Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) in Malaysia serves as an important hub that connects all countries in Southeast Asia with other parts of Asia and Europe. Although nearly 60 million passengers passed through in 2018, this airport pleasantly feels less frenetic than Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and other hubs in the region.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the separate Terminal 2 (KLIA2) addition was completed at a cost of more than $1.3 billion and began operations in May 2014. With 68 departure gates, it’s the largest low-cost carrier hub in the world. Although KLIA2 feels and functions like a standalone airport (and shopping mall), it is considered a terminal addition to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Both terminals have easy-to-follow signs and are fairly straightforward to navigate.
Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information
- Airport Code: KUL
- Location: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is around 28 miles (45 kilometers) south of the city center.
- Website: http://www.klia.com.my/
- Flight Tracker Main Terminal: Arrivals and Departures
- Flight Tracker KLIA2: Arrivals and Departures
- Floor Maps: Main Terminal / KLIA2
Know Before You Go
The biggest mistake travelers often make when flying out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport is to turn up at the wrong terminal. Check your ticket closely!
- A code of “KUL M” means your flight departs from the Main Terminal building.
- A code of “KUL 2” means you depart from KLIA2 (Terminal 2).
If you’re flying with AirAsia or one of the other low-cost carriers, your flight probably departs from KLIA2 (the Terminal 2 building) located 1.2 miles from the Main Terminal building. The two terminals are connected via a free shuttle bus. Shuttles between terminals leave every 10 minutes and take 20 to 25 minutes. Find the free transfer shuttle at Level 1 Door 4 outside of the Main Terminal building. For KLIA2, the shuttle stops at Bay A10 on Level 1.
Many international flights depart from the "Satellite Building," a 43.5-acre extension adjacent to the Main Terminal building. If your designated gate begins with a “C,” you’ll need to take the high-speed Aerotrain there (takes around three minutes).
Parking at KLIA is abundant and inexpensive when compared to major airports in the United States. Short-term parking (up to 24 hours) in the lot adjacent to the Main Terminal Building is $1 for up to three hours then only 75 cents an hour thereafter.
For long-term parking, travelers should park in the sprawling Long-Term Car Park just north of the Main Terminal. Rates are fixed around $8 a day. Both parking lots have free shuttle service that runs every 10 minutes.
Taking advantage of Malaysia’s excellent public transportation system is the best way to get to the airport. If you find yourself behind the wheel, drive south out of the city on E20. Take Exit 2005 to E6 then either AH2/E6 or Route 29 heading south. Follow the many signs to KLIA.
Driving to KLIA from the city center takes around an hour. Traffic during rush hour can add another 30 minutes or more.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Taking one of the trains is the best way to avoid surface traffic during rush hour.
- Train: Regular train service from KL Sentral to KLIA runs every 15 minutes. The trip takes around 35 minutes.
- KLIA Ekspress Train: Non-stop express trains depart from KL Sentral every 15 to 20 minutes and reach the airport in 28 minutes. A one-way ticket costs around $13.50.
- Airport Bus: If time isn’t an issue, taking an airport bus is perhaps the easiest and most inexpensive way to get to the airport. Direct buses depart from KL Sentral and Pudu Sentral (the UTC building) near Chinatown every 30 minutes during peak times. The journey takes around an hour, depending on traffic.
- Grab: If you aren’t staying near a station or have too much luggage, Grab (Malaysia’s top ridesharing service) is the best option. One-way fares to the airport are around $18.00.
- Taxi: Taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur are notorious for taking longer routes to run up the meter. Use another option for getting to the airport on time.
Where to Eat and Drink
With the layout and feel of a mall, KLIA2 has a better variety of food choices than the older Main Terminal. Regardless, there are plenty of good options in both ranging from quick fixes to full-service dining.
Located in the Main Terminal
- Food Courts: Food Garden (Level 2) and Food Paradise (Level 4) are two budget food courts serving Southeast Asian cuisine. Food Paradise, along with most full-service restaurants, is conveniently open 24 hours.
- Healthy Food: For boosting your immune system before a flight, Flight Club (Satellite Building; Level 2) is a restaurant with healthy fare and juices that are “inspired by herbs and seeds.”
- Fast Food: If in a hurry, you’ll find a McDonald’s and KFC in Departures (Level 5). There is a Burger King located in the Satellite Building (Level 2) and another at Arrivals (Level 3).
Located in KLIA2
- Food Courts: The Quizinn by RASA food court (Level 2) is the place to enjoy Malay cuisine such as nasi campur or nasi kandar one more time before flying out.
- Healthy Food: The Be Lohas Organic Cafe (Level 2) is an ideal choice for healthy food and vegetarian options.
- Fast Food: KLIA2 has an abundance of fast-food restaurants on both sides of security. Among the choices, you’ll find a McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Marrybrown on Level 3. All are open 24 hours.
Where to Shop
KLIA2 has more shopping opportunities than the Main Terminal at KLIA. More than 110 retail shops are located in the Gateway@klia2 section before security! You’ll also find a sizable grocery store for picking up snacks before a flight.
How to Spend Your Layover
Kuala Lumpur is a fun city, but you’ll need a lengthy layover (at least six hours) to make clearing immigration and leaving the airport worthwhile. One quick option would be to grab the KLIA Ekspress train to KL Sentral (28 minutes plus wait time for the train). From there, take the LRT train to KLCC station and walk to the Petronas Towers (15 minutes). Malaysia’s iconic twin towers were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004. You can spend any extra time looking around Suria KLCC, one of the nicest malls in the city, located at the base of the towers.
You’ll find luggage storage service in the Arrival Hall on Level 3. At KLIA2, luggage storage is located in the Domestic Arrivals area on Level 2.
If getting to the city and back will take too long, go check out what’s playing in the movie lounge on Level 2 of the Satellite Building.
If you need to work, shower, or just crave some comfort before flying, one of the Plaza Premium Lounges at Kuala Lumpur International Airport may be worth the somewhat-pricey access fee. You can get a discounted entrance by booking your pass online in advance.
Two Plaza Premium Lounges can be found in the Main Terminal facility, and another three are scattered throughout KLIA2. The largest and nicest flagship lounge is located inside the Main Terminal on Level 2 at International Departures. Shower access (30 minutes) costs $8.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout Kuala Lumpur International Airport at all gates and concourses. You won’t need to register, but unfortunately, access is limited to three hours. Beware of rogue, unauthorized access points set up to capture personal information.
Charging stations are easy to find at the airport.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Tips and Facts
- Kuala Lumpur International Airport is ranked 23rd among the busiest airports in the world, just behind JFK International Airport for passenger traffic.
- Singapore is the top destination for people flying out of KLIA. If Singapore is your next stop, the buses from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore are a comfortable option.
- The Jungle Boardwalk in the Main Terminal building is a literal breath of fresh air. The miniature indoor rainforest is green and steamy like the real deal!
- The Kid Zone in the Main Terminal Building (Level 5) has plenty of diversions to keep small children from becoming too restless between flights.
- Unlike the new Beijing Daxing International Airport in China, walking distances in KLIA can be quite far. Fortunately, rides in electric buggies are free as are wheelchairs and baby strollers. Ask one of the Airport Care Ambassadors to call for one.
- If you’ve got a long layover, check out the movie lounge in Satellite Building (Level 2). Access is free!