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?
Why is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur?
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.
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.
James says - a few trip notes:
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.
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.
Modern metros but still chronic congestion?
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.
Is it worth hiring a car in Kuala Lumpur? Yes, possibly