When backpacking around Southeast Asia, it’s more than likely you’ll end up in a layover in Kuala Lumpur. It’s not uncommon to spot one of us scraggly backpackers sleeping in the KL airport waiting to board their next flight. 

But Kuala Lumpur is so much more than just a layover spot. In fact, it’s the first stop for many travellers on their quest to backpack Malaysia. The city is a big ol’ melting pot of majestic towers (twins, in fact!), delicious street food and rich culture. It’s not a place to be missed.

When I say big ol’ city, I mean it; the place is HUGE. The sheer size of the city means deciding where to stay in Kuala Lumpur can be a daunting task. Every neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur offers something unique to its visitors.

Luckily, with the outstanding public transportation system, it’s possible to check out multiple areas. That said, picking the best neighbourhood to stay in for YOU and your travel needs will make your life a hell of a lot easier. 

So, let me take you on a journey through the best areas to stay in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve noted my top picks for places to stay and things to do in each too – so you’ll get a good lay of the land before you book.

Without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff.

Dani travelling with her backpack on at the airport
Join me on a trip through KL
Photo: @harveypike_

Where Is the Best Place to Stay in Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur is the sexy capital of Malaysia. Famous for its iconic skyline and being an iconic layover spot. It’s the first point of call for many travellers to Malaysia and I’m not going to lie – it gets mixed opinions. But you wanna know mine? I thought it was bloody spectacular.

In this article, I’m going to take you through the top four areas; including the best places to stay and things to do in each. If you’re not too fussed about which area you stay in or are short on time, check out my top recommendations for where to stay in Kuala Lumpur.

Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur | Best Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur

This luxurious hotel is a fantastic stay to stay in one of Kuala Lumpur’s coolest areas, Bangsar. The rooms are contemporary and feature large windows which boast amazing views over the city.

You’ll also be located in a bangin’ spot. The hotel is also within easy walking distance to top attractions, so you won’t be short of things to do here.

The Bed-Capsule Hotel | Best Hostel in Kuala Lumpur

The Bed - Capsule Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

This is one of the best hostels in Kuala Lumpur on a budget. It’s clean and modern, offering comfortable beds and quality furnishings. It’s close to the monorail and buses, making travelling around the city a breeze.

It’s pretty luxurious but still offers all the backpacker essentials including FREE wifi, FREE breakfast, and a large communal kitchen. I like free stuff and socialising, so that’s three big ticks from me.

2 Bedroom Apartment @ One Bukit Ceylon | Best Airbnb in Kuala Lumpur

2 Bedroom Apartment @ One Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur

Located in Bukit Bintang, this spacious apartment sleeps six guests and is ideal for families and groups visiting Kuala Lumpur.

Furnishings are bright and modern, and there are plenty of on-site facilities to enjoy including an infinity pool and on-site restaurant. It’s one of those places that has it all… you may never leave!

Kuala Lumpur Neighbourhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Twin Towers


KLCC is a hive of activity, with modern landmarks, family-friendly activities, many restaurants, a wide choice of places to stay, and a lively nightlife.

Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur


Filled with backpacker accommodations and tourist-focused eateries, Chinatown is one of the cheapest neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. If you’re trying to not go overboard with your travel budget in Malaysia, then I recommend staying here.

Bukit Bintang

Bukit Bintang

A great place for those who love fancy malls and endless days of shopping, Bukit Bintang also has plenty of bars, street food, restaurants, and entertainment options to suit diverse tastes.

Bangsar Neighborhood, Kuala Lumpur


Bangsar is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. Although it’s located a fair distance from the heart of KL it’s easy to connect with major areas by public transport.

The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur is large and spread out. Thankfully, an excellent public transportation system, including buses, light rail, monorails, and the metro, makes moving from place to place super simple. This should be making ticking off your Kuala Lumpur itinerary a breeze!

If it’s your first time visiting Kuala Lumpur, I recommend staying in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). This modern area is full of soaring skyscrapers, malls, parks, and museums, so you can easily get to know the city. It’s also one of the best areas for families, due to the high number of family-friendly places to stay on offer.

colourful figures at Batu caves in front of green mountains
Batu Caves is a cool adventure in north KL
Photo: @rhenzcape

If you’re budget backpacking your way around Malaysia, you’ll want to check out Chinatown. This area offers plenty of cheap hotels and hostels. As well as, affordable restaurants and eateries. Music to your budget backpacker ears <3

Bukit Bintang has many glitzy shopping malls, making it a shopaholic’s paradise. There’s a good selection of street food vendors and restaurants, and evenings are lively with street entertainers and enticing bars.

Overall Malaysia is a pretty safe place for us travellers but it’s still important to choose which area of Kuala Lumpur to base yourself in. It’s a big city with a mixed bag of areas, not all will tickle your fancy.

Kuala Lumpur’s Four Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look at each of these areas in more detail. I’ve included my top picks for accommodation – from epic Kuala Lumpur Airbnbs to luxury hotels and cheap ol’ hostels. I’ve added my favourite activity picks in each area, so you know exactly what you’re getting in each.

1. Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) – Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur for Your First Visit

Petronas Twin Towers lit up at night time, Kuala Lumpur
The twins standing pretty.

Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a hive of activity, with modern landmarks, family-friendly activities, and world-class restaurants. It also offers a wide variety of places to stay and lively nightlife.

It’s fairly unusual for a city’s main touristy area to also be its business and commercial heart, but that’s the case in Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Base yourself here for your first trip to Kuala Lumpur or a fun family holiday.

Traders Hotel | Best Hotel in Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur

A luxurious base for those wanting to go all-out on their stay in Kuala Lumpur, Traders Hotel has an indoor swimming pool, spa, and fitness centre. Enjoy awesome city views from the Sky Bar and savour delicious meals in the onsite restaurant.

The floor-to-ceiling windows in guest rooms provide incredible views of the city skyline. All rooms are en-suite and have tea and coffee-making facilities, a minibar, a TV, free Wi-Fi, and other conveniences for a comfortable stay.

Impiana KLCC Hotel | Best Luxury Hotel in Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Impiana KLCC Hotel

This hotel provides a classy base for couples, families, and friends. It boasts an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, a spa, and several onsite restaurants. So, you’ll have plenty of ways to keep fit while you travel.

The rooms are comfortably furnished with everything you’ll need for a convenient stay.

The Bed – Capsule Hotel | Best Hostel in Kuala Lumpur City Centre

The Bed - Capsule Hotel

This hostel offers top-quality furnishings for a very reasonable price. It’s modern throughout, and offers a FREE breakfast each morning to save you even more money! <3

There’s a large communal kitchen, as well as peaceful common areas. It’s not the most sociable hostel in town, but its proximity to public transport makes it an ideal base for exploring Kuala Lumpur.

Cozy Home #24 | Best Airbnb in Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Cozy Home #24

This modern flat is situated just a 5-minute walk from KLCC and provides a great base for exploring Kuala Lumpur’s top attractions on foot. The Airbnb sleeps up to four guests and comes with all the comforts of home, including a kitchen and laundry facilities. It’s full of natural light and provides a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur City Centre

  1. Grab your ticket to the gleaming Petronas Twin Towers. Be sure to also visit at nighttime to enjoy the views of the illuminated against the inky sky.
  2. Watch the evening fountain show in front of the Petronas Twin Towers.
  3. Browse in Suria KLCC shopping centre, the high-class mall that connects the two towers.
  4. Stroll through the large and leafy KLCC park, complete with pools, fountains, statues, and lots of places to sit and relax.
  5. Learn more about chemistry, biology, and general science at the interesting and informative Petrosains Discovery Centre.
  6. See a wide collection of works in the Petronas Art Gallery.
  7. Get more great city views from the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower or with a drink in the swanky Sky Bar at Traders Hotel.
  8. Party hard in the clubs along Jalan P Ramlee.
  9. Saunter along the canopy walk at KLForest Eco Park.
  10. Take the kids to Dinosaurs Alive KL.
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2. Chinatown – Best Place to Stay in Kuala Lumpur on a Budget

Man on the street reading a newspaper outside a streetfood stand, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

Filled with backpacker accommodations and tourist-focused eateries, Chinatown is one of the cheapest neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. If you’re trying to not go overboard with your travel budget in Malaysia, then I recommend staying here. The area hosts a number of historic and cultural attractions and is also home to a large street market and other places to shop for bargain goods.

It could also be a good base for first-time visitors to the city if you prefer to be immersed in a cultural enclave rather than surrounded by the modern marvels and hustle and bustle of KLCC.

citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang | Best Hotel in Chinatown

citizenM Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang

Not only is this hotel super comfy and located in a bloody great area; but it’s PERFECT for those rockin’ the digital nomad lifestyle. With a co-working space with great Wi-Fi and a cool design, you’ll be able to work, study or just get some admin done during your stay here. You can’t beat this hotel in terms of bang for ya buck when staying in Chinatown.

Chinatown Hostel by Mingle | Best Hostel in Chinatown

Chinatown Hostel by Mingle

If you’re after a hostel in Chinatown, look no further. This hostel is in the perfect central location for delicious street food vendors and exploring loads of tourist attractions in KL.

The hostel is run by a really nice human being called Kris who makes you feel welcome as soon as you arrive. The hostel has lots of space for socialising to get ready to meet some travel buddies.

3 Bedroom Premium Boutique Condo at Bukit Bintang | Best Airbnb in Chinatown

3 Bedroom Premium Boutique Condo at Bukit Bintang

Located in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle, this modern apartment is the perfect spot for work or a family holiday. It is just steps from Monorail (Maharajalela station), Bukit Bintang, cafes, restaurants and more.

This Airbnb feels like the luxury of a five-star hotel but with the home comforts we all crave.

Things to See and Do in Chinatown

  1. Admire the gopuram over the entrance of Sri Mahamariamman Temple and step inside to see beautiful statues and religious artwork. Remember to dress modestly and take your shoes off.
  2. Hunt for bargains along the bustling Petaling Street, a pedestrianised street market. Do be aware, however, that most goods are imitations.
  3. Peruse ornate handicrafts in Central Market.
  4. Step into the Annexe Gallery alongside Central Market to see a variety of modern art.
  5. Enjoy even more shopping along Kasturi Walk, a covered open-air market next to Central Market.
  6. Tour ornate Chinese temples. Favourites include the Kuan Yin Temple, the large and elaborate Chan See Shu Yuen Temple, the revered Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, and the Taoist Kuan Ti Temple, dedicated to the God of Literature and War.
  7. Visit the sublime Jamek Sultan Abdul Samed Mosque.
  8. Take a picture of the towering Dayabumi Complex, which features traditional Islamic designs.
  9. Feast your way around town on a street food tour with 15+ tastings.
  10. Visit the 3D Illusion Art Museum.

3. Bukit Bintang – Best Area to Stay in Kuala Lumpur for Nightlife

Bukit Bintang busy intersection streets, Kuala Lumpur
The coolest hustle and bustle in town.

Bukit Bintang is a great place for those who love fancy shopping malls and endless days of shopping. It also has plenty of bars, local Malaysian cuinise, street food, restaurants, and entertainment options to suit diverse tastes.

With such a youthful atmosphere, Bukit Bintang is easily the top Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood for those looking to party hard.

AXON Suites Bukit Bintang By Sky Pool | Best Hotel in Bukit Bintang

AXON Suites Bukit Bintang By Sky Pool

With a fantastic rooftop infinity pool, an on-site restaurant AND a gym, this is one of those luxury hotels that you may never want to leave!

It’s great for those travelling with kids as it has a playground to keep the little ones occupied. The view from the Skydeck over the Kuala Lumpur skyline deserves a special mention too – it’s pretty spectacular.

Sunshine Bedz KL | Best Hostel in Bukit Bintang

Sunshine Bedz KL

This newly renovated hostel is ideally situated right by public transport connections. A basic but delicious breakfast is provided each morning and the hostel offers free Wi-Fi, luggage storage AND…. my favourite part, they have a book exchange!

There’s a common room where you can trade travel tips and forge new friendships with fellow travellers.

2 Bedroom Apartment @ One Bukit Ceylon | Best Airbnb in Bukit Bintang

2 Bedroom Apartment @ One Bukit Ceylon

This spacious two-bedroom apartment sleeps up to six guests and features a kitchen, living space, and dining area. Furnishings are bright and modern, and visitors can enjoy city views from the rooms and balcony.

On-site facilities include a fitness centre, infinity pool, and on-site bar and restaurant. The flat is in a central location within walking distance from the Bintang Walk and provides easy access to the rest of the busy city.

Things to See and Do in Bukit Bintang

  1. Indulge in some retail therapy at one of the shopping malls in Bukit Bintang.
  2. Put your dancing shoes on and head to Changkat Bukit Bintang for a night of drinking, dancing, and fun.
  3. Upgrade your electronics at Plaza Low Yat, the biggest IT mall in Malaysia.
  4. Snap some pictures of the quaint St. Anthony’s Church.
  5. Pamper yourself in one of the area’s spas.
  6. Head north on a tour of the Batu Caves, Batik Factory, and Hindu temple and enjoy the countryside.
  7. Visit Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve to escape the concrete jungle and enjoy some time in nature.
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4. Bangsar – The Coolest Place to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Bangsar is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. Although it’s located a fair distance from the heart of KL it’s easy to connect with major areas by public transport.

Sitting in the Klang Valley, KL Sentral is a hop, skip, and a jump away. It’s also located close to Brickfields/Little India and is within easy reach of the popular KL Bird Park and Butterfly Park KL.

Bangsar Neighborhood full of lanterns, Kuala Lumpur
One of the most unique neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur.

The trendy residential area has two very different sides, making for a rather unique stay. You can enjoy exciting street markets and visit diverse places of worship while also making the most of hip cafes, restaurants, and bars and shopping in funky and offbeat boutiques.

Although there are no hostels listed in Bangsar, there are plenty of affordably priced Kuala Lumpur hotels and Airbnbs that are suitable for couples, families, small groups of friends, and solo travellers who value privacy and peace and quiet. For the hostel vibe, there are some hotels and guest houses that have dorms as well as private rooms.

The area is constantly reinventing itself, going through stages of being one of Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife hubs, a café-lover’s paradise, and an arts haven. It’s definitely an interesting place!

Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur | Best Hotel in Bangsar

Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur

Decked out with luxurious interiors and stylish contemporary design, this is one of the best hotels in Kuala Lumpur. The 5-star accommodation features an onsite pool, bar, and restaurant, and room service is available.

Top attractions are within walking distance, including Little India, Bangsar Village, and the National Museum of Malaysia.

Studio Loft@City View | Best Airbnb in Bangsar

Studio Loft@City View

This modern studio loft will have you nestled right into the heart of the Kuala Lumpur city centre. Equipped with a kitchen, two double beds and a balcony to enjoy your morning coffee on – it’s a great place to stay with friends. You’ll be close to the action with the metro station, bars, cafes, restaurants and more on your doorstep!

Things to See and Do in Bangsar

  1. Go shopping at Mid Valley Megamall, An Viet the Gardens Mall, and Bangsar Village.
  2. Marvel at the striking temple of Tokong Thean Hou.
  3. Visit the nearby Perdana Botanical Garden, which is home to many beautiful flowers and scenic spots where you can relax in nature.
  4. Learn more about the nation’s heritage, history, culture, and people at the National Museum of Malaysia.
  5. Do something unique and try your hand at fencing at Z Fencing.
  6. Join art sessions at Scrappingville Studio and release your inner creativity.
  7. Spend an evening or two hopping from one cool bar to another.
  8. See the colorful Sri Kondaswamy Kovil Hindu Temple.
  9. Appreciate art at the Islamic Arts Museum.
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FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Kuala Lumpur and where to stay.

What To Pack For Kuala Lumpur

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

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Make Some New Buddies…

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Where is the best place to stay in Kuala Lumpur for budget backpackers?

The Bed-Capsule Hotel is easily the best hostel in Kuala Lumpur (in my humble opinion). Well connected with the monorail and the buses – the hostel is in the perfect location to explore the city from. With a free breakfast and great communal spaces, it’s a backpacker’s dream <3

What is the best hotel to stay at in Kuala Lumpur?

Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur is the best hotel in Kuala Lumpur. It’s a slice of luxury in the busy city centre; the perfect oasis to come home to after a day of exploring. Located in Bangsar, you’ll be based in one of the coolest spots in the city.

Is the city actually called Muddy Estuary?

In Malay (the official language in Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur actually translates to “muddy estuary”. It got its name because the big ol’ city is sitting on top of the Sungai Gombak and Sungai Klang rivers. When the city experiences heavy rain, these rivers often flood the city.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Kuala Lumpur

Unfortunately, things can go wrong when you least expect it. This is why good travel insurance is essential before you head on your trip to Kuala Lumpur.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur could be a chaotic city that makes you want to pull your hair out, or you could LOVE it. Everyone I talk to has a different opinion on this crazy city; either they are madly in love or they swear to never return. Now, it’s over to you to make up your mind…

I hope after reading this guide you feel more than equipped to book your stay in Kuala Lumpur. But if you’re still feeling unsure, I’d recommend booking in some of my favourite places:

If you’re travelling on a budget, then you can’t go wrong with The Bed-Capsule Hotel. It provides all the amenities of a hostel but feels as luxurious as a hotel. Best of all, the hostel offers a FREE breakfast each morning. Who doesn’t luuuurve a free breakie?

For something more upmarket, the Alila Bangsar Hotel offers 5-star accommodation close to all the top attractions. It’s situated in Kuala Lumpur’s coolest neighbourhood and makes for a memorable stay.

Let us know if I’ve missed anything in the comments below!

Beautiful old building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
KL awaits.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
Looking for more info on travelling to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!