I’ve visited Malaysia many times, but I’m on the eve of wrapping up my month and a bit living in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I wanted to share some updated information on Kuala Lumpur from a 40 yr old bachelor perspective who has spent 3 years in Thailand and 2 years in Taiwan OMG. There are a lot of general posts about KL already so I’ll try to add something unique.
Who is Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for?
It’s for the location independent that is bit more established, values modern apartments that are comfortable, great variety of food, weather, and most of all locals that can speak English. I’ll cut to the chase if you’re a young single person in your 20’s you’ll have a lot more fun in Thailand. Costs are cheaper in Thailand as well. However, I’ve come to the realization that once you’re out of the Chiang Mai bubble, you will have to learn Thai to function successfully in Thailand long term. As a 40 year old I’m trying to slow down my travel (unsuccessfully) and settle down in a location for 1-3 months. It’s better for business, forming better and longer relationships, and your health. Kuala Lumpur is a good place to chill out. To be honest it can be boring as despite the happy hours and nightlife areas in Bukit Bintang and Bangsar Village Jalan Telwai this is still a conservative country with boundaries. People of different cultures are very respectful and seem to co-exist peacefully. I feel like I could belong here. In Thailand, although I felt welcome I still feel like a farang and an outsider even though they think I look thai. This is mainly because of the language. Kuala Lumpur is a city that is a good size, but not as overwhelming as Bangkok. It isn’t as small as Chiang Mai or Penang. If you’re looking to focus on your business you’ve got everything you need here minus a strong organic digital nomad community.
There are plentiful choices of airbnb condos in downtown KLCC and in the upscale suburb of Bangsar. There are many tall condos that sport legit facilities and yes if you select a newer condo with TIME as the provider (100MBPS) you will be flying. It’s very common to have great gym, pool, wifi, apartment, and restaurants in the same building or nearby. Sim Card plans by Digi are easy to get and easier to self manage through the app. There are cowork space options like Uppercase in Bangsar and the chain Common ground. The most refreshing thing was being able to speak English with the locals. Yes Malaysia is more expensive than Thailand for some things, but you can consider the extra cost the premium for having an affordable country where locals speak English.
Kuala Lumpur is fairly safe especially being in Bangsar. In downtown KLCC it is still safe, but did with such as mix of culture, tourists, and crowds you should still stay on alert. I used the Maybank and Alliance ATM’s to withdrawal from the North American bank account. Bangkok bank has no relationship to the one in Thailand, and opening up a bangkok is not possible as far as I know without an employment pass.
You can use Grab app taxi to get around. The train system is easy to understand and is worth taking if you’re trying to commute between downtown and Bangsar during rush hours.
Like I said you can go to Bukit Bintang. I had a chance to sample many of the popular spots like Havanna Social, Taps Room for Craft Beer, and Pisco Bar. You can get a high end experience at Ren at the Mandarin Oriental. If you like sheesha and loud music try the Trek nightlife area. Bangsar offers the APW area with more casual options as well as the Bangsar Village Jalan Telawi area (La Cave, Rock Bottom). There are the spots with viewpoints like the Heli Lounge and Traders Skybar. The Pavillion offers many spots like the Barn, La Bodega, and Johnny Rocket to name a few spots to eat and drink. I guess I did my fair share of eating and drinking. The name of the game is happy hour, maybe some pre-gaming a bottle from the grocery store for a big night. Try unique experiences like rent a vape or sheesha. You will find the local beer taps to be Carlsburg, Guinness, and Tiger. I got tired of it quickly and tried some craft beer spots like the Great Beer Bar in Uptown Daminsara.
I met some good people from Internations.org. I didn’t have a chance nor a strong desire to go to couch surf events or meetups. Unfortunately events can be quite far out sometimes. One interesting event I went to was called Drinkentrepreneur. I hope to do that it. On average the locals are quite friendly compared to a city like Bangkok. It’s nice on a daily basis to talk with your taxi driver, or the guys at the coffee shop, or occasionally to be called “boss”.
I plan to return here and use Kuala Lumpur as a base. On paper it appears to be an ideal place for myself and perhaps others to settle long-term. I even found a cheap storage spot to store my things here while I travel. I got a lot of work done while I was here. No fighting for space at the cowork space or looking for legit meeting rooms to record. Kuala Lumpur might not be a good fit for some long-term, but perhaps a visit. Kuala Lumpur is itself a great travel hub being home to Air Asia. I hope to visit Nepal and Sri Lanka While I’m here. Malaysia is also a huge country with spots like Langkawi, Sabah, Malacca, Penang, and more to visit.