Prepaid GSM
Getting around

Part 1: Introduction

24-25.10: Munich -> KL
26.10: KL
27.10: KL
28.10: KL -> Tokyo
15.11: KL
16.11: KL
17.11: KL -> Dubai
18.11: Dubai -> Munich

Map of KL region

Overview and overall impression
This year's trip to Malaysia consisted of two brief stays in Kuala Lumpur, a three days one before the trip to Japan and another three days one after the trip to Macau before flying back to Germany, and one night spent in KL on November 10th between the Japan and the Macau trip.
Not much has changed in KL since our last visit, although you can see that the infrastructure is aging. Malaysia seems to go through a phase of stagnation, with a slowly growing economy and not rising wages. For instance the taxi fares have been essentially unchanged since 1999.

With the Euro exchange rate close to RM5 our holiday was quite inexpensive. Overall the pricing level in Malaysia is low. It is possible to find decent hotel rooms for less than RM100 in KL (20 Euro) and you can eat for less than RM 10. Taxis are also very inexpensive.

There is an incredible variety of food in Kuala Lumpur, with tons of restaurants and eateries everywhere. In every shopping complex there are one or two floors dedicated to restaurants and food stalls. Especially in the basement floor of the Midvalley shopping complex in KL there are tons of places where to find all sorts of food and snacks. Prices are a fraction of what they are in a developed country.

We stayed in four star places, costing between 250 and 320 RM (50 - 64 Euro). Prices have increased since our last stay and have steadily increased over the past years. We had to take a deluxe room in the Boulevard hotel because there were no more standard rooms, paying an additional RM60 per day. A few years ago we were paying around RM150 for a room in a four star hotel (see the Malaysia 2002 travelogue). Still, accomodation in KL is less expensive than comparable accomodation in Europe and the breakfast buffets are great.

Money  / Exchange rate (November 2007)
1 Euro = RM4.93
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
We bought prepaid cards from DiGi, which cost RM15 with RM15 of available calls. Dirt cheap and most likely DiGi lost money on us. You can also roam with your GSM phone, but connection charges will be extremely expensive, so it makes sense to get a local prepaid card even if you stay just two or three days. Good coverage everywhere. By the way, 3G networks have been introduced in Malaysia.

Internet access
For the first three days I used the WLAN access offered by Starbucks coffee shops, for the second three days I used the in-room LAN connection of the Boulevard hotel (a bit slow). Otherwise there are Internet cafes in downtown KL offering Internet access for RM4/hour.


Tropical weather, hot and steamy. Sometimes blue skies with only a few clouds, but mostly more or less overcast. At the end of October mostly blue skies, in mid-November mostly overcast with some rain.

Health / Vaccinations
The usual set of vaccinations for tropical countries (consult your doctor) and recommended. These include polio, Hep A, tetanus, diphteria, typhoid, although this list may be subject to change. We didn't refresh any vaccinations for this trip.

VISA / Entry requirements
A valid passport is necessary. EU nationals automatically get a three month visa upon arrival. This also holds for nationals of many other countries - check with the Malaysian embassy in your country.

No issues here. Malaysia is a very stable and peaceful country.


Getting around
We used mostly taxis (very cheap) to get from A to B. Taxis were unavailable when I arrived with the Skytrain from KL international airport (fast connection, 35 RM, 28 minutes) to KL Sentral station on Saturday at 6pm. To put it more precisely they would have brought me to the hotel for RM30, approx. six times the metered rate. The taxi drivers complained of too much traffic - no point working if you make very little and are stuck for half an hour in the traffic. Also in Bukit Bintang street taxi drivers refuse to use the meter, elsewhere they do use the meter. In any case, the streets in Kl are quite congested.
The other option is to use public transportation, which in central KL is not too bad. The monorail runs between KL Sentral and Titiwangsa and there are some fast LRT (light rail transit) lines in KL.

Copyright 2007 Alfred Molon