is the best first port of call for any journey. Other recommended companies include: Konsortium Bas Ekspres, Maraliner, Etika Express and Sani Express.
In the absence of any centralised information on bus services, it's fallen to unofficial blogs and websites such as the Malaysia Public Transport Directory to provide information for travellers. Inevitably some of the details are out of date, so always double check with individual companies. Buying tickets a couple of days in advance is a good idea, either directly from bus stations, or online.
KL has a confusing array of bus stations, but for for long-distance express travel all but the most obscure destinations are served by three main stations: Hentian Puduraya, Hentian Putra and TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan). Although grey areas exist, for the most part Puduraya handles northern destinations, Putra offers services to the northeast, and TBS is the station for southern and eastern destinations.
T: (1300) 88 8582
T: (1300) 88 8582
Konsortium Bas Ekspres
T: (1300) 88 842538
(03) 2697 9797
T: (03) 2026 4489
T: (03) 3344 4416
Jalan Pudu, near junction with Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur
KL's most central long-distance terminal re-opened in April 2011 after a year-long revamp. Puduraya is much more pleasant for travellers now, although its lack of a centralised ticketing system means dozens of competing companies vie for your custom. It does now have direct pedestrian access to the LRT system (Plaza Rakyat), which makes it much more convenient to get to and from. But if you are staying in Chinatown or Bukit Bintang, getting a taxi or walking are the only real options.
Here are some of the main services it offers:
Alor Setar: 09:00, 10:00, 12:00, 13:30, 17:30, 18:30, 21:00, 21:30, 22:30, 23:00, 23:30, 23:45, 23:59 (5-6 hours; 35-44 ringgit)
Butterworth: 08:00, 08:15, 09:00, 09:15, 09:30, 10:00, 10:15, 10:45, 11:00, 13:00, 13:45, 15:00, 15:30, 16:30, 17:15, 17:30, 17:45, 18:00, 19:00, 19:45, 20:30, 21:00, 21:15, 22:30, 22:45, 23:00, 23:15, 23:30, 23:59 (4-4.5 hours: 28-33 ringgit)
Cameron Highlands (Tanah Rata): 08:00, 08:30, 09:00, 10.30, 13:00, 14:30, 16:30 (4-5 hours; 29-39 ringgit)
Hat Yai (Thailand): 09:00, 09:30, 22:00, 22:30, 23:00 (10-12 hours, 45-65 ringgit)
Ipoh: 00:05, 02:00, 07:30, 08:30, 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30, 22:30, 23:30 (2.5 hours; 17-18 ringgit)
Kuala Perlis (for Pulau Langkawi): 08:00, 09:00, 09:15, 10:00, 12:45, 16:00, 21:15, 21:30, 22:30, 23:00, 23:30 (6-8 hours; 39-43 ringgit)
Kuantan (connection to Cherating): 01:00, 08:00, 08:30, 10:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:00, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30, 22:30, 23:59 (3 hours; 22 ringgit)
Kuala Kangsar: 09:00, 11:15, 11:30, 13:30, 16:30, 18:00, 21:00 (3 hours; 20-22 ringgit)
Lumut (for Pulau Langkor): 08:30, 09:15, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 13:45, 15:30, 16:30, 17:00, 18:30, 20:30, 23:59 (3.5 hours; 24-26 ringgit)
Penang: 08:30, 09:00, 10:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:00, 17:00, 17:30, 19:00, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30, 22:30, 23:00, 23:59 (4.5-5 hours; 32-35 ringgit)
Taiping: 08:30, 08:30, 11:30,13:30, 16:30, 18:30, 18:30, 21:30 (4 hours; 24.60 ringgit)
Jalan Putra, near PWTC, Kuala Lumpur
Putra is the smallest and by far the most rundown of the three main bus terminals. It is also the most inconveniently located, being a good 10-minute walk from the nearest LRT station (PWTC). Unfortunately, it handles several destinations which are of particular interest to travellers, such as Kuala Besut, the ferry port to the Perhentians, so using it may be unavoidable.
For the larger companies, with centralised ticketing systems, it is possible to buy tickets for buses leaving from Putra from more convenient terminals.
Gua Musang: 09:30, 15:00, 23:00 (3 hours; 26 ringgit)
Kota Bharu: 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 10:15, 10:30, 14:30, 21:00, 21:30, 22:00, 22:30, 23:00 (7.5 hours; 40-44 ringgit)
Kuala Besut (for Pulau Perhentian and Redang): 09:30, 20:00, 21:00, 21:30, 22:00 (40-42 ringgit; 7-9 hours)
Kuala Terengganu: 09:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 21:00, 22:00, 22:30, 23:00 (7-8 hours; 38-40 ringgit)
TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan)
Jalan Terminal Selatan, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur . T: (03) 9057 5804 http://www.tbsbts.com.my
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan is Malaysia's first "integrated transport terminal", and hopefully a sign of things to come. It is extremely well connected by public transport, being right next to the Bandar Tasik Selatan stops of the LRT, KTM Komuter and KLIA Transit systems.
As for the terminal itself, TBS boasts several unique features for a Malaysian bus station, including a centralised ticketing system, helpful information staff, large departure and arrival screens, and a zero tolerance policy towards touts.
The only real disappointment is that several companies are continuing to sell its own tickets, including Transnasional. If enough passengers use the centralised system then perhaps in time this foolish boycott will cease.
Here are the principal departures from TBS:
Gemas (for the East Coast train line): 08:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 19:00, 21:00 (2 hours; 14.50 ringgit)
Johor Bahru: 01:00, 07:30, 08:30, 08:45, 08:50, 09:00, 09:30, 09:50, 09:40, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 13:50, 14:00, 14:15, 14:50, 15:00, 15:50, 16:00, 16:30, 16:50, 17:00, 17:30, 17:50, 18:00, 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 20:45, 21:00, 22:00, 22:20, 22:30, 23:00, 23:30, 23:59 (4-5 hours; 28-32 ringgit)
Kluang: 09:00, 11:00, 14:00, 18:00, 19:30 (4 hours; 25 ringgit)
Melaka: 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 21:00, 22:00 (2 hours; 12.30 ringgit)
Mersing (for Pulau Tioman): 09:00, 11:00, 12:30, 17:00, 18:00, 23:30 (5-6 hours; 29.80 ringgit)
Singapore: 07:50, 08:45, 08:50, 11:00, 13:30, 13:50, 15:50, 16:20, 16:50, 17:30, 17:50, 21:20, 22:30, 23:30, 23:59 (5-6 hours; 35-46 ringgit)
Several companies offer a premium or luxury service, which often includes larger seats, free snacks, entertainment, and fewer stops. In practice, many charge a premium price for a service that is not that different from the best normal express buses. Overall though, they see their main competition as being budget airlines rather than other buses, and certainly on the principal route between KL and Singapore they offer a good alternative to flying.
The main companies are: Aeroline, which offers services to Singapore and Penang; Compass, which runs a convenient service from from Berjaya Times Square, in Bukit Bintang, to two locations in Singapore; First Coach, which runs easily the best value service to Singapore, from three locations in KL, so you need to book early; and Nice, which runs a pricey but comprehensive service to several destinations, including Singapore and Kota Bharu, from the KTM terminal (at the old KL Railway Station).
Corus Hotel, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 6258 8800
Lot 5B, Ground Floor, Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 7131
(Bangsar) 48 Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2287 3311
Nice Executive Coaches
T: (1300) 888 582
Three different light rail networks operate in KL: the Light Rail Transit (LRT), a two-line metro system, the single line Monorail, and the two-line KTM Komuter network. The main thing to remember with these networks is that they were built by different companies, without any overall planning and coordination. Whole swathes of the city have been neglected by the three lines, while some lucky places are served by all three. Add in a lack of easy interchanges, no through ticketing between networks, or even between the two lines of the LRT, and you can see why fewer than one in five journeys in KL is made on public transport.
The LRT and Monorail are now run by the same company, RapidKL, which is gradually bringing some kind of integration to the system and you can see a map of the networks here.
So long as the LRT links the place you are with the place you want to be, it is an affordable, comfortable and efficient way to get around. The Kelana Jaya line is probably the most useful service, stopping at several key stations, including KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, Masjid Jamek, and KLCC. The Ampang line is less useful for sightseeing, but does have stops near the city's three main bus stations: Puduraya (Plaza Rakyat), Putra (PWTC) and TBS (Bandar Tasik Selatan). The only convenient interchange between the two lines is at Masjid Jamek. Single tickets cost from 70 sen to 2.80 ringgit.
RapidKL also operates the Monorail, which offers a small but useful service. It is the only light rail that passes through Bukit Bintang, and provides a quick and easy link to Brickfields (KL Sentral and Tun Sambanthan), Chinatown (Maharajalela) and Bukit Bintang (Imbi, Bukit Bintang and Raja Chulan). The Monorail's biggest failing is the location of its KL Sentral terminus, 500m away from the main station. Single fares are 1.20 to 2.50 ringgit.
Stored-value cards, such as Touch 'n Go, can be used on both the Monorail and LRT networks. They can be purchased from automatic machines at most stations. A one-month ticket offering unlimited use of all RapidKL rail and bus services is available for 150 ringgit, but is not much use for short-stay visitors.
Of the three rail systems, the KTM Komuter network is probably of the least use within the city centre. But for day trips out of KL, it can provide the most convenient link. One line runs from Batu Caves to Port Klang, the other from Tanjung Malim to Sungai Gadut. The two lines interchange at KL Sentral and Kuala Lumpur (the city's former main station). Tickets, which cost 1 to 7 ringgit for journeys from KL, can be bought from automatic machines or ticket counters. Touch 'n Go cards can also be used on the KTM Komuter, but make sure you touch in and out, otherwise a penalty will be charged.
T: (03) 7885 2585
T: (1300) 88 5862
While intercity buses are probably the most useful and efficient way to get around Malaysia, for journeys within KL the opposite is true. Part of the problem is the lack of information. Most bus stops in KL do not even list the services that stop there, much less a route map. As far as Travelfish.org is aware, not a single bus map exists for KL. And even assuming you find the perfect bus to take you from where you are to where you want to go, you better prepare for a long wait, particularly during rush hour. Once on the bus, expect it to take the most convoluted route possible, and to become hotter and more uncomfortable, as more and more passengers pile on.
The only city buses even worth considering taking are run by RapidKL. Although its website has no overall route map, it does at least list the individual stops for all its services. In general though, you still need to know what bus you want before you can get any information about its route, which is not exactly user friendly. Here are a few useful routes: B103 links Bukit Bintang with KLCC; both U22 and U26 link Pasar Seni with KLCC; U81 links Pasar Seni (and KL Sentral) with Subang airport; U87 links Pasar Seni with Bangsar Village; while T634 from Bangsar LRT passes close to Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Centre.
Tickets prices are 1 to 3 ringgit. Exact change used to be necessary, but it is now possible to use Touch 'n Go cards. It is also possible to buy a stored value card especially for RapidKL buses, but it's less useful than Touch 'n Go. Whichever card you use, remember to touch in and out, otherwise the maximum fare will be charged.
T: (03) 7885 2585
KL taxi drivers have a very bad reputation, which was until recently richly deserved. But thanks to concerted government action, drivers are now much less likely to cheat tourists. Rogue drivers still exist, but they are much less common now. KL has two main types of cab: budget or economy, which are normally red, yellow or green; and premier/executive cabs, which are normally blue. A more in depth look at how to avoid being cheated by rogue taxi drivers in KL
The flag-fall for budget cabs is 3 ringgit. After the first kilometre, the meter goes up by 10 sen every 115m. Extra charges are levied for waiting time in jams. A 2 ringgit fee is charged for taxis booked over the phone. So long as drivers use their meters, which they are obliged to do by law, whatever they may claim, economy taxis provide an affordable and reasonably quick way to get round central KL.
Premier/executive cabs offer a step up in comfort, and as a bonus, almost never refuse to use their meters. The flag-fall starts at 4-6 ringgit, which covers the first 2km, after which the meter rises by at least 20 sen every 200m. Waiting time in a premier taxi is more expensive than in an economy one, so try to avoid getting on during rush hour. With any metered cab, highway tolls are paid by the passenger.
Reliable firms include:
T: (03) 6259 2020
T: (03) 9057 5757, (03) 9057 1111 (budget); (03) 9058 1166 (premier)
T: (03) 9222 2828
T: (03) 2692 2525
Driving your own car round KL is not recommended. KL drivers are among the worst in the world, roads are badly signposted and congestion is getting worse the whole time. A combination of trains and taxis provide a much less stressful way to get round town. But for trips out of KL, particularly if you are in a group, hiring a car can make a lot of sense.
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.
More tips on how to stay safe on KL's roads are available here.
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
Kuala Lumpur ranks as one of the least pedestrian-friendly cities in the world, in large part because many Malaysians would never walk anywhere if they had the choice. The older bits of town do have footpaths, but these are often blocked by parked cars, motorbikes, restaurant seating and hawker stalls. Any road crossing is a potentially dangerous affair, because the vast majority of KL motorists would not think of slowing down for pedestrians. A disturbing number even speed up. Only cross at junctions with traffic lights, and make sure everyone has stopped before you step onto the road. Ignoring red lights is another popular sport.
The biggest problem of all though is the weather. KL is hot and steamy all year round. By midday, temperatures are normally pushing 35 degrees. The only relief comes from regular bursts of torrential rain. So unless you walk in the early morning or late at night, it's a choice between serious heat, or heavy rain. Shopping centres offer partial relief from both heat and rain. Short bursts of walking, with regular breaks, is the best tactic. Remember to drink plenty of water too.
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