The heart and soul of Malaysia’s bustling city life can undoubtedly be found in the capital Kuala Lumpur. With hundreds of dishes on the must-try list and literally hundreds of things to do, it would be difficult not to be excited about a trip to KL.
Take a minute from packing your bags and have a read – like travel to any foreign country, it’s advisable to have equal knowledge of the good, the bad and the risky. Since you’ve probably already done your research or been given the ‘411’ regarding the good, here are some areas and issues you might want to take note of. Presenting the 11 things to be cautious of with suggestions to Stay Secure whilst you are enjoying the light of Malaysian city life in Kuala Lumpur.
1. Leaving your valuables on tables …
Especially, while you’re out enjoying a delicious meal at one of the neighbourhood pasar malam (night markets). You may find yourself leaving your mobile on the table out of habit. Pay extra attention to your wallets and phones – keep them safely in your pockets and out of sight. Leaving valuables on tables makes you an easy target for snatch thieves looking to make a quick buck.
Swap your identification documents for photocopies and leave the real deal in the hotel safe along with your passport and extra cash. Carry what you think you will be spending plus an extra sum for emergencies kept separately and a single credit card, or better yet get a pre paid credit card. This way, should you lose your wallet or be unfortunate enough to fall victim to pickpockets, you won’t be left stranded.
2. Carrying large bags or wearing flashy jewellery
These items attract unnecessary attention, identifying you as a tourist and placing you at more risk than carrying or wearing something a little more discreet. Similar to leaving your phones and wallets out in the open, larger bags and loud jewellery can be an invitation to thieves and pickpockets.
Also be wary of slinging your bag across your body, although a common suggestion, it could literally put you in danger as motorcycle based snatch theft is common in Kuala Lumpur. You may think that since your bag is securely across your body, you’re safe. However, you may end up getting dragged along the road as thieves try to wrench your bag from your body. The same goes for thick necklaces and chains.
3. Losing focus of your surroundings
Common when travelling in a large group or with small children, whether in a crowded city street or on public transport. Paying attention to your friends or your kids opens the door to opportunistic theives. ever ready to take advantage of your distraction to make a quick steal, knowing also you will not likely leave your children unattended to chase them. Stay on guard at all times!
4. Using back alleys as shortcuts
In particular, avoid the back alleys of Petaling Street, Chinatown. While the main area of Chinatown is relatively safe and the bargains are definitely worth the trip, avoid the smaller back lanes which are common haunts for the homeless or drug users – both prone to unpredictable behaviour. As clichéd as it sounds, ‘better safe than sorry’ is highly applicable in this case. In any unfamiliar city, stay on the more public route to wherever you’re headed, it may take more time but your certain to be safer.
5. Heading to Jalan Bukit Bintang
Criminal activity in Jalan Bukit Bintang has recently grown with more serious and reckless theft attempts with both tourists and locals falling victim to the attacks. Sadly there are increasing numbers of muggings where victims are physically attacked. For now it’s recommended you avoid the area and stick to malls such as Mid Valley Megamall – which can be found in Klang Valley.
6. A night out at Jalan P. Ramlee
Littered with nightclubs and bars, the area has a tendency to get a bit rowdy. If, however, you are looking to experience this side of KL, feel free to venture and explore. Just stick to guidelines of safety and you should be fine. It isn’t a place you would want to go with younger children!
7. Accepting a ride in an unmetered taxi
You have just finished a full day of feasting and shopping and you are dead tired and the taxi line seems about five kilometres long. At this point, a man approaches you offering you a flat rate of RM 30 to wherever you’re headed. Sure, it seems like the better option but we advise you to decline his offer.
Stick to metered taxis, being licensed cab drivers and you can be confident you won’t be cheated and that you reach your desired location safely. Unless prepared for the expense, also avoid the blue SUV taxis as they are executive cabs and have rates much higher than regular metered cabs.
8. The Changkat Area
Similar to Jalan Bukit Bintang being quite close, Changkat is a well known nightclub and bar area. With any area that boasts a night scene, be wary if looking for a more family orientated excursion. Changkat has also developed a more flamboyant reputation in KL with an array of gay bars popping up which may not be for everyone, particularly if you are happen to walk in to one unaware.
9. Getting Scammed
While you may enjoy the variety of cheap, high grade copies in Chinatown do be a more wary if someone approaches you with a single watch for sale – claiming the genuine article. They never ever are. Do not be fooled and politely decline and keep walking!
10. Alone at night in Bangsar
Bangsar during the daytime is teeming with good eats, both local and western styles and definitely worth a trip. At nightfall it becomes one of KL’s main bar areas and can get pretty rowdy. Always best to go with friends if looking for a night of dance and drinks. Lone females should always be cautious, as KL can be a little intimidating at night and risks increase.
11. Leaving valuables in your hotel
Hotels are generally safe however, leaving your valuables around (especially your passport) only provides temptation and ease for anyone that might gain access to your room. Take a second and make use of the safe provided to secure your passport and valuables whilst out for the day.
These are just some tips to stay secure, and most apply to any big city.