The Best Way To Get From LCCT (Or KLIA) To Kuala Lumpur

This is assuming you care about how thick your wallet is when you do get to the city.  If your only concern is speed then your best bet would be to just get the RapidKL train that goes from KLIA to KL Sentral.  I don’t think that train stops by the LCCT, but if you’re flying into the LCCT I doubt you’re going to want to ride that train anyway.  The last time I checked I think the tickets were 35 RM per person, per trip.

So, if you’re looking for the best way to get to Kuala Lumpur without paying excessively high fees, just use the bus.

LCCT

As you’re walking out of the LCCT terminal, just past customs, you’ll see some booths on the left with people selling tickets.  If you go through the sliding glass doors and see the sign for the toilet, you’ve gone too far.

You can get a round trip ticket, good for one month, on the Aerobus for 14 RM.  That’s a damn good deal and the ride isn’t bad at all.  The train gets you to KL Sentral in about 20 minutes.  The bus does it in 50 minutes for a fraction of the cost.

After you buy your tickets, exit through the sliding doors, walk forward until you see the McDonald’s, then make a right and follow the sidewalk down past the Mary Brown and the Coffee Bean (or Mr Bean?  forget which).  You’ll see buses pulled up along the sidewalk.  You need to find berth number 4.

The buses you’re looking for will look like this:

KLIA

There are similar buses going out of KLIA.  It may be the same operator, but I don’t remember for sure.  I’ve only flown into KLIA once, whereas I’ve gone through LCCT twice.  I can’t remember exactly how to get to the buses but there are signs.  The costs are nearly the same as well.  I think the tickets are 9 RM apiece.  I don’t know if there’s a deal for getting a round trip ticket.  Regardless, it’s still cheaper than a train and definitely cheaper than a taxi.

Bus Service Quality

If you’re wondering about the bus quality, they’re in good shape.  Depending on what countries you’ve been in you might be used to seeing beaten up buses.  That’s not the case with the buses shuttling between KLCC / KLIA and KL Sentral.

The buses are clean.  There’s no eating or drinking allowed onboard.  The seats are pretty comfortable and they recline.  It’s a luxury type bus with cushioned seats, rather than a city bus with hard plastic seats.  So, you get to really relax.  There’s no TV or radio in them but they are air conditioned.

KL Sentral

The buses all drop you off on the lower level of KL Sentral.  That’s good because most hotels / hostels / etc. are along the train or monorail routes and you can easily get to the train or monorail from the drop off point.

For the train, you just go up the stairs and into the building.  You can’t miss it.

For the monorail you have to go around the block that’s adjacent to KL Sentral.  Depending on how soon you go (relative to this post) you’ll notice that the area you have to go around is under construction. It’ll be to the right of the bus as it pulls in.  Your best bet is to just follow the crowd.  A lot of people will follow the sidewalk around to where the monorail is as they get off the bus.

Here’s a map to give you an idea:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=KL+Sentral&sll=1.352083,103.819836&sspn=1.022803,1.245575&ie=UTF8&hq=KL+Sentral&hnear=&radius=15000&ll=3.134088,101.686696&spn=0.071946,0.071946&output=embed
View Larger Map

(Zoom in to the see the building and the train, monorail and RapidKL drop off points.)

The bus will drop you off on the road that’s just below the RapidKL marker on this map.

Kuala Lumpur Trip: Day 1

Going to Kuala Lumpur isn’t too big a deal when it comes to the actual travel part.  By the time the plane gets leveled off and the steward or stewardess hands out the immigration cards to fill out, you have about five minutes before the pilot will alert the cabin crew to prepare for landing.  Ya, it’s just that fast.  I think the total flight time is about 35 or 40 minutes.  We actually spend more time getting to the airport in Singapore and getting from KLIA in Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur than we do in the air.  That’s one of the great things about traveling in Asia.  It doesn’t take much time to get to a new place.

This being our second trip to the Kuala Lumpur area, we weren’t as stressed out about how to get from the airport to the city.  On our last visit, we flew Tiger Airways and landed at the budget terminal, so coming in at the regular terminal was a bit confusing.  It was still easy to find the buses that take you to the city.

KLIA’s main terminals are VERY nice looking.  They’re very classy, very modern and I saw a banner that said it had won an award as the best airport in the world for three years running.  That’s quite an accomplishment!  The inside looks like a brand new mall and there’s an Air Train that will transport you between terminals.  The interior actually reminded me of Changi International in Singapore a lot.  Even the name of the train was similar.  In Singapore it’s called the Sky Train.

There are a few different ways you can get to the city from KLIA.  You can take a cab, which is expensive, a high speed train which is also fairly expensive, or you can take the airport bus.  There are also other shuttle buses, Star Buses I think, that will take you to KL Sentral.  KL Sentral is a train station near the heart of the city.  The buses are a good deal.  You only pay 9 or 10 ringgit in comparison to about 35 for the train and they leave the airport every hour on the hour.  I don’t even bother with taxis anymore if I can avoid them.

The bus we took dropped us off at KL Sentral.  From there we crossed the street and got on the monorail.  That was kinda fun.  The only monorail in Singapore is the one that goes from Harbourfront to Sentosa Island and I don’t ride that much.  The ride also gave us the chance to get a good look at the area.  There are plenty of windows.

Finding the guest house we stayed at was a little difficult once we got to Chow Kit station, but there was entertainment along the way.  We were standing at the intersection below the monorail station looking around, when we noticed people dashing through traffic to get across the street.  Apparently, waiting for the pedestrian green light is optional here.  It wasn’t just young healthy folk doing it either.  I saw a man with ONE LEG navigating his way through a busy street full of traffic.  Ya.  That old man may be missing a leg, but his balls are certainly intact!  That’s him in the above picture, with the crutch.  After he made it across the road he stopped to have a smoke.

Once we got settled in at Hostel Cosmopolitan (more on that later), we walked through the Chow Kit Market (look for photos tomorrow!) and then sat down to a meal of Nasi Ayam Goreng.  It’s made a bit different in Kuala Lumpur than it is in Singapore.  I’m not sure which I like more.  Both versions are pretty good.

Later that night, after a shower and a nap, we went out again and found out that there are lots of stalls set up along the street at night.  They carry quite a few different things, from stuffed animals to telescopes but we weren’t really there to shop.

We just wanted to try local food, so we found a vendor selling satay.  It was really good!  The two sauces pictured are a curry sauce with shallots on top and a sweet and spicy peanut sauce, which I preferred.  I like curry, but not on my satay.

We followed that up with some ice cream that an old man was selling from a cart attached to his bicycle.  It was better than I expected, especially with the crushed peanut sprinkled on it.  I think it’s peanut anyway.  The guy called it ‘kachang’ I think.  The ice cream was mostly vanilla but there was a strong hint of durian flavor as well.  I normally can’t even stand the smell of durian, but it was ok mixed with the ice cream.

More tomorrow!

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 10: Heading Home

Before we knew it, our short 3 day trip in Kuala Lumpur was coming to an end.

On the morning of the third day we were there, we got up at 9 am to make sure we wouldn’t be late.  We really had no idea how to get back to the airport.  On the way to Kuala Lumpur, the buses were in an obvious location, right along with the taxis and stuff, but it’s not as much of a “no-brainer” when going back to the airport.

The first thing we had to do though was… eat of course!  Since it was a day for traveling we didn’t want to risk eating something that might mess up our stomachs, so we went to McDonald’s.  My wife had the sausage biscuit again, which seemed fitting.  That’s what she had on the first morning, when we were at the Budget Terminal at Changi International in Singapore, waiting on our flight.

After eating, we went back to the hotel and checked with the lady at the front desk for directions.  We specifically wanted to know how to get on one of those cheap buses again.  Why pay more when you don’t have to?  She told us that the best way to get there would be to go back to the Pasar Seni train station and ride to K.L. Central.  She said there were buses there that would take us back to the airport for 8 ringgit each, which is what we paid the last time heading into the city.

That seemed simple enough, and it didn’t take us long to get to K.L. Central.  The place was bigger than we expected though so we had to stop for directions again.  Unfortunately, the guy behind the counter told us it would be “better for you to take fast train to airport.”  Of course… that’s what we didn’t want to do.  The fast train he was talking about is fast, but it’s also 35 ringgits per person.  I couldn’t see spending that much more just to shave 30 minutes or so off our trip.  We wound up getting the right directions from a guy working at a sales stand.  All we had to do was go downstairs.

When we got downstairs the bus we wanted was right in front of us.  It was yellow, just like the one we had taken from the airport, and just like the one we had taken from the airport it was indeed only 8 ringgit.  It was called Star Shuttle (see the ticket stub on the left, which was from our trip into the city on the 1st).  We double checked with the guy selling tickets to make sure it was going to the airport and then paid and got on board.  We got on the bus at about 11:30 am, and about 20 minutes later the bus pulled off from the curb and got on its way to the airport.  I dozed off for part of the trip again.  My wife was kind enough to let me know I was knocked out and had my mouth hanging open for quite a while.  Oops!

We left Kuala Lumpur early because we weren’t sure of the way back to the airport, so when we did get there, we got there early.  Really early in fact.  We had two hours to kill before we could even check in, so we went to the McDonald’s there and got some coffee.  I tried to log into the free wireless but either it was acting up or my phone was, because I kept getting a “no reply from gateway” error.  Thinking about it now, it had to be my phone if I got the same error in two different places.  Since we couldn’t get the internet to work, we found a bench to sit on.  My wife pulled out a book, and I fell back asleep for about an hour.

When the time came, we checked in, got our boarding passes and then went through the immigration and security checkpoints.  While in line we realized that we hadn’t taken the time to stop for Dunkin Donuts.  There aren’t any Dunkin Donuts stores in Singapore.  I have no idea why, because the donut stores that are in Singapore aren’t very good.  We were both kinda sad about the whole thing, because we love their donuts.  Fortunately for us, there’s a Dunkin Donuts just past the immigration checkpoint.

We had just enough ringgits left for four donuts, so we chowed down!

The rest of our trip home was fairly uneventful.  The gate was a bit crowded and the flight left a bit late, but we were back in Singapore by 5:45 pm.

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 4: Finding Our Hotel

If you remember from the first post, we booked a place at Hotel Chinatown 2, on Jalan Petaling. One of the things that appealed to us about the place is that it’s near the center of town, close to a train station, and there are lots of shops around it, or so we had read.

Our hotel:

And, unfortunately, the airport:

I’ve never seen a city where the airport is as far away as it is in Kuala Lumpur. We were actually worried about the fare from the airport into the city itself. It’s a long way! In fact, the ride from the airport to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur wound up taking longer than the flight from Singapore to the airport there in Malaysia. Weird right?

Before we left, we’d gotten some directions from the hotel’s website and saw a list of what prices we could expect for the various means of transportation. We had a few different options, all of which were about 80 ringgit, meaning none of them were appealing. Luckily, Malaysia has a similar system to the Philippines when it comes to transportation. Private buses. As we wandered down the length of the airport we saw waiting areas with lots of buses pulled up to them. I got excited and we went on ahead to check it out.

Buses like these probably aren’t the safest mode of transportation, but we’ve used them in the Philippines and we didn’t see why we shouldn’t use them in Malaysia as well. The best part of the deal? The cost was 8 ringgits per person. So, 16 ringgits total for my wife and I to get to Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. That’s a lot better than an average of 80 ringgit.

After getting on the bus we worried for a little while that we’d been taken in, and that the bus wasn’t actually going past Jalan Petaling, but the guy seemed pretty sure, and the ticket he gave us looked pretty official. There was even an office address and a phone number. Just to be on the safe side though I asked the guy that sat down across from us if the bus passed by Jalan Petaling. He said it did, so we went ahead and kicked back and got comfortable.

The bus had great air conditioning and the ride was smooth, if a bit long. I think I dozed off for a little while, because I don’t remember some parts of the trip that I saw later on the way back. Thankfully, it went without incident, and after about 50 minutes the bus was making it’s first stop in town, about one block from Jalan Petaling. We actually went right past the entrance to Jalan Petaling, so we were sure we were in the right spot.

After getting off the bus, we walked down the street, over a foot bridge, and onto Jalan Petaling itself. As we made our way through the crowd, looking for our hotel, my wife told me she was shocked. I asked her why. She told me it was because she’d never seen so many white people in one place before. I looked around and it was true. The place was packed with foreigners, most of whom seemed to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed.  Australians perhaps?

After about a block we decided to stop and ask a police officer we saw for directions. His English was a bit rough but he was able to point us in the right direction and we found our way to our hotel.

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 2: Our Flight

Like I said before, we wound up leaving the house late.  We had planned on being out the door by 9 am, but there were so many last minute things to check over, pack, and rearrange.  We had to put away most of the things in the room, into drawers or the closets, and the closets had to be blocked with heavy furniture.  In other words, we had to “cat-proof” the place.  It wouldn’t do to come home and find our place completely decimated due to feline boredom!

We got going at about 10:30 am or so and walked up to the shopping center to try to find something to eat.  The only restaurant that we remembered seeing at the Budget Terminal at Changi Airport is Han’s, and the prices there aren’t exactly… Budget.  Doesn’t make sense right?  To put a very expensive restaurant in the Budget Terminal of an airport?  The people flying through that terminal obviously are trying to maintain a smaller travel budget and can’t afford to spent 3 SGD for a can of soda, or 7 bucks on a packed sandwich!

So, instead, we stopped at the bakery at the shopping center we usually eat at and selected two breads (hotdog w/cheese and sausage/tomato).  We also bought two cans of juice from the discount store a few doors down from the bakery.  With food in hand, we stepped up to the curb and flagged down a taxi.  We had initially planned to use the bus and then the train to get to the airport, since we didn’t have any luggage to worry about, but we were running out of time.

The ride to the airport was fairly short.  My wife was telling me how much she wished she could have McDonald’s for breakfast when we pulled up in front of the Budget Terminal and saw… McDonald’s.  When did that get there?  The last time we flew out of the Budget Terminal was 3 months ago, when we went to the Philippines.  We remembered that part of the building being under construction, but who would have guessed they’d be doing something smart and putting a budget restaurant in a Budget Terminal?  There was also a small cafe called Hani’s.  I wonder if that’s different from Han’s?  We didn’t stop to look at it.  My wife was really disappointed, because she wanted a sausage biscuit.  I told her to go get one, and I would eat the breads we had bought.  She liked that idea.  (She hates the idea of wasting food, so was planning on eating the bun she had picked from the bakery.)

With that decided, we jumped into the line to check-in.  We didn’t want to miss our flight, and the last time we’d flown out of that terminal, we waited in line for about an hour.  This time it was better.  We only had to stand around for about 20 minutes.  My wife went ahead and got her sausage biscuit while I held our spot in line, and immediately after check-in we sat down to eat.  I had a medium coffee and the breads from the bakery, and she had her McDonald’s breakfast.

After finishing up our meal we leisurely walked outside to enjoy a cigarette before our flight.  Well, it was leisurely until I glanced down at my watch and realized it was 11:30 am.  Where had the time gone!?  We dropped our cigarettes and rushed back inside.  We were lucky.  There was a very short line at customs, and no line to speak of at the security check.  While going through the security check, we heard the last call for boarding for our flight.  So, we rushed through the small shopping area between security and the departure gates and down the hall.  As we got closer to our assigned gate, we saw a large crowd of people strolling in at a steady pace, so we slowed down too.  There were quite a few people still going through the door to get on the plane, and they certainly weren’t going to slam the door in anyone’s face.  Ten minutes later we were on the plane.

The actual flight was really short.  The itinerary said we could expect to be in the air for 55 minutes, but by the time the plane leveled off and I got started on the immigration and customs forms, the descent had already started.  I think the total time the plane was in the air was about 30 minutes.  When we touched down at Kuala Lumpur Airport we had to wait on the runway for a while.  I think the plane arrived early, because there weren’t any available parking spots!  It wasn’t long though before it pulled in to a parking area and we were deboarding.  Less than an hour after stepping onto the plane in Singapore, we were in Malaysia.  I still love that about Asia.  Everything is so close together and convenient for traveling to!

Kuala Lumpur Airport itself is a lot nicer than what I was expecting.  It wasn’t fancy by any means.  I got the impression that the terminals used to be warehouses that had been later linked together as the airport grew.  It was clean though, and there were a few shops here and there.  Also, the place was packed.  There were a lot of locals around and there were even more tourists.  We kept a firm grip on our bags and gave everyone around us a careful looking-over before they got too close.  No sense in getting robbed at the airport after all, and Malaysia is supposed to be dangerous.  Johor Bahru certainly seemed dangerous when we went there last November!

[Update: I was informed that the terminal we landed at was KL’s version of a budget terminal.  The bigger international terminal is, according to a friend, very very nice.]

The first thing we did after getting off the plane was to rush to the bathrooms, which are along the left wall in the above image.  The flight was so short that there was never much of an opportunity to get up, and the coffee and juice we had at Changi’s Budget Terminal were starting to work on us.

After that, we stepped outside and had a smoke before figuring out how to get to our hotel from the airport.