Kuala Lumpur · City Guide
First visit to Kuala Lumpur? Then our Kuala Lumpur city guide is for you.
Coronavirus Update: Please note that some venues may be closed in line with local government advice. Please check the venue's own website for the latest opening hours and information before making your journey. Stay safe and follow the local authority's guidance in order to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia. It has an area of 243 km² and a population of around 6.5 million.
Recognized as a ‘global city’ and a large cultural melting pot, Kuala Lumpur has many major shopping malls, cheap 5-star hotels, night markets and restaurant choices.
There are 11 districts including Bukit Bintang which lies in the centre. Bukit Bintang is the city’s shopping and entertainment district which covers Jalan Bukit Bintang and surrounding areas. The other main areas are:
- Old Town – the traditional core of KL which includes Chinatown.
- Golden Triangle – the Central Business District (CBD) located to the northeast of Old Town; home to many 5-star hotels and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
- Tuanku Abdul Rahman / Chow Kit – the lively shopping district, just north of Chinatown.
- Brickfields – located south of city centre, home of KL’s main railway station ‘KL Sentral’ and ‘Little India’.
- Bangsar – a popular restaurant and clubbing district.
- Midvalley – home of MegaMall, one of KL’s most popular shopping centres.
Gay rights in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia is a country who’s legislation and government is greatly influenced by the dominant faith- Islam. As such, LGBT+ individuals in KL face challenges and persecution not experienced by heterosexual and cisgender people. Same-sex sexual activity is strictly banned in the country and those who engage can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, vigilante and gang executions and torture of LGBT+ people is also widely tolerated by the police.
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Malaysia, there are no anti-discrimination laws and LGBT+ people are banned from serving openly in the military. Public attitudes towards gay people are still negative and there is little movement towards increased equality.
Gay Scene in Kuala Lumpur
There has been an increasing number of gay venues in KL as a result of the city’s internationalisation. The scene is discreet, and venues change quite often because homosexuality is still illegal.
BluBoy Discotheque is the longest-running gay bar in KL and is a popular spot amongst LGBT+ locals and travelers. This centrally located club is open throughout the week and hosts great cabaret shows on the weekends. As one of the city’s premier venues, the club can get fairly busy as the night goes on.
In addition to a handful of gay businesses, there are some ‘straight’ Bars & Clubs that host ‘gay-friendly nights’. These venues would not identify themselves as being ‘gay’ but offer nights (usually Friday or Saturday) that attract a large number of gay customers.
Gay hotels in Kuala Lumpur
Most gay tourists stay within the Golden Triangle area, the main shopping and nightlife district in the city. This area includes the shopping, and gay area of Bukit Bintang, the Luxury Hotels on Sultan Ismail, P. Ramlee entertainment street and the entire Kuala Lumpur City Center.
The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur is one of the city’s finest and most elegant luxury hotels. Offering guests impeccable 5- star accommodation, the hotel is located in the bustling Bukit Bintang area and is the perfect base from which to explore all that KL has to give. The beautifully designed venue boasts a swimming pool, gym, spa and guests rooms even include opulent marble bathrooms. The Ritz-Carlton is the perfect location for guests seeking an elevated experience in KL.
Kuala Lumpur is the sixth-most visited city on earth, so it’s no surprise that there is an expansive and varied selection of hotels available here, some of the best include Furama Bukit Bintang, Le Apple, WOLO and Invito Hotel Suites.
For hotel recommendations and online booking, visit our Kuala Lumpur Hotels page.
Gay saunas in Kuala Lumpur
There is a selection of established and well-maintained saunas in KL, many of which are open 24/7. One of the most popular venues Mandi Manda, a large and popular sauna with a central location. Mandi Manda attracts large crowds of both locals and tourists and is spread over three expansive floors. The sauna boasts a range of facilities including a gym, steam room, rain baths and even its own cafe.
Saunas such as Mandi Manda don’t always explicitly advertise their LGBT+ focus but tend to be welcoming and inclusive.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) located 50km to the south of the city and has two terminals. The main terminal is used by ‘full service’ airlines. The ‘Low-Cost Carrier Terminal’ is used by AirAsia, Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific. The LCCT and Main Terminal share the same runway but are nearly 20 km apart by road. There are frequent shuttle services between the two terminals.
There is an excellent train service between the Main Terminal and ‘KL Sentral’ station that takes just 28 minutes. If you arrive at the LCCT, then you need to take the shuttle to the Main Terminal. Be aware that taxi drivers at the LCCT can give the appearance of being airport staff and try to direct you towards a very expensive taxi bus service.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur
KL’s public transport system is fairly efficient, though the challenge lies in its integration. A good alternative to public transportation is Grab or Uber, as many taxi drivers refuse to use the meter and want to an expensive flat rate.
There are four kinds: LRT, KL Monorail, KTM Komuter and KLIA. The LTR is like a metro, but most tracks are elevated above the ground. Fares are cheap and the map is easy to understand.
There are double-decker ‘KL Hop-On Hop-Off’ sightseeing tour buses with free WiFi onboard. An information commentary is given through headphones. The RapidKL runs a cheap and comprehensive public bus network in and around Kuala Lumpur, but the low frequencies and lack of signs make it challenging for tourists.
Taxis are convenient although many drivers to refuse to use the meter. The city’s rail coverage is good enough so you shouldn’t need a taxi to most hotels and major tourist spots.
Kuala Lumpur’s old city centre is compact are great for exploring on foot. Pedestrian crossings are generally respected by drivers. Jaywalking is technically illegal but often overlooked.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur
Kaula Lumpur is teeming with opportunities for exploration and discovery. However, some of the best attractions in the city include:
- Enjoy KL’s stunning skyline from the Petronas Twin Towers
- Spend a day shopping in Bukit Bintang
- Immerse yourself in history at the Thean Hou Temple
- Explore the tropical ocean depths at Aquaria KLCC
- Discover ancient history at the Islamic Arts Museum
- Brave the journey into the Batu Caves
Read more: The top things to do in Kuala Lumpur
When to visit
Malaysia experiences a hot and humid climate year-round, meaning that whenever you visit KL you’re likely to feel the sticky heat. However, as it has a tropical climate there are frequent rains and storms that occur mainly during the wet season- between April and October. KL is nestled amongst stretching mountain ranges in most directions meaning that the temperature here is slightly cooler than the rest of Malaysia with averages fluctuating between 29°C – 35°C during the day, and 26°C – 29°C at night.
In terms of the most affordable time to visit, hotels and flights tend to be cheapest during the winter months, when tourism is slower and the streets are less busy.
Citizens from most countries can visit Malaysia without a visa as long as their stay is less than 90 days. Details of accommodation, trip motives and possessions will need to be supplied before arriving and visas are required for 90-day travel from certain countries. Visa applications can be made at any Malaysian embassies but check before booking to see if you require one to visit.
The currency in Malaysia is Ringgits. ATMs are available throughout the city, but Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted forms of payment, especially at higher-end restaurants and hotels.
There is no real culture of tipping in KL. However, for great service, 10% is the most common tip amount. Tipping may also be expected at a few, luxury hotels.
Have we got something wrong?
Are we missing a new venue or has a business closed? Or has something changed and we've not yet updated our pages? Please use this form to let us know. We really appreciate your feedback.