Kuala Lumpur’s public transport system is extensive and a welcome relief compared with some other Southeast Asia cities of similar size. However, there are still daily traffic jams at peak hours, changing metro lines can involve crossing perilous dual carriageways and pavements can flood after sudden downpours.
Walking is fine for getting around Kuala Lumpur within neighbourhoods such as Chinatown or the Golden Triangle, but longer strolls can prove problematic with immovable obstacles appearing in you path. In general, make the most of the clean, efficient, air conditioned metro wherever possible and take a taxi the rest of the way.
Kuala Lumpur LRT Metro system
Kuala Lumpur’s metro train system consists of three LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines, semicircular KL Monorail and the KTM Komuter for accessing outer north, west and south suburbs. It is an extremely cheap (from RM2) and quick way of getting around Kuala Lumpur although changing lines is laborious (many connections are uncovered putting you at the mercy of the elements) and normally involves purchasing a whole new ticket.
There is now a Touch ‘n Go card (RM10) which is accepted on all lines barring the airport express route. However, distances between stations are pretty minimal so if you are only planning to travel a single stop it may be quicker and easier to walk.
Don’t be confused by signs on the Kelana Jaya LRT calling it PUTRA, this is the former name of the line, and similarly Ampang and Sri Petaling LRTs is still referred to STAR. Getting between KL Sentral station and the Sentral monorail stop is a fair walk since the linking covered walkway closed.
Head down the stairs and around the parking lot to the left and then cross the main road. And remember, if you get stuck on a broken down train prepare yourself for a long wait. You could be there for hours and KL natives are surprisingly stoic about the occasional, if rare, chance of serious delay.
Taxis in Kuala Lumpur and minicabs
Getting around Kuala Lumpur by taxis is a relatively cheap method of travel and only tempered by cabbies’ reluctance to use their meters and demand a fixed price fare instead. This reprehensible practice is illegal but extremely common in tourist areas and outside the more expensive hotels.
If you want to return to your five star residence, it can be advisable to give the name of the shopping mall next door to avoid being ripped off. If they absolutely refuse to put on the meter then bargain hard about the fare, most journeys should cost no more than RM5. And when traffic is heavy it is sometimes quicker (not to mention cheaper) to take the metro as far as possible and then pick up a cab the rest of the way.
The white and red regular taxicabs start at RM3 and cost around RM1/km after that. However, the premium yellow cabs are slightly more expensive with a RM4 flagfall and a little more per kilometre. Surcharges for baggage (RM1 per piece), radio call (RM2) and so on also apply. It also costs an extra 50 per cent on top of the meter fare after midnight, so you could well be better off bargaining a fixed fare at the start. Prepaid coupon systems are enforced at a few popular destinations such as KL Sentral, airport terminals and Menara KL. These are generally cheaper than bargaining but more expensive than the meter.