- Day 1 – Arrive in Kuala Lumpur
- Day 2 – Batu Caves, Petronas Tower, and Fireflies
- Day 3 – Central Market, Petaling Street, and Brickfields
- Day 4 – Depart for Singapore
- Day 5 – Explore Singapore
- Day 6 – Day trips around Singapore
- Day 7 – Off to your next adventure!
If traveling to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, it seems like a shame to go that far and not visit the sister city. KL and Singapore are so close that traveling to both cities is simple. Both cities are also well connected with their metro systems so getting around is efficient and easy. Here is a 7 day itinerary for visiting both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Day 1 – Arrive in Kuala Lumpur
KL, as it’s referred to by locals, is a large city and the airport is a major airport in Southeast Asia. After arrival, you’ll need to take the high speed rail into the city. The journey will take about 30 minutes and arrive at the central station in KL. From there, you have your options of the metro, light rail, or even monorail to get to wherever you want to go in the city.
After checking in to your hotel and dropping off your bags, explore the city and walk around. You’ll quickly find out that walking outside is not that pleasant especially during the summer since it’s so hot and humid. What’s nice about KL is that the city is designed to allow people to remain indoors as long as possible. You’ll notice that multiple shopping malls are all connected with a walkway so that you can stay cool in the air conditioning.
For food, you probably won’t do better than walking around Jalan Alor and just seeing what the vendors have on display. You’ll see everything from all types of seafood to Malaysian chicken wings (I don’t know how else to describe them…but they’re delicious). I ate there almost every night and never had the same meal twice. At night, the street is packed with tables and people enjoying a night out.
Day 2 – Batu Caves, Petronas Tower, and Fireflies
No need to wake up early because a lot of these sites are close by. Start by going up to the Batu Caves since that’s a little outside of the city. You’ll need to take a cab there since it isn’t connected via the metro but you should take a bus there but it’ll take a while. Once there, get ready to climb up the stairs to the top.
As you walk, make sure you don’t have any food in your hands since the monkeys there can get a little grabby. You’ll see them all around as you climb the stairs to the top. It’s great in that it’s free to enter and it doesn’t take too long. The only thing you’ll want to do is check to make sure there are no major religious holidays during your visit because it could get really crowded if it is. The entire visit won’t really take more than 30 minutes but I guess you could take your time.
Next, head back into the city and have your taxi drop you off at the Petronas Tower. Start here because it’s also a bit out of the way. Once there, you can figure out if it’s worth it to go up to the top or if walking around and seeing it from the ground is good enough. If you do want to go inside, you may want to go here first to avoid any lines that may form later in the day.
While you’re there, you can walk inside and visit the mall. It’s a pretty large space with all the usual stores. What’s great about the mall (and other malls in KL) is the food court. There is such a wide variety of great local foods there that it’s a wonderful place to eat to stay cool. It’s worth it if only to cool off from the outside humidity.
Depending on the time, you can continue on or take a break until the night. At night, go and check out Kuala Selangor. Although it’s a bit outside of town (if memory serves, it’s about an hour drive outside of the city) but it’s this attraction that isn’t well known. It’s only open at night and you take this electric power boat (to keep the noise level down) and you ride a boat up and down the river. There are no lights so it takes a bit of time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness but once the tour starts, it’s incredible.
The only way I can describe it is that it looked like hundreds of faint Christmas tree lights that lined the river as far as you could see. The fireflies are resting on the branches of these bushes along the river and as the branches move in the breeze at night, the lights also move. It was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and something I’ll remember forever. Unfortunately I didn’t have the correct camera equipment at the time to take any type of photo since it was so dark and any flash would basically wash out any light coming from the fireflies.
Day 3 – Central Market, Petaling Street, and Brickfields
There’s no real reason to get up super early since you’ll want to go to these 3 spots when there are people around. Central Market is a large market in this art deco building that is pretty unmistakable. It’s very easy to get to since it’s right next to the metro station and pretty much in the center of the city. It’s a great place to go to find that odd gift for friends and family back home and remember that buying gifts in KL is much cheaper than buying gifts in Singapore.
The market doesn’t look like much from the outside and when I saw it, I thought it was going to be a fairly run down building on the inside. However, the inside of the market is well kept, clean, and modern. What’s interesting about the market is that it’s divided by ethnicity to see all the different types of people who call KL home. You can also find some places to grab food here as well.
Next, head over to Petaling Street which is just a few blocks away. This is Chinatown in KL. This is a massive outdoor market with merchants selling all sorts of items. You’ll need to bargain hard and not take things personally since some of the vendors there seemed to act like they were offended every time I asked for a price and then walked away. I mean I don’t mind haggling but not for something I’m only partially interested in. But here, you’ll be able to find all sorts of fake designer labels.
Be aware that during the peak crowds, the streets can get quite narrow really fast because of all the people. If you’re hoping to go without the crowds, you’ll probably want to go during the afternoon when the heat and humidity are at their worst (but then do you want to be outside as well?). I really didn’t find any place to eat that stood out to me as a must try place but I may have missed it as well. I thought that for the price, it was easier and tastier to find a street food vendor or even eat at the food court inside a shopping mall where it’s cooler.
Finally, head over to Brickfields. This is known as Little India in KL. This is (in my view) a lot more interesting than Petaling Street with a lot of interesting food options. It also sells a lot of cheap items but it’s definitely worth a stroll. There are a few street food vendors there so it’s great to just stroll around and have a snack as you shop. It isn’t a very large street or area so it doesn’t take too long but it’s definitely interesting and worth a stop.
At night, I’d recommend going back to Jalan Alor one last time for a great, cheap meal. You’ll definitely notice the price difference between KL and Singapore. If you haven’t had a chance to eat it yet, try ordering Ikan Bakar. It’s a grilled fish dish that is lathered in this type of sauce. You’ll typically see it on a large grill outside or if indoors, it’ll be cooking over the fire. The smell is intoxicating so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re here.
Day 4 – Hello Singapore!
Leave for Singapore. Getting to the airport is a breeze because you just take the directions from the airport in reverse. Make sure you know which terminal your airline departs from since there are 2 terminals. There is the main terminal and a low cost terminal (sometimes referred to as KLIA2 or LCCT for low cost carrier terminal). There was a slight price difference for the airport express in getting to the terminals so if in doubt, just purchase the more expensive ticket. It isn’t that much more expensive.
The airport does security checks at the gate so if you’re going to walk around for things to eat or shop, make sure you leave yourself enough time to get back to the gate to go through security. The flight from KL to Singapore is just about an hour.
Once in Singapore, you’ll have to go through immigraton and depending on your arrival time, this could be a zoo. Sadly, you’ll just have to stand there and wait but know that there have been times when there is no wait and times when the wait is about 45 minutes. It just depends on the arrivals at that time.
Getting to the city from the airport is simple because it’s connected by the metro (MRT) line. The journey into the city usually takes about 45 mins to an hour but the journey back to the airport takes about 30 mins for some reason. You can purchase tickets at the kiosk or purchase day passes. In Singapore, I rarely use anything other than public transportation since it’s so well connected but you’ll have to do the math to see if it’s worth it.
Check in to your hotel and if it’s late, head toward the merlion statue. At 8 and 9pm, there is a water and light show that takes place in the harbor across from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It’s about a 15 minute show and free. After, you can head over to the Gardens by the Bay and see the free light show there. That show usually takes places 15 minutes before the main water and light show.
Day 5 – Botanic Gardens
In terms of actual attractions, Singapore doesn’t really have a lot. However, they do have a lot of places to “check out” that don’t take too much time but might take some time to get to.
Start with the botanic gardens because it really is an impressive site. You’d never believe that you were in a modern city. The site itself is really relaxing if you’re into plants and botany, I imagine you can spend countless hours there. It takes a couple hours just to walk around and it’s a nice change of pace to the frenetic downtown rhythm of Singapore.
Next, head over to Chinatown. It isn’t that large but it’s a great place to find some food if you go to the hawker stands around it. I wouldn’t recommend eating at the restaurants there because they’re expensive and over priced but the hawker stands surrounding are fantastic. I usually go to the Maxwell Food Center which is a little hidden behind some shops but there is an extensive selection of stands and food to choose from.
You should also check out Liao Fan stall at the Chinatown shopping mall complex. There is a hawker center there and that’s where the Michelin Star’d stand is located. There is a more fancy indoor Liao Fan restaurant that serves the same food but more expensive just across the street. You’ll usually see all the tourists lined up there and the locals lined up at the hawker stand.
If you do want to eat at the sit down Liao Fan, your best bet is to just order at the kiosk (just inside the door) and pay with a credit card. The people waiting in line are waiting to place their order so if you just go up to the kiosk, you can order from there, grab your number, and look for a place to sit (it’s indoors but still pretty small). I’ve eaten at both and sometimes you just want to eat inside to get out of the humidity.
A quick tip for finding hawker centers. If you’re walking around in the city during lunchtime, just follow a group of office workers who are out going to lunch. Inevitably, they’ll end up at a hawker center full of office workers who are grabbing lunch too. I mean, if you work downtown and need to grab a quick and cheap lunch, isn’t that what you would do? Hawker centers aren’t always marked on maps so it’s best just to walk around and find them. They’re everywhere but just not always where you’d think they’d be.
Day 6 – Little India or Day trips
Much like Chinatown, Little India in Singapore is a cute place to visit. It doesn’t take very long as it too isn’t very large. It has a few temples to visit but really the best part for me is the Mustafa Center and the Tekka Center Hawker Center.
Mustafa Center is this massive mall that’s cramped, noisy, and open 24 hours. The thing is, they have EVERYTHING you can imagine here. It’s like a giant Walmart on steroids. If there’s a specific item you’re looking for that you haven’t found anywhere else, there’s a really good chance Mstafa will have it and at a low cost. Whenever I’m in the area, I like to pop in just to see what kind of useless items I can find in there for novelty gifts. It’s a little quirky but good fun.
The Tekka Center has a hawker center that has (understandably) really good Indian food. It’s a wet market/food center/shopping mall all in one. You can easily get a little something from each of the stalls and have your own Indian feast. And at much cheaper prices than going to a restaurant.
You can also do day trips to places like Universal Studios, the zoo, or even the aquarium on Sentosa Island. You could also go to the ferris wheel or just wander about and take the hop on/hop off bus (even though you’ll have been to basically all the sites with this guide).
Note on the Marina Bay Sands and the infamous infinity pool. There is an observation deck, restaurant, and club at the top of the MBS hotel but only guests are allowed in the pool area. You need a room key to access the pool area and the whole place is pretty much on lockdown. I’m sure if you really put your mind to it, there’s a way to sneak in but I don’t know about it. Having stayed there, I think the pool is more sizzle than steak but it certainly is an aspirational thing to do.
Day 7 – Off to the next adventure!
Sadly, you’ll be leaving this amazing city but the city offers one lasting memory which is at the airport. Depending on when your flight is, you may be required to wander about until your departure flight for a few hours. If so, head over to Changi airport early. Trust me, it’s amazing. There is so much to see and do you forget you’re IN AN AIRPORT! This airport puts all other airports to shame with the free movie theatre, video game area, and gardens. And that’s just the beginning of the activities you can do at the airport for free. You can even go swimming at the pool (you pay for this one), shop at all the stores, stock up on makeup from around the world, and eat at their expansive food court. Waiting at the airport has never been so much fun.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what to expect and how to plan for your 7 day excursion to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. If you’re going to be in one of the cities, it would be a shame to not visit the other because of their proximity to one another. Each has their own unique style and culture. If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll want to have your time weighted more in KL because it is a cheaper city. Singapore is an expensive city but by eating at hawker centers, you can have the budget of a pauper but feast like a king!