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Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities where you’d welcome a layover, especially if you’re on a long-haul flight transiting between continents. KL International Airport, one of the busiest airports globally, offers plenty to explore even during a short layover.
Before booking your next flight over Malaysia, consider squeezing one day in Kuala Lumpur to immerse yourself in a new culture. Depending on your travel plans, aim for the longest layover in Kuala Lumpur that doesn’t require buying a separate plane ticket. This way, you can explore the best of Kuala Lumpur city without making a separate trip. And yes, it’s totally doable in 24 hours with kids!
In this one-day KL itinerary, we will guide you through the must-see attractions and activities that will keep everyone in the family entertained and amazed. From exploring the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to immersing in the vibrant cultural scene of Chinatown, this itinerary is designed to ensure that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest member of your family, has an unforgettable experience in the heart of Malaysia’s capital city. We’ll take you through the best of Kuala Lumpur’s attractions, delicious food options, and exciting family-friendly activities.
So grab your loved ones and with just one day in Kuala Lumpur, let’s journey on to create lasting memories for the whole family!
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Do I need a visa for a layover in Kuala Lumpur?
You do not need a visa if you’re transiting within one day in Kuala Lumpur and staying in the transit hall.
If your stopover is longer than 24 hours or you would like to get out and explore the city, you would need to obtain an appropriate visa.
However, it’s very simple for nationals from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most countries in Europe. You’ll be granted a 90-day visa-free entry on arrival for tourism purposes without having to do anything else. For nationals from any of these countries, you would need to apply for a visa.
Table of Contents:
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminals
There are 2 terminals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport that are connected by a free shuttle bus. Double-check your boarding pass to make sure you come back to the correct terminal before your next flight.
Can I leave the airport during a layover in Kuala Lumpur?
The short answer is YES. Especially if you hold a passport that doesn’t require a visa to enter Malaysia. However, depending on the duration of your layover, consider whether you have enough time to explore the city.
Getting Around Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is quite a distance from the city centre – about an hour’s drive, and possibly longer during peak hours. If you only have a few hours to spare, rushing to the city and back can be stressful.
The KLIA Ekspres is a quicker option, taking about 30 minutes to reach KL Sentral.
Once there, Kuala Lumpur’s light rail system, LRT offers a convenient way for getting around Kuala Lumpur. It connects various parts of the city and is a fast and efficient way to travel.
The monorail is another popular option for getting around the city centre. It offers easy access to popular attractions and shopping areas.
Our family loves using ride-share apps in Asia, mostly for convenience and affordability with 2 kids. And no, most Asian countries don’t require baby seats. The only exception is Singapore.
During peak hours, we open several ride-share apps to secure the quickest ride.
AirAsia Ride, now available in selected Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, is a great alternative. We’ve tried and tested AirAsia Ride and recommend it for its affordability. However, as of now, it’s mainly popular in Kuala Lumpur.
Grab, the Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber, is another reliable option if you have a local number or plan to get one while travelling.
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Local Number & Data Plan eSim
If you’re planning to get an eSim with a local number for making phone calls during your one day in Kuala Lumpur, we recommend U Mobile. We purchased our sim cards conveniently at the airport.
However, if your needs don’t include a local number for calls and texts, consider opting for a regional or global eSim from Airalo. This service allows you to activate your account instantly and use it across multiple countries in the region you’re travelling to.
Accommodation Options for One Day in KL
Hotel by the Hour
If you have a short layover or a layover with unfriendly times, Capsule Transit is conveniently located in both terminals inside Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This is a great place to rest your head between connecting flights and you can book by the hour.
In all honesty, the capsules were very basic and had limited space, but it was good enough to squeeze in a nap for the price of it and the convenience of its location.
When planning your one day in Kuala Lumpur, choosing the right accommodation is key. Some popular areas to consider include Bukit Bintang, KLCC, and Chinatown.
Bukit Bintang is a bustling area known for its shopping malls, night markets, and food streets, making it an excellent choice for families who relish exploring local cuisines and street food during their one day in Kuala Lumpur.
KLCC, home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, offers a range of luxury hotels with stunning city views, perfect for those seeking a touch of opulence. If mall-hopping is your favourite thing to do, stay close to KLCC or one of these amazing megamalls in Kuala Lumpur.
Chinatown, on the other hand, is a vibrant and culturally rich area with a variety of budget-friendly accommodations. It’s a great choice for travellers wanting to immerse themselves in the local culture. In all honesty, Chinatown wasn’t our family’s favourite area to stay, but if you enjoy haggling at local markets, Chinatown may just be the perfect place for you.
Each of these areas offers a unique perspective of Kuala Lumpur and is well-connected to public transportation, ensuring you can make the most of your limited time in the city.
One Day in Kuala Lumpur Sample Itinerary
Explore KL’s iconic landmark – KLCC (City Centre)
You can’t say you’ve been to Kuala Lumpur without a picture in front of the Petronas Twin Towers. While you’re there, wander around the 6-storey shopping mall at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers – Suria KLCC. This is the heart of the city and can easily take up your one-day itinerary, especially if you’re here to shop.
Although the food court at Suria KLCC is pretty amazing, you might want to leave some room for desserts, street food and drinks as you discover Kuala Lumpur as the food heaven. Some of the must-try local foods are Mee goreng mamak, Nasi lemak, Ayam percik, Laksa and a dozen more.
If you can stay until dark, don’t miss the fountain show Lake Symphony at the esplanade for some dazzling lights.
Nestled next to the Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC Park is a verdant oasis in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. During your one day in Kuala Lumpur, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park, let your kids have fun in the playground, and soak in the tranquil surroundings.
This park also serves as an excellent backdrop for photos of the Petronas Twin Tower. If you happen to encounter one of the local “entrepreneurs” who have made a business out of capturing tourists’ photos with their clip-on wide-angle lenses, it’s worth investing in a professional snapshot to remember your visit. Or get your own!
If your family enjoys marine life, a visit to Aquaria KLCC is a must. Located beneath the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, this oceanarium is home to a wide variety of marine creatures, including sharks, turtles, and colourful tropical fish.
Alternatively, head up to Petrosains, The Discovery Centre on Level 4 of Suria KLCC.
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Enjoy shopping at Petaling Street – Chinatown
If you’re looking to shop for accessories like hats, belts, bags, clothes, or toys for kids during your one day in Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown, or Petaling Street, is your go-to destination.
For me, Petaling Street was a fascinating cultural immersion. While it was enjoyable to wander around the stalls and haggle with vendors, the bustling atmosphere could be a sensory overload for those not used to the busy Asian market scenes.
Petaling Street is known for its inexpensive knock-offs, but remember, you get what you pay for.
I once expressed interest in a discontinued fragrance, and the vendor initially asked for RM300. When I politely smiled and was about to walk away, he quickly dropped the price to RM200, then to RM100, RM50, and finally to RM30. I didn’t buy it, for obvious reasons. Our haggling experience in Chinatown KL was certainly entertaining.
Indulge in local cuisine and Jalan Alor (Eat Street)
Looking back, we wished we’d saved our appetites for Jalan Alor instead of having dinner at KLCC. After the fountain show, we found ourselves amidst a bustling street food paradise at Jalan Alor. This lively night market was brimming with local street food, desserts, and fresh fruit juices.
Our top pick was Wong Ah Wah Restaurant, especially their signature honey soy chicken wings. If you’re adventurous, we highly recommend trying local seafood like stingrays, shellfish, and snails, or even a frog leg claypot. Delicious!
Last but not least on the list, ever thought about trying Durian, the King of Fruits? It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of fruit. I dare you to try a Durian ice cream while in KL! I’ve seen friends enjoy it with delight, but to me, it tastes like my son’s feet – not my cup of tea at all, sorry hubby. (He’s Malaysian by the way.)
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Kuala Lumpur is a city that truly sparkles at night.
Even if you arrive in the afternoon, you’ll have enough time to reach the city, do some shopping, and taste local food before the captivating KLCC fountain show begins.
After a day filled with adventure, it’s time to head back to the airport for a good night’s sleep or to catch your next flight. This schedule ensures you get a taste of Kuala Lumpur’s vibrant nightlife during your short visit.
Remember, Kuala Lumpur’s traffic can be heavy, so leave plenty of time to get back to the airport. With the drive to the airport taking about an hour, aim to arrive a couple of hours before your flight. And don’t forget to check you’re at the correct terminal!
Conclusion: Making the most of your 24 hours in KL
With just one day in Kuala Lumpur, you can create lasting memories for the whole family.
From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in local cuisine and experiencing the vibrant nightlife, Kuala Lumpur offers a diverse range of attractions and activities.
By planning your day well and following our suggested itinerary, you can make the most of your 24 hours in KL and ensure that everyone in the family has an unforgettable experience.
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