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If you are anything like me, your travel “to-do” list is never-ending. Sometimes, the best way to get a quick taste of a new place is by spending a just a few days there, even if it is on the other side of the planet. 2 days in Kuala Lumpur? It’s a quick trip for sure! But, I recently spent some time in Asia visiting family and exploring a few new cities, so it has inspired a new series – “48 Hours In…”
In each profile, I will cover some must-see sites and bites as well as any tips or notes I came across during my short stay. Check out my itinerary for 48 Hours in Singapore!
This past July, I traveled to Malaysia for the first time so without further ado, 2 days in Kuala Lumpur! Here’s how I spent 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur.
2 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Must-See Sites
Located on the outskirts of downtown, the Batu Caves were the number one thing I had to see during my 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur. They did not disappoint. Named after gargantuan limestone caves in a set of hills, the Batu Caves house a massive Hindu shrine open to all visitors. The trek up 500+ steps is not for the faint of heart, however, the views are truly magnificent. A visit to the Batu Caves won’t cost you anything but it is encouraged to give a donation to the temple when you enter. Also watch out for the monkeys that are everywhere and not afraid to approach people!
When I did my initial research, Royal Selangor was not on my list of places to visit. With only 2 days in Kuala Lumpur, I figured I’d skip it. But, my cousin took me to the factory one afternoon and I saw why it was so special. The history and interactive elements make this a must-see stop, even with only 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Royal Selangor was founded in 1885, so it has a rich history you can learn about through a great audio guide. On top of that, the the whole tour is free! For an additional cost, there are some opportunities to craft your own pewter souvenirs for an additional cost as well.
The hop-on, hop-off tour is arguably the most touristy way to see a new place. With only 2 days in Kuala Lumpur and considering how much of the city I needed to see in my second day, I decided to give it a try. It was not only efficient, but also a thrifty way to cover a lot of ground. Exactly what you need when you are only spending 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur. The tour makes 23 stops. I started my day at the Central Market and finished at Dataran Merdeka. Note: I passed a few stops twice in order to meet up with my relatives.
Since I only had 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur, I spent some time in the Central Market before boarding the bus. Here I browsed local artisan products and other market goods as well as some food stands. I stopped for photos at the National Palace and Dataran Merdeka but got off for a few hours at the Petronas Towers for the spectacular view as well as incredible shopping at Suria KLCC.
My favorite way to immerse myself in a new culture is by trying the local cuisine. While I only had 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur, my relatives made sure I got my fill of the greatest hits. The morning I arrived, we started the with Roti Canai at home. This Malaysian staple is a breakfast dish with roti and various curries for dipping. It is undeniably divine. Another common breakfast meal is is called Nasi Lemak. It is rice wrapped in a banana leaf with coconut milk, anchovies, chili and boiled egg. You can find this street side and in all the markets.
With only two days in Kuala Lumpur, lunch was quick or on the go each day. Highlights included Pork Char Siew with soy sauce noodles and dumplings from a local stand.
The dinners were the main event. The first night, my cousins took me to K88 Market. The only way to describe this place is as an ultimate night market. With 50+ food stalls, the five of us tried over 12 dishes with prices ranging from $1 to $5 each. We ended the night at a durian stand. While very popular in Kuala Lumpur, this was and arguably the only hour of my 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur that I can’t rave about. Durian is a polarizing fruit that doesn’t have a bad taste, but has a smell that is not exactly inviting. I suggest trying it, but just a taste would suffice. On our second night, we went to Delay No More for chili crab, a local specialty that is a messy but delicious and fun group activity.
Tips & Notes for 48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur
Although my stay in Malaysia was short, I learned a few things that can help future visitors make the most of their 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Two days in Kuala Lumpur is short but you can see a lot if you plan ahead with the following:
- Take advantage of the high-speed, reasonably-priced train to and from the airport. The 28-minute ride takes you from the terminal right into the heart of downtown and is rm100 (just about $25).
- Traffic can be nightmarish in the city during peak hours. While I was on the hop-on, hop-off bus, I was delayed by almost 90 minutes to meet people just because of traffic downtown at around 6 p.m.
- I do believe that I hit a lot of the “greatest hits” during my 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur, however I couldn’t help but wish I had a few more hours there. I wanted to spend a little more time at the following sites I passed on the bus tour: Little India, Bukit Bintang, & Lake Garden.
- The audio guide on the bus tour was not as in-depth as I desired, and the onboard WiFi was spotty at best. I suggest some independent history research beforehand.
- Old British culture is still very prevalent and noticeable. I spent some time at the Royal Selangor Club that can be accessed by members and their guests only. Within the club, one of the bars remains still men only.
- Provided you do not stay in the tourist areas alone, the city is quite affordable. Meals and shopping are on the cheaper side.
While 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur is short, it is enough to get a real taste of the city. Many thanks to my cousins who were determined to show me as much as possible. I hope to get back again soon but until then, tell me what you see when you visit!