A Quick Look At Public Transport Modes In Kuala Lumpur – From A Foreigner’s Perspective

Selamat Datang, Malaysia! Here I am, just arrived for an internship in Kuala Lumpur from my home country – Denmark. My first days and weeks have been quite a ride – learning all about new culture, food and lifestyle. I decided to note down some of my personal findings – so if you’re coming to Malaysia to study or intern from abroad, you may use my notes as a simple guide.


So… let’s talk basics. Public transport in Kuala Lumpur.

So as a new intern and a first-timer in Malaysia, one of the first things I noticed is the transport here. Especially its cost! Public transport in Malaysia in comparison to European countries is in generally cheaper. Commuting through the cities can be done by LRT (Light Rail Transit), taxis (with metre calculator) often used for long distances, buses and personal taxis. People usually use apps for transport, such as Grab and/or Uber which are the most popular ones because of their fares. Another benefit that personal taxis such as Grab and Uber offer is that one price to a destination allows up to four people in a car. Easy way to save money!



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Airport to city centre transportation costs:

If your destination is within the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, then you should notice the following things.

From the airport you have a couple of ways of getting to the city:

  • Taxis: they charge a lot compared to other public transport modes. I took the taxi from the airport for 100 RM to my apartment, which equals to € 22, – roughly.
  • KLIA Ekspress train to KL Sentral (main train station), but then again you have to use taxi or Uber from there to your final destination. Using the KLIA Ekspres to KL Sentral it is around 55 RM which equals to about € 12, -.
  • Uber or Grab -is not only cheaper but also easier to your final destination. It will cost about 75 RM which equals to about € 16, –


Daily commute in Kuala Lumpur

Commuting by bus or LRT through the city is possible, however too time consuming. It will take you about 50 minutes to commute a distance of 6 kilometres! Traffic jam and huge amount of cars on the road create quite a messy situation on the roads in Kuala Lumpur every day, and local buses don’t even follow any schedule.

In the morning, even if you take the LRT, it might take you some time to reach your destination – the trains tend to be so full, that you might need to wait for 2 or 3 trains to pass until you can ride one! On the other hand, personal taxis and Uber take less time to commute on daily basis to your destination, but depend a lot on the traffic and peak times. You can expect a major surcharge on rides during morning and evening peaks! So overall, using Uber or Grab would be the better choice on daily basis.

Calculation of fares for taxis and car rides in Kuala Lumpur

Grab app has three types of transport taxis, the Economy, Premium and Budget Taxi. Each one has a different approach of calculating the fares. The fares are calculated as followed:

Economy Premium

Base Fare RM 1.00
Per KM RM 1.30
Per Min RM 0.00
Min Fare RM 0.00
Base Fare RM 4.00
Per KM RM 1.50
Per Min RM 0.50
Min Fare RM 15.00


Budget Taxi

Base Fare RM 3.00 to  RM 4.00
Per 200m RM 0.25 to RM 0.30
Per Min RM 0.00
Midnight Surcharge 50% from 12 am to 6 am




As shown in the tables, choosing an economy car always shows the fixed rate to the destination. In contrast, premium and budget taxis differ per distance and/or per traffic jam.

Using an uber is almost the same as Grab, however it has slightly lower fares. Uber has also three types of service, UberX is the economy type, UberXL is efficient for big groups and UberBlack the premium option. The fares are calculated as follows:



Base Fare RM 0.95
Per Min RM 0.25
Per KM Rm 0.60
Minimum Fare RM 0.95
Cancellation Fare RM 5.00



Base Fare RM 2.50
Per Min RM 0.40
Per KM Rm 0.75
Minimum Fare RM 2.50
Cancellation Fare RM 5.00



Base Fare RM 3.00
Per Min RM 0.50
Per KM Rm 1.40
Minimum Fare RM 5.00
Cancellation Fare RM 5.00



So… ditch the buses and LRT!

Looking at the fares and time to commute with each mode of public transport in Kuala Lumpur, I would say using the Uber and Grab are the best options among all public transport options. As shown above, Uber has lower fares but can exceed GrabCar’s rates when stuck in traffic. Therefore, using Grab economy car is better during peak times and longer distances. As a final point I would recommend switching the apps depending on time of the day: since it differs depending on the time of the day and distance.


Zuzanna Ch
World traveller, but with the heart stuck in Malaysia.

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