Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- trip planning updates

Kuala Lumpur trip planning is appearing to be more complex and expensive than I’d initially estimated. As the travel date is nearing and I’m studying more about the destination, what’s coming up is not so encouraging.
This post shares some of the concerns you may wish to factor in, while planning to visit Malaysia.

Scary taxi service: All my reading online hints me that taxis in Kuala lumpur are worse than Chennai auto driver and they’re almost always set to loot unsuspecting tourists, by not using meter, taking longer routes and other tactics. As a tourist and without adequate knowledge of the city, relying on taxis seems to be a dangerous proposition. We should use trains and buses as much as possible, or even walk. Need to be extra cautious about this.

Arrival and Departure: Kuala Lumpur international airport is about 50kms from city centre. And the low cost airlines land at a different low cost terminal, which is visibly next to regular terminal but 20kms by road. We need to use shuttle services to reach main terminal. We need to ensure that we get into buses which charge standard fares and not fall pray to touts who run minivans and charge 30 times more. I’ve been warned.

Getting to hotel from airport terminal- while KL has train and bus services from main terminal, they operate only between 5.30AM to 10PM. Our low cost flight lands us at middle of night and takes off early morning, meaning we can’t use these services and use the taxis, which charge 50% more for night usage. Whatever cost savings achieved from low cost tickets seem to be getting nullified with these factors.

Next question is what to see in the two days we’ll be spending there. Two days might be too little, but we have our limitations. Lot of people said I should plan longer stay, but I had to decide against it because of following reason:

A trip will have two cost components- Fixed cost(airfare, visa cost, airport transportation etc) and per day variable cost (hotel stay, local travel cost, food cost, value of leave taken from work etc). If flight charges are too expensive and consistitue significant % of total cost, increasing trip duration helps bringing down per day expense. Otherwise extending the stay for the sake of it won’t help.

I chose shorter stay because of following reasons-
With every additional day, expense will shoot up for hotel rent, food, etc. I am not sure how good the place (Kuala Lampur city) is,to what extent family members will like it, whether or not we’ll be getting good veg food in Kuala Lumpur and if everything will go as planned. If one or more of these don’t work and trip turns out to be disappointment, I’d rather keep it short. If all goes well, I can plan another trip in future (say to Singapore) and visit Malayasia again for a day or 2 from Singapore. (Malaysia visa is valid for 1 year)
Everyday i spend away from work has a value equivalent to your (and other participants’) daily income. This needs to be factored in while planning vacations. If air tickets are cheaper, I’d do two weekend trips than one long trip of 4 days.

With only 48 hours to spare, my plan is this- 
On day 1, cover Petronas Twin tower, KLCC, Aquaria, Bukit nanas Forest Reserve, KL tower and China town in the evening.

Getting to observation bridge of Petronas Twin tower seems to be a game of luck. There’s no online or advance booking. Limited number of tickets are issued everyday morning on first come first serve basis. Being there as early as 7.30AM might ensure that you get a ticket.

On Day 2, planning to take 1 day trip to a nearby destination- may be Cameron Highlands or Genting Islands or Batu caves. Will have to decide on this. Lot of places are closed on Monday, so need to be careful to cover Monday closed destinations on Sunday itself, if we wish to see them.

Let us see how it goes. Going with reduced expectations.

Related: Malaysia visa rules * Chile posts digest * Srilanka posts digest *


Anonymous said...

Really the taxi's are not that bad. We booked an official airport taxi on our first trip because we were worried but we have not been ripped off or cheated by taxis in our 3 visits.

Anonymous said...

At Petronas towers you will have to go early and queue up for a ticket.You get slots at which you can come back and visit the observation deck or you can choose to visit right away..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hmm, thanks for the input.. let me see how it goes