Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
What to expect upon arrival and departure0
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) – KL’s main international gateway – lies 75km south of the city centre at Sepang. One of Southeast Asia's major aviation hubs, KLIA is made up of two buildings – the Main Terminal Building and the Satellite Building. A spectacular combination of sleek architecture, futuristic technology and rich Malaysian culture, KLIA has been ranked as one of the top-five airports in the world.
Located at the top of the southern corridor of Peninsular Malaysia close to its administrative capital – Putrajaya – KLIA is conveniently linked via a high speed rail system to the city; a car drive down to the city from here will take approximately one hour.
KLIA’s two main domestic operators are Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia; nearby KLIA is the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) from which AirAsia operates. Together both of these terminals handle the bulk of international flights, with the exception of a few flights from Asia and Australia, which come via Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and a few other cities.
KLIA Facilities: Main Terminal
A destination within itself, KLIA boasts luxury lounges, a wide variety of restaurants, children’s play areas and duty-free stores that sell everything from liquor to chocolates within its confines. With ten entry gates at the five-storey Main Terminal, each marked by a large gate number both inside and outside the terminal, you can find various airport facilities and services with no trouble at all.
Arrival Hall at KLIA
International flights arrive at KLIA’s Satellite Building and the aero-train brings you to Gate 5 of the Main Terminal; other flights arrive at the Domestic Terminal
To enter Malaysia, you must have a legal passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of your intended stay. Also don’t forget that if you’re planning a trip to East Malaysia – Borneo – you’ll need to have a passport too.
Despite the numerous counters at Immigration, usually only a few are open for foreign passports, so queues upon arrival can be long. On a positive note, Immigration upon departure is particularly speedy.
Visitors can bring in one carton of cigarettes, one litre of liquor and personal possessions such as cameras, cosmetics, laptop computers and watches; narcotics, pornography (even Playboys!) and firearms (obviously) are strictly prohibited. Malaysia is well known for having strictly enforced drug laws that are especially draconic – trafficking in even small amounts of marijuana can lead to the death penalty.
Baggage reclaim can take very long too; if immigration is time-consuming your bags will probably be set beside the respective carousel. KLIA staff members who will willingly inform you of its whereabouts are hard to come by and there are fewer still who speak proper English.
Duty Free Upon Arrival
Duty-free stores are located just after Immigration but they’re quite problematic due to the fact that they’re are located quite a distance away from the main terminal; lugging bottles of liquor and other assorted goodies from one end to another isn’t much fun!
There are numerous ATMs located throughout the airport; in fact it’s impossible to miss them since they’re almost always located beside the restrooms! KLIA has plenty of signage so you’ll never lose your way but if you’re pressed for time then the third floor has an ATM machine beside the Cadbury’s Favourites store. The fifth floor has an ATM machine between the VIP Lounge and the Tie Rack, another one the same row as Body Shop and Café Marche as well as an ATM beside the Traveller’s Bar.
KLIA’s banks are all located on the third and fifth floor; CIMB is located beside the candy store on the fifth floor while RHB is located on the third floor and fifth floor beside the Digi kiosk and opposite CIMB respectively. Maybank – Malaysia’s biggest bank with branches everywhere – is located on the fifth floor behind Café Marche.
Bureau de Change
There are money changers located on the fifth floor of KLIA behind the airport check-in counters – along with the rest of KLIA’s stores. There’s one the same row as the Tie Rack and another one beside Café Marche.
MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted brands of credit cards in Malaysia. You can head over to a bank to get an over-the-counter cash advance with your card or simply stop by at the nearest ATM to make a withdrawal. You can also make withdrawals from overseas savings accounts as many of Malaysia’s banks are linked to international banking networks such as the widely-recognized Cirrus, Maestro and Plus.
For travellers who prefer a first-class car journey, this is the only way to go. The airport limousines operate on a coupon system; coupons can be bought at a booth by the main entrance of level three in the Main Terminal. Hand the coupon to the driver when you get into the taxi; a trip downtown will cost you from RM68 depend on the destination.
The KLIA Ekspres is the fastest and most convenient way of travelling to and from KLIA. The journey takes just 28 minutes, operating at 15-minute intervals during peak hours and 20 minutes during off-peak hours. You can catch this train at level 1 and it will take you all the way down to KL Central; a one-way trip will cost RM55 while a round-trip ticket is RM100.
Major rent-a-car operations include Avis, Prac, Mayflower and Orix; there are many others, though, including local operators found in certain cities. You can often get better deals, either through smaller companies or when bigger companies offer special deals. Rates drop for longer rentals and a 1.5L Proton Wira – essentially a Mitsubishi assembled under licence in Malaysia – is often the cheapest and most popular car to rent here.
There is a convenient bus service that operates between KLIA and KLIA2. Located on level two of the Main Terminal building, these buses cost RM2.50 for one-way ticket and a roundtrip will cost you RM5.
Dining at Kuala Lumpur Airport
KLIA has an abundance of good restaurants. For your convenience below you will find a list of restaurants according to their respective floor.
Station Mezzanine Level
The second floor of KLIA’s Main Terminal has a food court called The Food Garden which serves a variety of local fare at affordable prices. The car park is located on this floor as well as the connecting bridge to the Pan Pacific Hotel.
Arrival Level 3rd Floor
There are mostly local food kiosks on this level; Malaysian Wok Express – located opposite the Cadbury’s Favourite’s chocolate store serves local favourites. Café Ritazza – located opposite the car rental counter - serves coffee and other hot beverages while Nelson’s – located beside the Tourism Selangor booth, between Gate 5 and 6, serves light snacks to go. Delifrance – serving up a platter of light snacks, java and hearty sandwiches, is situated beside the ever-familiar Burger King.
Mezzanine Level 4th Floor
The fourth floor of KLIA houses the airport offices as well as another food court serving local favourites and international choices at semi-upscale prices.
Departure Level 5th floor
The departure level of the airport houses the majority of restaurants and shops. There is a KFC and three cafés - Suria Café, Café Marche and Café Ritazza – as well as a bar – Traveller’s Bar – located beside the Royal Selangor Pewter store where you can kick back and enjoy a pint before you catch your flight.
KLIA is an attractive shopping destination because of the ringgit’s favourable rates. Although shopping here isn’t necessarily cheap, it’s still worthwhile to take a look around if you’re in the market for some souvenirs and gifts like handbags and clothing.
There is a supermarket-style general/convenience store on this level.
Arrival Level 3rd Floor
At KLIA’s main arrival hall you’ll find a useful Tourism Malaysia office, a Celcom stand and Digi kiosk selling prepaid SIM cards for your mobile phone and a counter for several car-rental firms. This part of the Main Terminal also houses several shopping stores – D’Trends’ and Just Nice – which sell Malay-style handbags, accessories and clothing. There is also a candy superstore – Cadbury’s Favourites – located nearby Gate 5 as well as a gift kiosk.
Departure Level 5th floor
The fifth floor houses the most shopping venues in KLIA’s Main Terminal building. Stores include Bonia, Body Shop, Royal Selangor Pewter, Sembonia, TIME, Tie Rack and Valentino. You will also find a bookstore, chocolate and candy shop and perfume and make-up retailer.
Malaysia is an extremely easy country to get around with minimum fuss and bother; there are a variety of options such as air, train, bus and taxis. However to see the beautiful countryside at its best, you should hire a car. Most Malaysian drivers are relatively sane and sensible but, like anywhere, you’re bound to come across a few who seem to delight in high-speed shenanigans. If you’re not keen on the idea of navigating through the streets of Malaysia then take a limo down to the city; only airport limos are allowed to pick up passengers at the Main Terminal and rates vary according to destination zones.
There is a clinic on the third level – beside the police counter – where you can get medical attention; but be wary – consultations are obviously going to be slightly pricier than normal.
Malaysian currency is known as Ringgit Malaysia (MYR) which is divided into 100 sen. Ringgit Malaysia notes are in denominations of RM100, RM50, RM20, RM10, RM5, RM2 and RM1, while coins come in denominations of 50 sen, 20 sen, 10 sen, 5 sen and 1 Sen.
If you’re not sure where you’re going to be staying then swing by the Hotel counter – situated beside the Tours & Travel counter on the third floor – where you can get the lowdown on hotels in the area to suit your standards, budget and preferences.
There are public phones located at each of KLIA’s ten entry gates of the Main Terminal. Either use Malaysian coins to make your call or get a phone card at one of the supermarket-style stores on the first level or the third floor.
There are plenty of toilets scattered throughout the airport between the shopping kiosks. If you would like to unwind and freshen up, you can try the Airside Transit Hotel’s private shower and gym facilities for non-guests – towels, soap and shampoo will be provided – cost is approximately RM20-RM50.
Most hotels, restaurants and other entertainment outlets impose a 10% service charge and 5% government tax on all charges so tipping is more often than not unnecessary.
Tour & Travel
There is a Tour and Travel counter located between the clinic and the Hotels counter on the third level where you can book tours as well as gather some relevant information about Malaysia.
Travellers with Disabilities
KLIA is fairly friendly for travellers with disabilities as all terminals have ramps and the outside pavements are nearly immaculate. Elevators, restrooms, telephones and numerous other facilities and services have been equipped with all the mod cons for the mobility-impaired. Even KLIA’s shuttle services are furnished with wheelchair-friendly equipment.
If you’re luggage-laden and would like some help, then grab a baggage trolley – at no charge – along the outside curb and the International/ Domestic baggage reclaim area.
Map of KLIA