As the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, or KL as others like to call it, has many things to offer. It has a mix of everything from gigantic skyscrapers to natural attractions to charming homes, particularly in the best areas to stay in Kuala Lumpur. There are numerous districts all around but the Golden Triangle remains to be the main hub where tourists and locals meet.
The Golden Triangle has the major points in the city, including Chinatown and Bukit Bintang among others. Kuala Lumpur is recognized all over Asia and the rest of the world as well for its landmarks such as the Petaling Street flea market and the almost 500-year-old Batu Caves. KL is also home to the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world called the Petronas.
If you have ever wondered what the name of the city means, it is a mix of two Malay words Kuala (muddy) and Lumpur (confluence). Its name was due to its location in which it is placed between the rivers of Gombak and Klang.
Kuala Lumpur is a favorite tourist destination, especially for those who want to visit the large shopping malls in the city. The Suria KLCC and the Pavilion KL are among the top shopping sites for buyers looking for popular brands from all over the world.
The city is also abundant with cafes, restaurants, and other places where you can enjoy both local and foreign cuisines. There are lush green parks, as well as monuments with historical significance and busy markets. It is also where the king of Malaysia resides with his palace compound covering 13 acres of land.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur: Best areas to stay in Kuala Lumpur
There are great neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur for backpackers and tourists who want to stay in the city for a night or even more. You will also find numerous places where expats reside. If you are in the area, it is helpful to know the best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur. Here is a list that will guide you on the top neighborhoods in KL for your visit:
1. KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre)
Quite clearly, the KLCC is the center of the city, being an important business and commercial area. It is also an entertainment hub and a place where you can find numerous landmarks known all over Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre has a variety of attractions for the young and old. If you especially like arts and culture, KLCC should be one of the areas in Kuala Lumpur at the top of your list. Meanwhile, if you like to go shopping or you simply want to be entertained, this neighborhood also has a lot to offer for you.
KLCC may be known as the business hub of Malaysia but it also has celebrated art galleries and expansive museums. One of the favorite attractions here is the Petronas Twin Towers. However, if you walk all over the area, you will find a ton of hotspots, which is why it is the number one hangout spot in the city.
It is a good place for those who want to go shopping and dining but it is also for those who wish to go on a scenic walk. At night, this neighborhood does not sleep with its exciting events and a boisterous nightlife. No matter where you are from, it is easy to get in and out of KLCC, thanks to the buses and public transport that are readily available.
While you are looking for a place to stay in Kuala Lumpur, KLCC is a good option, especially if you have the budget. Many of the hotels here are expensive and most are from top hotel chains.
Aside from luxury hotels, you will also find budget inns and other types of accommodation. This neighborhood offers plenty of selections, which make it an excellent stop for first-time visitors who are on a budget as well.
2. Bukit Bintang
Another one of the well-known areas in Kuala Lumpur is Bukit Bintang or Bintang Walk. Its name means Star Hill in English. While KLCC has shopping sites and entertainment hotspots, people visit Bukit Bintang for those two reasons. It is trendy and caters to everyone’s tastes, including the young and old visitors.
Walking around, you will find five-star hotels, busy nightclubs, and restaurants that stay open 24/7. Of course, there are shopping areas here, including stores of luxury retailers from all over the world. If you are looking to purchase a Diane Von Furstenberg, Coach, or Dolce & Gabbana item, Bukit Bintang is where you want to be.
Aside from shopping centers, Bukit Bintang has some iconic landmarks, particularly the Pavilion KL. It is also home to glamorous buildings, live music scene, and rooftop bars.
This neighborhood is in a central location in the city, making it a hassle-free destination for those who want to visit the place. You can access it through monorail, buses, and taxi cabs as well. If you are looking to stay in Kuala Lumpur and you want to be in the very center of the city with shopping sites surrounding you, Bukit Bintang is a highly recommended option.
Since it is an important place in KL, you can find almost every accommodation type here. Whether you have the budget or you are looking for a bit more affordable beds, this neighborhood has what you are looking for. Some options include the Parkroyal and the Berjaya Times Square Hotel.
There are apartments that you can rent as well. They are a popular selection, especially for families or those who are in KL with a large group of people. Perhaps the biggest complaint about staying in this part of the city is that traffic can be unbearable.
3. Chinatown/Petaling Street
Chinese miners were said to be the founders of Kuala Lumpur when they found the would-be city in the 1850s. Today, most of the population in KL, as well as in Malaysia, is comprised of Chinese Malaysians. You will see these people in Petaling Street, particularly Chinatown.
If you want to experience the Chinese culture in the city, there is no better place to do it than in Chinatown. The street itself is a bit huge but you will most certainly find the daily flea market, which is popular all over Asia. It is where you can buy clothes, CDs, perfumes, and even smartphones. Be careful though because some of them have questionable authenticity.
Additionally, some vendors are quite difficult to deal with, but you can tell that they sell very cheap goods. If you wish to experience haggling with the Chinese vendors or you just want to buy extremely affordable stuff you cannot find anywhere, head to Chinatown.
Aside from the stalls, there are shophouses that have been around since the pre-war days. Also, there are hawkers all over the area who come from other places, including Bangladesh and India. If you are mostly interested souvenirs that you would like to take home with you, the best place to find them is in Pasar Seni.
Chinatown is a bargain hunter’s paradise in the city. It is the place to stay in Kuala Lumpur if you want cheaper options when it comes to accommodation. You will see plenty of backpacker inns in the area, along with affordable rooms. There are luxury hotels as well, including The Majestic and The Explorers Guesthouse, which is a bit inexpensive.
Most people opt to stay in this area because they want to be near the LRT train. It is also recommended for those who are on a budget. However, if you are looking for an energetic nightlife, you may want to look somewhere else. Also, traffic can be extremely heavy and the streets are not as clean as the other places in the city.
4. KL Sentral
About 1.2 miles from the KLCC or the city center of Kuala Lumpur, the KL Sentral proudly stands in the middle of busy streets and lively locals. This neighborhood brings everything together, from local to international restaurants and luxury to budget hotels. It has diverse options for backpackers, travelers who have brought along their kids and even couples who are on a honeymoon.
KL Sentral is considered the transport hub in the city. It provides access to the largest rail transport in the country. This part of Kuala Lumpur is often tied with Brickfields because it is just within walking distance from the mentioned area.
If you are planning to stay in Kuala Lumpur in this part of the city, you will discover plenty of options available. These choices make this area quite traveler-friendly because it caters to both those on a budget, as well as those who want to experience KL.
You will find an interesting collection of luxury hotels with international names, along with smaller and affordable options. KL Sentral is often a top selection for those who are open to exploring the city without worrying about their financial plan. Since it is a transport hub, you will not have any problems with public transport access in this area.
If your goal is to stay in Kuala Lumpur, which means within the city itself and not an airport hotel, you should add KL Sentral as one of your top options. It can be a bit busy here though, especially because many people opt for this place when they have businesses in and around the city.
Some hotel selections include the Hilton KL and Le Meridien. St. Regis and The Majestic hotels are good luxury options but those who want affordable accommodation can look for backpacker inns. It is helpful to choose one that has its own restaurant or eatery since the malls are typically packed during lunchtime.
5. Brickfields (Little India)
Kuala Lumpur is indeed rich in culture. If you want to visit a place in the city that gives you a taste of the colorful Indian culture, Brickfields is the best destination. It is aptly named Little India because it is mainly where the Indian population in the city lives and works. Still, it effectively combines modern and old KL.
As you walk down the streets of this neighborhood, you will immediately recognize the pungent smell of Indian spices. If you are searching for Indian delicacies in the area, you will not be disappointed. Stalls and small restaurants are in this particular location. They mostly offer Indian cuisines and of course, local Malaysian food.
For Indians, there are shophouses in the area as well where you can find a variety of items. Most of the products and eateries here are quite inexpensive. Therefore, you can also expect that the accommodation options are affordable as well, although they are more varied than in Chinatown.
Brickfields is just a few minutes from KL Sentral. You can also choose to stay in the given options in the mentioned neighborhood. The hotel prices in this location are diverse so you can pick the best one for your budget.
It is important that you anticipate the traffic here, particularly during peak hours. While transportation is not a problem, getting to your destination can be a hassle.
There are also malls in KL Sentral which you can access just a few minutes from Little India. However, they are usually full of people during lunch hours. If you want to stay in Kuala Lumpur, specifically in Brickfields, some suggestions are the Flip Bunc Hostel and the Hotel Summer View.
6. Chow Kit
The wet market is the popular reason why visitors head to Chow Kit, which is just by the western side of Kampung Baru. It is a great stop for those who want to see the busy lives of the Malaysians, especially the vendors and businesspeople.
It is a localized area that will give you that small town feel. However, it is quite vibrant and noisy, especially during peak hours. It is filled with retail outlets that have been around for decades and most of them offer wholesale goods. Tourists, especially those who come from different parts of Asia, visit Chow Kit to buy affordable items.
The daily market called the Bundle Chow Kit is a huge hit, not only for the tourists but the locals as well. This place houses numerous restaurants and attractions, including the Sikh Temple, which is well-known for being the largest temple in Southeast Asia.
Just like most neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur, Chow Kit is easily accessible by car and even public transportation, thanks to the monorail station in the area. When in this area, you will immediately feel that the local culture surrounds you, which may be a good reason for you to choose this place for accommodation.
When it comes to cheap hotels and other options, Chow Kit is the best neighborhood in KL to turn to. It offers several budget-friendly hotels and inns but be aware that most are not as clean as you may expect. If you want to be in an area with plenty of tourist attractions and landmarks, it is better if you stay somewhere else in the city.
Nevertheless, there are also good options, including the Crossroads Hotel and the Smile Boutique Hotel. Both of them have a good location, so they are highly recommended for those who need quick access to the monorail station.
7. Bangsar/Mid Valley
Bangsar is one of the popular areas in Kuala Lumpur for both locals and tourists who like to party. It is an entertainment district whether it is nighttime or daytime. However, Bangsar comes alive at night, which is why modern Malaysians drop by here to experience the clubs, bistros, and more.
If you only have a few days to spend in Kuala Lumpur, you should not miss this neighborhood, especially if your goal is to socialize. Head to Maarof and Telawi, which are streets in Bangsar that are full of nightclubs and even live music. They are extremely popular during the weekends so expect a huge crowd if you will be here during those nights.
Bangsar and Mid Valley are the neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur where you can meet many expats. The attractions and hotspots here cater to both locals and foreigners. If you are looking for fine dining, Bangsar has many to offer, including international restaurants.
One great thing about this area is that most of the attractions are in a single place. For instance, the shopping malls have the best dining options, whether you are a vegan or you love meat. The Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Center are the most popular malls in the area.
The neighborhood is just a few minutes from Little India. You can also visit the Butterfly Park and Bird Park when you are in Bangsar. It is a residential area for the most part but is also filled with visitors day in and day out.
Although still present, it is quite difficult to find affordable accommodation options in the area, which is why those who are on a budget may not see this place as suitable for them. However, Bangsar and Mid Valley are a great option for moderately wealthy travelers and of course those who wish to go shopping.
You will find guesthouses in the area though, along with a number of hotels. There are dorms, apartments, and private rooms that can accommodate large groups.
8. Subang Jaya
Subang Jaya is in Selangor, Malaysia and is just about 20 minutes from the city center of Kuala Lumpur. Because of the proximity, it is often linked with KL and is even considered a district here. Subang Jaya is a thriving community with international companies and schools.
This district is filled with eateries and retail stores, which is why it is a top pick of those who want everything within their reach. If you plan to stay in Kuala Lumpur for the next few days, Subang Jaya is a great option, especially for families and those with kids.
The biggest attraction in the area is the theme park where you can have fun while under the sun. Although Subang Jaya was constructed as a residential area in 1974, it has become a travel destination. It is easy to get in and around this district because of the buses and commuter trains that serve the area.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, such as riding the waves with water rides or playing golf or archery, Subang Jaya is for you. It is highly recommended for travelers who have young children. For those who want to enjoy different cuisines, this place is also a must-visit.
There are luxury hotels in the area and they are mostly connected to a shopping mall. Since Subang Jaya is designed for travelers and locals alike, you will certainly experience heavy traffic here.
9. Airport Kuala Lumpur KLIA
You may not quickly think about staying near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) but it is actually a top option for tourists. The moment you land, you will instantly notice that the airport comes with top-notch facilities, along with venues that will suit your palate and your shopping urges.
The terminals are spacious and you can also find quality accommodation options located near the airport. The primary gateway KLIA is situated in Sepang. It has a few luxury lounges, well-known and local restaurants, and play areas for kids.
About 1.2 miles away, the KLIA2 proudly stands. It is certainly a busy airport, thanks to the availability of budget airlines here. Staying near KLIA and KLIA2 should not be a problem. There is a wide array of choices, whether you prefer to stay in Kuala Lumpur on a budget or you want to splurge.
Airport hotels are equipped with free shuttle services. If you will stay in the city for a business trip, the accommodation in the area is most probably the best for you. You do not have to go any farther than just a few minutes from the airport to the hotel. Among the recommendations here are the Sama-Sama Hotel and the Rumah Putih Bed and Breakfast.
Kuala Lumpur is indeed a traveler-friendly city. If you have a limited budget and you simply want to enjoy what KL offers, there are accommodation options for you. Meanwhile, if you are ready for a more lavish experience, the city will certainly please you.