What to bring when traveling to Kuala Lumpur

The twin towers in KL are beautiful to see.

MONEY

This is probably the most important thing you’ll need when travelling- Malaysia uses Malaysian Ringgit, so make sure you have enough of those too! Your best bet would be to get some money changed before you arrive in Malaysia just in case.

Although most places do accept credit card, the exchange rate can be hefty at times. 

To be certain you’ve got everything properly planned, check out my other article that covers how much money to bring to KL in a lot of detail.

PASSPORT

This is one of those things that even though you’ve already checked that it’s there, it’s still worth double checking. 

It would really be a tragedy if you came out on holiday without your passport- imagine all those flight tickets and hotel bookings burning to a crisp, and you’ll definitely look twice to make sure your passport is in your pocket. 

Make sure to check out my article about how to get a tourist visa for Malaysia before you come. It’s very easy for citizens of many countries, but people from other countries need to apply in advance, so it’s best to be prepared.

Also, if you’re wondering how to get from the airport to the city in Kuala Lumpur, don’t worry, I’ve covered everything you need to know in my other article.

DRIVER’S LICENSE

This may surprise you, but citizens of many countries can drive in Malaysia using the driver’s license from their own country.

If you’re planning to rent a car, or you think there’s a chance that you may find yourself behind the wheel of a friends car at some point during your visit to Kuala Lumpur, I suggest you check out my other article to find out if you are from one of the countries that are fine to drive in Malaysia using the driver’s license from your home country.

SUNSCREEN

Even on the cloudiest day in Malaysia, temperatures can reach up to about 30+ degrees Celsius, so if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside, make sure to slather on some sunscreen! 

Putting on some sunscreen can drastically lower your chances of getting skin cancer, but do make sure that you try to spend as little time as possible in direct sunlight. 

Make sure you have a look at what Sun Protector Factor (SPF)Opens in a new tab.that your sunscreen is as well. 

UMBRELLA

The weather in Malaysia is pretty changeable at times- it could be sunny in the morning without a cloud in the sky, but when they start rolling in, you could find yourself caught in a thunderstorm in the afternoon. 

Be prepared and carry around a travel-size, foldable umbrella so that you’re prepared for any kind of weather. 

If used in conjunction with sunscreen, you could reduce your time in direct sunlight by a huge amount, and keep cool and far away from the dangers of skin cancer. 

But, let’s be real, unless you already have an appropriate (compact and travel-friendly) umbrella, it’s not something that you really want to bring in your luggage. Heck, it might not even fit in your bag.

Don’t fret, you’ll be able to pick up an appropriate umbrella for your stay when you arrive from any grocery store for about 10rm.

Almost every day of the year in KL will require sunglasses and an umbrella. They make a great combo when combined with a delicious Indian / Pakistani lentil soup (in the foreground).

CLOTHING

Do bring a mix of long sleeved clothing as well as more casual summer wear- but keep it appropriate. 

Malaysia is a majority-Muslim country, so it’s important to be respectful to the citizens of the country. Things like shorts and short-sleeved tees or tank-tops are acceptable, but use your judgement depending on each piece of clothing. 

If you’re planning on visiting a temple, please make sure that you cover your legs and wear closed toed shoes like sports shoes or loafers, out of respect. Some temples do sell or rent sarongs that you can use to wrap around your legs, but be prepared to pay tourist prices if you opt for that.

If you’re visiting a nicer restaurant or plan on going to a concert at the local Philharmonic concert stage, do bring some nicer clothes as well. 

SWIMWEAR

Malaysia is full of beautiful beaches and fantastic weather for swimming. If you do opt to hop down to a beach, do bring some swimwear so that you can enjoy our wonderful golden beaches! 

A friendly reminder to just make sure that whatever you choose isn’t too revealing, for the same reasons as the clothing option above. 

MEDICINE

Do you have a course of antibiotics you need to finish? Allergy medicine you need to keep with you on all times? 

Don’t forget to pack those! One useful tip would be to carry these medicines and their recommended dosages in a pillbox with the days written on them- you can get them cheaply nearly anywhere. 

You might look like you’re older than you’re letting on, but at least you won’t forget your meds! 

INSECT REPELLENT

While Malaysia may seem like an idyllic getaway, no one wants their holiday to start or end with them in the hospital fighting off dengue fever. 

A nice and potent cocktail of both sunscreen and insect repellent should serve to protect your precious blood from the terrifying mosquitoes and any other bugs out there. 

POWER ADAPTORS AND POWER BANKS

Travelling for the entire day can really take a toll on your phone battery, especially when you’re trying to snap those beautiful pics to make everyone jealous on Instagram and Facebook. 

Make sure you pack a powerbank and cable so that you’ll be able to charge on the go! 

If you’re from a country that isn’t the UK or Singapore, then you’ll definitely need a power adaptor for all your electronics, which you should be able to get either in your country, or over here in Malaysia.

Beware of power surges and make sure that your electronics are compatible with the voltage produced here in Malaysia. 

DAY BAG

Remember to pack a small bag that you’ll be able to carry around with you during the day.

Although Malaysia is pretty safe overall, we do have a pretty nasty snatch-thief infestation, so make sure that you carry a cross-body bag where possible, or a backpack, making you less likely to be a target when walking on the roadside. 

If you do opt to carry a handbag, make sure to carry it on the side that’s not facing the road! 

LAUNDRY BAG

Carrying around laundry bags is a great way to separate what you’ve already worn from what you haven’t worn yet and avoid your clothes all smelling like sweat. 

Use a cheap biodegradable plastic bag or look out for them in your hotel, because they sometimes provide them.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

  • Hats (if you’re not a fan of carrying around umbrellas) 
  • Travel iron (for smoothing out those wrinkled clothes) 
  • Reusable water bottles (gotta stay hydrated) 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Hair products (especially if you have frizzy hair) 
  • Slippers or sandals 
  • Tissues 
  • Deodorant

KL is a generally safe city, but there are isolated incidents of petty crime or threats of violent crime to rob people. I suggest that you don’t flaunt too many valuable items, including jewelry.

For an in-depth analysis of just how safe KL is for tourists, check out my other article.

What to bring to KL final word

I hope you found this article useful and helpful in planning what to bring to Kuala Lumpur. You really don’t want to overdo it, but you also want to be careful that you aren’t leaving some of the essentials behind either.

Ultimately, what you should bring depends a lot on what you plan to do. On that note, make sure you check out my very comprehensive guide on interesting and unique things to do in KL so that you can enjoy the city like a local while you’re here.

Enjoy your trip to Kuala Lumpur and hopefully this article helped you to prepare in some way!

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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