48 HOURS IN KUALA LUMPUR FOR (ALMOST) FREE

48 HOURS IN KUALA LUMPUR FOR (ALMOST) FREE

For those of us whose pesky bank accounts won’t let us travel-splurge as much as we like, don’t worry, you can totally still go to KL!!
 
ACCOMMODATION
 
First things first, you need to pick a place to stay. There are plenty of hostels in the city. We stayed in The Explorers Guesthouse and Hostel in Chinatown. We paid about $22 USD per night for a private room, but dorm beds are often just $7 USD per night! The Chinatown area is at the center of the city and provides access to everything you need (train, pharmacy, food options). 
 
If you want to be REALLY frugal, you can also try Couchsurfing! It can take a bit of effort and coordination but it’s fun and FREE! We did not stay with a Couchsurfer but we did meet up with one and spent a day with him. Shoutout to Ayoub, who was so kind to show us the city through his eyes!
 
TRANSPORTATION
 
This city is very walkable! Most of the main sites are within walking distance of each other if you have good shoes! If you don’t want to wear down your favorite sneakers, Uber and Grab are very cheap here and the public transportation system is established and safe. But watch your valuables! The trains are known for being pick-pocketer territory.
 
BATU CAVES 
 
One of the main sites in KL is the famous Batu Caves. This is a ways away from center city – so take the Kommuter train. A round trip ticket from center city cost us about $5 USD per person. Besides the cost of transportation, the only price you’ll have to pay for this attraction is the sweat it will take to climb the nearly 300 steps to the top. The caves are situated inside a limestone hill that is guarded by a golden Lord Murugan. The caves are still used today as a Hindu temple and shrine. If you enter, you will see Hindus practicing their faith on the holy site. There will also be families of little monkeys all over the place! They are ADORBS and fun to watch, but beware, they bite!
 
BOTANICAL GARDENS
 
The gardens are beautiful and again, free! They are an excellent place to exercise (tai chi groups and joggers alike!), stroll, and take photographs. There are paved pathways, lovely landscapes, and several places for children to play (if you have those). There are also several fountains and flower gardens and make for some lovely photography. It’s so hard to believe this sanctuary is in the middle of a bustling, dirty city! :O 
 
BIRD PARK
 
Okay so this was our one splurge in KL, but let me tell you, it was worth it! If you don’t feel like paying around $15 USD to see a bunch of birds, no worries, just move along to the next paragraph 😉 Okay, so I’m by no means an avid bird expert, but this place was awesome! It’s the largest free-flight aviary in the world! There are peacocks peacocking just about everywhere. The males spread their feathers where ever they please, sometimes in the middle of a pathway, blocking human traffic! There are also ostriches, emus, flamingos, storks, and dozens of other species. This place was captivating and was one of the highlights of our stay in KL. Budget at least a couple hours to make it through the park. PS it’s very kid friendly!
 
MASJID NEGARA (NATIONAL MOSQUE)
 
Another free location! This was my first time visiting a mosque so I was very interested. Modest dress is required for both men and women, but if you come unprepared, the mosque provides full coverage clothing at no cost. The complex is huge and can old up to 15000 worshipers! Our local friend, Ayoub, said that on holy days, worshipers spill out into the streets!! (Map here)
 
TEMPLES IN CHINATOWN
 
We visited a Chinese temple and a Hindu temple that were just feet from one another near Chinatown. They are both free, but the Hindu temple charges somewhere around $0.05 USD per person to hold your shoes for you while you walk around the temple. If you are really on a budget, you can always save the 5 cents and put your shoes in your backpack. The Chinese Buddhist temple is called Guan Di Temple (map here) and the Hindu temple is called Sri Maha Mariamman (map here). Both are beautiful and extremely colorful and worth the visit!
 
VIEW OF THE PETRONAS TOWERS
 
Getting the perfect pic of these towers won’t cost you a dime! If you want to splurge and go up to the viewing deck, it will be about $25 USD per person. But standing below and viewing the iconic structures from the ground? Priceless! We arrived before nightfall and sat in the shadow of the towers as the sun sank. Watching the city light up at dusk was breath taking! PS: NZ Curryhouse is across the street from the towers and has fabulous (and cheap) Indian food! An entree will be about $4 USD there! (Map here)\
 
MERDEKA SQUARE
 
This is a park of sorts that is perfect for relaxing or playing with kids or pets. Nearby is the I<3KL statue that is perfect for touristy pictures. And of course, free! If the weather is nice, this is certainly worth a stroll about and the pictures are fun.
 
RIVER OF LIFE
 
Near Merdeka Square is the “River of Life,” which has a short promenade alongside it. There is a long koi pond bordering the walkway and there are fountains pouring into the river. It’s a perfect backdrop for a walk! You will walk by the Sultan Abdul Samad building (map) and the Masjid Jamek (map). Both are beautiful.
 
CENTRAL MARKET
 
Okay so obviously this place is as expensive as YOU make it. If you buy a bunch of things, it will cost you a bunch of money. But I didn’t buy anything and still enjoyed it for the experience. The market is very crowded, so pay attention to your own belongings! But there are lots of goods for sale: souvenirs, clothing, food, etc.
 
We did all of these things in just two days and we walked to almost all of them. You can do it too! Let me know if you have any other tips for saving money in KL–then I’ll have an excuse to go back!! 
 
xo, J

My Travel Diary: Singapore

SINGAPORE MUST-DO HIGHLIGHTS: 
– Haji Lane (for shopping, eating, photo-taking, and exploring)
– Botanic Gardens 
– Nightly light show
 
HOW TO GET THERE:
-Plane, train, OR bus (Bus seems to be the most convenient and cheapest if coming from a short distance)
MY TRAVEL DIARY: 

After 25+ hours of flights, we arrived in Singapore in the middle of the night and EXHAUSTED. Because we had such a long trip planned (possibly a whole year of travelling), we decided to ease ourselves into the travel mindset a bit (that means hotels instead of hostels, and Ubers instead of walking/public transportation). So we used some of Kyle’s valuable Marriott points to book ourselves a room in the middle of the city and called an Uber to drive us there. 

Though we were driving in the dark, the first thing I noticed about the city was the tree-lined highways and the vine covered traffic barriers. Such simple touches that were so effective in making the city feel manicured and clean. I have to say my favorite thing about Singapore was the huge amount of green-space in the largely metropolitan city. Everywhere you look there were trees and beautiful plants! The effect was that of a city living in harmony with the jungle. Yes, I know this was manufactured by the planners of the city, but it’s still very nice.
The next morning, we set out to explore the city; this was our only full day there so we had to make the most of it. Of course we beelined it to Haji Lane. This was the most adorable little street with fabulous shopping! I was so tempted to buy basically EVERYTHING, but part of the fun of backpacking is that anything you buy has to fit in your pack… and let’s just say I’m not in the position to be carrying much more 😉 Haji Lane takes it’s name from the Arab pilgram-brokers who arranged for haj travelers to make their pilgrammage to Mecca. The area maintains an indie vibe, full of clothing boutiques, coffee shops, and ice cream. 
We took an Uber (again with the easing into the traveler lifestyle) to the botanic gardens which were gorgeous and best of all, FREE! It has been chosen as a UNESCO world heritage site and it did not disappoint. We saw endless amounts of bamboo, palms, fig trees, and a robotic lawn mower!! Hehe it was basically a Romba for grass 😀 
We decided to go to a local grocery store and scope out the eats in this part of the world. We picked up some local food and went back to our hotel and had dinner picnic-style on the 18th floor while overlooking the city 🙂 It started to rain and we enjoyed the sounds of the showers from our covered nook. We spent the rest of the day relaxing there and watched the sun go down. There is a light show every evening in Singapore and we were able to see it from little corner of the city! During the holiday season they have several shows per night so we watched the first one and then headed off to bed.
We woke the next morning and had to make our next move. We knew we wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur that day but hadn’t yet booked transportation. We had planned on taking a train but came to find that trains on that route sold out quickly. We settled on a bus and got a good deal on a last minute booking (about $22 USD per person) – about HALF the typical price for that company! The bus turned out to be a good experience! The seats were comfortable and spacious and the back of each seat had a little screen that had movies loaded into it (much like an airplane entertainment system, but with fewer options).
 
We arrived to Singapore exit immigration by bus and got through the line in a matter of minutes. Singapore in general seems to be very efficient and technologically modern. We then got back on the bus and drove for 15-20 minutes before arriving at the Malaysia entry customs checkpoint. This is where the stress started. There were only a couple booths open to receive travelers and there was no clear queue. Oh and there were HUNDREDS of people who all arrived at the same time. Kyle and I were in the last seat on our bus so we were the last to get in line. We were also two of the only foreigners on our particular bus so I was already starting to sweat that the local people would get through more quickly and our bus would leave us. 
 
Turns out my fear wasn’t far-fetched. We stood in line for nearly an hour as the Malaysia officers took their time, whether it was due to slow computer equipment or a general lack of urgency, I don’t know. But it certainly was not efficient. We finally got our passports stamped and hurried to the next room where they would x-ray our bags. This went quickly, as the customs officials did not seem too concerned with any of our belongings. We grabbed our bags and literally sprinted to find our bus. We arrived just as our driver was shutting the bus door. Ack! Talk about stressful. Ultimately we had been in line for approximately an hour, elbow to elbow with hoards of other sweaty people. But we had made it and were ready to sit for the next four hours, anxiously anticipating our next adventure: Malaysia!
 
More soon!
 
xo, J