This is your Kuala Lumpur public transport survival guide! Basically, everything you need to know about using public transport in Kuala Lumpur, and why it might drive you crazy. Just a little 😉
On my first day in Kuala Lumpur, I had a meltdown triggered by the near-impossible task of getting to my hostel by public transport.
Ok. I was tired, had back pain and generally didn’t feel very well. We get those days as travellers as well.
And it was raining too!
So as I was standing in the middle of the metro station and could not figure out what to do next, why I had to take a shuttle bus, why it was not as well marked as Bangkok public transport stations and why I needed to have a small change to get a ticket even though no one gave me back small change in this country – I had enough.
Don’t get me wrong. I used public transport everywhere. Colombia, Guatemala, Albania, Thailand you name it. I am a public transport pro.
But combine a bad day and a tragically confusing public system on your first day in a new, hectic, wet and humid city – come on, I am a human after all!
But don’t worry, this story has a happy ending.
I spent a week in Kuala Lumpur and eventually learned to navigate different train and metro lines so much so I even felt confident advising other travellers.
So here I am. I will now tell you how to use public transport in Kuala Lumpur without going crazy!
Table of Contents
Is Kuala Lumpur Walkable?
Some parts of Kuala Lumpur are more walkable than others. If you want to use public transport as little as possible in Kuala Lumpur, choose areas such as Bukit Bintang, Merdeka, China Town or KLCC for your accommodation.
This is a good option if you are only staying in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days and mainly want to visit the Petronas Towers, go shopping and visit the famous Jalan Alor Food Street.
Sights such as Merdeka Square, Masjid Jamek or even Chinatown and Central Market are not too far away from each other and can be explored entirely on foot. However, if you want to see the Petronas Towers and Jalan Alor Food Street afterwards, you will have to jump on the train or metro.
On the other hand, there are few elevated pedestrian bridges between the shopping malls. When it rains, you can literally walk from one mall to another without taking out your umbrella! I laughed one day about how you can spend a whole day walking from one mall to another in KL!
But if you want to see most of the Kuala Lumpur attractions and accommodation near the centre is a bit too pricey for you you will find that you will have to use public transport a lot.
So generally I didn’t find Kuala Lumpur walkable as many of its great attractions are spread around the city, the roads can be very hectic and loud and the city is also quite polluted for you to walk around for hours.
It is not sustainable in the long term or if you have 10 KL sights on your list.
If you are looking for the best 3-day Kula Lumpur Itinerary which includes transportation or walking options, head over to to this post!
And if you are looking for a truly walkable and incredible town in Malaysia, George Town in Penang is a definite winner. How about Melaka, you ask? Oh well, I have a post on Melaka too and also I compared the towns of Melaka and George Town! In case you could choose only one but weren’t sure which one is the best option for you!
Why is Kuala Lumpur public transport so Confusing?
I read all those blog posts and articles before I arrived in KL saying how advanced and efficient the public transport in Kuala Lumpur is.
I must say for me, Kuala Lumpur public transport is very confusing. There are many different types of rail systems and they are all owned by different companies and are not well integrated.
MRT, LRT, Monorail, Commuter train, all those can give you a bit of a headache. And then you will inevitably come across lines that are broken, and maybe you will have to use a replacement shuttle bus.
On my second day in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to visit the Petronas Towers in the evening to see the fountain light show. Since you could see the towers from the roof of my hostel they didn’t seem too far away. I figured if I left at 6 pm, I should have enough time to see them and return at a decent time.
Not only did it take me ages to find my way and 30 minutes to wait for the train because there was a problem, but then halfway through, the train started to go backwards.
Yes, there was an announcement that the track was flooded and there were some changes to the route, but the announcement was not very understandable, although it was apparently also made in English.
I returned to my hostel 2 hours later without having seen the light show. I was exhausted.
But I want to make it clear that I am in no way discouraging you from using public transport in Kuala Lumpur. It’s still pretty affordable and you can get to places. It’s just not as efficient and a little more time consuming than in other cities
I spent my first 2 days in KL just trying to figure out the map and location of each attraction and trying to clear out the bad first impression I had of the city.
This is why I strongly suggest that if you only have 2 or 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, please stay near the centre so you can walk as much as you can.
I stayed for well over a week in Kuala Lumpur and I must say the city grew on me as I became a pro at using public transport and the city itself became more enjoyable.
What is the best way of using Kuala Lumpur public transport?
It is crucial to learn the Kuala Lumpur transport map, recognise the different modes of transport and plan your journey in advance. Also, some distances on foot are not as far as they seem. If Google Maps tells you that you have to walk 20 minutes, then walk it. You’ll lose much more time on the train.
After 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, I finally understood the map. If you want to get around Kuala Lumpur by public transport my advice is to embrace it from day one and try to use it as much as you can to familiarise yourself with different lines.
Unfortunately, there is no golden hack I can offer here. My biggest advice is: ask for help. People in Malaysia are so helpful and kind! Every time I needed help at the train station, it was never a problem. Once I even looked so confused that a stranger stopped and asked if I needed directions. I did, because I couldn’t find my way to the yellow MRT line.
By far the best and cheapest way to get around Kuala Lumpur and see its most iconic sights is by Go KL City Bus which is totally free!
If you are staying near KLCC (Petronas Towers), Bukit Bintang, Chinatown or Merdeka Square, look for a pink Go KL bus and visit all the attractions in the airconditioned bus for free! Here is the map and all the stops.
How to plan your journey by public transport in Kuala Lumpur?
- As soon as you arrive in Kuala Lumpur, download or take a photo of the Kuala Lumpur transport. You will also find KL transport maps on various train and metro stations but those are not always available.
- Identify the station that is nearest to where you are, and then find your destination station. Use Google Maps to find your stations.
- If you are lucky you will find just one line between you and your destination. Like in the photo below. In this case, you just need to make sure you choose the right direction. To do that you need to know where the train line terminates depending on your direction.
- For example: you are going from Putra to Baru caves or from Pasar Seni to Bukit Bentang (Below).
- If you cannot find the direct line you will have to change. Look at the map and try to use the best option. Keep in mind that often there are a few different stations you could choose near the area. That is why it is best to take a look at the place you want to visit on Google Maps first.
- For example: you want to visit Merdeka Square, the River of Life
and the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque. The nearest metro station is Masjid Jamek LRT station.
- Now, let’s say you are at Merdeka and want to go all the way to Petronas Towers.
- See what line goes to KLCC (where Petronas Towers are) and then trace it back to the point where it connects with any of the lines that start from your destination (Merdeka in our case).
In this case, you have 2 options.
- You can travel on MRT to Pasar Seni and change there for the red LRT all the way to KLCC
- Or take the brown or orange LRT line to Masjid Jamek and change there for the red LRT. This would probably work better as you will be taking just one transportation type (the LRT) therefore you can just get one token and travel all the way without purchasing an additional token (for MRT you would need a different one).
Let’s say, you want to get from Bukit Bintang to Petronas Towers. In this case, if you look at the map it gives you 2 changes. Travel to Pasar Seni my green MRT and then take red LRT to KLCC.
This journey would take 35 minutes at a minimum! And if you look at Google Maps it is only 25 minutes on foot. In those cases, I always chose to walk! And you should too!
What are Kuala Lumpur modes of public transport?
There are 6 most popular ways of getting around Kuala Lumpur:
LRT – The Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in Kuala Lumpur is an integral part of the city’s public transportation network. It is an overground train system and currently 3 lines cover a large part of the city.
MRT – Mass Rapid Transit, The MRT system is a newer addition to Kuala Lumpur’s public transportation network. It provides a convenient connection between the northern suburbs and the southern parts of the city. There are currently 2 MRT lines – the dark green Kajang line and the yellow Putrajaya line.
Monorail – KL Monorail is the city centre train that runs a loop connecting various shopping, entertainment and business districts in Kuala Lumpur. If you want to travel between places like KL Sentral, Bukit Bintang or Eco Forest Park, the monorail will take you there.
Commuter train – Although it doesn’t cover the centre of Kuala Lumpur, I was able to use the KL Komuter train twice! It’s a great way to get to both Batu Caves and the Bersepadu Selatan bus terminal for my trip to Melaka.
Busses – RapidKL buses operate an extensive network of bus routes that cover various parts of Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs.
Go KL free bus – a free hop-on hop-off style tourist bus covering the majority of Kuala Lumpur attractions and sights.
Grab – the best and safest ride-hailing app in Kula Lumpur. There are other taxi apps but I was told Grab is the safest.
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How to Pay for Public Transport in Kuala Lumpur
To use MRT, LRT or Monorail (BRT) you will have to purchase a token from the machines available at all stations.
Before the trip, ensure you know which line are you taking as often you will have to choose it from the main screen first.
They are all colour-coded coded so this shouldn’t be an issue. Then choose the station using the touch screen and pay with coins or small banknotes. Machines will indicate which coins and banknotes you can use and often times it will only accept coins.
In case you don’t have enough change, you can get it from the counter.
You can also purchase a Touch ‘n Go card (Stored Value card). But this only makes sense if you are staying in Kuala Lupur for more than 3 days as the card itself costs 10 RM and then you can top it up with the desired amount.
Touch n Go Card is accepted on all modes of public transport in KL.
You will have to get the Touch n Go card if you are planning on using buses in Kuala Lumpus as cash is no longer accepted.
For the Commuter train, you can simply buy the ticket at the counter.
When I was in Kuala Lumpur I decided not to get a Touch ‘n Go card as the minimum stored value is 10RM and I wasn’t sure if I would use it all up.
In hindsight, I should have.
Even if I didn’t use up all the credit, the convenience of not using the machine would outweigh the possible 2 or 3 journeys left.
So my recommendation is – if you are staying for more than a couple of days, get a Touch ‘n Go card when travelling by public transport in Kuala Lumpur.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur from the Airport
The best way to get from the airport to the city centre of Kuala Lumpur is by KLIA transit or express train. It offers the best value for money as it gets you to Kuala Lumpur quickly and is cheaper than the taxi or private shuttle.
The KLIA Express train is faster as it does not stop at any station, while the KLIA Transit stops at 3 stations. The journey to KL Sentral takes about 30 minutes. The KLIA train costs 55RM. Both trains will take you to KL Sentral, from where you can take a metro, LRT or bus.
The cheapest way to get from the airport to the centre of Kuala Lumpur is by bus. It only costs 15 RM but can take over an hour. This is the best option if you are on a budget and have plenty of time.
If you dont fancy stressing about getting from or to Kuala Lumpur airport, you can always choose a private shuttle.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur city from KL Sentral Bus Station
If you are travelling from places like Penang, you will most likely arrive at KL Sentral station.
KL Sentral, as the name suggests, is a central transport hub in Kuala Lumpur where most train and bus lines intersect.
To get from KL Sentral to your destination or accommodation, take a look at the transport map and locate the desired station. If you’re not sure, search for your hotel on Google Maps and find the nearest public transport.
Once you find the line (colour-coded) going to your destination identify the type of the line. Is it Monorail, MRT or LRT? It is important, as there are separate entrances to each of those lines at KL Sentral.
Once you identify the final station and mode of transport, follow the signs.
Be sure you have enough change to buy the tokens.
That first trip made me really hate public transport in KL. It looked very easy on the map, but halfway there I realised that the line I was supposed to take was only partially working and there was a replacement shuttle bus.
As the stops were poorly marked and I didn’t know the names of the stations, it took me well over an hour to get to my destination. But that was me. You could be lucky!
If you don’t want to risk it, you can always opt for a taxi or a private shuttle.
I genuinely hope this guide helped you navigate around public transport in Kuala Lumpur. If you need more information or additional advice, please comment below! I am always happy to help!
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Until then, happy travels my friend and enjoy Malaysia!
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