Things to do in Kuala Lumpur – 36 Hours Layover

Whenever I fly for a long-haul flight, I like to incorporate a long layover period, just to experience another city by only paying for a single airplane ticket. Although the time during a layover is very limited, you can make the most out of it if you have a clear plan on how to spend those short period of time. I like to segmentize my time carefully if I opt to go out from the airport during the layover period.

I know, sometimes, we people feel reluctant to go out from the airport as we do not know what to expect, but don’t worry, I will help you out by proposing an itinerary that you can follow if by any chance you have a 24-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). However, be sure that you check your visa requirement first. You can check here. If you need a visa, then this short layover plan might not be suitable for you. I am sorry. 🙁

Getting out from the airport

Upon landing, from your arrival terminal, head down to the aerotrain to catch up the coach that will head down to the custom and baggage reclaim area. Pass through the customs check and get your passport stamped. The whole security check process may require 1-2 Hours in total, depending on your landing time and whether it is in the holiday season.

Aerotrain KLIA

The aerotrain that will bring you from the arrival terminal to the main terminal building

Once you passed through the security, head to the Main Terminal Building, Level 3 Arrival Hall to leave your carry luggage at Baggage Solution that opens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The charge to leave your belongings depends on the size and it’s ranging from RM19 to RM51. However, I believe a normal carry luggage will only cost you RM19. I would suggest you to only bring you small backpack or a messenger bag and avoid bringing unnecessary items as you want to travel as light as possible.

Then, find any money changer kiosk to exchange your money. Ask for smaller notes like RM10 or RM20 so it will be easier to do the transaction. I would say RM200 is more than enough for a day trip. Oh yeah, RM300 is about 67US Dollar. However, if you want to avoid the hassle to go through this process, you may opt for a travel card by Travelex. You can pre-order them online and put money in it. This travel card will be ready to use in the local currency. Easy peasy.

When you are ready to go, head down to the arrival terminal and choose your mode of transportation to the downtown. There are two main options;

1 – By using UBER

Thanks to the ride-sharing technology, you can easily find UBER services in KLIA. UBER in KLIA is very common now and you can easily ride on to one of the UBER in KLIA as the fare is considerably cheaper than the taxi.  It is best to avoid taxis that are available outside the terminal as most of them are very pricey and usually the drivers tend to target innocent foreigners for extra money. The advantage of riding with UBER is that you can go directly to the place that you want to go, meanwhile if you are using the train, you might need to walk or find another transportation mode to get to the exact location of interest. The disadvantage? Well, obviously, traffic – especially during peak hours.

2 – By using ERL.

ERL is the express train that will go through only 4 stops before you arrive in the KL Sentral (the transportation hub of KL). You may buy a return ticket that will cost you RM100 or if you buy it from their website/kiosk /app, you are entitled to a 10% discount. The journey from the airport to KL Sentral is about 35 minutes max, and once you are in KL Sentral, you are ready to explore Kuala Lumpur! The advantage of using ERL – it is time-saving, only 35 minutes to the heart of KL, meanwhile, the disadvantage is you might need to do extra commute from KL Sentral

Time Elapsed – 4 Hours

Roti Canai for Breakfast

I assumed that you are here in KL during the breakfast time. That is a good time to be in town and to start your amazing day ahead. After a long flight, you might want to indulge yourself with a hearty breakfast. Thus, head to Valentine Roti – best roti canai! Their address is – No. 1, Jalan Semarak, 54000, City Center, Kuala Lumpur. If you are traveling by train (KL LRT), the nearest stop is Damai, and this place is 15 minutes away by walking.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

The operating hour for Valentine Roti is from 10 am to 3 am the next morning. So even if you miss the breakfast time, you can still visit when it is convenient for you


Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Roti Canai is like a crispy flatbread (the closest that I can think of), with more rich taste to it, very popular among Malaysia for breakfast. Usually, eaten with dal or curry sauce or spicy sambal

There are so many versions of Roti Canai available, they are all very famous for breakfast, the stature of Roti Canai might be similar as Bagel for the New Yorkers. However, it is common to eat this anytime of the day too. Don’t be ashamed, as we all eat breakfast meals all day, every day. You can ask for Roti Canai with egg, onion, sardines, or even banana! Go through the menu with an open mind and empty stomach!

The usual company for Roti Canai is Teh Tarik. Bubbled tea with condensed milk. It is quite sweet but if you are conscious of your health, order Teh Tarik Kurang Manis – means a less sweet version, please..For recommendation, I will suggest you try a plate of plain Roti Canai (just to give you the taste of original version) and a plate of Roti Planta which is the best seller of the place. All of these will cost you at most RM6 to RM7 ONLY!

Walk to Petronas Twin Towers KLCC

To burn off that extra calories, walk from the Valentine Roti to Petronas Twin Towers, it will be quite a walk, around 20-30 minutes. But, this way you will have the chance to really explore the city and of course, to justify the calories you consumed earlier. But, if you don’t feel like walking, grab a taxi or UBER (better) and you will be there in 10 minutes depending on the traffic situation.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

A must see site when you are in Kuala Lumpur, this skyscraper is the landmark of the city.

When you are in KLCC, you will find a mall at the ground floor, an outdoor park with great fountains, a giant aquarium named Aquaria KLCC (suitable for kids), PETROSAINS – a Science Discovery Centre that uses a fun and interactive approach to tell the story of the science and technology of the petroleum industry. However, due to time constraint, you might want to skip all these and maybe go straight to the sky bridge. You can opt for the ‘skip the line’ ticket that will cost you RM142. With this kind of ticket, you have the choice of several departures throughout the day, and you can enjoy fantastic aerial views. This guide will come with an informative, friendly and professional guide.

Time Elapsed – 9 Hours

Check in and refresh yourself

By the time you finish your sky bridge tour, you might already feel really uncomfortable, and might be sweaty too. Malaysia is a very humid country, so the rate of precipitation is very high. Drink a lot of water. I imagine by this time you might feel like freshen up yourself a little bit. It might already be the time for check in for most hotels.

As this is just a layover, I would suggest you go for a simpler hotel that is decent and comfortable enough to just lay your head over and to at least have the roof over your head. However, in this situation, it is crucial to choose a hotel with the best location possible so you will be in the heart of every action and for that reason, I would suggest you check into a hotel in Bukit Bintang area.

You may consider Sandpiper Hotel, that is located at the very heart of Bukit Bintang, the price for one night with complimentary breakfast is only 20USD. Check out the guest review and book here at

Cheap hotel in Bukit Bintang   Cheap Hotel in Bukit Bintang

Once checked in, get some shower, take a very quick nap, and you will have that energy boost to continue with your quick vacation.

Time Elapsed – 11 Hours

Time to explore the street

You have recharged your energy, in my mind, you most probably be very hungry. For a quick snack, I suggest you find a street cart vendor that sell Malaysian snack foods like Goreng Pisang and other options as well. Look for a coconut or sugar cane juice if possible, that will fresh you up even more.

Then, head down to Petaling Street – the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur, you may do some quick shopping here, but be very careful, this place is well known for the tourist scam. Avoid asking prices if you really not interested, the seller might be frustrated by your action. It is a nice place to visit but use your common sense when shopping. If the price is not making sense, just avoid it.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

There are also plenty of street food carts for you to try here

Also, head down to Jalan TAR (Tun Abdul Rahman Street) for its night market. This is one of the best options nearby city center. This night market is situated near to Masjid India. Amid the headscarf and T-shirt sellers, there are plenty of stalls serving excellent Malay, Indian and Chinese snacks and colorful soy- and fruit-based drinks.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Pasar Malam

Time for dinner, plenty of foods to be discovered here.

Note that night markets will be opened until 10 pm at night. So you have all time in the world to explore it. It might be the night of your life. A night to immerse in the local culture.

Then get back to your hotel, explore Bukit Bintang at night. This place is very lively at this hour with so many things going on. That is why it is worth it to be in Bukit Bintang for the night. You may want to explore other streets like Jalan Sultan Ismail or Jalan P. Ramlee.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Off Jalan Sultan Ismail

When you fell like calling it a day, get back to your hotel, and have a good night rest to continue your flight tomorrow.

Time Elapsed – 17 Hours

Culture Trip

After a good night sleep, and a hearty breakfast at your hotel, you may find a little bit more time to spare, I suggest you visit the Putrajaya Mosque on the way back to the Airport. Putrajaya is a new administrative city built and visioned by the former prime minister of Malaysia – Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. If you are using the ERL, you may want to stop at Putrajaya.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Putrajaya Mosque


Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Interior of the Mosque. A quite moment to flash back your journey.

Time Elapsed – 28 Hours

 Getting back to the airport

By the time you conclude your mosque tour, you might still have a few hours left to spare. Reserve 4-5 hours for everything that you must do at the airport. From, going through security, finding the terminal and most importantly factor in the time to survive the traffic.

If you feel like eating the last Malaysian Dish for lunch, go to Medan Selera Taman Warisan Pertanian at Putrajaya as well. You can find variety of foods here. From Satay, Nasi Lemak to Coconut Shake, they have it all. That is why I suggest you drop by Putrajaya for a while before you go back to the airport. It is suitable for a last minute tour as it is very near to the KLIA.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

A food court with resort feel to it. Delve into the local cuisines for the last time.

Time Elapsed – 30 Hours

Then, it probably the time to say goodbye. You have to go back to the airport by now. I believe with this itinerary, you could get a brief introduction to Malaysia and its culture. Although it is a short trip, it will be a meaningful one and it will long you to come back again to explore a little bit further.

So, who said that a layover is not fun?
What do you think about this plan? Don’t forget to drop your comment below and share your layover experience if possible.

Don’t forget to Pin the poster below to spread the word

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur


Posted in Things To Do, Travel Malaysia Guide.


  1. Hi there,

    This is a great and detailed guide on a layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

    I honestly didn’t realize how convenient it is to actually just park your luggage and head into town! This is great stuff!

    The details about the restaurants and touristy area is perfect for a quick layover visit! Thanks for the sharing and for the information posted! Definitely will try to fit this into m schedule the next time I go by Malaysia!

    • Hi Merell, thank you for your comment.

      It is very convenient to just leave your belongings at the airport and go explore the city. Glad that you find this useful. However, this might be a very brief and quick introduction to Malaysia. For a real thorough experience you will definitely need more than 36 hours.


  2. How wonderful, I always wanted to go to Malaysia and after reading your article I still have more will.
    I do not know Asia very well, the only country I know a little, it’s India, I’ve been there 2 times.
    I really want to go to Malaysia and Indonesia, it’s the kind of country who inspire me, the culture, the food, the religion.
    Maybe this year or next year.

    • Hi David, thanks for dropping your comment here.
      I am glad that I have inspired you to visit Malaysia, hopefully it will be in the near future.
      Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other queries or questions, I will try my best to help you out.


  3. Great suggestions! I also like to have a prolonged layover in a stopover city to go exploring. It is a great move as long as you are allowed out of the airport! I have never been to Malaysia but I would love to go. Your itinerary for a day in KL looks good. Very detailed! I have heard the islands in the south of Malaysia are second to none!

    • Hi Jason, hope that you will visit us soon. May I know where are you from? It is important to check first whether you need visa for a particular country before going out from the airport. I am glad that you find this useful.
      The islands are actually on the north east / north west and also islands in Borneo.


  4. Wow…great suggestions. I would have never thought of doing this. I would be too scared of missing my flight but if it’s a really long lay over why not. I didn’t realize that a layover could be so long. This is definitely a great way to explore another city for less money. I might actually do this one of these days

    • Hi Kay, if you plan your time well and never lose track on your plan, you will not miss the connection flight. It is better to go out and explore the city tan getting stuck in the airport, eating pricey meals, right?
      Just bear in mind, to allow ample time to go back to the airport again.


  5. Your 36 hours layover of things to do in Kuala Lumpur is an awesome and very helpful guide for anyone that wants to visit Kula Lumpur but doesn’t have much time.
    I would love to visit Malaysia sometime and taste the Roti Canai. 🙂 The Putrajaya Mosque looks like a wonderful place to visit as well.
    When I do I will definitely check your guide again and will recommend it to some friend of mine, who are planning a trip to Malaysia soon.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Hi Angelique, you are welcome to Malaysia anytime. May I know where are you from?
      There are still lot more to see and do apart from what I have listed here.
      Hope that you can spread the word.


  6. Oh man, I wish I would have seen this a month ago! I was in Georgetown, Penang for a week on vacation, and we of course had layovers in Kuala Lumpur. We COULD have done the longer layover and gone to see the city, but instead picked the shorter one and killed time in the airport 🙁 Your picture of roti makes me salivate. There’s nothing quite like it and I had it EVERY DAY of my trip. Thanks for the great post!

    • Hi there, wow, how was your George town trip? Yes, there is nothing like Roti Canai, it looks like flatbread but it is not. It is crispy that it may not be qualified as a member pf bread family though. I think this maybe the reqson for you to come back for another visit!


  7. Once again I am a huge fan of your posts and websites, it really is making me want to go to Kuala Lumpur, I am not into the stuff I was into in my early 20s and now in my vacations I like to focus on integrating myself within the community, and sight seeing the most, and this post along your whole website makes me comfortable knowing if I ever do visit this beautiful city I will have many things to do.

  8. wow, I want to go now. And follow your path. Food looks awesome and things to see very plentiful. You would be a great guide. Thank for the hard work you have put in here. One could pretend to be there..

    • Hi there, you are always welcome to visit Malaysia!
      Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any help.


  9. Hi , we call it a Paratha here (crispy flatbread- really mouthwatering)
    I would love to visit Kuala lampur but if you can suggest some less rate hotels to stay. Lack of budget is the biggest problem. I am sure most of the readers would like to know about the lowest of the rate.

    • Hi, I know and eat paratha. But, it is NOT. Not same at all.
      I will try to write a guide on finding cheap hotels soon. So, watch this space out!


    • Hi there, yes, time management is important when you are out for sightseeing during transit time.
      So yeah, hope this helps.


  10. Kuala Lumpur has been on my bucket list for awhile now and am happy to have stumbled across your site.
    This information will help me 100% with my future travels.
    Thanks for the helpful tips, I will be coming back to ask you some questions when I decide to go 🙂

  11. Terima Kashi!

    K.L is wonderful lively and vibrant city. It certainly would be a shame to miss it during a lay over.

    You have mentioned a few lovely places to see, especially the floating mosque (we have a similar one in Penang). Batu Caves would be great place to see too but is it too far for a whistle stop tour? I have seen that it is on the MRT, but how long to get there from KlCC and back?

    • Hi Derek, good to see your comment again.
      I think Batu Caves is a little far off from city centre.
      Although it is possible but I believe if you want to really explore Batu Caves, you need to dedicate a special time or slot from you travel plan, meaning I would say it is not suitable for a layover’s activities.

      By using train, it will be about 15-20 minutes from KL Sentral.

      Thanks, hope it helps

  12. Even though I am your neighbor (Jakarta), I have never been to Kuala Lumpur. I think I will spend more than just 36 hours when I visit it.

    But this is a detailed itinerary if I just want to spend a weekend there. Do you have any recommendation on where to eat Durian?

    • Hi neighbor, I will visit Jakarta next month, this is my first trip to Indonesia too.
      Hope that all goes well.
      There are lots of great place to eat durian, to name a few;

      1) Subang Jaya SS2
      2) TTDI Jaya


  13. Hey really great article, Looks like you really know your stuff and enjoyed your travells.
    I want to go to Kuala Lumpar at some point in my life, it looks like such an interesting exciting place.

    I never knew they had UBER over there. I like your suggestions of where to grab breakfast or a stroll to the twin towers.

    Will share this article with people that I know are looking at going there soon.

    Thanks again

    • Hi thanks a lot Rose,
      actually we have UBER service in more than 5 major cities in Malaysia..and another local ride sharing apps named ‘Grab’, so there are options other than taxi which may cost more normally.

      You are most welcome to come and cisit KL.


  14. What a great suggestion for the long flights from America. I’ve heard a lot about Malaysia and how affordable it is compared to living in America. I am not sure of the currency exchange rate, but I assume it is around one RM dollar equals $4.50US dollars?
    Kuala Lumpur looks like a modern and very beautiful city, and of course, populated and busy. I have been to Asia once and will return soon. I will have to make sure my next trip will have a layover in Malaysia. Thank you for a wonderful experience in Kuala Lumpur living.

    • Hi Kenneth, it is the other way round, 1USD is now about RM4.30
      it used to be 1USD = RM4.50 a few months ago.
      Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any help on planning your trip.


  15. Hi there,

    Wow… great article! This will certainly get me out of the airport on my long layovers. I have never been to Malaysia and I hear scuba diving is one of the best places to go. There are many things I can do… I just need to jump out of my box and go out there. I am a spur of the moment person and rarely make organized trips… I think I can do well here as long as I know how much time I have available.

    Thank you and journey on… I look forward to reading your next article with more great ideas!


    • Hi Monica,
      Yes you are right, top scuba diving spots will be at Islands in Terengganu or Sabah,
      these are the the place with world class view for people that love diving.

      Hope this helps, thanks a lot

  16. The roti canai looks like a must try! I did not know UBER is there now as well, been years since I last went there. On a side note in the petaling street, there is a famous drink stall selling this Mahogany (luo han guo) fruit drink in metal bowl and spoon.Its a wonderful dessert/drink to beat the heat there. I wonder if the stall is still around?

    • Hi Wendy, UBER has been in operation in more than 5 major cities in Malaysia now.
      About that drink, I have no idea, you seem to have better knowledge on herbal tea and medicine, so no doubt that you noticed this kind of drink.
      So, when are you going to pay another visit?


  17. Hi Mate,
    This is a really interesting article for me.
    I am an expat who lives in China and on a yearly basis need to go to KL for the renewal of my visa. My next visit is only a month away. I’m usually there for a week and just hang around the pool and my hotel. But not this time. Your ideas and the information you have supplied has got me excited about my next trip.
    Really appreciate it

    • Hi Paul, I am glad you find this useful. if you happened to be in KL soon, don’t just stay in your hotel, at least try to find some pasar malam to explore..

  18. This article is a great guide for people travelling to countries ahead of Kuala Lumpur but have a flight layover. It guides you from how to get out of the airport to the best places to eat, to the streets that are the most popular and also affordable hotels and a lot more. This article is the only thing that you will need to have the best time in KL.

  19. Thanks for the information, the detail will surely get me out of the airport without getting lost, and I like how you have time lined this little stop over. It made me realize how doable it is to make a stop over and see something of another country. Also, give you time to rest and stretch those legs out after a long trip.

    • Hi pal, this is what I imagine as a perfect layover. Spending a little bit of time to dip our toes into the culture of the locals, hope you will visit Malaysia soon. Thanks

  20. Wow, Good recommendation towards Kuala Lumpur. Feel like going there for leisure. You cover most of the hotspot that I wanted to go.

    Perhaps the most favorite food I need to try out is Roti Canai. Seems good view from your picture.

    I also hear most of my KL friend ask me to pay a visit Petaling Street if I want to buy cheap and reasonable goods such as shoes and clothes. But thanks for your reminder and I will be more careful to avoid the scams.

  21. Hi there,

    Nice article! Maybe on the future you could suggest some activities and places to visit that much closer to the KLIA such as Paya Indah Wetland, F1 Sepang Circuit (guided tour is available) and National Automobile Museum. Im sure all these would be great for every traveler with more than 5 hours time in the airport 😉

    • Hi Regina, thank you for your suggestion, really appreciate it.
      I have so many places to introduce, but yes, maybe for layover period, it is suitable to visit places that are near to the airport only.


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