Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant and exciting Asian capital city with lots to explore – and lots of fantastic things to eat! If you’re heading to Australia or New Zealand 1 day transit in Kuala Lumpur is a great idea as a stopover or as part of a total holiday to Malaysia or worthy of an entire dedicated trip. Kuala Lumpur is quite a compact capital city so it is possible to see many of the places to visit in Kuala Lumpur in one day. There are some fantastic public transport options that will allow you to get from Kuala Lumpur airport to Kuala Lumpur city center and around with minimal hassle and cost.
When you’re short on time, an organised tour can be a fantastic option. I like to take a half-day tour – ideally in the morning. This allows me to quickly get a feel for the key sites and which ones are of greatest interest – and then to plan a free afternoon accordingly. Organised tours are perfect when you only have 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur as all you have to do is show up and follow the guide. The tour company has already done the hard work of figuring out which tourist attractions to visit at which times and the best ways to get between them. An organised tour can be both relaxing and efficient!
Kuala Lumpur in One Day: Getting There and Getting Around
But first, you need to get to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia! Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the largest airport in Malaysia and is located 45 km southwest of the city. It is the main hub for Malaysia Airlines.
The easiest and fastest way to get from the airport into Kuala Lumpur is with the KLIA express train. It takes only 28 minutes to get from Kuala Lumpur International Airport into the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Once you’ve arrived in the centre of Kuala Lumpur there are several transport options to get you around the key sights. My preference was the KL Monorail. It has only 11 stations but they are in line with most of the key tourist attractions. One of its 11 stations is KL Sentral station, the main railway station in Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur does have a big bus network but I really couldn’t be bothered figuring out a bus network when I am staying somewhere for just one day! Kuala Lumpur has many metered taxis that can be used. However, as I am writing this it does not have Uber. There are local rideshare apps but again it is a lot of effort to download these and set up an account for just one day.
24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur: The Top Sights
1. Batu Caves
Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu temples outside of India and one of the most popular places to visit in Kuala Lumpur. The limestone which forms Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old! The caves still contain several Hindu shrines that are used by locals.
In 2018 the 272 steps which lead up to the caves were painted in bright colours – perfect for Instagrammers! – making this a very popular spot on social media platforms.
There is no payment for entry to the caves. There is a tourist attraction like a cave museum type thing next door to it but no time for that. The most impressive thing to see is the main entrance to the caves with the giant gold statue, massive stairs and monkeys galore. Be careful around the monkeys as they will grab random items from you! And women need to have their arms and legs covered as there are temples in the cave.
Head up the stairs and get a bit of a workout and then you’ll be at the entrance to the caves themselves. The caves are very high and have a couple of working temples inside. There isn’t a lot to see, to be honest, but the whole thing makes for a couple of good photos and a bit of a workout!
How to get to Batu Caves
If you’re heading to Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur International Airport take the KLIA express train to Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the main interchange station in Kuala Lumpur. Then hop on the KTM train direction Batu Caves which was under 6 RMB return. The trip takes about 30 minutes each way.
From the station it is about a 5-minute walk to the caves and clearly signed – you can also follow the souvenir stalls as they are always a good indicator of a key Kuala Lumpur tourism site!
2. Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers are the world’s largest twin towers and for a time the tallest towers in the world (they have since been overtaken by Burj Khalifa in Dubai). The stunning design is a mix of glass and Islamic design, with Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur intended to look like an eight-pointed star from above. In Islamic culture, this represents unity, harmony, stability and rationality. This is one of the key things to do in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Construction of the 88 storey towers took six years. The towers are 452 metres high and the viewing deck is at the 370-metre point on the 86th floor. The well known Suria KLCC Mall is at the base of Petronas Towers.
Petronas Towers are open from 9 am to 9 pm but are CLOSED on MONDAYS. This is a ticket you definitely want to buy ahead of your visit. Petronas Towers is very popular and if you have limited time you could easily spend a lot of time in a queue or miss out completely (as happened to me once when I just arrived and found out that all tickets were sold out!).
The tour also includes an opportunity to go on the sky bridge. The sky bridge connects the two tours and it on floors 41 and 42. The total tour lasts around one hour.
After your visit to Petronas Towers you can then head for a wander through the KLCC mall which has something for everyone. I always like to try to find local designers. Some you may want to check out are:
⇒ Aseana – located on the ground floor and features different designers from the region
⇒ Farah Khan – ground floor G13 – east meets west and apparently good frocks
How to Get to Petronas Towers
The easiest way to get to Petronas Towers is to take the Kuala Lumpur metro to the KLCC station. If you are coming from the airport take the KLIA express train to KL Sentral. At KL Sentral switch to the LRT Kelana Jaya Line and get off at KLCC station.
3. KL Tower
KL MenaraTower is not as tall as Petronas Towers at 420 metres. However, as it is built on a hill its observation deck is actually higher than the observation deck of Petronas Towers. And all views from the KL Menara Tower, of course, include the gorgeous Petronas Towers so this can make for a better photo. As a result, many people choose to go up KL Menara Tower rather than Petronas Towers when visiting Kuala Lumpur.
How to get to KL Tower
The closest metro station to KL Tower is Menara Hap Seng/KL Tower. After exiting the metro station it is about a 10-minute walk. Or KL Tower is 10 minutes in a cab from Petronas Towers.
4. Enjoy Delicious Malaysian Cuisine
Personally, I love Malaysian food! Chicken satays, roti bread, nasi goreng – yum! Experiencing the local cuisine is a must-do if you have 1 day in Kuala Lumpur.
The best way to experience Malaysian cuisine is to keep it simple and head to some of the city’s Hawker Markets and street-food kiosks. Hutong Lot 10 is actually in a shopping mall basement (the mall is called Lot 10). It is home to 34 different vendors and allows visitors to enjoy classic Malaysian dishes in all-important air conditioning!
Tapak Urban Street Dining is home to over 30 food trucks and has outdoor seating. Taman Connaught market has over 700 stalls across 2 kilometres but is only open on Wednesday evenings. Roti Canai is one of my favourite Malysian dishes – the famous flaky roti bread served with a side of curry – and the place to try it is the 20 years old Valentine Roti.
5. Aquaria KLCC
Kuala Lumpur’s aquarium is one of the top five aquariums in Asia and home to a 90-metre long walkway where you will be surrounded by fish and the ocean! It is home to over 150 species of marine life including tiger sharks and lethal sea snakes. Aquaria KLCC is in most top 10 lists of Kuala Lumpur things to do.
How to get to the Aquaria KLCC
The Aquaria KLCC is located on the concourse level of the KLCC mall. If you only have 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur you don’t want to waste it trekking around the city. Visiting the KLCC allows visitors to combine shopping, the Petronas Towers tour and the Aquaria all in one location.
Kuala Lumpur Itinerary for One Day
Pre-book your tickets for Petronas Towers, KL Tower, KLIA express train and the Aquaria before arriving in Kuala Lumpur. Take the KLIA train to KL Sentral and then change to the metro and head to KLCC station. Start by heading up Petronas Towers (better light first thing in the morning and there will be fewer people), then head to the Aquaria KLCC.
Grab some lunch whilst you are wandering around KLCC Suria mall. Then head over to Batu Caves. After Batu Caves head to the top of KL Tower for some nice late afternoon light which should have Petronas Towers glistening. Then either take a street food tour or head to Taman Connaught market if it’s a Wednesday or to Hutong Lot 10 to finish up your Kuala Lumpur 1 day trip with some classic Malaysia cuisine!
Guided Tour Options
Trying to fit in all the key sights and some great local food of Kuala Lumpur in 1 day is not easy! Sometimes taking a guided tour can be a great option. Get your own private guide for a Kuala Lumpur city tour, take a half-day local food walking tour to enjoy some of the great tastes of Kuala Lumpur, book a half-day tour with a local or take a Kuala Lumpur night tour.
⇒ Check out this great post if you’ve got two days in Kuala Lumpur
⇒ And this post if you have three days in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur in One Day: Where to Stay the Night
I stayed at Sama Sama hotel which is literally at the airport – well via a covered walkway. The best thing about this very nice hotel is that there is a buggy that meets you on the 2nd floor of the airport and drives you to the hotel – this was huge fun!
The location of this hotel makes it perfect for a flying visit. As it is at the airport you have another excuse to get in the buggy and go back to the airport and hop on the KLIA express!
⇒ When you only have one day you don’t want to spend it standing in queues or finding out that the key things you wanted to see are now sold out. If you’re flying into Kuala Lumpur grab your KLIA Express Ticket before you go and just pull up the QR code on your phone to use it at the gates.
⇒ The Wiman app will show you mobile open zones around Kuala Lumpur and provide access to open hotspots. Free wifi is available for up to 3 hours at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Connect to the “[email protected]” network and there is no registration required
⇒ If you only have one day in Kuala Lumpur don’t waste any of it standing in lines. Check out the top 5 Kuala Lumpur tours where you can skip the line by booking tickets in advance.
⇒One of the best ways to maximise limited time in a city is to get on board a Hop On Hop Off Bus. This is a great way to get an overview of the key attractions in Kuala Lumpur. I recommend starting your day on the bus. That way you can figure out which Kuala Lumpur tourist attractions are of most interest to you and then return in the afternoon.
The Malaysian currency is the Ringitt. Whilst many places accept credit and debit cards, cash is still the most common with smaller restaurants, taxis, and shops and many do not have card facilities. There are loads of ATMs throughout Kuala Lumpur so you can easily grab cash once you arrive.
Credit and debit cards are accepted at the malls, airports, larger hotels etc but you will need a stash of cash even if you are only in Kuala Lumpur for one day.
⇒ If you’re interested in another perspective on the best way to spend a day in Kuala Lumpur check out this post.
Malaysia has tropical weather all year round and can be quite humid. Kuala Lumpur can be quite warm. The temperature seldom goes below 73 degrees and it seldom goes above 94 degrees. The best time to visit Kuala Lumpur based on weather is early June to late September and mid-December to mid-March.
Tours for Solo Travellers:
Travelling solo to Malaysia? Here are a few group tour options:
Who Paid for What in This Post
I covered all of the costs associated with my visit to Kuala Lumpur.
This post also contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through on these links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.
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Also published on Medium.