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6-Things To Do While in Transit in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (UPDATED: SUMMER 2018)

Kuala Lumpur International airport is a gateway to the rest of Southeast Asia. Chances are, if you are traveling to and within this region, you will most likely have a pit-stop in the Malaysian Capital.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is huge and can give neighboring, top-rated airports such as Singapore Changi and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport a run for their money in terms of the number of things the airport provides to keep passengers entertained while in transit to their next destination.

During my recent trip to Southeast Asia, I had two long layovers in-between destinations. Needless to say, KLIA became more of a familiar place to roam around before I boarded my next flight.

If you are in KLIA, check out the places below on where to rest at KLIA2 hotel, places to eat, lounge, and a lot more.

1) GET FRESH AND CLEAN

There are numerous lounges at KLIA airport at your disposal. After my 20+ hour flight from Chicago to Kuala Lumpur (with a pit-stop in Doha via Qatar Airways), all I could think about was freshening up with a nice hot shower.

Here are a few places to keep in mind:

Sama Sama Hotel

Sama Sama Hotel is adjacent to KLIA Terminal 2 and is easily accessible the moment you get out of customs. The walk takes approximately 10 minutes or you can catch a free buggy that will take you back and forth from the terminal to the hotel lobby.

On my first layover in Kuala Lumpur, I used the hotel’s 24-hour fitness center to freshen up after my 20-hour or so journey from Chicago. There’s a small fee to use the facility (I don’t remember the exact cost, but not more than $5 USD).

I also left my luggage here during my 10-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur – very convenient if you wish to explore the city during your long layover!

This hotel gets booked rather quickly as many of the airlines’ crew stay over here. I HIGHLY recommend booking in advance.

Sama-Sama is a great Kuala Lumpur International hotel !

Sama Sama Express

This hotel is conveniently located inside Kuala Lumpur International airport — perfect for passengers with overnight connections without having to exit Malaysian customs and immigration.

But just like Sama Sama, make sure you make a reservation ahead of time. I tried showing up at the front desk thinking I can get a private room and shower without hassle. It turns out (what do you know….) there are other travelers with overnight connection besides me (duh…)

Needless to say, all the rooms were booked and I had to find another solution.

Aerotel

Aerotel Malaysia – Airport Transit Hotel (klia2) offers accommodations located within gateway@klia2. Guests can enjoy drinks at the in-house bar.

Plaza Premium Lounge

Located at Level 2 m of Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) Gateway, Plaza Premium Lounge Malaysia is a transit hotel with air-conditioned rooms offering free WiFi, food and beverages. It is within a 2-minute walk to ERL Train Station at KLIA2.

Capsule Transit Hotel

Designed for transit travelers, backpackers on-the-go, and frequent fliers, it allows those who needed a place to crash overnight, or recharge before catching the next flight. It is great for a short stay, and for people who are trendsetters, value-smart, and eager to experience a Capsule styled lodging without worrying about lengthy stop-over.

Tune Hotel KLIA 2

If you didn’t get any luck with availability with either Sama Sama hotels, you may try your luck with Tune Hotel. This transit hotel is connected to the KLIA 2 terminal via a covered walkway.

They offer rooms with modern decor and free WiFi.

Air Asia Lounge

I flew with Air Asia on my journey from Bali to Yangon, which meant a transit in the airline’s major hub in Kuala Lumpur.

But this time, it was an overnight layover. I wanted to be as comfortable as I could so the thought of trying to comfortably sleep on the airport benches was out the window. Unfortunately, Sama Sama Express didn’t have any rooms available. And as I always do, I didn’t think in advance to make a reservation for overnight accommodations.

Luckily, Air Asia Lounge came to the rescue!

Despite not having private rooms, the lounge has spacious sleeping area on the second floor with comfy bean bags. Additionally, the lounge provides amenities such as office space and showers, not to mention food and beverage services throughout the day.

The only downside to trying to catch rest in the open sleeping area: the snorers (ugh) or the loud talkers (hmmm….). So, find some ear plugs to ensure you are well rested 🙂

Price was approximately around $40 USD.

2. GO EAT

I’m a Malaysian food fanatic. They are tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty…. (and super affordable)!

I didn’t really mind the long waits in-between flights as I kept myself busy scouring for Malaysian food all over the airport (my go-to is roti with beef rendang)!

Check out the restaurants below while at KLIA!

Grandmama’s Restaurant

The flavours of Malaysia. They servesignature local cuisines such as nasi lemak, nasi ayam istimewa, fried kueh teow, curry fish head, hakka fried rice and etc. The choice of food is Malaysian local cuisine depict of multi races country.

Malaysian Wok

This casual eatery brings together all the Malaysian taste and flavours into one place. Malaysian Wok is the perfect restaurant for those locals longing for a taste of home after a journey abroad, and for foreigners who are in a rush to sample the best of Malaysian cuisine the moment they alight from their flights.

Soul Chicken

Soul Chicken is founded by a Korean couple who have been operating Korean restaurants specialising in Korean fried chicken, in Kuala Lumpur for over a decade. We offer original tastes of Korean fried chicken and some all-time Korean favourites like Kimchi Fried Rice, Chicken Bulgogi, and Korean Spicy Ramyoen.

3. SHOPPING

There is a shopping mall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport… a shopping mall!

With over 220 retail stores available at Gateway Mall, there is no reason for you to stare into space while you wait endlessly for your next flight.

Even if you don’t want to spend anything, the Gateway Mall at KLIA2 will still keep you plenty busy roaming around while you wait to board for your next destination.

Read more info on Gateway Mall at KLIA2 here.

4. MASSAGE

One of my all-time favorite activities while in Asia: massages!

Treating yourself to a massage and spa anywhere you travel in Asia is a guaranteed highlight of your trip. The massages are usually of high quality, yet very much affordable. I mean, where in the U.S. or in Europe would you find an hour’s worth of massage for under $20 USD?!

I, for one, usually leave the massage feeling like a brand new person who nobody’s ever met before.

What else to do when you have downtime before your next departure at KLIA?

Get a massage from head to toe!

Thai Odyssey

Thai Odyssey provides local and international travelers a deserving respite. Described as an oasis of soothing calmness, the tranquility within transcends languages and cultures. Opened with 5,670 sq ft of serene ambiance, and adding more body-contoured foot massage chairs, there is always a space to set the mood for well being in travel.

5. HANG OUT AT THE MOVIE LOUNGE

Not a shopping fan? Nor a massage fan? No worries! KLIA provides a lounging area where you can watch a movie while you wait for your next boarding.

More info here.

6. EXPLORE KUALA LUMPUR

If you have an extensive layover in Kuala Lumpur and would like to get out of the airport, visiting the city is very doable.

Within striking distance from the airport, the city center is about a 30-minute ride on the KLIA Ekspres, the airport’s high-speed non-stop train that connects passengers from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city center.

During my first layover in Kuala Lumpur this year, I opted to have lunch in the city itself and visit the iconic Petronas Towers, before finishing with a reflexology massage in the trendy neighborhood of Bangsar.

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35 Comments

  1. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is also very good.

    • thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing the information, I got to know about the facilities and I am happy that it would be ok to travel with my son as Airport will be providing us the much needed facilities.

    • I hope your trip went well, Amanda!

  3. its actually very common for delay in flight to Indonesia, some people are bother by it, some don’t and one of them is you! :’)

    • I was lucky the flight was delayed to Indonesia!

  4. You failed to mention that the airport is terrible for overnight layover. The hostels are ridiculously expensive and it shuts down mostly after 1:Am. Due to steep hotel prices and the fact Air Malyasia has shitty times as does Air Asia, It is one of the worst airports for a long layover if it is passed 1 AM. I could not even get a bottle of water at 3:30 AM passed security. A place selling horrible food opened at 5 AM. The white coffee shop is the only thing open and it is passed security. It is so full that there is nowhere to get a chair as selfish people sleep across 4. Hard to find a phone charger and just terrible. I slept in Dublin and in Heathrow and in Paris, Moscow and Tokyo, I could not believe how terrible this was. I was sick and could not even buy meds. Even Amman has a place to buy food and meds open at 2aM. This airport takes the cake. It is also hard to find a beer and relax .

  5. Long layovers have become part and parcel of affordable travel. I’m glad to see that the Kuala Lumpur airport offers multiple options for sleeping and shower. Plus glad to see you can quickly pop in town for a tour too!

    • Yes – the train from KLIA to downtown KL is very efficient. Highly recommend if you have an extensive layover in KL!

  6. That’s a lot of options! I love how they have so many hotels, catering to all budgets, and for some, you don’t even need to pass customs, that’s cool. Also, such amazing eating options, if I am ever transiting through Malaysia, I’d love to eat their local food because I love Malaysian food! I like that they have a movie lounge, that’s uncommon. Do they provide city tours from the airport for people with a long layover or do you need to DIY?

    • Thanks Medha! I will look into city tours for those who are in KL for a long layover!

  7. Wow I definitely don’t remember any of these places when I passed through KL airport years ago. I’m so hungry now after reading about the food places. Grandmama’s Place sounds really good for an airport place! I also like the capsule hotel, but probably wouldn’t stay in one! A useful post for travellers!

    • Thanks Lisa. The capsule hotel is a definite experience though!

  8. Wow.. that’s a lot of options for a layover. The lounges with bunk beds look great! The massage at $20 USD after a long flight is quite a steal 😀

    • Thanks Sinjana! Yea – the lounges with bunk beds are a life saver, especially if you have an overnight layover!

  9. My latest trip to KL involved a couple of hours in transit at KLIA in April during the early hours of the morning, coming from Australia on the way through to Chiang Mai. As you have highlighted, there is no doubt at all that KL has a massive airport that has been constructed to a very high and modern standard. When I was there, there wasn’t very much in the way of shops that were open (around 2-4am) but there were a few food outlets. I did try a noodle dish at Malaysian Wok that you featured in this post and thought it was really tasty.

    • Hi Nicole – great to hear you had a smooth layover at KLIA!

  10. It is great that Malaysia’s International Airport offers so many hotels for an overnight stay and that too not getting out of an airport. Also, the meal options look delicious and worth trying out. I would love to opt for massage as it would be relaxing after a long flight and getting prepared for the next one. Thanks for sharing all these helpful tips!

    • you’re welcome, yukti! cheers!

  11. I have been there a few times. We did the short city tour and it was five hours well spent. I also loved the Malaysian Wok. It’s great food. The only downside is that they don’t accept cards. That’s weird considering its such a big international airport.

    • Thanks Sreekar! yes i agree – paying with a card at the airport was a struggle!

  12. Ha! KL was the transit in my first ever international travel. So it is very special to me!
    Being my first ever travel plus a solo travel, I didn’t bother to go anywhere except just to roam a bit near my gate.
    Hope I go to KL again or atleast transit, and make the best use of it.
    Oh my! Thanks for the tip on KLIA expres! Will keep it in mind!

    • Hi Bhusha! That’s quite a special memory!

  13. OMG so sad, I am Malaysian born and never even knew these hotels even existed. A capsule style hotel? That is so cool! I must admit I do love eating when I am there. Even if I’m not hungry I’ll sneak in a Malaysian delight so I can satisfy my cravings. And so funny about the KLIA Express. I made that mistake once! I didn’t even know KLIA 2 was open so just assumed I was at the end of the line as always.

    • hi Any! now you know about the hotels at KLIA! I was impressed by them!

  14. A great post for any traveller who is going to be passing through kl airport Some great facilities including a choice of hotels and pods to sleep in and refresh yourself after a long flight. Grandmama kitchen and Malaysian food at your comfort as well. A great airport I must say and plenty to keep you occupied

    • Thanks Amar!

  15. What a super comprehensive post! I hate long layovers but sometimes they are the only option and much less stressful at least than ones that are too tight! The massage option appeals a lot!

    • Long layovers are not always fun, but with airports like KLIA, it can be bearable!

  16. Thats such an indepth guide to Kuala lumpur airport. I never knew they have such a variety of stay options for all types of travelers. The shopping and massage facilities add so much value during your halts. These can surely be handy to rejuvenate

    • Yes, indeed :))

  17. Wow! There are so many cool things to do at the Kuala Lumpur airport. We had a layover of 8 hours at Kuala Lumpur when we were travelling from New Delhi to Bali. I wish I knew about these cool ideas at that time. I love the idea of a relaxing massage. The movie lounge also sounds great.

    • 8 hour layover! hope you were to occupy yourself for that long!

  18. 20-hour flight from Chicago!? Yikes!!! Good thing they got hot showers at the lounges then! I’m planning to do a SE Asia trip in the beginning of next year so I’ll for sure be taking some of these tips with me. Also, Grandmama’s Restaurant sounds delish with their nasi lemak and fried rice. Ughh I’m drooling already!

    • haha, yes…20+ hours!! the lounge and hotel definitely saved me from that super long flight!

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