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Transport & taxi scams in Malaysia

Transport & taxi scams in Malaysia

Hey folks, this post is a summary about all means of transportation we used when traveling in Malaysia and mainly around the capital, Kuala Lumpur. You will also find out why I now have taxi phobia.

Arriving by PLANE. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the main gateway into the country, operated by most international airlines, from where you can get the KLIA Ekspres train and make 55 km to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station in 28 minutes.

We came in via the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) flying Air Asia, a budget carrier, 20 km from the main airport, from where we took a ten minute bus ride to Salat Tinggi train station.

 

Airport Bus Transit from LCCT Budget terminal.

Airport Bus Transit from KL Budget terminal

 

Salat Tinggi. From here, trains frequently run to the city. We boarded the KLIA Transit train and arrived about half an hour later at KL Sentral.

Salat Tinggi Train station Kuala Lumpur

 

Kl Sentral Station with its unique bazaar setting.

KL Sentral Station Kuala Lumpur

 

Getting tickets for the LRT train to get to our hotel, which was conveniently located right at Pasar Seni station. When booking a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, make sure it is close to the LRT lines. That will save a lot of time and money during your trip.

KL Sentral Station Kuala Lumpur

 

Going by TRAIN. Kuala Lumpur has a comprehensive railway system serviced by KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT), which we used to get to all the main sights of the city. The LRT Kelana Jaya line was a treat running above the city – like Bangkok’s skytrain – as well as disappearing underground.

Enjoying the city view and breeze from Pasar Seni train station.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Pasar Seni Train station. Never crowded, although located right at touristy Chinatown.

LRT Kuala Lumpur

 

No crowds but a lot of rules – Singapore style.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur LRT rules sign train station Kuala Lumpur

 

The begging rule is useless.

beggar at LRT train station Kuala Lumpur

 

Ticket machines were brand new at Pasar Seni station and there was never a line of people waiting for their turn.

LRT Kuala Lumpur

 

Queuing for a ticket at other stations is normal. Ticket machines are often out of order. Once Tomek (can you spot him?) got to that machine it had choked on the bills and died. Off to another queue it was.

Queue at ticket machines LRT Kuala Lumpur

 

LRT ticket machines clog up really easily, when fed with bills. Tomek managed to de-clog this one and got a pile of money out, which he placed on top of the machine. People asked us if  it was our money but we explained that it didn’t belong to us and therefore we couldn’t take it. Interestingly no one else took it either (in our presence). Psychology at the ticket machines.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Passing our hotel – the surprisingly radioactive Geo Hotel – to the left.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Speeding above the city. Underneath, sometimes the metro drips. It can get pretty humid in Malaysia, too.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

The LRT Kelena Jaya trains do not have a motorman but run on auto pilot. Welcome to the future in Malaysia.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Only a few stations to Malaysia’s ultra modern shopping malls.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Chatty, helpful man accompanying us through the LRT tunnel.

LRT Kuala Lumpur

 

Frankly, metro signs are more like decorative elements. Survival of the fittest when getting in and out of trains.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur Pushing through the crowd on train Malaysia

 

The orange triangle indicates where people should line up for the train, so that there is enough room for people getting off. Reality is looks more like this. We are just demonstrating, of course.

LRT Kuala Lumpur

 

At this huge hall you have to know your way – no signs indicating useful directions. It is always good to have the LRT map with you.

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

Red carpet at the metro.

KL Monorail and KL Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kuala Lumpur

 

Coach for ladies only‘ because some men just can’t behave.

Train for ladies only Kuala Lumpur

 

Traveling by BUS. To get to Malacca we had to get a bus. After an adventurous search to get a bus ticket, we had a rather pleasant two hour ride from KL to Malacca, on Malaysia’s well developed highways.

On the coach, the aircon will be pushed to the limit, so it is worthwhile to have some comforting garment or something to replace broken or missing aircon nozzles (crumpled paper works great).

To get a ticket to Malacca, first you have to get to Pudu Sentral to find the bus ticket counters, located near Plaza Rakyat LRT Station. It says ‘ticket counter’ on the glass windows.

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

Enter and take in organized chaos.

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

Find out which booth sells tickets to your destination. (A challenge – no window listed Malacca.)

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

Ask around and always validate answers. This helpful gentleman from one of many ticket counters was sure that we had to go to another bus terminal to get the ticket.

To make sure for sure, I asked at the adjacent booth. It turned out, that his neighbouring counter was selling tickets – coaches were going twice daily to Malacca.

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

Mission accomplished. The bus to Malacca had a total of six passengers. I am surprised how many people still get through that muddle.

Bus tickets counter Kuala Lumpur

 

We had a local bus station right in front of our hotel, feeling the downside to a central location, which is pollution and noise. Malaysian bus drivers never turn off the engines.

bus station Kuala Lumpur

 

Sight seeing by the HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS. Kuala Lumpur sadly provides the worst Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour service when compared to other countries.

Hop on hop off bus Kuala Lumpur

 

It says that ‘visitors will be able to hear insightful commentaries in eight languages‘. That was simply not true. We listened to tragically boring and difficult to make out commentaries in English. Those poor descriptions were constantly being interrupted, turned off or randomly skipped by the bus driver. He sometimes commented himself. As we drove by the ‘Little India‘ district, he commented: “Here Little India stop” and that was that.

No head phones for other languages, no route map. Most of the time I thought I have mistakenly boarded a regular city bus. With all sights well accessible by LRT and foot, there is no need for this.

Hop on hop off bus Kuala Lumpur

 

And finally, hop on to the most adventurous ride in Malaysia.

TAXI SCAMS. Taxis are the biggest scam in the city, feared by locals (!) and avoided by traumatized experienced tourists.

All taxis will be marked as ‘metered‘, which means a lot of things but not exactly what the naive tourist associates with that term.

Taxi Kuala Lumpur

 

This is what you are in for, when taking a taxi:

After stating your destination, you will be asked for a ludicrous fare.

20 Ringgit within short walking distance is sort of the rule and from here, there is no limit to taxi driver’s desires.

Do not get into a taxi before price negotiations, because taxi drivers will drive off the minute you get in, even if they don’t know where they are going.

Drivers will not drive to asked destination (language barrier for some, rip off attitude to most). Sadly, all the times we took a taxi we ended up just driving around until we noticed that the driver is obviously going the wrong way.

I know it sounds ridiculous but when taking a taxi in Kuala Lumpur you got to know your way. To protect ourselves, we always had the smartphone GPS on and could trace where we are going. It is best to show the driver the GPS asset but for some ruthless drivers it won’t make a difference making up traffic, construction or what not all.

Be prepared to haggle hard. You will most likely overpay anyway and there will be no receipt.

Those ‘taxi stickers’ are nothing more than a joke.

Metered Taxi sign Kuala Lumpur

 

When you insist to have the meter on, you will be told various arguments, why this is not possible.

One of my favourites – were told that the rule on Saturday nights is not to turn on meters. Good one.

Here you have a typical haggling scene in central Kuala Lumpur. All three taxi drivers pleading against the meter, using absurd reasoning technique with Tomek. Taking a taxi in Malaysia is incredibly strenuous.

Haggling with Taxi drivers Kuala Lumpur

 

Metered fares are rather cheap so that once you have managed to convince a taxi to put on the meter, drivers will try to get the inflated amount another way. They will set the meter to ‘expensive ride’. Or, totally creepy, we had drivers cruise aimlessly around the city and drive onto the highway just to get the money they want.

This is a picture of our smartphone GPS. We have indicated the taxi ride we should have taken – in total about 3 km. The picture to the right shows the incredible detour of over 9 km – this happened despite telling the driver repeatedly that he is going the wrong way and that he should please turn accordingly.

Taxi scam Kuala Lumpur Taxi scam Kuala Lumpur

 

After we told him that he is going the wrong way, the driver engaged in an unappealing variety of macho actions. A driving maniac, talking on his mobile phone during the ride, overtaking cars heedlessly and speeding terribly.

When we finally arrived at our destination, Tomek told the dodger that he is not going to pay what the meter indicated and showed him the detour on our GPS.  This led to a heated situation. The young taxi driver was making up the usual to justify his unscrupulous act.

I was seriously scared of further Malaysian-taxi-macho affected behaviour, whilst Tomek reacted unimpressed and steadfast, offering the taxi driver a fair amount of six Rinngit. It worked. My hubby is just great in such situations. He will never raise his voice, nor become angry. He is always fair and calm. He doesn’t panic and he tells me not to worry. That is bliss. I am still no friend of taxis.

Ask locals and tourists for their stories – you will not get bored. Our friends from Singapore refused to pay an inflated amount in Kuala Lumpur but the driver won’t let them out and kept on driving away from the city until they paid on his terms. This gives me the shivers and made me wonder about taxi drivers crossing the law in Malaysia. Carrying away a person by fraud and detaining a person against his or her will is a crime, I should think.

Malaysian taxi scams are well known to police and are a huge problem that authorities have a blind eye on.

This man on the motorbike was a policeman or officer of some kind urging us to cross the red light. Officially crossing the red light under the watchful eyes of authority. I admit, we did.

Crossing Kuala Lumpur

 

At the end of our trip, I found a solution to hassle free transport in Malaysia.

Ride along Pedobear!

Pedo bear Kuala Lumpur

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One Comment

  1. It was nice reading your experienced in Kuala Lumpur and I am with you with regards to the taxi scam which I myself encountered as a Malaysian but not all taxi drivers are bad and scam, there are good ones which used meter. FYI in Malaysia we dont have a traffic light with a sign you can walk at a traffic light like in Europe so when the traffic lights turns red it mean you can cross it but not when it turns green coz that is when the car will move so what the Police man told you were right and it was not against the law.

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