Kuala Lumpur

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur?

Do you need a car in Kuala Lumpur > Should you rent a car in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia > Kuala Lumpur ( KUL )

Do you need a car in Kuala Lumpur? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Kuala Lumpur is an intriguing mix of modern skyscrapers and American style suburban sprawl. There’s a healthy balance between downtown and out-of-town places of interest. So what is the best way to make the most of this Malaysian metropolis?

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Why is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur?

  • Heading up Peninsula Malaysia’s west coast: If you are looking at heading further out, possibly up towards Penang, then hire car might start to look like a reasonable option.
  • Jaunts in the jungle – you don’t have to travel that far in a Kuala Lumpur rental car beyond KL to reach areas which are still carpeted in pristine forest. Be prepared to drive past the palm oil plantations first! Either way, whether you are actually heading towards one of the many national parks, a car is simply the most obvious option here.
  • For a round-Malaysia road trip! Naturally, this would just apply to the peninsula. KL would be the natural place to start such a journey, since it has the best choice of inward flights. Take care right in the north of the country towards the border with Thailand, where there are security concerns.
  • You could also park your rental car in Johor Bahru and head briefly into Singapore. However, it’s not worth the hassle of trying to drive in.
  • Compared to other countries in Asia, Malaysia has one of the best records on road safety.

Ultimately, unless you are already planning on a longer road trip with multiple days on the road and away from KL, the choice about getting a hire car in Kuala Lumpur is still going to be a relatively marginal one.

 

Why not? Visiting Kuala Lumpur without a car

 
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Kuala Lumpur public transport quick facts

Train score

 

60%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

50%

 

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Kuala Lumpur. 

20%

  • No need at all to get a rental car in Kuala Lumpur if you are mainly visiting points of interest in downtown locations.
  • Visit Batu Caves by train.
  • Rail and sail (or direct coach) to Penang. It’s easier to manage as a one-way trip if you aren’t having to get a one-way Kuala Lumpur rental deal.
  • Combine a visit to KL with a train journey. Head north to Bangkok or south down to Singapore.
  • Most other major cities in Peninsular Malaysia are easy to reach by train or bus. A rental car is still useful for rural areas (see above).
  • High cost of parking – see below.

If you are looking at options based on using public transport for your time in Kuala Lumpur and then getting a hire car for onward travel elsewhere in Peninsular Malaysia, then look carefully at car-rental prices between the different city centre outlets. However there should be no need to go all the way back out Kuala Lumpur International Airport just to get an decent car rental deal. Instead, you may well find the same deals at Subang airport, which is much closer to the city centre.

Multi-city trips – best by other means!

Needless to say, if you are looking at a multi-destination south-east Asian trip, we certainly wouldn’t advise hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur and trying to drive it anywhere near Singapore, although you might look at a one-way rental to Johor Bahru. We will also not recommend driving across into southern Thailand, where there are security issues around that border. Furthermore, as far as travel destinations are concerned, the peninsular Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo are very much separate entities.

James says - a few trip notes:


If you are looking at visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time, then it would be completely natural to compare the city with other relatively nearby major Asian capitals like Singapore or Bangkok. Your first thoughts of this city may well be of enormous skyscrapers, with the landmark twin Petronas Towers, formerly the tallest buildings in the world, being the most prominent mental image. However, the geography of KL is quite different when compared to some other more densely packed cities in the region.

It’s true to say that Kuala Lumpur does have a sleek and modern metro system, much of it elevated above ground level, but public transport is still relatively poor for a city of this size. Moreover, following rapid economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s, the city of Kuala Lumpur sprawled massively around an extensive highway network, giving it a feel that in many respects has more in common with giant Texan oil cities like Houston or Dallas, than it does with many other Asian megacities.

To the south of the city, out towards the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) you will also find the technology focused new town of Putra Jaya, a location which might have some expansive parks, but which is also ultimately built around the car.

Is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur? So does the way KL is laid out make it a natural place to want to hire a car, especially when the roads are of a generally good standard?

Well this is really going to depend very much on what you are here to see and do – if you are just passing through Kuala Lumpur before heading somewhere else, or if you are simply here to see the major urban attractions that the city itself has to offer, then there’s still really not much point in going to the hassle or expense of hiring a car, especially if you are going to need to leave it in one of the city’s giant parking garages.

One of the most impressive natural attractions in the area around Kuala Lumpur is the Batu cave complex, but these are very easily reached at the end of a brief suburban train journey from Kuala Lumpur.


Ratings

Car rental in - Kuala Lumpur Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Kuala Lumpur?

  • Based on comparison with transit and walking/cycling?
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur?

  • Based on value for money?
 

Should you rent a car in Kuala Lumpur?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Kuala Lumpur if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

What about for families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Kuala Lumpur if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

What if we are staying in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Kuala Lumpur if I prefer not to drive?

What if we are easy either way?

What if I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

What is our final score for Kuala Lumpur on the Carornocar scale?

6

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur? Yes, possibly

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