Traffic Jam is a norm to people living in Kuala Lumpur. In the 80s and 90s, you could hear honking from drivers to show frustration especially during rush hours. Nowadays, people don't bother to honk because they understand that honking does't help to stop the traffic jam. This does not mean that people are nicer or well-manner on the road, actually ! they are just being smarter to get around on KL roads. Drivers' behaviors on the road including cutting queue on traffic, speeding, crossing red lights, and blocking traffic for their own convenience.
The main problem is KL or Klang Valley has too many cars, trucks, and motorbikes. The design of its roads are odd to cause the congestion.
If you have an important meeting or catching a flight, you need to consider the traffic on the road you are traveling!
Just came back from KL recently. While the city was fine, I feel the need to warn everyone (especially those travelling with young children) about the chaos thats going on outside of KL Sentral. We took the KLIA Express to KL Sentral, and expected to make a short walk to the monorail station nearby. Big mistake. There was no way to make it to the monorail station on foot as there was this huge noisy construction work going on outside of KL Sentral. And traffic control is practically non-existent as taxi drivers and bus drivers try to out-manouvre each other. We went looking around for the taxi counter to buy a voucher but it was one frustration after another. In the end, we took the LRT to Dang Wangi, got out, walked to the Bukit Nanas monorail, which took us to our destination at Bukit Bintang.
KL is criss crossed with 6 lane highways and fly-overs which as a rule aren't connected by footpaths so this is no pedestrian paradise.
But KL is a relatively compact city and many attractions are close together so walking is a good option to save time, if not the dangers of poorly maintained footpaths.
Despite heavy road traffic, if you step onto a busy road with your hand up, palm towards the oncoming cars, they surprisingly slow down to let you cross.
But I wouldn't recommend jumping into fast moving traffic if this means that drivers need to brake sharply. If brake pads are as poorly maintained as the footpaths you are dicing with death!
Rules are meant to be broken. That's the attitude of some of the motorcyclists on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. When using the pedestrian crossings please make sure that you are not in the path of a speeding motorcycle. You'd be suprised at their reluctance to stop when the lights turn red. Also on the subject of motorcyclists, there are some who might ride against the flow of the traffic, especially during the rush hours. Otherwise you could safely walk the streets.
Traffic can get pretty crazy. Add to that a cabbie who doesnt listen and well one might say we "needed" that forthcoming drink.
It can take up to 10 to 15 minutes to go down a single block on a Saturday night near the KLCC.
Puduraya bus and coach station is the main station in KL operating domestic bus services. You can get buses to anywhere in the country from here. Beware of the ticket sellers outside the station. They will approach you and ask whether you need to catch a bus. DON'T ever buy ticket from them instead of buying from the counter inside the station. These ticket sellers sell tickets at a higher price and worse, you need to wait for the bus at the roadside with no idea when the bus will come although the time is printed on the ticket. Paying for a higher price and what you get is uncomfortable service. The best way is to buy ticket DIRECTLY at the bus company's ticket counter. There will be people inside the station fighting to sell you tickets for their company. DON'T buy from them and instead ignore them and make your way to the counter. The reasons are that they are selling tickets for the small bus companies which don't normally offer good service. You even will buy the seat for other well known bus service at a higher price. So, the best way is to look for well known bus companies such as Konsortium, KKKL, Transnasional, Gunung Raya, Mayang Sari, Delima. you will know whether you are buying ticket from a reliable company by looking at the labels at the waiting platform. This is the place you wait for the bus to come downstairs.
We booked our hoilday through a brochure, and decided to prebook excursions at the time. We were collected from our hotel by minibus at 8.15 for our trip to the Batu caves. Another family were also picked up at our hotel, (They only had 1 day in KL and were going on a 'city tour'). The standard procedure is that customers are collected from their respective hotels by small vehicles, then taken to the 'tourist centre' where they join the larger coaches to go on the tours. Having left our hotel (which turned out to be no more than a five minute walk from the tourist centre) we drove round the block in the rush hour traffic, waited at another hotel for half an hour and another group of passengers decided to appear, then doubled back on ourselves and finally got to the tourist centre an hour after we had left. At this point customers are directed to their tour coaches. We finally left for our trip at 9.30, in a private car with only 2 other passengers. I have no idea why the driver/guide coldn't have picked us up in the first place! The poor family from our hotel had wasted an hour of their limited time in KL, and seen very little. They were then to join a coach of about 40 other people, in order to drive around in the traffic some more!
If you are not used to it, you can have a hard time crossing the street. At times it seemed like motorcycles are coming towards you from all directions. I think people do get used to it...locals seemed to not miss a beat in crossing the road...working out a rhythm to walk towards the ongoing traffic without a fear they would get run over. I, of course, hesitated, and ended up in the middle of the road. It seems the pedestrian signals takes forever to come on, and when it does, you are immediately running to get across in time. Pay attention please.
The airport is quite away outside the city centre in Kuala Lumpur so be prepared for a time consuming drive to the centre but it can depend on traffic,rush hour etc.. so make sure you get a price of the taxi driver before getting in and he knows where your hotel is.
Jay walking is an offence in Malaysia... so use the pedestrian bridge when you wish to cross the road... although you can be fined (on the spot) of MYR200 if you are caught crossing the road within 100m of a pedestrian bridge, it is seldom enforced... but for your own safety please do use the pedestrian bridge... for Malaysian drivers are mainly ex-F1 drivers... so beware...
many open drains abound in KL. what?
'what are these '"things" you refer to as "open drains"?'
not all, but in the older areas, there aren't any protective coverings for drains beside big roads. any old/vision-impaired/balance-impared/inebriated person may just accidentally fall in and require stitches. always watch where you walk..especially since some of the walkways are pretty narrow..
If you want to travel in KL city itself, be prepared to be struck in the traffic jam. The traffic is so bad that it jam all times of the day, and it get worst during the peak hours. Therefore make sure you leave your hotels early if you are catching the planes.
When driving in KL, you are not only look out for your own car, but every other car around you. Indicators don't seem to be necessary (!) and cars will constantly be cutting in front of you without indication. Drive slower and expect bad drivers! Taxi's are sure to cut in front. Also when you are at traffic lights and it goes green, just hang back for a second to let the grand prix motor bikes take off!!
Watch out for some monks who walk around, they give you a nice card which you think is free and in turn you have to give them 50rm, give them any money and they will give you something else and want another 50rm.... just walk away, they are often banned from tourist attractions because of this.
Cabs are extremely convenient but DO NOT take a cab alone unless you are obligated to. After nightfall it is probably a better bet to just stay where you are rather than to take a cab alone.
BEWARE of motorcycles - there has been lots of cases of bag snatchers. They are very unruly and can cause accidents.
Women - be careful! Plus a lot of the Malays hoot at women in tank tops/short, minis so you'll have to just take it when they whistle.
You may call a cab for an extra ringgit - if you want cab numbers contact me.
Start early in the morning - 10 am sounds about right, if you dont want to be stuck in the traffic congestion or waiting for a cab. AT worst 2 hours before lunch..thats about 11am... getting into popular shopping center during lunch hours is sheer night mare.