Experiencing KL on a Budget

Kuala Lumpur

Michael Madriaga

It is everyone’s dream to visit another country and have his or her own passport stamped. One of the cheapest and easiest destinations to visit is probably Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. Affordability is usually our main concern when traveling, and KL will surely surprise one with how inexpensive their products and services are. Also, the Malaysian Ringgit’s conversion to Philippine Peso is close at around 12.00 to 13.00 PHP to 1 MYR (RM).

Luckily, for us residing here on the island, there is already a direct flight from Kalibo International Airport to Kuala Lumpur, and if you book early for your trip, you could get a roundtrip airfare ticket for just 5,000 PHP (or even less!).

To get the best deals, book your hotel on a Friday as this is when most online booking sites give discounts to as much as 70%. I would also suggest that you look for a hotel that is just meters away from a train or bus station to lessen your taxi expenses.

KL’s train system was designed to efficiently provide access to different areas of the city. A transit ride would cost somewhere between RM1.00 to RM2.50 (that’s equivalent to Php12.00 to PHp30.00) depending on the distance travelled. You also need not worry about getting lost as long as you know how to get to the KL Sentral Station.

For those who really want to cut down the expenses for transportation, you may also ride the free KL City buses but be ready to squeeze yourself with a lot of people inside. Nevertheless, these free rides will bring you to their famous attractions in just minutes.

National Mosque and Museum of Islamic Arts

These two landmarks stand almost side-by side near the Kuala Lumpur Train Station (this is different from KL Sentral but in the same line). Coming from the hi-way, you will first see the towering and massive structure of the National Mosque. If there’s something that really amazed me about KL, it’s the architectures and the National Mosque is just a proof of those intricately designed landmarks found in this city

Just a few steps from the mosque is the Museum of Islamic Arts. If you’re a student (including post-grad students) even from other countries, just show your school ID and you’d only pay half the price of the entrance fee (regular at RM14.00). Inside, different memorabilia, artifacts, and scriptures are on display, showing the colorful history of the Islamic culture. Each of the different galleries shows how religion influenced almost every piece and craft of the people in Malaysia.

KL Bird Park

Before leaving the museum, ask the front desk staff or even the guard for directions going to KL Bird Park, which is located just a few meters away.

For an entrance fee of RM 60.00 (about PHP750.00), you get to see and at some point, interact with thousands of bird species, some of which are caged while some are freely walking and flying around the aviary park. Souvenir shops and snacks stores are also scattered around the area for your convenience.

Katsuri Walk and Petaling Street

Shopping is a must-do in KL, and for those looking for great deals, make sure to visit the Katsuri Walk and the Petaling Street. Katsuri Walk is just beside the Central Market where most of the local artworks and handicrafts can be bought. There are also restaurants in the Central Market if you want to try some Malaysian dishes like the Nasi Lemak and Laksa. If you’re looking for the authentic street style sate, Katsuri Walk offers different sate meats and other street foods as well.

Petaling Street is located in Chinatown, and is just two blocks away from Katsuri Walk. This is the best place to buy your souvenirs as items here cost half of those at the mall or train stations.

KL City Gallery In order to have the coveted tourist photo with the famous “I LOVE KL”, one must go to the KL City Gallery, which is also just a few blocks from the Katsuri Walk. After taking photos, you may enter their Gallery and watch the lights and sound show showcasing the Malaysian Government’s future plans to further develop the city. There are miniature buildings that also serve as a 3D map of the whole KL. The entrance fee is 5.00 RM (65.00 PHP) and the ticket can be used as a voucher if you want to purchase from their souvenir shop or even at their café.

Little India and Chocolates

Another spot perfect for shopping is Little India. Here, you could buy scarves and saris for really low prices. A scarf costs around 4.00 – 5.00 RM (50.00 – 65.00 PHP), and it’s the perfect pasalubong for our girl friends and relatives.

Chocolates are also one of the famous items that tourists buy in KL, and in Little India, a duty-free store called Haniffa sells such sweet goodness for affordable prices. Most of the items cost around 1.00 RM to 5.00 RM cheaper than the other chocolate shops. It is best to visit the store if you plan on buying in bulks.

KL Tower

One of the most iconic structures in the city is the KL Tower, locally known as the Menara Kuala Lumpur. The tower serves as headquarters for various television and radio networks. KL Tower may be visited to experience a 360-degree view of the city. There is also a revolving restaurant, the Atmosphere 360, which serves different local and international cuisine while providing a bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur.

The lunch buffet at Atmosphere 360 costs 92.45 RM or roughly about 1,200 PHP. If you find it a bit costly, then you may just visit their observation deck, which provides the same view for just 15.00 RM (195.00 PHP).

Petronas Towers and KLCC

Kuala Lumpur City Centre or KLCC is the city’s most developed district with various skyscrapers and shopping malls to see. The most famous among these buildings is the Petronas Twin Towers. Its post-modern style leaves its audience amazed by how this marvelous structure was made. There is also an observation deck (with fees) at the Petronas Towers, but due to the high volume of visitors during that day, we weren’t able to reserve a convenient schedule. I suggest you visit the twin towers a day before and reserve a schedule on the next day to ensure a slot.

Suria is one of the most famous luxury malls in the city and is located at the bottom of Petronas Towers. It has different shops and boutiques from designer brands to different specialty stores. A park located outside the mall also offers a magnificent view of the towers, and inside the mall, various restaurants offer different local delicacies.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves is a bit far from the city but may be visited directly by a train, which stops at KL Sentral. Getting lost is not a problem as there is a train station dedicated to Batu Caves.

Upon arriving at the station, you will notice different towering golden structures that would make you feel welcomed. At the cave grounds there are different stalls offering Indian sweets. Monkeys walk freely around the area and you could also feed them with biscuits. The most famous and tallest among the golden statues is the one situated right at the bottom of the entrance of Batu Caves, the statue of the Hindu deity Murugan.

Before you enter the caves, you have to climb 272 concrete steps. Make sure to buy your water at the stores on the ground as climbing the caves is really tiring. Inside the cave, a big dome awaits with different Hindu temples. It is also better to keep quiet while touring the cave so as not to disturb those who are praying.

There is no entrance fee in the cave, but you may wish to donate, there are donation boxes found at the entrance.


My 3-day tour ended so fast and I really didn’t want to leave. Kuala Lumpur opened my eyes to how modernization could still work hand-in-hand with culture and traditions without compromising environmental sustainability. This in fact is what I have been looking for, a combination of the Metro, but not too suffocating, with a touch of that laid-back island feel.

Before leaving the city, I made a promise to myself that I shall return. And guess what, I’ve already booked another ticket this year – not a one-way ticket though, not this time.

Watch out for the part two of my adventure in Kuala Lumpur as I am looking forward to experiencing more of its neighboring districts and destinations and a side trip to Singapore!

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