Our last day in Kuala Lumpur and we had allocated ourselves 5 hours to see as much as possible before getting back to our hotel for a late check out. I had seen a brochure for a Hop on Hop Off tourist bus that visited all the major attractions in the city and thought it might be the best way to see a lot in the limited time we had.
I was able to purchase tickets from the concierge at the Renaissance Hotel, 45 MYR each (around $15 AUD) for a full day pass. Conscious of our limited time I asked the concierge how long a full circuit of the route would take, and he replied “about 1 hour”. There are 23 stops on the route which covers most of the city, and I didn’t even do the math in my head and realise that 1 hour was seriously over optimistic.
So leaflet in hand we crossed the road and waited at the bus stop opposite the Renaissance Hotel, which as luck would have it is stop number 1 on the route. We arrived at the bus stop a little after 9am, and the first bus arrived about 9:30am.
We were interested in the Bukit Bintang area of the city which seemed to be the main central shopping area. This is stop number 6 on the route. Traffic was very heavy, and in truth, even from an open top bus there are limited points of interest to actually see from the bus. So we got off at Bukit Bintang and had a look around for about 45 minutes. It is an area similar to Singapore with lots of shopping malls, high end shops, restaurants etc. However, we were conscious of time so went to catch the bus and continue our trip. There was a staff member of the bus company at the bus stop and we asked him how much longer the trip would be from here to get back to Stop 1 (where we needed to be). He said, about two and a half to three hours! It was already nearly 11am so we had to weigh up our options.
We could either get the bus back to Stop 1 without getting off and hope we made it in time, or take the bus part way and get a taxi from somewhere else back to our hotel, or third option, just stay where we were and get a taxi back later. We decided to take the bus and hope that we made it back in time.
I have to say the traffic within the city is horrendous. Our entire time on the Hop On Hop Off tour bus we barely made it over 20kph. The stops went by one by one, Chinatown, Little India, the National Palace but we were unable to get off because of our time constraints. Crawling through traffic for another 2 hours we eventually made it back to Stop 1 at 1:45pm, nearly 5 hours since we had left, having spent a total of 45 minutes off the bus. Our check out was at 2pm and we had made it – just.
We have been on these kind of city tours before and found them a useful way of getting around, but I am afraid to say that with the traffic in Kuala Lumpur this isn’t a convenient way to see the city unless you allocate a lot more time than we did. The traffic is beyond the control of the bus company, but even someone with a full day to explore, assuming they have to get back to the stop where they start the trip, would barely have time for more than 3 exits from the bus.
Have you used this service before? Were we just unlucky with the traffic? Let us know in the comments below.