Kuala Lumpur: Need to Know

Need to Know

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Being 30 miles away, K.L.'s superb international airport is, unfortunately, convenient for nowhere but palm-oil plantations. However, the high-speed train link into town is one of the most efficient, and least crowded, in Asia. It's also cheaper, faster and more comfortable than a taxi, so don't be taken in by persistent touts. Upon arrival at the downtown Sentral train station, you buy coupons for onward taxis, which takes the stress out of haggling with cabbies, often forced by K.L.'s insanely low fares to try to bargain off the meter. Connection to a monorail loop around the city center is a 10-minute walk away, but once there the service is fun and cheap.

Trains are affordable, but changing lines — between the light rail, the aforementioned monorail and the suburban systems — can be a hassle. Most visitors use taxis. If you're not able to buy coupons or find a driver who will stick to the metered fare, drive a hard bargain. Ten ringgit ($3) or even less should cover most short trips.

Kuala Lumpur is one of the most hassle-free places in Asia. Even night strolls are relatively safe, though there has been a decided increase in bag-snatching, often by thieves on passing motorbikes and scooters. In busy areas, it's best to keep to the inside of sidewalks and be aware of how you are carrying your belongings.

Food Etiquette
No matter how liberal they appear, Malays can be quite put off by the sudden appearance at the table of any pork products (unwrapped or otherwise).

Gratuities are by no means expected in Malaysia, but cab drivers will be grateful for small change. Upmarket bars and restaurants impose a 10% service charge as well as a 5% government tax. Cheaper places do not and don't expect a gratuity. At hotels, bellboys will be satisfied with a tip of a few ringgit.

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