I had seen all the main sights in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and shopping isn't really high on my list when I'm trying to travel light, so although navigating the city is unavoidable whilst there, I tried to limit my use of the rail network. Why? The simple answer is that it just isn't efficient…
Of course, KL's rail system will get you to most corners of the city, but as it consists of three light rail lines, one monorail, one commuter rail system consisting two lines, and two high-speed airport rail links, it's not easy to navigate.
The main issue I encountered is that different companies operate the various systems, and they were developed separately at different times. The result being, most of the lines do not integrate well. Transferring between each system is inconvenient and often requires a lot of walking, stair-climbing, escalator use and even crossing busy roads.
There is no common ticket for all systems, forcing commuters on continuing journeys, to buy new tickets to transfer across to another line.
A Touch 'n Go card is now accepted on the LRT, monorail, and commuter rail systems, so if you are likely to use the transportation for a longer period this will reduce the frustration. As a tourist/visitor you will have to weigh up whether this would be beneficial depending on the length of your stay.
The good news is that the Kelana Jaya line covers most sights or places most people would want to visit during a short visit, so it's only if/when you want to venture further that some planning may be necessary regarding the rail systems.
A recommended alternative is the free air conditioned, pink coloured, Go KL bus service, now operating in the city centre. It has 2 lines (purple and green) covering the KLCC (Petronas Towers) area to Bukit Bintang (mainly shopping) and the other taking in the more Westerly locations such as the KL tower, central market and Petaling Street. It's not a tourist service, so will be busy with locals, and of course will be effected by traffic on the roads some what.
If you prefer to navigate on foot there is a reasonably new walkway connecting KLCC to Bukit Bintang, making it much easier to manoeuvre the traffic and pedestrians, which can be a bit chaotic at times.
A couple of other pointers:
– If you arriving by bus, check which terminal it comes into so you can plan your journey through the city when you get there. For example, the bus from Malacca (Melaka) arrives out of town (at Bandar Tasik Selatan), so getting to your accommodation in say Chinatown, requires a change between systems ie different tickets.
– Some journeys are possible with one ticket, but this may mean taking a specific route to deal with the connections. For example Taman Jaya to Bukit Bintang forces you to change 2 times and walk between connecting stations, plus actually costs more than separate tickets on each line, which would incidentally only require 1 change. The station attendants will be able to help you plan your journey.