“Yes you can do Kuala Lumpur in 1 day. If you have a long layover (6-12 hrs), get out of the airport and go for it”
I arrived to Kuala Lumpur around 7:30am by overnight (KTM #24) train from Singapore (about 7 hours ride). The first-class sleeper train costs RM135/$44/person, equipped with private shower/toilet, LCD TV, foods and towel services. (I will do a separate post later on how to avoid getting charged 2X for the tickets if you are coming from Singapore). It is the best train I have ever been on in term of great facilities and services. However, I did not get a chance to enjoy my cabin much, as I was so tired from a day earlier in Singapore. I just had a quick shower and went to sleep right away.
The train brought me to KL Sentral (a transfer point for major rail systems here in KL). I only had 1 day here as I was scheduled on the 11PM train to Butterworth/Penang. In order not to waste any seconds, I quickly got myself some Ringgits and rushed to the left luggage counter on the 2nd floor to leave my backpacks (RM5/$1.65 for a large bag, open 8:00 – 22:30). There are also self storage lockers on the first floor right under the stairs, which opens all the time.
Petronas Twin Towers: I took LRT Kelana Jaya Line (RM1.60/$0.50) to KL City Centre (KLCC) to visit one of world tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers. The train arrived right under the Petronas Towers/KLCC shopping complex. I got to the ticket window at 8:15am and was not surprised to see a long queue that already formed. The ticket counter opens at 8:30am and I got my ticket #92 around 9:15am for the 1pm tour (RM50/$16). It is possible to get the tickets 1 day earlier for the morning tour group. The Petronas closes on Monday, tickets are no longer free, and details can be found at http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my. I then left KLCC and went to see Little India and Chinatown (see below), which are only a couple of stations away.
About 15-20 people were assigned in one group to go up the tower. The elevator took us to 41st floor, where the 2 towers are joined by double deck skybridge. The guide will let you spend about 15 mins here before continuing to the 86rd floor. The 86th floor observatory deck is also a small museum showing the history of the towers, how it was built, and how it compares to other top towers around the world. The view was really impressive even though it was an overcast day. Batu Cave can be seen from here. The complete tour was about 45mins. It is a must do in KL.
Little India/China Town: After getting my Petronas ticket, I took the train to Masjid Jamek Station and walked down to Pasar Seni Station, which is basically the full Little India/China Town walking tour as recommend by most guide book. Outside Masjid Jamek Station, KL really feels just like Bangkok’s Sukumvit area. I found a local restaurant and had breakfast for RM8/$2.60 (curry, fish, rice, coke, and roti). I then walked to Masjid Jamek mosque, Sultan Abdul Samad building, Merdeka square, National History Museum, and then Chinatown. I thought the Sultan Abdul building was impressive looking and the National History Museum was worthwhile. The Chinatown is just like any other Chinatown you ever seen. The walk was about 2 hrs and completed just in time for my 1pm Petronas tour (see above).
Batu Caves: Batu Caves is a Hindu cave temple 8 miles north of KL. The lonely planet book and staff at Petronas said there is no train to Batu Cave; however, the LRT staff inside KLCC station said there is a KTM Komuter train from Sentral to Batu Caves. The train costed only RM2/person/one way. Most blogs and guidebooks suggested getting there by bus ,and taxi would ask 80RM for a KLCC-Batu round trip. The train took 30 mins and stops right infront of the cave!
The world’s tallest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, is located outside the cave. The limestone forming the caves is said to be more than 400 million years old. It was beautiful and cool inside. No fee was collected but they accept donation. Beware of monkeys walking around and trying to get foods from you! The steps up to the caves were a nice little workout. Inside the main cave area are numerous shrines. There were guided deep cavern tours available, which I wish I could have done if I had more time.
I got back to KL Sentral around 5PM, where I would catch an overnight train to Butterworth. Next to the train station are the Hilton and the Le Meridian hotel. I went inside the Le Meridian to use the free WI-FI and ended up having a glass of Rieslings to cool down my day. It was around 6pm and I was back to the train station looking for something to eat for dinner. There are many stores, restaurants, and other facilities including self storage locker and public shower (RM5/$1.60, 6am-9pm daily) on the first floor. The shower was clean, but a little creepy when I used it. I guess it was late (8pm) and only 1 other person was using it at that time. The 3rd floor of KL Sentral is a food court where I had another delicious meal for RM10. The KTM #22 train arrived at 11pm. I made my way to my 2nd class sleeper (RM40/$13), and I was on my way to Butterworth. My stall in the 2nd class sleeper was spacious and very comfortable. Train travel in Malaysia is very safe, clean, but definitely bring a sweater and long pants as the AC can be pretty cold at night.