Took a 23 hour ferry/bus ride from Koh Samui to Kuala Lumpur. This was an unexpected trip (my Thai visa was about to expire) so I figured this was a good place to visit for two reasons: I knew nothing about Malaysia and it has an exceptional airport (good deals from here too).
I still don't know much about Malaysia, I am sorry I was only able to stay here for three days and that I only visited KL. I will come back someday to see life outside of the big city and see what else the country has to offer. Penang looked amazing driving through it, I just didn't have time to check it out.
This was the first Islamic country that I have ever been to. After being in the rest of SE Asia you get used to the laid back atmosphere, cheap booze and drinking anywhere you want. So when I brought beer into a restaurant (delicious food by the way) it created an awkward situation. I knew that this was a muslim country but I didn't think it would be a problem (the same day I saw people selling porn on the street, girls wearing sexy revealing clothing, etc.) I drank my beer outside on the street but I got a lot of stares so I don't know if it's cool to do so like it is in the rest of SE Asia.
The locals told me that they "like white people" and that Middle Eastern Muslims give them a bad wrap. I read somewhere that this was an unfriendly city but I found the opposite to be true. I never had a taxi driver try to rip me off, for example. You do have to watch out in Chinatown, many of them will try to slip you the wrong size if they don't have your size available (I learned that the hard way).
You can truly have a good time in KL on a shoestring budget (unless your a big drinker). Hooch is relatively expensive here ($2 for a cheap beer at 7-11 and a lot more at the bars). But taxis, street food, accomodation (I heard you can get 5 star for $60) is all very cheap. A taxi starts off at 65 cents and increases by 3 cents per 150 meters (US cents). The city has a very convenient monorail as well, where rides cost between 40 cents and under a dollar (US again). Street food in Chinatown was the cheapest and the best. You can get the famous noodle soup (a must try) for under $2 US. Fruit and fresh fruit juice was also very cheap on the street.
Unless you are going to do a lot of shopping or drinking, I would say that $20-$30 a day is fine for KL. While the city doesn't have many "must see" attractions, it is a great city for street food and culture.
I'll throw in a plug for "Hostel Cosmopolitan." Great place to stay in while you are at KL and it is close to the monorail. They give you free internet and breakfast and have dorms or private rooms. A dorm is about $7 and a private is about $14 and up. It has anything you would want in a hostel (a lot of cute girls stay here as well). The only thing that I didn't like was the "no alcohol" policy (but I understand why it is in place).
Anyway, that was my first impression. I wanted to post this because travelfish will start covering Malaysia soon so I look forward to learning more about a country that I honestly still know nothing about.
I a amused of the 'shit' storm you created in the Thailand Forum .. lol.
Surprise you got out of the restaurant alive bring beer in there ... ha ha .. kidding. You either brought beer into a Muslim restaurant or a restaurant that already serve beer. In any case the general rule is you don't bring food or drink that you did not purchase from that restaurant you are patronizing.
Penang is an island, I am puzzled how you drove 'drove through' on your way to KL.
You were lucky with your taxi ... the rest of your post fairly accurate although Chinatown is not the cheapest but from where you are staying I guess it is a fairly accurate impression.
#2 cschua has been a member since 25/6/2009. Posts: 1
Thanks Matt. I have to say I enjoyed my few days in KL last August. Friendly. modern and inexpensive - and I thought the Tiger 7% alky-content beer from the supermakets was a steal. Only thing I'd caution - watch out for pick-pockets in crowds. Lady Tezza'a daypack was unzipped without us noticing in a scrum to catch the monorail. Nothing to take, luckily.
csh - Penang has a looooong bridge joins it to the mainland at Butterworth plus some very efficient car-ferries same place.
Is this the one that you mentioned?
If so I think the price changed a bit.
I'm finding some information about accommodation at http://www.kl-hotels.com/hotels/price.htm . Price is from 80 ringgit up (1 USD is equal to around 3.6 Ringgit). Same with what my friend, who stayed there for 3 months suggested me. I think that hostel is reasonable to stay if you need a dorm.
I don't know why but all my friends suggested me to stay in or nearby China Town and try to get away from all kind of Islamic stuffs. Anyway, I'll be there next August. Thank you for this review, mattocmd.