Layovers are simply part of travel these days unless you pay more or get lucky. I really don’t mind layovers anymore since they have become part of air travel and give me time to grab some food or stretch my legs. The best part is you should remember you will earn a lot more miles flying on indirect flights then if you fly direct. So you can build up your mileage simply by taking a longer route if you have the time.
I recently had a 7 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur and had never been in Malaysia. I did not want to miss out on getting a preview of a new country so I had researched how much time I needed to see a few major sites and get back for my flight.
I arrived at 6:30am and my departing flight to Phuket was at around 1:30pm. I used travel forums such as TripAdvisor and FlyerTalk to find out how much time I needed to get to the city and back. While I am not a huge fan of TripAdvisor it does have a lot of valuable information. A lot of the basics are covered in the top questions of every forum.
Seat61 is a great site for getting unique and detailed travel info. It is what I used most recently to figure out how to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap and it was spot on.
TripAdvisor is handy for things to do in your short amount of time and how long you need to make it happen. It will tell you if a 6 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur is long enough or if you need 8 or maybe 10 hours. They have an FAQ along the side of each forum that are pretty reliable.
My 7 Hour Layover in Kuala Lumpur
I read I needed 6-8 hours to get to the city and back since it’s about an hour from the airport. I needed to be back about 90 minutes before my flight. The golden rule is 2 hours for international flights but I checked in a couple of bags with AirAsia before I left so all I would need to do is clear security. Returning 90 minutes before my departure was plenty of time.
The next task was finding a taxi driver who would take me in to the city round-trip, show me some of the highlights, and get me back in 3-4 hours. The bus was not an option since it was so slow and takes around 2 hours to get into the city. I would’ve also needed a taxi once it dropped me off so that was not an option. I negotiated with the taxi stand operator and not the driver. Told him what I would pay and he found me a driver willing to take it. I read online it would be around $80 round trip to do this. I offered $30 USD each way and that was accepted.
He took me to the Petronas Towers, the Twin Towers of Asia. They were amazing (tallest in the world until 2004). There was no time to go in but seeing them was great and all I needed.
Kuala Lumpur Space Needle. Which I did have time to explore. We got there right when it opened at 9am and went straight to the top. It was $15/person and the view was great. I also noticed that this may have been the most friendly staff I’ve ever encountered or perhaps just the way the people of Malaysia are.
Kuala Lumpur Space Needle
The View from the Top
You do not get a great angle of the towers but they are still great to see from this height.
So this is not an ideal way to see a city but it is a fantastic way to spend a layover. I had time to wash up in the bathroom, eat a hearty breakfast, use the free Wi-Fi in the airport, and see some incredible sites in Kuala Lumpur all in 7 hours. And this was all after a 6.5 hr overnight flight from Seoul so there are no excuses not to make the best of any travel situation.
[color-box] Keys to Maximizing your Layover
- Research length of layover needed
- Pre-Check any bags (if needed)
- Check-in online or in person before you leave
- Negotiate with your driver (find one who speaks your language)
- See as much as you can and remember you are making the best of it so have fun
- Get back to the airport with 90 minutes-2 hrs before you departure (if international)