KTM Komuter trains in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia: A Complete Transportation Guide For Travelers

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While backpacking across Malaysia, we used different modes of transport. This guide has all that you need to know about the transport systems in Malaysia and how they work. We have also highlighted information on how to book the tickets, facilities offered by the transport, and so on. Read fully as the blog is packed with so much helpful content.

A Complete Transportation Guide for Malaysia

Flights

Many international airports are spread across different cities in Malaysia. Out of 63 airports, 38 airports are commercial airports. Of these 38, 8 are International airports and the rest are domestic. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (IATA Code: KUL) is the busiest airport of them all. 

Trains

Intercity trains in Malaysia

Intercity Trains

Electric Train Service (ETS) and the KTM Komuter trains are the two main intercity train systems that connect the major cities of Malaysia. It connects places from Johor Bahru in the south, Butterworth in the west, Tumpat in the east, and Padang Besar in the north.

  • The passengers holding a valid ticket are allowed to enter the platform 15-30 minutes before departure.
  • The latest timetable of the KTM Komuter and ETS trains can be checked online from the official website.
  • The easiest way to book the KTM Komuter and ETS trains is by downloading the KTMB official mobile application (App Store, Play Store). You can also book the tickets from the counter at the railway stations.

ETS Trains

ETS trains are super fast. They require mandatory seat reservation to board. We recommend you book the tickets to ETS trains at least a week in advance for the popular routes, especially when you travel on a weekday or during the festival or holidays.

The ETS trains are loaded with facilities like charging points, toilets onboard, and a television at the center of the coach. Food is allowed in ETS trains. A ticket inspector comes around to validate your ticket.

ETS trains have two different classes – the gold class and the platinum class. The fares of the platinum class are higher than that of the gold class.

KTM Komuter Trains

Train ticket gate counters in Malaysia

KTM Komuter trains are high-speed EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) trains that don’t require a mandatory reservation of seats. The passengers can board the train right after purchasing the tickets and are allowed to stand if the seats are full. There are ladies-only coaches in Komuter trains. The KTM Komuter trains are more affordable than the ETS trains.

There is only one type of coach in KTM Komuter trains. Some compartments have seating arrangements similar to metro trains, facing each other, while some have seats arranged in a 2+2 fashion.

The KTM Komuter trains are Air-Conditioned. There is no Wi-Fi or charging points either at the train stations or on the trains. The signals fluctuate while running underground. Restrooms are not available onboard.

Kuala Lumpur Intracity Trains

Monorail in Kuala Lumpur city

In the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, the trains are well-connected. Below are a few metro trains (with different names) and other intracity trains that connect the city.

  • The intracity Komuter trains KTM
  • Light Rapid Transit or LRT
  • Mass Rapid Transit or MRT
  • Monorail
  • Express Railway Link or ERL (connects the Kuala Lumpur city center with the Kuala Lumpur International Airport).

A separate ticketing system is followed for each railway system. When you need to interchange the trains, say for instance KTM and MRT, you’ll have to buy two separate tickets.

The tickets for the Intracity trains don’t require a mandatory reservation and the tickets can be purchased from the counter by making a cash payment or through a Touch N Go e-wallet or card. You are most likely to pass a train station if you walk for 2 km in any direction in the city. It is the easiest way to commute around the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Google Maps guides you to the nearest train station, routes, and the timings of the trains as well.

All the intracity trains are Air-Conditioned. There is no Wi-Fi connectivity or charging points either at the train stations or on the trains. The signals fluctuate while running underground. Restrooms are not available onboard.

Important Things To Note

The following information is common to both Kuala Lumpur intracity trains as well as intercity trains across Malaysia.

  • The trains run on time. We didn’t experience any delays.
  • Eating is allowed on long-distance ETS trains only. Eating and drinking are prohibited in all other train systems.
  • Smoking and carrying harmful and flammable substances are strictly prohibited. 
  • Baggage scanning is not done at entry or exit.
  • Pets are not allowed.
  • Refrain from any public affection – kissing and hugging.
  • The train-related announcements are made both in Malay language and English.
  • The train platforms are properly maintained. Throw any trash only in the trash bins.
  • The free public washrooms at the train stations are not maintained well. We recommend not to use them. However, the restrooms onboard the ETS trains are clean and good.
  • You can’t enter a train platform without a train ticket. Scan the QR code on the ticket at the entry gate to enter the train platform. Do not trash the ticket as you need them to exit the station.
  • MY50 or MyCity train passes are special train passes that offer unlimited train rides across the different KL train systems. This offer applies only to Malaysian citizens. Foreigners and expats cannot use these passes.
  • Touch N Go cards can be used for booking trains. It is very convenient and widely accepted in many places across Malaysia. The Touch N Go cards can be purchased in convenience stores, medical shops, and train ticket counters as well. 
  • The trains can get cold if you are traveling for long distances. Keep your jacket handy while traveling on a train.

Buses in Malaysia

City Buses

City buses in Malaysia

You need a Touch N Go Card to board a bus in Kuala Lumpur. Unlike many other bus transit systems, the fares on public buses in Kuala Lumpur cannot be paid in cash. You have to tap the Touch N Go Card while entering and exiting. However, that is not the case in other cities across Malaysia. You have the option to pay either through the Touch N Go card, Rapid Pay, or by cash. You need not buy a ticket in advance for traveling by city buses.

It is better to have exact change or else you might have to pay extra. In Ipoh, the driver gave us the exact change. But in George Town, there was no option for the driver to pay me back as we needed to drop the money in a small box. So carry smaller denominations with you if you’re planning to travel by bus.

Most of the city buses are run by Rapid KL. All the city buses are air-conditioned and are GPS-enabled. You can track them on Google Maps. Google Maps will guide you to the nearest bus station and also display the bus arrival times. The bus stations in Malaysia mostly have a shelter where people can sit and wait for the bus.

The front door opens for boarding and the middle door is for deboarding. After boarding, approach the driver to get your tickets or you can tap with the Touch N Go card to generate the ticket.

The city buses do not stop necessarily on all the stops that are shown on Google Maps. If you want to get down, press the red button beside your seat. On pressing the button, the driver will stop at the approaching bus stop.

Drinking, smoking, and eating food are strictly forbidden on the city buses. Pets are not allowed either. There are no Wi-Fi facilities onboard.

Long Distance Buses

Booking & Price

For long-distance intercity buses that take at least more than two hours, the best and cheapest option is to buy tickets from the ticket counters at the departure bus station. 

You can book tickets all over the country at selected bus stations. For instance, at the TBS bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur, you can book bus tickets all across the country while the same is not possible at the Malacca bus station.

The self-booking counter that is present at all the bus stations is very easy to use. The queues for the kiosk are shorter compared to the physical booking counters. Both cash and card payments are accepted at some kiosk machines, while cash is the only accepted mode of payment at the counters. Coins are not accepted. The pictures of cards and currency notes that are accepted are pasted on the kiosk machines.

The tickets are mostly available even at the very last minute. However, it is better to book tickets a day in advance to get better seats during weekdays and a week before for weekends and holidays. If you want to buy tickets on the spot, you might be left with the last few seats.

You can also book your tickets online via easybook.com, Red Bus, or from the official website. The online ticket prices in Easybook and the official website match the offline tickets bought from the bus station ticket counters while in RedBus it is 50 – 100% costlier.

The tickets come with a QR code. Once the tickets are purchased online, the boarding pass has to be collected at the ticket counter (located at the place of departure) by paying RM 0.70 per ticket for some tickets.  The ticket holders are allowed to enter the gates, two hours before the departure time. The QR codes need to be scanned to enter the gates and the same will be validated before boarding the bus.

Facilities & Things to Know

  • All long-distance buses are air-conditioned and have comfortable push-back seats with a lot of leg space.
  • The buses usually depart on time. There might be a delay of 5 to 10 minutes at the most. Announcements will be made on the mic mentioning the passenger’s names if anyone’s late for boarding the intercity buses.
  • For both online and counter bus ticket bookings, you have the option to choose your seat.
  • Besides the huge luggage space at the bottom of the bus, you can keep the small bags in the overhead space available.
  • The buses are kept neat and clean. Unlike in Laos and Vietnam, footwear is allowed inside the buses in Malaysia.
  • Wi-Fi services are offered for long-distance buses in Malaysia.
  • No charging ports are available.
  • No pickup and drop services to and from the accommodation services are provided in Malaysia.
  • A few shops are available at the bus stations. You can grab some snacks and drinks before boarding. Dine-in restaurants are also available at the main bus stations like TBS in Kuala Lumpur.
  • The bus-related announcements are done in both English and Malay.
  • The restrooms at bus stations are not maintained well. If the long-distance buses stop for rest, you can utilize the loo as they are clean and good.

There are no sleeper buses in Malaysia. However, a luxurious sleeper bus route exists between KL and Singapore. However, we didn’t get a chance to take the bus service/ route.

Navigating across Malaysia is very convenient and easy using Google Maps. All the buses and trains are GPS enabled with updated information on the bus timings and routes. For instance, if I have to go from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, it lists the different options of trains and buses and their connections. As backpackers, we appreciate the Google Maps integration which is very helpful for navigating throughout the country.

Taxi Services

Malaysia transportation guide

Maxim (Play Store, App Store) and Grab (Play Store, App Store) are the two most popular taxi services in Malaysia. Several tour agencies offer cab services for sightseeing across Malaysia. You can choose a package based on the number of days and people. Cabs can also be hired on a daily.

Two-wheelers

Two-wheelers are used for food delivery services and by locals. Maxim and Grab do not offer two-wheeler services. You can rent two-wheelers in some tourist places in the city. The prices are much higher and usually start from RM 50 per day.

If you’re driving, the Waze app (Play Store, App Store) comes in handy. Locals say it is better than Google Maps for navigation, especially in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

An international driving license is mandatory to drive in Malaysia. If you’re staying for a long term in the country, you can convert your home country’s driving license to a Malaysian Driving License at a lesser cost when compared to buying a new license. So, make sure to bring the original driving license obtained in your home country.

Note: This blog applies to Peninsular Malaysia only, not to Borneo’s East Malaysia.

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