Just like the majority of expats here in Bali, my 60-day visa was about to expire – which left me wondering “where the heck I am going to make my visa run?!” When you arrive in Bali, the maximum amount of time you can stay in the country is 30 days, unless you pay $35 upon arrival (plus an extra $40 to an agent afterwards) to extend an additional 30 days.
Since I have taken on the digital nomad way of life here in Ubud, I have decided to opt for the latter option. I will admit, not only is an extended visa a great idea if you plan on living in Bali longer than one month, but you can skip the long customs line when you land. (Yes, you bypass the “normal” line and go through a different immigration queue!)
With only two days until I had to leave the country, I decided to head to Malaysia for a quick visit. On my first visa run I traveled to Singapore and fell in love with the city. Singapore was futuristic, clean, + jammed packed with culture. While I plan on revisiting Singapore, there was something about Malaysia that intrigued me. Malaysia is a place I’d never thought I’d visit, but now, a new gem to discover. With only 48 hours to go, I booked my plane tickets to Kuala Lumpur!
Below is my itinerary for exploring the city in a day! It can be done…
Hotel: If you have an AMEX credit card, I highly recommend signing up for the Starwood points option. Like Sky Miles, you obtain points as you use your card, which will help you score some free SPG rooms in some of the nicest hotels. Since I rarely use my points (I normally opt for hostels or guest houses when traveling), I decided this was the best way to go in KL. I wound up booking the Element Hotel owned by the Westin. For only 7,000 points/night, and centrally located, it was quite the steal!
Normal hotel cost: Element Kuala Lumpur
I absolutely loved this hotel. Check in was on the 38th floor of the building, surrounded by floor to ceiling windows. My room was HUGE – big comfy bed, high quality amenities, + fantastic views. Since I arrived late, I was ready for a good night’s rest.
I woke up early the next morning for a work-call (US time) and then made my way to the gym. Similar to the reception and my room, the gym was very clean and spacious, not to mention the gym had floor to ceiling windows (which made running on the treadmill a little less painful!)
Afterwards -- breakfast time! Another perk to being a Starwood Member is free access to the buffet breakfast (which did not disappoint!) From fresh squeezed juices, to custom made omelets, I was in heaven. The service was also impeccable. This was a nice treat since I had some work to do in the morning. I was able to find a cozy seat near the window with a bird’s eye view of the city – working digital nomad style, latte in hand!
I only had a half day to explore, so my first stop was the Batu Caves. From my hotel, the ride was about 35-40 minutes and was easily set up with the concierge. Upon arrival, the steps and surroundings were so colorful and inviting -- A photog’s playground!
· There is no cost to enter the caves
· A simple 272 steps brings you to the Batu Cave entrance
· The interior was filled with limestone formations said to be 400 million years old
· Your legs must be covered - for around 50 cents you can rent a sarong to wrap around your waist
· There are private tours that last around 45 minutes (I opted to walk around solo)
· It becomes quite hot, especially walking up the steps, so try to visit in the morning
· A bit touristy but worth it!
After my visit to the Batu Caves, my driver took me on a quick visit to Chinatown. Honestly, I wish I had more time to spend here! Chinatown was filled with bustling tourists, designer knock-offs for bargain deals + authentic street food.
· Petaling Street Market: Known for clothes and accessories, there are a TON of knock-off stands, but you must visit in the morning or around lunch because they close down shop around 3pm.
· You can find local artists selling paintings and crafts at the Central Market
· The street food is yummy! Chinatown is known for its noodles + curry dishes
· There is an array of ornate temples nearby, with different carvings of Hindu deities
After a quick rest from my afternoon touring, I made my way to the #1 tourist destination – The Petronas Twin Towers. This was a quick 15-minute walk from my hotel.
· A must for pictures!
· The Petronas towers are the tallest twin towers in the world
· Make sure to go at night for the best picture quality
· 45-minute tours are available, which takes you to the Skybridge on the 41st floor and observation deck on the 86th floor (sold in advance online)
After visiting the towers, I was quite exhausted from the day but decided to hit up one more spot. I decided to check out a roof-top bar close by called Heli Lounge Bar
· The restaurant/bar is fully functional helipad during the day, turned restaurant/bar at night
· The roof setting gives you a 360-degree view of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic skyline
· I recommend going to watch the sunset!
· The retro décor is made from old airplane parts
There you have it – Kuala Lumpur in a day! While Singapore still won me over as a visa run fav, Malaysia is definitely a country I recommend exploring!
Have more time? Three additional KL attractions to add to your itinerary!
· KL Bird Park
· KL Tower
· Fountain Show at Lake Symphony
by Natalie Thomas.