The social backpackers guide to a good time in Kuala Lumpur

Back in 2017 I embarked on my first solo trip; one which I had meticulously spend the past 3 months planning day by day. My adventure around Southeast Asia would start Kuala Lumpur (for 3 days) and then I would leave Malaysia until the end of my trip when I would have to go back to catch my return flight home. I planned to visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Java, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

That all changed from the day I touch down KL and met some people who later became some of my best friends.

Turns out I ended up spending 6 weeks of that trip in Malaysia and a whopping 26 days (almost a 3rd of the whole trip) just in Kuala Lumpur. I had no idea how awesome it was going to be; but as everyone says that's the great thing about travelling solo. I made my plans to suit myself and ended up leaving and flying back to Kuala Lumpur 4 times throughout.

I had such a good time that I never ended up getting around to writing about it and now, a year and a half later, I'm seeing people popping up on Twitter all the time saying that they going to Malaysia and asking questions. That is when I realised that I actually have quite a lot of knowledge on the subject.

This post is going to be a little bit different from the usual Kuala Lumpur City guide type blog posts. I had just come out of an eight year relationship, I made an awesome group of friends and all I was interested in doing was hanging out with them and meeting as many new people as possible. So whilst most of the Kuala Lumpur guides you might see online, cover the usual tourist hotspots; this one is going to be more about the social side of things.

Where to stay

I stayed between two different hostels and they were both awesome for different reasons - I would happily go back to both because I had absolutely wild time at each of them.

Sunshine Bedz

So this was the one that I booked when I did my crazy plan and considering it was the only part of that plan that I stuck do, I did a pretty good job. It lived up to its brilliant reviews and was very central with good transport links.

Although I can't really comment about how close it was to the tourist attractions because I didn't really see any of them, I can tell you it was very close the bars and restaurants, the shopping malls and had great transport links with a tube station just outside and a bus stop a bit further down.
The beds were super comfortable and every room was very clean from what I could see. I stayed in female dorms, mixed dorms, private rooms and I also stayed up chatting on the sofa till 5 a.m. most nights so I feel pretty qualified to comment. And as the 5 a.m. chats suggest the atmosphere for making friends at this place was perfect.

Step Inn Too

I ended up here as one of my friends from Sunshine bedz took on a job there. I would definitely recommend this place for the party hungry backpacker; although if that's not you, the beds are in a different part of the building so it's actually very quiet and comfortable for sleeping as well.

For me, the location for this one wasn't as good plus when you walk in, it doesn't really look much but the community and atmosphere at this hostel was so awesome that's it didn't even matter that the nightclubs were a bit of a trek (25 minute walk maybe).
What I loved about staying here was that we didn't even go to the Bar Street most nights instead we bought alcohol from 7-Eleven and got drunk and reception; and when it got late we relocated to the backstreet road just outside the front door. 19.50MR for that bottle of vodka? £3.70.

As mentioned, the beds are completely out of the way so everything was quiet. Also I stayed in the 4 bed dorms and the 20 bed dorm which was more like lots of twin rooms all joint together. I found that 20 bed dorms are the best place to meet and bond with people so don't be scared to book one.

Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor or food Street as everyone calls it is just down the road from Sunshine bedz and one of my favourite places to eat from the entirety of my trip. The food scene in Malaysia is actually pretty cool with a mix of all sorts of other Asian foods but quite a strong influence from India.

Heading to Jalan Alor was the first thing I did when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur and it was the best way to thrust myself straight into crazy Southeast Asian City life.

An incredible street buzzing with people and lights and restaurants and street food vendors. I'd go on my own or I'd go with my friends and we would all just pick up things from different places as we went. Thai, Indian, dumplings, hot pots, coconut ice cream & fresh fruit.

I'm not going to lie, as a bunch of Brits Abroad we did spend quite a lot of time at Nandos - but if it is a short, flying visit, I recommend just taking advantage of all the amazing local food.

The Malls

Malaysia has some impressive malls and I love that you can pretty much find anything you need - One of my friends was looking for a resistance band so he could do some exercise (travelling made me fat) and of course we found one - I'm not even sure I'd be able to find one of those in London.

I spent most of my time in Berjaya Times Square with my English friends, usually looking for our KFC fix, playing snooker in a sketchy underground club just outside or bowling; which is not something I imagined I'd be doing all that often but whatever. This place was literally like 10 stories tall and had a full sized roller coaster inside.

Pavilion was also in the centre of town but was a lot more classy and full of designer shops and nice restaurants so I didn't spend as much time there.


Or Bar Street as everyone knows it. I had to actually look up the official name of this place and according to Google it's called Changkat, Bukit Bintang. I have absolutely no idea how to get there since I only ever saw it when I was drunk and had followed the rest of the group there but I can tell you that is a very short walk from Sunshine bedz and there is a very tasty shwarma stall on the way back!

One thing that I found incredible about nightlife in Kuala Lumpur was that women drink for free on Wednesdays (ladies night) and most other nights as well actually if I'm being honest. I could not believe it when I first got there but you just go to the bar ask for the drink and then take it. I'm sure there are people who will say there's no alcohol in them but they got me drunk every single night so believe what you want.
Now I know this is not something you can just magic up but the best thing that I did in Kuala Lumpur was make friends with two locals. The boys were already friendly with my English friends when I arrived and thanks to them I got to see a lot more of KL life then I would have done otherwise. They snuck us into hotels with amazing rooftop pools, they got us half price meals at restaurants and they booked an apartment so we could celebrate a birthday away from the other guests and hostel rules with an incredible view over the city from the 22nd floor.
So that's how I spent the majority of my time in Kuala Lumpur. I did check out a few of the tourist spots like China town and the Petronas Towers (and I was actually lucky enough to see Malaysia's last Formula 1 race) but I'm sure you can find all the information you need about that on Google. If you do have any more questions about social life and meeting people in Kuala Lumpur then please don't hesitate to email me or drop me a tweet


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