How to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city

Sunset in Kuala Lumpur city is beautiful

About Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is Malaysia’s main international airport. The IATA airport code for Kuala Lumpur international airport is KUL.

If you just want the quick answer about the best way to get from the airport to the city in Kuala Lumpur, it’s the KLIA express train if you’re traveling alone or Grab if you’re traveling with 2 or more people. But, read on for more details on each of those and plenty of other information that you may find useful.

The KLIA airport express train is the best way to get from the airport to the city in Kuala Lumpur if you are traveling alone.
The airport express train is the best way to get from the airport to the city and back in Kuala Lumpur if you are traveling alone.

The airport in Kuala Lumpur is located 55km from the city center.

It’s the largest and most commonly used airport in Malaysia. The airport has two terminals, the main terminal known as KLIA (mainly used by Malaysia Airlines and other international air carriers) and KLIA 2 (mainly used by Air Asia).

The terminal that is known as KLIA is also known as terminal 1 or terminal M, which can cause some confusion for unfamiliar travelers.

How to get from one terminal to another

The distance between KLIA and KLIA2 is 2km. There are only 2 terminals at Kuala Lumpur international airport.

Just to confuse travelers like yourself, KLIA is sometimes referred to as KLIA1, other times it’s referred to as KLIA M. Don’t blame me!

KLIA2 on the other hand is quite straightforward. You might hear people refer to it as terminal 2, but that’s pretty self explanatory.

You can transfer between the two terminals using the Inter-Terminal Rail transfer. The entire journey will only take you 4 minutes and cost 2RM (about $0.50 USD).

However, if you’re looking for free rides, you can use the free shuttle bus (free for passengers on interconnecting flights). It’s available ’round the clock and takes 10 minutes to get between the terminals. 

How to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city

There are many different ways to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur city depending on your preference and how many people are coming along with you. 

Before you get started, if you’re going to be in Kuala Lumpur for days, you should consider getting the Myrapid card. It should cost you about 2.50RM (about $0.60 USD) subscription fee for the 7 days pass and 10RM (about $2.50 USD) for the 30-day pass.

You can then choose to reload as much cash as you want onto the card from a minimum of 10RM (about $2.50 USD) to a maximum of 500RM (about $125 USD).

You might be wondering why the subscription fee. Well, it’s there to differentiate cashless fare entitlements.

TAXI

The most common way to get to Kuala Lumpur city from the airport.

You can catch a taxi anywhere from both the terminals through the taxi booths that are available at KLIA and KLIA 2.

However, be warned, as some of the taxi drivers can be dishonest and slightly pushy.

They tend to not go by the meter, but instead will charge you an inflated fee. It’s best to always negotiate or ask the price with them before boarding the taxi. Personally, I would avoid them and just use GRAB instead.

If you are going to use a taxi, be clear with the driver about who is going to pay for the tolls before getting in to the car to avoid being asked to pay for extras that you weren’t expecting when you arrive at your destination.

GRAB

The ride hailing app that’s replaced Uber in Asia.

It’s a whole lot better than taking the taxi because it takes the haggling out of the equation. The pricing mainly depends on the time period and how far you are traveling. One thing you can be assured of that the fare is fixed and transparent (no need to worry about getting ripped off).

Generally speaking, a fare from the airport to the city in KL will cost around 80RM to a fairly central location. However, Kuala Lumpur is a large city, so if you’re going somewhere much farther or closer than KL Sentral station, you should expect to pay more or less.

If you’re traveling with 2 or more people, Grab is my recommended way to get between the airport and the city in Kuala Lumpur because you can share the 80RM cost and it will work out cheaper than getting the express train.

Private Welcome Pickups Transfer

Another alternative to the taxi is a welcome pickup, which is essentially a pre-booked private vehicle.

You can get a private transfer which can be booked online prior to your arrival. Definitely better than getting a taxi as you’ll know the exact price of the journey before you arrive.

There are many companies which you can choose from that offer private transfers from the airport to KL city.

KLIA Express train

The express train is the fastest way you that you can get from either of the airport terminals to the city in Kuala Lumpur.

The journey will take only 28 minutes to get to KL Sentral station from terminal 1, or 33 minutes if you’re leaving from terminal 2 (KLIA2).

The train line begins at KLIA2, then stops at KLIA before going direct to KL Sentral station (and return).

From KL Sentral, you can hop onto any of the connecting train services to get anywhere you need to go in the city. The LRT, MRT, KTM and monorail all stop at KL Sentral.

If you want to go from KL Sentral to the twin towers, take the Kelana Jaya LRT to get to KLCC which will take about 10 minutes from KL Sentral.

You can expect to pay 55RM (about $9 USD) for a one-way adult ticket and 25RM (about $6 USD) for a child’s ticket on the KLIA express train. However, you can save a little bit of money by buying a return ticket, which is 100RM and is valid for one month.

The KLIA express train is my recommended method of getting from the airport to the city and back if you’re traveling alone.

The KLIA express train operates every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes during off peak hours.

Peak hour departures from the airport to the city are from 6:46am until 8:46am and again in the afternoon from 4:46pm until 6:46pm, Monday to Friday.

Peak hour departures from the city to the airport are from 6:03am until 9:03am and again from 4:03pm until 7:03pm, Monday to Friday.

Outside of these hours trains run every 20 minutes in both directions.

The first express train in the morning departs KLIA2 at 4:55am and KLIA at 5am towards the city. The first departure from KL Sentral to the airport leaves at 5am.

The last departure from KLIA2 is at 00:55am. This train passes through KLIA at 01:00am for the last time on the way to KL city until the first train of the day 4 hours later.

The above schedule is 365 days a year.

Fares for the LRT, MRT, KTM and monorail from KL Sentral station are much cheaper than the KLIA express and depend on how far your destination is from KL Sentral.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay a couple of Ringgit to get from KL Sentral to your final destination.

Be aware, if you have large sporting equipment with you (for example, a surfboard bag) you will not be permitted to use the Express train and should consider booking a larger Grab car instead.

The KLIA express train from Kuala Lumpur to the airport is fast and comfortable.
The KLIA express train runs every 20 minutes or every 15 minutes during peak hours.

KLIA Transit train

If you’re not heading towards Kuala Lumpur city center, you can choose to take the transit train which might be a more convenient option, depending on your destination. The ticket for the transit train costs the same as the express train for both adult and children’s ticket.

This train takes a little longer to reach the KL Sentral station as it will be making four stops along the way, KLIA 2, Salak Tinggi, Cyberjayaa/Putrajaya and Bandar Tasik Selatan before reaching KL Sentral.

But, if you are heading towards the city center it will be best if you take the Express train instead (since it costs the same and takes less time).

Service hours: 05:48am – 00:59am daily

Service schedule: Every 20 minutes during rush hours and 30 minutes during non-rush hours

There are no surfboards or bikes permitted on the KLIA express or transit trains. If you have these items you will need to book yourself a larger Grab car.

Car rental

You might be interested in this if you prefer to have your own ride and drive to the city center.

You can make a car rental booking online prior to your arrival. Price wise, it depends on the type of car you choose and how long you’re renting it for (it’s definitely cheaper per day if you rent it for a longer period).

This option is suitable for anyone wanting their own wheels during their stay in Kuala Lumpur. Personally, it’s not my preference because of the unpredictability of KL traffic jams and the fact that the Express train is so easy and convenient.

There are many car rental companies which you can choose from. The most convenient one would be Suria Car Rental  which has an airport pick up option.

Just make sure you download Waze on your phone to help you navigate around the city. Even locals live by Waze. It’s an awesome GPS and live traffic app combined into one.

Oh! and also remember to get insurance when renting to prevent any unwanted and unexpected costs while you’re visiting KL.

Bus

If you’re wishing to take the bus to the city, both terminals provide an Airport Coach service.

It can sometimes take over an hour to get to the city via bus due to traffic (but at least it’s cheap and comfortable). Due to the unpredictability of traffic, the exact schedules are not as certain as they are with the Express train.

However, the bus will only get to you to KL Sentral, so if you want to go to other parts of the city you might have to connect to a different train line to complete your journey.

The bus tickets costs 10RM (about $2.50 USD) one way per person. Tickets can be bought from the transportation hub (it’s where the bus leaves from).  You can find it on the ground floor of the main terminal building and you can buy your ticket from counter number 3.

Service hours: 05:30am – 00:30am daily (Airport Coach)
                       
                     05:00am – 02:45am daily (SkyBus)

Service schedule: Every 30 minutes (Airport Coach)

                            Every hour (SkyBus)

Helicopter

YES!

If you’re a total baller and you want to get to KL city (in true James Bond style), taking a helicopter might just be it for you.

You can rent one through this website.Opens in a new tab. Expect it to cost you between $725 (2900RM) to $913 (3650RM) an hour.

This certainly isn’t the cheapest option to get from the airport to the city in Kuala Lumpur, but it is the fastest option – it also certainly helps to avoid the traffic!

How to get between the airport and the city in KL final word

I hope you found this article useful in figuring out the best option to get between the airport and the city in KL.

Personally, I usually use the KLIA Express train unless I’m traveling with another person or with my surfboards. In those cases, I’ll just use Grab instead.

Don’t forget to check out my other articles on how to get a tourist visa and whether you come from a country that can use your driver’s license to legally drive (without the need for an international driver’s license) while in Malaysia.

Also, I wrote an epic article with lots of great tips for unique and interesting things to do in Kuala Lumpur so that you can enjoy the city like a local while you are here.

Safe travels!

Marty Spargo

I first visited Malaysia as a tourist in 2004 and frequently returned for short visits over the next decade or more before moving to Kuala Lumpur to live in 2018. I live and work in KL, but remember what it's like to see the city for the first time as a tourist, so I try to create helpful articles with that in mind. You can read my full bio here.

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