How To Survive An Airport Layover: Kuala Lumpur

In my time as a travel writer, I have produced posts for numerous and varied clients. It’s been a pleasure to have such a diverse workload – for the most part. However, there is one article I have written a thousand times: ‘How To Survive An Airport Layover.’

So, I felt it was only right that I carried on the great tradition and gave you a realistic view of how to employ all these tips.

During my last long-haul travels, the universe afforded me the opportunity to stop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Initially, the stopover was due to be 4 hours, but after a bit of research, we discovered that we could switch our plane to an evening flight and enjoy a full 10 hours wandering the city.

Here’s how we survived KL – but these tips work for anywhere.

1. Go Into the Centre

While most airports usually reside on the far outskirts of the city, travel to the center is often relatively simple. Once you get off the plane, follow the signs for public transport, and it’s likely there’ll be at obviously advertised city link with a name like KLIA Ekspres or SkyBus – as your options are in Kuala Lumpur.

I don’t remember much about the journey, as I was incredibly jetlagged. After reaching the central station, we found a tourist office and asked the man for any nearby attractions that we could visit in a relatively short space of time.

Of course, we chose: the botanical gardensmainly because they were free and also had a planetarium and museum in the near vicinity. However, after an hour or so of jetlagged wandering in the intense heat and humidity, the latter two were a quest too far.

QUICK TIP: Always bring water from the airport as it’s easy to get dehydrated and there’s no guarantee that it’ll be easily accessible – real problem guys, honestly.


2. Try The Local Cuisine

You can’t experience a place without trying to food – particularly when it’s extremely yummy food like Malaysian cuisine. In all honesty, after flying all morning, we were more than ready to chow down.

This need led us to one of the worst decisions of the day. We opted to eat at the first restaurant we found; a chain place in the train station called ‘Secret Recipe.‘ After greedily ordering chicken satay and a Seafood Laska – when in Malaysia, ey? – we experienced a brief yet mediocre taste of the local cuisine.

However, never fear, there are endless ways to remedy our mistake. Obviously, you can try to do some research beforehand. If that takes the spontaneity out of the adventure, you could also center your wandering solely around finding the best place to eat.

Fortunately for us, the area we finally ended up visiting had no food or drink dispensaries anywhere in the near locale, so if we hadn’t settled for a subpar lunch, then we would have had a very hungry and grouchy day.

3. Stock Up On Good Food 

Making the most out of your airport layover is more than just exploring the destination. If you’re on a long-haul flight, then your stopover time is your brief chance to refuel and revitalize before you’re stuffed back into a cramped metal tube full of strangers.

We all know the dangers of airplane food. Instead of eating microwaved heated slop, it’s a great tactic to stock up on food during your layovers. In terms of Kuala Lumpur, you are by no means short of options.

The airport has nearly every international chain you could possibly dream of seeing. So, unashamedly, we set down to a cheeky Nandos, following by a large chai tea from Starbucks, followed by a food coma.

4. Keep Track Of Time

WARNING: If you’re not careful your lovely day out could turn into a complete nightmare if you lose track of time. Yes, I am speaking from experience. So as we were sitting back to enjoy our drinks and full stomachs, contemplating what time we should go pick up our bags from the luggage storage, we had a realization.

Somewhere between the numerous flights we had lost track of time difference and were an hour behind. Instead of being ahead of schedule, we had forty minutes till our flight departed.

If you happened to be in KLIA that day, you might have seen two hysterical girls, running like mad women with giant packs flailing around on their backs. That was us.

Other than keeping a keen eye on time difference, also make sure you know the time that transport takes to get into the city and back. Also, factor in the size of the airport (KLIA is a BIG building to run across.) You do not want to miss your flight!


Most travelers dread airport layovers. However, more often than not, they become one of the most memorable parts of your trips. There are plenty more ways you can make the most out of these periods, so share your preferred survival method in the comments below! 🙂


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6 thoughts on “How To Survive An Airport Layover: Kuala Lumpur

  1. “So, unashamedly, we set down to a cheeky Nandos, following by a large chai tea from Starbucks, followed by a food coma. ”

    …I LOVE a food coma! 😀 Enjoyed reading your story, I’m ashamed to say that I found the mad dash funny – I bet it was really stressful!

    Who were you travelling with? (excuse my ignorance, I’ve not got up to speed on your adventures yet!)

    Hope you’re well,

    Ross 🙂


    1. hahaha! The mad dash was hilarious. The best bit was when we got to check-in our luggage and we were so jetlagged, exhausted and stressed that put our bags on the floor, straddled them and shuffled our way up the queue, laughing hysterically! Those kind of experiences are the best travel memories!

      On this point I was traveling with my friend, Faye, who is narcoleptic. So along with all my anxiety and health problems it made for a pretty funny trip 😛

      (I haven’t checked my email so if you’ve replied to that, sorry! I’ll get on it now)


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