Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur is served by three airports: KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), the main hub for international and domestic flights on full-service airlines; KLIA2 (which replaces the loathed LCCT) 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.