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مليسياكوالا لومڤور

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur Gay Guide

Introduction

Kuala Lumpur has grown from a sleepy settlement into one of the most dynamic cities in South East Asia. Chinese, Indian, Arab and many other influences come together to create a mix that makes Kuala Lumpur so unique. Yes, Malaysia is a Muslim country which may not sound so welcoming to gay travelers. But the city feels quite cosmopolitan and as long as you don’t run around naked with a rainbow flag you won’t have any problems. The shopping is pretty OK, there are a few night spots that are actually pretty cool and above all, there is a lot of great food to taste. And everything is so affordable. So 2-3 days in Kuala Lumpur can be a pretty fun experience.

Getting there

If you are in Singapore, you can take a bus or train to Kuala Lumpur. For everyone else, flying is the best option. You will touch down at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), 50km south of the city. It is a modern airport with two very distinct terminals so check where you will arrive before you get there.

Most airlines use the Main Terminal. When you get off the plane you usually have to take a train to get to immigration and customs. Just follow the signs. Get your passport stamped, collect your baggage and clear customs. The best way to get into town is by KLIA Ekspres. You can book online. Trains run every 15-20min and the journey to KL Sentral will take 28min and cost RM 35 oneway. There is also an Airport Coach bus every hour that makes the same journey for RM 10 but it takes much longer. Once you arrive in KL Sentral you can take a taxi to your hotel. Of course you can also take a taxi straight from the airport. Buy a coupon for RM 75 from the taxi counter inside the terminal.

If you are flying on AirAsia, Cebu Pacific or Tiger Airways you will arrive at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). Services are a lot more basic on this side of the airport. To get into town, there are buses every half an hour by SkyBus and Aerobus. They cost RM 8 and will take you to KL Sentral from where you can take a taxi to your final destination.

Getting around

Honestly, Kuala Lumpur’s public transportation system is not very useful. The only bit that is of any use to visitors is the KL Monorail. It is an elevated train system that connects KL Sentral via Bukit Bintang to Titiwangsa. Yes, Titiwangsa, funny name, no?

The best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is still taxi. And the are pretty cheap, too. Regular red and white taxis are RM 3 for the first kilometer and then RM 1 per additional kilometer. The more comfortable blue taxis are double this price. Also, from midnight to 6 o’clock in the morning fares increase by 50%. During peak hours, drivers may refuse to turn on the meter and you’ll have to negotiate the price. While this is illegal, there is not much you can do about it except try another taxi. We don’t want to sound racist but Malay drivers are generally more inclined to turn on the meter than Chinese or Indian ones. Don’t pay more than RM 10 for trips within the city center.

When to go

Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid throughout the year. Expect about 30-32°C during the day and humidity around 80%. So drink plenty of water. And also note that March/April/May as well as October/November/December tend to see a lot of rainy days.

An important occasion in the Malaysian calendar is Ramadan when the Muslim population fasts for a month. This usually happens around July. Nightclubs are still open and you are still able to drink your Vodka Tonic. However, things might be a little more quiet than usual. Mid June to end of August is also when the “Malaysia Mega Sale” takes place and many shops and shopping centers have attractive discounts and promotions.

What to see

Petronas Twin Towers

Malaysia’s most iconic building is open to visitors

Islamic Arts Museum

Stunning architecture and over 7,000 artifacts

KL Bird Park

The world’s largest walk-in bird cage with over 200 species

Bukit Bintang

Kuala Lumpur’s premier shopping and cruising street

Malacca

Seaside town with heritage buildings and colonial charm

Stay connected

Buying a SIM card for your smart phone is easy. Maxis is one of the largest operators in Malaysia and they have a shop at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Main Terminal). They have several 3G data plans under the Hotlink brand. 500MB mobile data costs around RM 5. You can also buy SIM cards in convenience stores all over Kuala Lumpur. Other reliable mobile network operators besides Maxis are Digi and Celcom. WiFi is also available in many hotels, often free. Gindr and Jack'd are quite popular in Kuala Lumpur.

Gay life

Laws in Malaysia date back to colonial times and are not very liberal when it comes to gay issues. Homosexuality is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. And while most countries are thinking about becoming more liberal on the issue, Malaysia goes the other way. Some local religious groups actually want more severe punishments for gays and also their friends who support them. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country and religion plays an important part in everyday life. So it’s not surprising that the society remains very conservative.

You might think that this is a reason for boycotting travel to Malaysia. And if you do, we certainly understand. But travelling means appreciating different cultures. Appreciating something doesn’t mean agreeing with it. So if you travel to countries such as Malaysia and visit gay establishments, know that you support the local LGBT community. And in countries such as Malaysia, they definitely need our support. While there are homophobic religious groups, there are also groups that work hard to move the country on a move liberal course.

 



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