You may find yourself flying into Kuala Lumpur on a layover in South East Asia, or it may be your first stop to backpacking Malaysia.
Whatever your reason, we wrote this insider travel guide on where to stay in Kuala Lumpur to help you cut through the madness of this large, spread out city, and make your stay the best experience possible.
Every neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur offers something unique to its visitor, and with the excellent public transportation system, it’s possible to check out multiple areas. That said, picking the best neighborhood to stay in will alter your experience!
Read on to learn more about our top picks for Kuala Lumpur’s neighborhoods and accommodation.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips
- Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur Neighborhood Guide
- Kuala Lumpur’s 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
- 1. KLCC Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur for First-timers
- 2. Chinatown Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur on a Budget
- 3. Bukit Bintang – Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur for Nightlife
- 4. Bangsar Neighborhood – The Coolest Place to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
- Watch the evening fountain show in front of the Petronas Towers
- Observe an array of aquatic creatures at Aquaria KLCC
- See a wide collection of works in the Petronas Art Gallery
We have broken up this guide to Kuala Lumpur by neighborhood; however, we’ve also created a quick guide on our top picks for places to stay in Kuala Lumpur below!
Best Hostel in Kuala Lumpur: BackHome Kuala Lumpur
Located close to Chinatown, BackHome Kuala Lumpur is a cool backpacker accommodation that promises a good night’s sleep for all.
Clean and friendly, there are private rooms, mixed dorms, and dorms for just ladies. Grab a bite to eat at the funky café and enjoy free breakfast each morning. The hostel arranges varied social activities and tours to help you to make the most of your time in KL.
Best Hotel in Kuala Lumpur: The Yard Boutique Hotel
Situated in Bukit Bintang, the Yard Hotel offers classic style with modern amenities. Rooms are en-suite and air-conditioned and each has a desk, a TV, a safe, a minibar, a hairdryer, and free Wi-Fi. Luggage storage facilities are available and the reception area is staffed around the clock.
Best 4-star Hotel in Kuala Lumpur: ibis Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Best Airbnb in Kuala Lumpur: Designer Studio On Bukit Bintang #201
An attractive and well-designed studio, the use of half dividing walls and the placement of furniture makes this accommodation seem bigger than it actually is.
With a double bed, TV, desk, dining table, storage areas, and basic kitchen at the end of a short internal corridor, you have everything you need for a comfortable and pleasant stay in KL.
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
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The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur is large and spread out, but an excellent public transportation system, including buses, light rail, monorails, and the metro, makes moving from place to place a breeze.
Bukit Bintang has many glitzy malls, making it a shopaholic’s paradise. There’s a good selection of street food and restaurants, and evenings are lively with street entertainers and enticing bars.
Chinatown/Pasar Seni is one of the cheapest places to stay and is also home to several major attractions, making it the best area to stay in Kuala Lumpur for backpackers.
Brickfields, also known as Little India, is a vibrant enclave with numerous cheap stores and plenty of places to eat. Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) is a modern area with soaring skyscrapers and glitzy buildings. Home to the iconic Petronas Towers, there are contemporary malls, art galleries, parks, museums, and more.
You’ll find many foreign embassies in Ampang and it’s a popular residential area for expats. KL Sentral is most known for being a major transportation hub.
Trendy and hip, Bangsar has many cool cafes and a hipster vibe. It’s also one of the city’s wealthiest areas. Sri Hartamas and Damansara Heights are also pretty well-to-do areas and popular places to live; for the regular tourist, however, they probably don’t hold much of interest.
Mont Kiara is also primarily residential. Taman Tun Dr Ismail is yet another lovely residential area. It has held onto its old-style charms and is home to street vendors, cosy cafes, and leafy streets. Seputeh has a handful of attractions and plenty of places to eat, drink, sleep, and shop.
Other neighbourhoods include the modern gated community of Desapark City, Batu, which is famous for its spiritual caves, Kenny Hills, Federal Hill, and business-focused Keramat.
Kuala Lumpur’s 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Many of Kuala Lumpur’s major attractions are focused in a relatively compact part of the city. That’s not to say that other areas aren’t worth visiting—there definitely are. But, in general, the more central you stay the more facilities and amenities you will find at your fingertips.
Below are some of the best neighbourhoods in KL for your trip!
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.
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 for a fun family vacation.
Top Things to Do in KLCC
– Take plenty of selfies in front of the gleaming Petronas Towers. Be sure to also visit the towers at nighttime to enjoy the views of them illuminated against the inky sky.
– Watch the evening fountain show in front of the Petronas Towers.
– Buy tickets to go up the Petronas Towers to the bridge and observation areas and be blown away by sweeping city views.
– Browse in Suria KLCC shopping centre, the high-class mall that connects the two awesome towers.
– Stroll through the large and leafy KLCC park, complete with pools, fountains, statues, and lots of places to sit and relax.
– Observe an array of aquatic creatures at Aquaria KLCC.
– Learn more about chemistry, biology, and general science at the interesting and informative Petrosains discovery centre.
– See a wide collection of works in the Petronas Art Gallery.
– 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.
– Party hard in the clubs along Jalan P Ramlee.
– Saunter along the canopy walk at KLForest Eco Park.
– Take the kids to Dinosaurs Alive KL.
Best Hostel in KLCC: 2Hampshire Hostel by Tizzel
This hostel has mixed and female-only dorms as well as a choice of private en-suite rooms. Cots are available for families travelling with little ones. There’s an onsite café and breakfast is free.
Peace of mind is ensured by key card access and lockers. Conveniences like a shared kitchen, lounge, and laundry room add to the comfort.
Best Hotels in KLCC:
A classy base for couples, families, and friends, Impiana KLCC Hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, a spa, and several onsite restaurants, one of which is open around the clock.
Rooms have private bathrooms, ample storage space, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, a safe, a minibar, and tea and coffee making facilities.
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.
Best Airbnbs in KLCC:
Suitable for three people, this modern studio apartment oozes style. Guests can use the fitness centre and swimming pool within the complex. The apartment has a TV, Wi-Fi, and a work desk. The sleeping arrangements are one double bed and a fold-down sofa bed.
This stunning two-bedroom apartment has one double bed, two single beds, and a fold-down double sofa bed in the living room. The open-plan living area is spacious, with a stylish lounge section, a work desk, a dining table, and a modern kitchen corner.
Filled with backpacker accommodations and tourist-focused eateries, Chinatown is one of the cheapest neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. 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 than surrounded by the modern marvels and hustle and bustle of KLCC.
Top Things to Do in Chinatown, KL
– Admire the stunning gopuram over the entrance of Sri Mahamariamman Temple and step inside KL’s main Hindu temple to see beautiful statues and religious artwork. Remember to dress modestly and take your shoes off!
– Hunt for bargains along the bustling Petaling Street, a pedestrianised street market. Do be aware, however, that most goods are imitations.
– Peruse ornate handicrafts in Central Market.
– Step into the Annexe Gallery alongside Central Market to see a variety of modern art.
– Enjoy even more shopping along Kasturi Walk, a covered open-air market next to Central Market.
– Tour ornate Chinese temples and see locals praying and making merit. Favourites include Kuan Yin Temple, which is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, 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.
– Visit the sublime Jamek Sultan Abdul Samed Mosque.
– Take a picture of the towering Dayabumi Complex, which features traditional Islamic designs.
– Feast on street food galore.
– Relax with a traditional Chinese massage or reflexology foot massage.
– Walk alongside the Klang River and appreciate the regeneration efforts.
– Visit 3D Illusion Art Museum.
Best Hostel in Chinatown: Agosto Guesthouse
With single, double, twin, family rooms for four, and mixed eight-bed dorms, Agosto Guesthouse caters to various types of traveller.
The tour desk helps you make the most of your time in KL and the laundry facilities keep you fresh! Mingle in the common room, surf the free Wi-Fi, and enjoy free tea and coffee throughout the day.
Best Hotel in Chinatown: Hotel Petaling
Hotel Petaling is a basic budget base in the heart of vibrant Chinatown. There are en-suite rooms for two or three, each with a TV, kettle, and phone. There’s a lift in the building, reception is staffed around the clock, and the hotel offers free Wi-Fi.
Best Airbnb in Chinatown: 1-6 pax 2BR Kuala Lumpur transit hub
This Chinatown apartment has two bedrooms and a sofa bed in the living room. It can accommodate up to six guests. There are two bathrooms and the living area is spacious.
While there isn’t a full kitchen there are basic self-catering facilities including a fridge, kettle, and microwave. Wi-Fi is included and guests can use the swimming pool and fitness centre within the complex.
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.
It’s a top Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood for nightlife and it has a youthful atmosphere.
Top Things to do in Bukit Bintang
– Indulge in some retail therapy at one of the malls in Bukit Bintang; favourites include Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Sungai Wang Plaza, Berjaya Times Square, and Lot 10. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything check out the shopping centres anyway—many have beautiful displays to admire.
– Take kids to Cosmo’s World Theme Park, located inside Berjaya Times Square mall. Alternatively, the mall also has a fun laser quest and an escape room.
– Put your dancing shoes and smart clothes on and head to Changkat Bukit Bintang for a night of drinking, dancing, and fun.
– Upgrade your electronics at Plaza Low Yat, the biggest IT mall in Malaysia.
– Snap some pictures of the quaint St. Anthony’s Church.
– Pamper yourself in one of the area’s spas.
– Visit Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve to escape the concrete jungle and enjoy some time in nature.
– Stuff yourself on Chinese, Thai, and Malaysian cuisine at the many hawker stalls along Jalan Alor, try a banana leaf curry in an Indian restaurant or take a culinary journey to the Middle East in one of the many Yemeni, Syrian, Iraqi, and Lebanese restaurants.
Best Hostel in Bukit Bintang: Sunshine Bedz KL
A newly renovated hostel right by a monorail station and close to the metro, Sunshine Bedz KL has a variety of private rooms and dorms. You can choose from mixed dorms and those split by gender.
A basic breakfast is provided each morning and the hostel offers free Wi-Fi, a book exchange, and luggage storage. There’s a common room where you can trade travelling tips with other guests.
Best Hotel in Bukit Bintang: Sungei Wang Hotel
A newly renovated hostel right by a monorail station and close to the metro, Sunshine Bedz KL has a variety of private rooms and dorms. You can choose from mixed dorms and those split by gender. A basic breakfast is provided each morning and the hostel offers free Wi-Fi, a book exchange, and luggage storage. There’s a common room where you can trade travelling tips with other guests.
Best Airbnb in Bukit Bintang: Stylish Cosy Studio @ Bukit Bintang
With a double bed and a fold-down sofa bed, this stylish studio apartment can accommodate up to four people. A balcony, work desk, TV, dining table, washing machine, free Wi-Fi, and a basic kitchen (with a fridge, stove, kettle, and crockery/cutlery) adds to the convenience.
Guests can use the communal swimming pool, gym, and children’s play areas for free and also receive a discount at the onsite restaurant.
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.
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.
The area is constantly reinventing itself, going through stages of being a vibrant nightlife hub, a café-lover’s paradise, and an arts haven. It’s definitely an interesting place!
Top Things to Do in Bangsar
– Go shopping at Mid Valley Megamall, An Viet the Gardens Mall, and Bangsar Village.
– Marvel at the striking temple of Tokong Thean Hou.
– Visit the nearby Perdana Botanical Garden, which is home to many beautiful flowers and scenic spots where you can relax in nature.
– Learn more about the nation’s heritage, history, culture, and people at the National Museum of Malaysia.
– Do something unique and try your hand at fencing at Z Fencing.
– Tuck into a delicious ice cream at Inside Scoop.
– Join art sessions at Scrappingville Studio and release your inner creative.
– Savour a great cup of coffee at places like Thirdwave, OJO Coffee, Pulp, and DR. Inc.
– Spend an evening or two hopping from one cool bar to another.
– See the colourful Sri Kondaswamy Kovil Hindu Temple.
– Appreciate art at the Islamic Arts Museum.
– Although there are no hostels listed in Bangsar, there are plenty of affordably priced 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.
Best Hotel in Bangsar: The Bodhi Lounge
A chilled Bangsar accommodation, the Bodhi Lounge has single rooms, double rooms, twin rooms, private rooms for four, and dorms for four.
All rooms share bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property and free parking is available close by. There’s a shared kitchenette and TV lounge and the property features beautiful Buddhist-themed elements.
Best Airbnbs in Bangsar:
This modern and elegant studio can sleep three guests. Up to six guests may be allowed upon request, and the owner will provide extra mattresses.
There’s a double mattress on a mezzanine level and a sofa bed in the living room; even though it’s a studio it still gives a certain amount of privacy when you sleep.
The spacious living room has a large TV and a breakfast bar gives some separation to the kitchen. Guests can use the diverse facilities in the complex too.
With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, this apartment is ideal for families or a group of friends. The kitchen has everything you need for a self-catering break.
The large living room has a cosy lounge corner with a TV, a dining table with six chairs, and a desk. Wi-Fi is free. There is a balcony and a washing machine, and you can use the pool, gym, and other facilities in the complex.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
KL can be a chaotic, spread out city, or it could be an excellent introduction to backpacking Malaysia and your first South East Asia experience. City explorers will love how much there is to do in KL.
Our insider neighborhood guide on where to stay in Kuala Lumpur will help you pick the best accommodation for your trip! To recap, our favorite hostel is BackHome Kuala Lumpur near Chinatown. Our favorite hotel is The Yard Boutique Hotel an awesome hotel near all of the action.
Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Worried about safety in Kuala Lumpur? Think it’s a dangerous big city? Check out our guide for insider tips on staying safe in Malaysia while you travel there.
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Need More Inspiration?
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.