Malaysia

KLCC or Bukit Bintang? Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

KLCC or Bukit Bintang? Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

You’ll never run out of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

If you want some shopping fun, the malls and stores of Bukit Bintang don’t disappoint. For sightseeing, the city’s convenient bus and train system can take you to different top attractions such as Petronas Towers, Batu Caves, Menara KL, and Central Market. If you want to get in touch with nature, Bukit Nanas, Aquaria KLCC, and the KLCC Park are places that you can go to.

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KLCC or Bukit Bintang?

Where should you stay? What’s the best area in Kuala Lumpur? KLCC or Bukit Bintang?

There are two areas that are really popular among tourists – KLCC and Bukit Bintang. But between the two, Bukit Bintang is much livelier, both during the day and at night. It has everything at your doorstep.

Note that these two areas are not that far apart. In fact, they’re connected by the KLCC-Bukit Bintang Walkway, a 1.173-km stretch that allows you to change venues in less than 30 minutes, or 15 if you walk fast.

Here are top-reviewed hotels and hostels in KLCC and Bukit Bintang.

Paper Plane Hostel

Paper Plane Hostel has been consistently given an “exceptional” rating by visitors. The reason? Not only does it have clean and comfortable beds, but it’s also well-located and have friendly staff. Hang Tua Monorail Station and the LRT Train Station is approximately 300 meters away.

Image: Agoda

Amethyst Love Guesthouse

Amethyst Love Guesthouse is one colorful and art-filled guesthouse, making it a homey and cozy place to stay while in Kuala Lumpur. Located along Jalan Rembia, it’s difficult to miss considering its all-yellow facade. If you’re a foodie, you’re going to love this guesthouse’s location. It’s only 110 meters from Jalan Alor (Food Street).

Image: Agoda

The Kuala Lumpur Journal Hotel

If you’re looking for a hotel with a swimming pool, book a room at The Kuala Lumpur Journal Hotel. If the KL heat becomes unbearable and you want to take a break from your shopping or sightseeing activities, you can always take a dip at the pool.

Image: Agoda

The Bed KLCC

The Bed KLCC is a neat and clean hostel. It’s close to Bukit Nanas train station, and it’s only a few-minute walk to KLCC and KL Tower. Check out their cool table.

Image: Agoda

Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur

A newly built hotel, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur is one of the high-end hotels in the area. This is ideal for travelers who’d like to give themselves a nice treat. Banyan Tree has a prime location. It’s a hotel near a mall. Pavillion Mall is only 150 meters away.

Image: Agoda

KLCC Grey Studio

KLCC Grey Studio is one stylish accommodation. As the name implies, it’s a studio room that has everything. It’s ideal for solo and couple travelers who want a spacious room that allows them to cook and not share the bathroom with other guests.

Image: Agoda

Best Place to Stay in Kota Kinabalu

Best Place to Stay in Kota Kinabalu | Top Recommendations

After our Mt. Kinabalu climb, we spent a day going around Kota Kinabalu.

As suggested by travel blogs such as this, we visited the city’s top landmarks such as the Atkinson Clock Tower, the City Mosque, Tanjung Aru Beach, and the Sabah State Museum.

We also got to try Stall No. 6‘s fruit smoothie (see image below), and at the Gaya Street Sunday Market, we ate seedless rambutan, an exotic tropical fruit just like the salak.

Going to Kota Kinabalu (KK) soon? Here’s a list of the top places and areas to stay in the city.

Central Business District

Kota Kinabalu’s CBD is the best place to stay in Kota Kinabalu. It makes a good base for everything that the city has to offer. It is the best place to be if you’re interested in dining, shopping at markets and malls, and a self-guided walking tour to check out KK sights that are within walking distance.

The airport bus stop is also within the district, so if you want a cheap and convenient airport-hotel transport option, book at a hotel near the airport.

Here are three top-rated hostels within Kota Kinabalu’s CBD.

  • Homy Seafront Hostel has been given an “exceptional” rating by previous guests because of its location, staff service, and clean facilities. Let’s not forget the sea view!
  • Jk Capsule Hotel is only 180 meters from Imago Shopping Mall. It can get really hot in KK, so this is an advantage.
  • B&B@21 is near three KK landmarks: Atkinson Clock Tower, Gaya Street Sunday Market, and Kota Kinabau City Mosque.

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Image Below: Beautiful clothes displayed at a store in Kota Kinabalu

Central Business District Shopping Window

Tanjung Aru

Tanjung Aru Beach is the main tourist attraction in the area. While we don’t recommend the beach for swimming, it’s a good place to be to wait for the sunset or sunrise.

Tanjung Aru is for vacationers who would like a place with a seaside background. Below are three top-reviewed hotels in the area.

  • Dock In Hostel is a 15-minute walk to the beach. It’s close to restos, groceries, and even a 7-11. And according to one guest, complaints regarding unruly guests are acted upon immediately.
  • The Atelier KK is a newly built hotel. It’s near the airport, which makes it a perfect place to stay if you have an early flight the next day.
  • The Crown Borneo Hotel is one of the more established hotels in the area. It’s a cozy hotel that’s approximately 1.4 km to/from the airport.

Image Below: Sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach

Tanjung Aru Beach

Image Below: 3 layer fruit smoothie purchased at a stall in Tanjung Aru Beach

3 Layer Fruit Smoothie Tanjung Aru Beach

Bukit Nanas Kuala LUmpur

Layover in Kuala Lumpur? Check Out Bukit Nanas

In February 17, 2017, we had a 20-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, so we decided to make good use of it and check out Bukit Nanas. Based on research, the place is now called the KL Forest Eco Park, which is just a few meters from the KL Tower (Menara KL).

Bukit Nanas is truly a gem. Although not at all challenging and only affords views of nearby buildings, the well-maintained trail can be a good warm-up for an upcoming hike. The forest has an impressive 200-meter canopy walk, a spacious campsite, and even an herbal garden. With a leisurely pace, we spent about an hour exploring most of the trails.

This mini hike was supposed to be in preparation for our Doi Inthanon and Phu Chi Fa climb in Thailand, but as it turned out, we over-prepared.

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Our Walking Route

We’d been to KL twice before, so getting lost wasn’t a worry. Since we had much time to spare, and we knew based on other travel blogs that Bukit Nanas is a quick nature walk, we planned to do a lengthier route to include some popular places in the city.

Here’s the plan.

1. Take the bus from KLIA2 to KL Sentral.
2. From KL Sentral, hop on a train to KLCC and resist the temptation to even say hello to the Twin Towers.
3. From KLCC, walk towards Bukit Bintang through the connecting bridgeway.
4. From Bukit Bintang, walk towards Bukit Nanas.
5. Take the same route in reverse. As a reward, take a picture with the Twin Towers.

According to Maps.me, the whole route was about 8 km. NOTE: It’s possible to take a shorter 1.8-km route from Suria KLCC to Bukit Nanas.

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Our Itinerary

13:30 – Got off at KLCC station, then headed towards Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang.

14:00 – Reached Pavilion Mall; took our time to look around; dropped by Brands Outlet Store but didn’t find anything we like; turned around and headed towards Pavilion again; took a picture of Coach’s window because we thought the display was super creative; check out top-reviewed hotels within KLCC and Bukit Bintang

14:46 – Arrived at KL Tower; surprised that it was an “attraction complex” (e.g., Upside Down Hsouse (see image below), Eco Forest, Zoo…), but we were only interested in Bukit Nanas. We didn’t know where it was, so we asked around. The girl we talked to said we needed a ticket, but we didn’t have to worry because it was free. We did what she said.

Image: KL Upside Down House KL Tower

KL Upside Down House KL Tower

15:05 – We found the forest, situated only a few meters from the tower. When we got inside, though, there was not a single person in sight, not even a ranger. The entrance looked deserted and unwelcoming, but we let ourselves in, and then examined the ticket. What was it for? The ticket says “FREE FOREST TOUR.”We saw a few double-decker buses earlier; perhaps the ticket was for one of those? We kept the ticket just in case. Later, we found out that there are three main entrances to the eco park. We got in through this entrance (see image below).

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Image: Entrance of Bukit Nanas

Entrance of Bukit Nanas

Image: Bukit Nanas Ticket KL Forest Eco Park

Ticket Bukit Nanas

We didn’t follow the sign that says “MAIN TRAIL ENTRANCE.” Instead, when we saw the hanging bridges, we couldn’t contain our excitement. We later discovered that these bridges are part of the forest’s CANOPY WALK.

The walk wasn’t long, but a few of these bridges, especially those suspended the highest, got us height-sick. We have to say though that these bridges aren’t that high. Compared to houses, the highest of them are the height of a 3-storey house.

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Canopy Walk Bukit Nanas

When we were done with the bridges, we just let our feet wander off and take whatever trail they’d stumble upon. The trails we took were…

– Penarahan Trail
– Merawan Trail
– Jelutong Trail
– Bamboo Walk

We also managed to reach the campsite at 15:34.

16:09 – Back at the entrance; we retraced our steps back to KLCC.

17:30 – Took a picture with the Petronas Towers.

Short Note About the Trails in Bukit Nanas

The park has several well-maintained trails that you can explore. These are wide enough for one person, and each is paved with a different material.

– Penarahan – tiles
– Merawan – crushed rocks / gravel
– Jelutong – hardened clay soil
– OKU – a concrete ramp

Penarahan Trail Bukit Nanas Bukit Nanas Merawan Trail
Jelutong Trail Bukit Nanas Oku Trail

It’s impossible to get lost as long as you stay on the paths.

At the campsite, you can sleep in one of the open houses, but bring an insect repellent. Mosquitoes are everywhere.

Mount Kinabalu from Airplane

Our Slow But Steady Grind with Gunung Kinabalu

Successfully summiting Mt. Kinabalu crosses off one of the mountains in the so-called Asian Trilogy checklist. In this trilogy that includes Mt. Fuji (Japan) and Mount Jade (Taiwan), Kinabalu is the highest with an elevation of 4,096 masl.

In June 2015, an earthquake took a heavy toll on the mountain. The park had been closed for several months until authorities opened Ranau Trail, a two-part hike that stretches over an 8-km distance. The first part, which covers 6 kilometers, is a 4-hour ascent from Timpohon Gate to KM 6 (Pendant Hut/Laban Rata). The second part, the more exciting of the two, starts at the base camp all the way to Low’s Peak.

In August 25-26, 2016, we joined an all-Filipino group of 8 hikers – 3 women and 5 men, aged 26 to 42 – on an organized 2D1N itinerary. It was our first mountain adventure outside the Philippines.

It was a successful climb. Expectations, if there were any, were exceeded.

[NOTE: Images on this post are from our friends.]
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“Slow But Steady” is the Way to Do it

On the day of the climb, the operators promptly picked us up at our hostel in Kota Kinabalu. We were whisked in a van and arrived at the Park’s Headquarters about two hours later. After all the permits and ID tags were secured, we enjoyed a 10-minute ride to Timpohon Gate, the starting point.

At Timpohon Gate, right before we started the climb, our middle-aged guide Aling had a fair warning. “Slow but steady,” he said. That meant no running or walking too fast.

He went on to explain that it’s a tried-and-tested strategy against AMS and pulikat (cramps) – two inconveniences that every hiker would want to avoid at all costs. We should also refrain from taking too-long breaks because “we want our muscles to be warm at all times.”

It was three months prior to the Kinabalu hike when we first learned the importance of keeping a slow-but-steady pace especially during ascents. That was during our Akiki-Tawangan hike (Mt. Pulag) with another group.

We realized that applying this approach has at least three benefits.

First, since there’s minimal strain on both the lower and upper extremities, you don’t feel tired easily. That means you can keep going, taking breaks only minimally. Second, you’ll minimize muscle soreness after the climb. Third, and most importantly, you’ll reduce your chances of incurring an injury.

When Aling’s briefing was over, the other guide, a shy twenty-something lad named Tino, took over the reins and led us to the first leg of the hike.

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Ascent to KM 6

The first ten minutes was literally a walk in the park, but for a team of speedy hikers, the slowness of the pace was unbearable.

Back in the Philippines where the highest point is pegged at less than 3,000 masl, AMS is a strange concept, so although no one spoke among us, we knew that everyone was anxious to walk faster.

Still, we all knew better than to disobey.

Two weeks before the climb, we gathered as much information as we could about the trail. From the blogs, we learned that Ranau is laden with flight after flight of wooden steps, which instantly made a negative impression on us. We prefer our trails to be as rugged as possible, so imagine our disappointment the first time we came face-to-face with these wooden installations.

At least we’ve been warned, we said to ourselves as we stepped on the wooden planks.

As the group pressed along, we surveyed the trail hoping to find something unfamiliar, but there was nothing un-Philippinelike about the surroundings. From the ground up, it was basically tropical.

The only time we got excited was when a group of squirrels and a strange bird kept us company while taking a break at one of the huts, or punduk in the vernacular.

As the altitude changed, so did the flora and the views. They got more exciting. It also got chillier, and as we were about 500 meters to KM 6, it started to rain.

We carried on despite the cold. Then at about 2:30 in the afternoon, we arrived at our destination.

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At KM 6: Pendant Hut

We were given an hour to get some rest before our Via Ferrata briefing. It was too cold to have a walk outside Pendant Hut, but the views from the windows kept us busy. There was also free coffee.

“Is that a waterfall?”

“The fog’s too thick.”

“Are those Donkey Ears?”

The briefing ended shortly before 6 pm, just in time for dinner. Although Laban Rata was just a few steps away from Pendant Hut, going there was torturous because of the biting cold.

At 8 pm or so, we were tucked in our bed, trying our best to catch some sleep. Unfortunately, the cold did not make it easy for us. It probably took us an hour before we finally dozed off.

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It’s so Beautiful Up Here!

Waking up at 1 in the morning in Mount Kinabalu was a real challenge, but the excitement overpowered the cold. We assembled in front of Pendant Hut where Aling, our guide, was waiting. After a quick reminder from him – yup, slow but steady – we turned our head torch on and began walking.

The trail started with wooden stairs, and then about thirty minutes later, it changed into a more rocky, adventurous terrain. At one point, we had to climb up a rock face with the aid of a rope. It felt dangerous, but we liked the thrill of it.

At 4:30 in the morning, we reached KM 8.5. We decided to stop there to wait for the sunrise.

Barely five minutes into waiting, it got irritatingly cold again. It was torture, and we wished we walked a bit slower. There were no stars nor moon to keep us company, so we busied ourselves with whatever “view” our head torch gave us.

At the hint of first light, our friend took out his camera, and we started shooting solo pictures.

After the photoshoot, we continued our journey towards Low’s Peak. As we inched closer to the top, the skies got clearer, and everything we saw took our breath away. From the granite slabs to the clouds, Mount Kinabalu did not disappoint. It was beautiful.

Of course, we took our time to enjoy and appreciate this one-of-a-kind beauty. When it was time to go, we left happy, victorious, proud, and teeming with confidence.

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