A 12-Hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

When booking our flights from Male, Maldives to Singapore, Tim discovered that we had a 12 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur. With a bit of research we discovered that Americans could enter Malaysia without a visa so upon arrival we filled out our arrivals card, passed through immigration and headed out to explore Kuala Lumpur!

Our flight from Male to SIngapore was all on AirAsia and they checked our bags all the way through which was nice as it meant we didn’t need to find a place to store them, although the airport does offer this as an option if you need to. Getting through immigration was surprisingly easy, on the arrivals card it asked for a hotel address and we left it blank and thought it would get flagged but the person at the counter didn’t even say hello or goodbye nevermind ask any other questions. I guess he was as tired as we were at 5am in the morning!

Once landside we ordered a Grab to go to the Batu Caves. It was about a 45 minute drive and we did have a couple drivers cancel on us, I’m guessing cos it was 5am and there likely wouldn’t be a fare there looking to go anywhere else. If you come during the day I’m sure that wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

When we arrived at the caves we were pretty much the only people there and it was just starting to get light. After paying $1USD to use the toilet (which doesn’t supply toilet paper btw) we started our climb of the 272 steps.

The steps are pretty steep so definitely take your time. Also take a moment to look back as you ascend and see the view behind you. When we came back down it was fully light and so getting to see it in different light was really cool. Due to the early hour the famous monkeys weren’t out on our ascend so we were able to take it slow and take breaks. We were both sweating by the time we reached the top for sure!

Once at the top there are a few temples carved into the rocks and randomly a lot of chickens running around? The temples were just waking up and doing their morning calls to prayer which was nice to listen to and observe.

As we started our descent down the steps (also treacherous due to the steepness of the steps so be careful!) the monkeys were just waking up and heading out to terrorize the tourist. I’m not sure whether they’re actually “trained” but the story goes that the monkeys steal things from tourists such as sunglasses, phones, wallets, and then you can pay the monks and they’ll coax them to give you the item back using a treat.

Being that it was so early and the monkeys were clearly still half asleep and docile, we didn’t have anything stolen and none of the monkeys really boethered us. There were a lot of baby monkeys being carried around and it was so cute watching them all interact with each other. It’s extremely disarming when they look you in the eye because they have such a human intelligence and you can just see their brains working and it’s very jarring.

Once we got to the bottom of the steps we explored the area down there a little bit and then jumped in a Grab over to the Petronas Towers. The tours to the top of the towers didn’t start until 10am so we went into the mall under the towers for some breakfast and a wander around the shops that were all designer shops we couldn’t afford. We managed to get tickets for the 11:15am tour and it was $40USD for both of us which isn’t a bad price. You get to go up to the skybridge connecting the two towers and explore there for around 10-15 minutes before you go up to the top floor for another 10-15 minutes and then finally you go to the 83rd floor which has a gift shop and another viewing area. The views from the top were pretty amazing, though it was a bit hazy although we weren’t sure if that was smog or haze.

After getting back down and retrieving our backpacks (they store them for you) we jumped in another Grab and got to the airport with 3 hours to spare before our onward flight to Singapore.

We weren’t sure what to expect with a 12-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, whether we would actually be able to leave the airport, whether we would be in a time crunch, but it definitely turned out to be worth it! We also definitely want to go back and see more of Kuala Lumpur and greater Malaysia!

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