view of a pond area and the Petronas Towers on a clear sunny day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Is Kuala Lumpur expensive to visit

Is Kuala Lumpur Expensive to Visit or Live?

Kuala Lumpur is famous for being one of the most visited cities in Asia, but is Kuala Lumpur expensive to visit?

No, Kuala Lumpur isn’t expensive to visit, especially when you compare it to the other popular cities in Asia that are similar to it!

So, if Kuala Lumpur isn’t expensive, is it cheap? The average cost of a seven-day vacation for one person to Kuala Lumpur is $455 US per traveler, $65/day.

In this article, I’ll cover budget-friendlymid-range, and luxurious ways to enjoy Kuala Lumpur.

All figures are averages; costs can be even cheaper or higher depending on your spending. Read further to understand better what may cost more or less, depending on your travel style.

Visitor TypeHotelsFoodTransportationActivitiesDaily Cost
Budget$17$5$1$4$27
Mid-Range$50$15$4$7$76
Luxury$135$50+$30$10$225
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the famous River of Life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Being a large and well-developed city, it makes sense that Kuala Lumpur offers many accommodations for guests with all types of preferences and budgets.

Below, I’ve shared with you the best hotels in Kuala Lumpur, categorized by price range.

Before choosing your hotel, you should first consider which area in Kuala Lumpur you’d like to stay in first. These are the three best areas in Kuala Lumpur, and all are ideal for first-time visitors!

Bukit Bintang: This is the most popular residential district in Kuala Lumpur. You’ll find plenty of shopping malls, a wide variety of international cuisines, cafes/bars, and plenty of tourist attractions nearby.

KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center): Known as the prominent city center of Kuala Lumpur, this district is home to the world-famous Petronas Towers. It’s also home to KLCC Park, plenty of shopping, and restaurants. Overall, this is the most modern and safest area in the city.

Bukit Ceylon: Convenitanlly neighboring Bukit Bintang, this area is home to several tall residential condos, and it’s also home to Forest Eco Park. The area is calmer and quieter than Bukit Bintang, but Bukit Bintang is only within 5-10 minutes away.

several crowds at the entrance of the Pavillion Mall in Kuala Lumpur

Budget Hotel Prices: $15 – $20 US

Mid-Range Hotel Average Prices: $40 – $60 US

Luxury Hotel Average Prices: $110 – $160+ US

There really isn’t a high season in Kuala Lumpur; the city tends to maintain a stable flow of constant tourism throughout the entire year.

This means hotel prices also tend to stay around the same average price throughout the year.

Budget Hostels in Kuala Lumpur

Chinatown Hostel by Mingle: The hostel offers both dormitory-style rooms and private rooms. Rooms are clean, well-maintained, and equipped with essential amenities such as comfortable beds, lockers, and air conditioning.

Hotel 1000 Miles: An affordable boutique hotel located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, near several restaurants and within walking distance to other popular areas in the city.

Mid Range Hotels in Kuala Lumpur

Hotel Capitol: A well-priced mid-range hotel near the Jalan Alor Food Street and only a few minutes walk from the Pavillion Mall

Verdant Hill Hotel: Located in the heart of the city, Verdant Hill Hotel is a few minutes walk away from the Jalan Night Market, plenty of restaurants, and the nightlife district in the area

Luxury Hotels in Kuala Lumpur

JW Marriott: Located in the heart of the city across the popular Pavillion Mall, this luxurious hotel offers spacious, stylishly furnished rooms equipped with modern amenities.

Pullman Kuala Lumpur: Luxurious modern hotel located right in the center of Bukit Bintang with direct access to the famous mall

Lanson Place: A luxurious 5 star condo-like hotel offering spacious modern rooms, many amenities, and excellent city views

vibrant skies during the evening by the I love KL statue in Kuala Lumpur

Eating Out in Kuala Lumpur

Eating out in Kuala Lumpur can be as cheap or as expensive as you’d like. That’s because the city has countless types of restaurants, food courts, and hawker stands (food stalls) catering to all visitors.

Below, I’ve shared with you some of my favorite restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. In the city, you’ll find many humble local eateries serving a wide variety of Malay, Indian food, fast food restaurants, fine dining, and more.

Kuala Lumpur is very much a foodie city. Also, make sure to check out the Jalan Alor Food Market!

These eating-out figures mentioned ultimately depend on your travel style. These are only averages for what to expect when dining out in Kuala Lumpur.

TIP: Dining at many restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll be charged around a 10% dining fee and sometimes a “service charge” of 4-6% for staff. Takeout is always cheaper! / Eating in a food court is free

Breakfast is $2-8 US

Lunch is $2-10 US

Dinner is $3-25+ US

two types of arabic food plates served including bbq lamb skewers, rice and bread at Halab KL

Budget Eating Costs/Tips: You’ll find plenty of affordable food to eat in Kuala Lumpur, and not only Malay food but Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and much more.

Plenty of cheap food can be found at Malaysian Cafeterias, and you can come in, buy food from one of the many stalls, and eat; prices at Malaysian cafeterias range from 10 to 30 MYR/$2-6 US.

Hawker stalls are food vendors setup you can find around the city; many of them also sell food for around 10 to 30 MYR

Another great place to find cheap food in Kuala Lumpur is at the many food courts in the malls, believe it or not. You’ll find quality, delicious dishes in the malls served for around 12 to 25 MYR/$2.50-$6 US.

Mid-Range Restaurants Costs: At many of the mid-range restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, you should expect to pay around 30 to 60 MYR/$6.50-$13 US for a main dish.

Walking around Kuala Lumpur, you’ll spot mid-range restaurants located everywhere. Also, many of the American fast food restaurants you can find in KL also fall under this price range.

Fine Dining Costs: Many fine-dining restaurants vary in price, so it’s hard to come up with an accurate mean average, but expect to pay $70-$200 US per person, depending on what you order and the restaurant.

There are several exceptional fine-dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur to choose from—many have also been awarded by Michelin.

two street food vendors selling food at the Jalan Night Market, one has several fried foods and the other is selling fresh fruit

Cheap Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur

Halab Gate Shawarma: Ranked one of the best shawarma shops in town, this place serves a delicious sandwich; they’ve also got a section upstairs for dining.

There’s also another upscale restaurant owned by the same owner called Halab KL. It’s delicious, but it’ll cost you more than picking up a shawarma from the pickup location

Sin Kiew Yee Shin Kee Beef Noodles: A beloved beef noodle shop that’s been open for many years, serving a delicious bowl of beef broth noodles with various cuts of beef

Heun Kee Claypot Chicken Rice: The best chicken clay pot in KL, piping hot chicken/rice cooked overall charcoal / recently Michelin awarded

Malaysian Cafeterias: Walking around the city, you’ll find local cafeterias where locals eat; some are self-served, and others aren’t; here, you’ll find Indian/Malay/Chinese style cuisines

Pavillion Food Court: Believe it or not, there’s plenty of cheap food at this upscale mall. In the food court, you’ll find cuisines from all over the world, Chinese/Indian/Korean, and more. If you’re looking to eat on a budget, stay away from American fast-food chains.

two massive meat spits rotating at Halab Shawarma in Kuala Lumpur

Mid Range Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur

El Cerdo: Popular Spanish restaurant best known for its pork shoulder, paella, and more

Yaki Soul: Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant with a wide variety of plates, best known for its sushi and meat skewers

Lai Foong Lala Noodles: Chinese noodle shop specializing in rich seafood-based soups

Tarbush Restaurant: Lebanese restaurant specializing in a wide variety of different Arabic food

Lot 10 Mall/Store (5th floor): This is a Japanese department store. On the top floor is a Japanese food court with several restaurants offering various delicious Japanese foods.

From sushi, soups, izakya-style foods, and more. Prices are reasonable here, too, and many places start at $4 US.

a rich flavourful seafood Chinese noodle dish from Lai Foong Lala Noodles restaurant in Kuala Lumpur

Fine Dining Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur

Cafe Cafe KL: French restaurant known for its lamb, foie gras, and delicious desserts

Dewakan Restaurant: A fine dining restaurant specializing in contemporary Malaysian food with exceptional city views

Skillet KL: Serving a wide variety of flavors; here you’ll find Japanese, French, and other cuisine types, best known for their multiple-course meals

Bijan Bar & Restaurant: Contemporary Malaysian restaurant offering a wide variety of local flavors, also known for their great cocktails

TIPPING in Kuala Lumpur: In Malaysia, tipping isn’t expected. In fact, most restaurants charge you 10% to dine in the restaurant unless you’re ordering takeout. Some also charge a “service charge” of 4 to 6%, which goes to staff.

How to Get around Kuala Lumpur

Getting around Kuala Lumpur is very convenient, and that’s because Kuala Lumpur’s transportation system is well-developed.

Keep in mind that many of the popular areas in Kuala Lumpur to stay in are quite walkable, and at the same time, you’re near many things. I stayed for over a month and only used transportation maybe 4 to 6 times.

Each transportation option varies in price for the MRT and LRT, both easiest ways to get around: .70 to .80 MYR, which is $0.18 US or S$0.22 US and 1.00 MYR, $0.20 US to $0.30 US.

Expect to spend anywhere from $0 to $5 US on transportation a day.

view traffic in Kuala Lumpur from a bridge on a clear sky day

MRT KL & LRT

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT): Kuala Lumpur has an extensive network of MRT and LRT lines that connect various parts of the city.

These trains are efficient, affordable, and a great way to avoid traffic congestion. They cover popular areas such as KL Sentral, Bukit Bintang, and KLCC.

Monorail

The monorail system in Kuala Lumpur is another convenient option for getting around. It serves popular areas like Bukit Bintang, Chow Kit, and KL Sentral.

The monorail provides easy access to shopping malls, tourist attractions, and entertainment venues.

Rapid KL Bus

Kuala Lumpur has a comprehensive bus network that covers almost every part of the city.

Rapid KL buses are the most commonly used, and they offer both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned options. However, traffic congestion can sometimes affect bus travel times.

Grab or Taxi

Lastly, you can always hail a ride using the popular ride-sharing app Grab, which is relatively affordable to take and perfect for short distances.

Or take a taxi on the street. Walking around the city, you’ll spot many taxis in Malaysia that are red and white colored. You may have to negotiate with taxi drivers, and some will start off with a higher price.

classic red and white Malaysian taxis parked outside of a popular mall waiting for customers

Kuala Lumpur Tours Costs

Any visit to a new place isn’t complete with at least one or two tours. This portion of your trip cost can vary depending on your travel style.

Kuala Lumpur is a large city, and there are many tourist attractions/things to do for free. So, if you’re visiting on a budget, it’s straightforward to experience Kuala Lumpur without spending anything.

Though you may want to consider a tour because there are many convenient ways to experience the city, as well as attractions slightly outside Kuala Lumpur that one must experience when here, like the famous Batu Caves!

For day excursions in Kuala Lumpur, the average price per trip is around $82 US. But some tours are as low as around $50 US.

Ultimately, it depends on the tour you’re looking to experience. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur!

Full Day City Tour: If you want to see it all, this is your tour. During this full-day 8 hours tour, you’ll visit Kuala Lumpur’s top attractions, including Petronas Twin Towers, stroll through the bustling streets of Chinatown (Petaling Street), and the Batu Caves.

Batu Caves: On this fun, private 4-hour tour to the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur, you’ll get to stroll through the famous Hindu Shrines and experience the magical caves

several tourists hiking up the many colourful stairs at the famous Batu Caves, Hindu shrine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas Tower Visit: Experience Kuala Lumpur’s most iconic attraction, the Petronas Towers, without the hassle of waiting in line. With skip-the-line admission, you can save time by pre-booking your tickets, which will be conveniently delivered to your hotel reception.

KL Foodie Tour: For those looking to experience the cuisine in Kuala Lumpur and try many types of food, this is your tour. Immerse yourself in Malaysia’s vibrant street food culture with an evening tasting tour in Kuala Lumpur. The tour includes 15+ food tastings!

Kuala Lumpur Instagram Tour: Capture the stunning vistas of Kuala Lumpur with the assistance of a knowledgeable guide on this full-day city tour.

You’ll get to visit some of the city’s most picturesque locations, such as the National Mosque, Batu Caves, and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. 

Is Kuala Lumpur Expensive to Live?

Kuala Lumpur is considered a relatively affordable city to live in compared to other major cities around the world. Especially when compared to cities like it, NYC, and Dubai, amongst others.

The cost of living in Kuala Lumpur varies on your personal budget and what currency you get paid in.

For many, Kuala Lumpur is considered very cheap, while for others, it’s considered mid-range priced despite being a cheap city to live in overall in the world.

According to Numbeo, the average cost to live in Kuala Lumpur is $1,060 US a month. This includes your apartment rental, utilities, food, and transportation.

For an apartment in the city center, you should expect to pay an average of $512 US a month. Utilities for your place, as well as your mobile phone, will cost you around $60 US a month.

Again, the cost of living can be subjective and can vary depending on an individual’s lifestyle and preferences; the amount of $ 1,060 US a month can be lower or higher.

the famous petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur amongst the KLCC Park on a sunny day

Is Kuala Lumpur Expensive to Visit? – Final Thoughts

So, is Kuala Lumpur expensive to visit? Well, as you can tell by the prices shared above, the verdict is: No, Kuala Lumpur is cheap to visit!

But, for those visiting and looking for a luxurious experience in Kuala Lumpur, there’s that, too!

According to BudgetYourTrip, the average daily cost to visit Kuala Lumpur is $61 US a day.

After visiting for a month and seeing prices for myself, I found it to be close to $65 to 75 a day.

No matter your travel style, Kuala Lumpur is a city that’s suitable to visit for all budgets. Again, daily numbers shared can be lower or higher, depending on your personal spending. Regardless, overall Malaysia is one of the cheapest countries to visit!

the famous Sultan Abdul Samad building in Kuala Lumpur on a clear sky day
Sultan Abdul Samad building

Are things expensive in Kuala Lumpur?

Not at all. Kuala Lumpur is inexpensive to visit, and you can find plenty of hotels in the city for around $30 to $40 US a night.

Then there’s the cheap food; plenty of restaurants in KL serve dishes for around 14 MYR, which is around $3 US. Also, there are plenty of free activities in KL!

Is Kuala Lumpur cheap to travel?

Yes, it is. You can visit Kuala Lumpur with a budget of as little as $20 US a day. That’s very affordable compared to most places in the world!

How much is one meal in Kuala Lumpur?

The average meal in Kuala Lumpur is around $3 US. There are plenty of restaurants around the city you will find selling food for around $3-4 US.

Is Kuala Lumpur cheaper than Singapore?

Kuala Lumpur is far cheaper than Singapore. The average daily cost for tourists in Kuala Lumpur is around $65 US a day, compared to Singapore, where it’s $167 US a day.

The cost to visit Singapore compared to Kuala Lumpur is more than double a day!

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