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Which is better Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur?

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by AditiMetha, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. AditiMetha

    AditiMetha New Member

    I have joined the forum to find out which is better Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur as a holiday destination. These two places are offering the best deals currently, so it is a choice only between these two. But after looking at the places, they both look like good places to visit. Bangkok is a very popular with travelers and Kuala Lumpur is less popular but seems equally good.

    I would also like to know which destination has more to offer and different to see. I do have some doubts have Bangkok beaches maybe a bit dirty, but I need that to be clarified.

    When I plan to go on holiday, I would be staying at the destination for ten days.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    Overview of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur

    On the surface, both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur looks quite similar. They are both cities, with a vibrant night life and modern establishments like shopping complexes and entertainment centres. Both have mouth-watering food, whether you're doing it backpacker style by trying the street foods or you're doing it rich kid style by trying the higher end restaurants. The diversity of the culture in both cities is also apparent, with a mixture of different nationalities in them. So how do you decide which is the best destination for you?

    Bangkok is a chaotic city, it's actually the best term to describe it. Chaos is a part of the local's life and the longer you stay in the city, the more you are able to accept this chaos. From the glitzy buildings, to the street markets... From the posh restaurants, to the small street side stalls... From the glamorous shopping complexes, to the streets lined with small shops, everything in Bangkok would overload your senses yet you still won't be able to get enough of it.

    Bangkok Skyline
    Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of not just two or three cultures but more, Malaysians, Indians, Chinese, Filipinos... You find a little bit of each Asian country here, hence the tagline, Truly Asia. Skyscrapers, street foods, street markets and heritage sites, there's also a mixture of attractions here. Much like the former city, Kuala Lumpur is a very progressive city, so you can find all tourist necessities and infrastructures here. But truly, what is apparent in the city is its love for food and you too would love the local food here once you visit.

    Kuala Lumpur Skyline

    In-Depth Review of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur

    1. Ease of Access
    • Bangkok - Thailand has both a visa-free policy and visa-on-arrival policy for numerous countries. Most Western and European countries are eligible for the visa-free policy while some Asian countries are eligible for the visa-on-arrival policy. To reach the country by air, there are two airports, namely: the Suvarnabhumi Airport and the Don Mueang Airport. The Suvarnabhumi Airport is mostly used for international flights for cities of other countries like Amsterdam, Bahrain, Beijing, Delhi, Gaya, Kolkata, Singapore, Tokyo and many more. On the other hand, the Don Mueang Airport has international flights for cities of other countries like Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Macau and many more. Both the airports are under 30 kilometres away from the city centre of Bangkok so you would need to ride a taxi to reach it. If coming from other countries like Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia, there's the Hua Lamphong Railway Station, which has direct connectivity to the mentioned countries. There are also direct buses to the border areas of the mentioned countries.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia has both a visa-free policy and electronic visa policy for numerous countries. Most citizens of Western countries are entitled to a 90-day, visa-free stay in Malaysia. Most citizens of Asian countries are entitled to a 30-day, visa-free stay in Malaysia. Lastly, some Asian countries are entitled to an electronic visa, which they have to apply for prior to reaching the country. If going by air, Kuala Lumpur International Airport has flights from cities like Bangalore, Beijing, Chennai, Hyderabad, Hong Kong, Manila, Phuket and many more. The airport is well-connected to the city by train and also by bus so travelling to and from won't be an issue. There are also direct trains and buses from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur. Or for those coming in from Cambodia or Laos, they can reach Thailand first and from there, ride another train or bus to reach Kuala Lumpur.
    2. Attractions
    • Bangkok - Bangkok is home to some of the most fascinating and architecturally marvellous temples in the world. The Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the oldest temples in the city and has the 46-metre high reclining Buddha statue. And the temple is not only religiously important, it is also historically important as the first ever massage school in Thailand is located here. The Wat Phra Kaew is where the Emerald Buddha is located, made of pure jade stone. On the other hand, the Wat Traimit has the pure gold Buddha statue, which for a long time, was hidden under a plaster. The Grand Palace, the venue for most special ceremonies in the city, is another must-visit attraction. Its architectural style is a mixture of both Western and Thai which gives it the distinct appearance that it has. The city also has plenty of museums that you can explore, like the Museum of Contemporary Art (Modern Art), Madame Tussauds (Wax Figures), Art in Paradise (Hilarious Masterpieces) and Siriraj Medical Museum (Medical Information). Finally, for leisure, you can visit one of the many parks around the city like the Lumpini Park, King Rama IX Park and Benjasiri Park.
    Wat Pho (Image Courtesy of Vietravel)
    • Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Lumpur also has many architectural marvels to boast of. The National Mosque, also known as Masjid Negara, stands tall in the city, with its closed umbrella like minaret and opened umbrella like dome. It has a well-maintained garden too that you can explore. The Thean Hou Temple is quite a contrast to the former religious site. Its architecture is that of a Chinese-Buddhist one, very apparent with the use of red motif and yellow colour motifs along with an elaborate roof. The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, on the other hand, is a Hindu temple in the city, complete with elaborate carvings of Hindu deities on its facade. The Batu Caves is yet another Hindu religious site, but you need to climb about 270 steps to reach its peak. At its bottom, there are three shrines dedicated to Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers and Menara KL provide one with a commanding view of the city from the top. Around the city, you can visit leisure attractions like the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park and Aquaria KLCC to view wildlife right at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. There are also parks that can provide you with some much-needed greenery like the Orchid Park and Perdana Botanical Garden. There are also a few museums in the city worth visiting like the Islamic Arts Museum, to learn more about the history of Islam in the country and the National Museum, to learn more about the pre-historic and modern history of Malaysia. And if you have children with you, a visit to the Petrosains Science Discovery Centre is also a must, as the exhibits here are very interactive.
    Batu Caves (Image Courtesy of ATI)

    3. Accommodation Options
    • Bangkok - Bangkok caters to every type of traveller, whether you're in a budget or you'd like to splurge. For as little as Rs. 1,000 per night, you can find a budget hotel that would be good enough for a short stay. The best-rated hotels in this price range are the Siam Place Airport Hotel, Wallada Place Hotel and CK2 Hotel. Mid-range hotels, between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000, are also good options. The Solo Express Bangkok, Tara Place and Ibis Bangkok Riverside are good options for mid-range hotels. Or if you'd like to enjoy a luxurious stay, hotel options like The Siam, Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula can give you just that. Expect to pay more than Rs. 16,000 per night per room in these types of hotels.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Hotels under Rs. 1,000 per night like D Garden Hotel and Hotel Petaling are good options for those in a budget. They have smaller rooms but are still relatively clean and their location is still easily accessible from main tourist attractions. Or if you want some assurance of the quality of services, especially if you're with your family, there are hotels in the mid-range classification that you can turn to. For about Rs. 4,000 per night and below, you can enjoy a luxurious stay in the city. Hotels like Hotel Maison Boutique, Seri Pacific Hotel and Capitol Hotel are good mid-range options. International hotel chains such as Ritz-Carlton, The Hyatt and JW Marriott are also present in the city, with nightly rates of Rs. 13,000 and above.
    4. Cuisine & Food
    • Bangkok - Bangkok is known for its authentic Thai cuisine and in every nook and corner of the city, you can find places to quench your Thai food cravings. Generally, price for food or meals in Bangkok is cheaper as compared to Kuala Lumpur. You can live for a few dollars a day without getting hungry in the city. If you're on a budget, try out places like Chinatown, Ratchawat Market, Petchaburi Soi 5 and even Victory Monument. You can try out Thai foods like Pad Si Ew, Roast Pork Belly, Mango Sticky Rice and many more in such places. Or if you have a delicate palate or stomach, you can also find plenty of world-class restaurants around Bangkok. And they do not only serve Thai cuisine, some specialty ones like Nami Teppanyaki Steakhouse serves Japanese cuisine and Le Normandie serves French cuisine. Street food, luxury restaurants, Bangkok's food industry is as confusing as the city itself, but wouldn't you want to be confused when it comes to your food options? It's the only problem any foodie would like to have.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Lumpur is home to three main races, Malaysians, Indians and Chinese so you would mostly find these three influencing the cuisine in the city. You have a lot of variety in food when you're in Kuala Lumpur. And if you ever find yourself missing home, just head on over to Indian cuisine restaurants like Nasi Kandar or Betel Leaf. On the other hand, international cuisines like Italian and French can also be tried in the city with restaurants like Quivo and Black Forest KL. Yet it doesn't end there as you can also find Middle Eastern cuisine in restaurants like Pinchos Tapas and Arabesque. That's right, as varied as its culture is the food of Kuala Lumpur and there's no better place than food tripping than in this city.
    5. Beaches
    • Bangkok - While Bangkok doesn't have beaches of its own, it is in close proximity to many beaches. Travel time would be around three to four hours by public transport. The more pristine beaches take a longer time to reach though. There's Pattaya, which has several popular beaches that you can explore. Pattaya Beach is the most crowded one but it has an array of water sports to keep you busy. Lesser crowded beaches in Pattaya are Jom Tien, Wong Amat and Bang Sae. There's also Coral Island, perfect for snorkelers and divers as the marine life here is quite teeming. Pattaya is merely two hours away from Bangkok and while it doesn't have picture perfect beaches, they are still quite fun to be in, especially as they are very active during night time. Rayong, about three hours away from Bangkok, is another good beach destination. It is also the gateway to Koh Samet, one of the most pristine islands located quite close to Bangkok, just a 40-minute ferry ride away from Rayong.
    Koh Samet (Image Courtesy of Star Observer)
    • Kuala Lumpur - Reaching the beaches nearest to Kuala Lumpur can be more challenging. Most require a three- to four-hour drive along with a ferry ride. Noteworthy is the Port Dixon which is reachable by a one-hour drive but it is mainly a port area so it's not as beautiful as further beaches. Pangkor Island is a better option, which you can reach by a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to Lumut and from there, you have to ride a ferry to reach the island. It's not a commercialised beach and it only has a few accommodation options. But this is the cleaner beach out of the beaches near to Kuala Lumpur and you can witness the rural fishing village here. Rawa Island is on the opposite side, east coast, and needs road journey of three hours too, plus a ferry ride again. Snorkelling can be done here, unlike with the former island so if you'd like some adventure, you can choose this one.
    Rawa Island (Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor)

    6. Transportation
    • Bangkok - Generally, Bangkok has very crowded and traffic-laden roads but the BTS Skytrain makes up for it. You can enjoy the city views, be comfortable and at the same time, get to your destination in time. Most of the main shopping and commercial hubs of the city are connected through the BTS Skytrain. Or you can also opt for the MRT Subway of the city, which offers a reliable transportation option, air-conditioned too but without the city views, since it is underground. Motorbike taxis and auto rickshaws are great options as well for short distance travels. And there are also plenty of buses and taxis plying the city, but they're only advisable during off-peak hours, as traffic in the city can be quite bad. For the off the beaten way of travelling, why not indulge in a long tail boat ride in the Chao Phraya River? Incredibly scenic yet also takes a shorter time to take you to your destination.
    • Kuala Lumpur - As compared to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur has better roads, wider and not really covered by numerous street stalls and shops. The Metro System of Kuala Lumpur is very functional too, with divisions such as the Light Railway Transit, Commuter Rail and Mono Rail. These divisions connect the city from one point to the other. The Intercity Railway connects Kuala Lumpur with other countries like Singapore and Thailand too. Buses and taxis are also easily available in the city but they aren't as extensive as the ones in Bangkok. The same goes for the railway line of the city, it is extensive but comparatively, Bangkok has a more extensive railway line.
    7. Safety
    • Bangkok - As compared to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok has relatively lower crime rates but unfortunately, murder rates in the city are higher as compared to petty crimes. So make sure that you don't venture off to isolated places during night time. Or if you must do some night life adventures, make sure someone is with you. The night life of Bangkok is pretty active so even during late night hours, you can still see lots of crowds in some places. During day time, petty crimes are rare to occur just make sure that you use some common sense and take note of your surroundings.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Lumpur ranks higher when it comes to petty crimes rates. So pickpockets, robbery and bag snatching are quite common here as compared to Bangkok. Even tourists can become targets for such crimes as they do bring important gadgets like smartphones and cameras. Make sure you keep a lookout to your surroundings and keep all important gadgets close to you. It's best to bring a body bag, so you can easily hang it in your body's front side. Also, some crime makers are armed so if ever they want your things, it's best to just give them. Remember that your life is worth more than any other material things. Do not venture into banned areas where tourists are not allowed due to high crime rates.
    8. Activities
    • Bangkok - There are plenty of activities to indulge in around Bangkok. You can start with a cruise around the Chao Phraya River or maybe hire a long tail boat to take you around the different floating markets of the city. Or maybe you can splurge and watch a cabaret show in Asiatique, where the famous ladyboys of Bangkok perform. Both the Ratchada Theatre and Patravadi Theatre has cultural shows outlining the rich heritage of the city and country. Nothing is as authentic as watching a Muay Thai show in one of the many stadiums in Bangkok, since it is the national sport of the country. Or if you're one of the party animals, head on to Khao San Road where there are numerous high end and mid-range bars to party the night away in. After all these activities, it's a must to indulge in an authentic Thai massage to rejuvenate your spirits.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Lumpur has lesser activities but they're geared towards the adventure lovers. You can call them as off-beat adventures as you certainly won't be able to do them in any other city. Like the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia which has one of a kind activities like a fish spa and one of the highest canopy walks in the world. About 90 kilometres away from the city centre is Kuala Selangor, where you can explore historical places and even natural attractions. The main activity here is firefly watching at the Firefly Park, where you would be taken into a mangrove area where thousands of fireflies provide light to the dark surroundings. Other places like Genting Highlands, Mines Resort City and Sunway Lagoon are perfect places for children as there are tons of fun activities that they can do here.
    9. Shopping
    • Bangkok - If you're not brand conscious at all, then Bangkok has numerous street markets to keep you happy. One of the largest street markets in the world, Chatuchak Weekend Market, is the best place to be in. You can find everything here, from clothes, jeans, accessories to home stuff. All for very affordable prices too but the quality is negligible. But that's not all, there are many more street markets in Bangkok that you can visit like JJ Green and Rot Fai Market. For luxury shopping, there are also large shopping complexes in Bangkok like Central World Siam, Terminal 21 and Siam Paragon where you can find branded items. Although street markets in Bangkok have very cheap items, the large shopping complexes have branded items that are priced higher as compared to Kuala Lumpur.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Lumpur also has some street markets like Petaling Street and Taman Connaught Night Market. However, the diversity of items here are not that extensive as compared to the street markets of Bangkok. On the other hand, shopping complexes such as Pavillion, Berjaya Times Square and Suria KLCC carry international luxury brands like H&M, Forever 21, Topshop and Coach. Prices for items in these stores are considerably less than in Bangkok. So if primely interested in high end shopping, it's better to go to Kuala Lumpur for that.
    So which one would you choose, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur? Let us highlight the main pros and cons of each destination.

    Summary of Review of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur

    CategoryBangkokKuala LumpurWinner
    Ease of Access (Visa Policy)Easy by Flight (Visa Free and Visa on Arrival)Easy by Flight (Visa Free and Electronic Visa)Bangkok
    AttractionsTemples, Museums, Clubs and ParksTemples, Skyscrapers, Wildlife, Parks and MuseumsBoth
    Accommodation OptionsBudget, Mid-Range and LuxuryBudget, Mid-Range and LuxuryBoth (Kuala Lumpur is slightly cheaper when it comes to high end hotels)
    Cuisine & FoodThai Cuisine with International Cuisines + Street FoodIndian, Malaysian, Chinese and International CuisinesBoth (Cheaper options when in Bangkok)
    BeachesClose to Beaches of Pattaya and RayongClose to Pangkor Island and Rawa IslandBoth (But most beaches close to Kuala Lumpur require a ferry ride)
    TransportationPlenty of OptionsSome OptionsBangkok
    SafetyLower Crime RatesHigher Crime RatesBangkok
    ShoppingCheap Street Markets + Expensive MallsFew Street Markets + Plenty of Branded Items in MallsBangkok for Unbranded Items and Kuala Lumpur for Branded Items
    As you can see, the winner here is Bangkok as it scores higher on many aspects. However, there are also some aspects that Kuala Lumpur ranks higher on like in branded shopping and cheaper higher end hotels. In the end, it's still up to the traveller which one he decides to visit. Bangkok is a very diverse city, full of life and colour. Yes, it can be a bit chaotic but that is part of its beauty. The street food options, the street markets and the vibrant night life add to the amazing diversity of Bangkok.

    On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur, with its towering skyscrapers, a blend of different cultures, cannot be missed as well. Luxury shopping is best done here as taxes are lower so you get the most out of your money. If you'd like to sample not just Asian cuisines, then you can do that in Kuala Lumpur, with its French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.

    I hope this helps you.:)
    Admin likes this.

  3. Deepak1511

    Deepak1511 New Member

    The post above has clarified everything and more.
    Some additional inputs i can provide. If you are looking to spend 10 days in Thailand, its very important to plan your trip. Steer clear from areas such as PatPong. Hotels in Bangkok are a bouquet of choices which can include budget hotels in Sukhumvit to the best hotel chains in the world.
    Do plan a trip to Hua-Hin. Its a beautiful town and was home to the recently deceased king (RIP). You can also plan to visit the islands if you are there around the fullmoon. It gets crazy on the beaches but be forewarned as that is also the time which involves shade deals like drug peddling and Prostitution - BOTH contrary to popular belief are ILLEGAL in Thailand. Infact the penalty for drug peddling or abuse can be death. Koh Phangan is the best place for full moon party, there is a small club called Speed on the beach which has the cheapest drinks and best music - if you are into Techno/Trance. Koh Samaui is nearby as well and you can travel to Samui via flight from Bangkok or take a bus - ferry route. Phangan islands you will need to take a bus to Sathaburi and then a ferry to the islands or you can take a ferry from Koh Samui.
    Be aware in Thailand is really the best advice anyone can give you. KL is comparitively easier. Apart from this i dont think i can add anything more, the post above has covered everything quite nicely.

    Enjoy your Trip!!!
    Admin likes this.
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Having visited both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur extensively, I believe I can shed more light on this topic by highlighting some unique aspects of each city. While the original post and subsequent comments have provided some excellent insights, there's always more to explore!

    Historical Background

    Bangkok: Founded in 1782 by King Rama I, Bangkok is a city steeped in history. The Chao Phraya River, which flows through its heart, has been the lifeline of the city for centuries. As the capital of Thailand, Bangkok offers a myriad of historical sites such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, which reflect its rich past.

    Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur began as a tin mining settlement in the 1850s. Its history may seem shorter when compared to Bangkok, but the city's rapid development over the years has led to a fascinating blend of colonial-era landmarks, like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, juxtaposed against modern marvels like the Petronas Twin Towers.

    Culinary Landscape

    Bangkok: Thai cuisine is renowned globally, and Bangkok is its epicenter. From bustling street markets like Khao San Road to upscale restaurants, the city offers everything from Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup to lesser-known regional delicacies. Street food culture is pervasive, and trying local snacks like 'Mango Sticky Rice' or 'Som Tam' (papaya salad) is a must.

    Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur provides a gastronomic journey reflecting Malaysia's multicultural background. You can find Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines coexisting harmoniously. Visit Jalan Alor for street food, where you can savor dishes like Satay, Nasi Lemak, or Char Kway Teow. For a more Indian twist, Brickfields (often called Little India) offers delicacies like roti canai and biryani.

    Cultural Fabric

    Bangkok: Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, and this is evident in Bangkok's stunning temples and the reverence shown towards the Royal Family. Apart from visiting temples, one can witness traditional dance forms or attend the famous Thai puppetry shows to immerse in its culture.

    Kuala Lumpur: The city is a melting pot of cultures primarily Malay, Chinese, and Indian. This confluence is evident in its festivals, from Chinese New Year to Deepavali and Hari Raya. Thean Hou Temple, Batu Caves, and Masjid Jamek are some of the city's landmarks showcasing its diverse religious practices.

    Shopping and Entertainment

    Bangkok: From the massive Chatuchak weekend market (with over 15,000 stalls) to luxury malls like Siam Paragon, Bangkok is a shopper's paradise. The city also offers a vibrant nightlife, with areas like Patpong and Nana Plaza catering to every kind of party-goer.

    Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur doesn't lag behind when it comes to shopping. With malls like Pavilion KL and Suria KLCC, it matches Bangkok's shopping scene. For a more local experience, the Central Market offers handicrafts and souvenirs. Its nightlife, while a tad subdued compared to Bangkok, still boasts of some lively spots like Changkat Bukit Bintang.

    Natural Beauty and Recreation

    Bangkok: While primarily urban, Bangkok has its green spaces. Lumpini Park offers a serene escape from the city's hustle, and the Chao Phraya River's boat rides are popular among tourists. The city also acts as a gateway to Thailand's stunning beaches and islands.

    Kuala Lumpur: The city surprises with its natural attractions. The Kuala Lumpur Forest Eco Park provides a genuine rainforest experience right in the city's heart, while the Perdana Botanical Gardens offers vast greenery and relaxation. Just outside the city, the Genting Highlands provides a cool retreat with entertainment options.


    Bangkok: With its BTS (Skytrain) and MRT (subway), Bangkok offers efficient public transport. However, the city's traffic can be notoriously slow-moving. Tuk-tuks and riverboats offer more traditional transportation methods.

    Kuala Lumpur: KL boasts of an extensive metro system, the LRT and MRT, connecting major parts of the city. The monorail line caters to the city's bustling shopping and entertainment districts. Buses, while comprehensive, can be slower due to traffic.

    Closing Thoughts

    Choosing between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur isn't straightforward, as both cities have distinct flavors and experiences to offer. Bangkok leans more towards historical sites, a vibrant street culture, and arguably a more bustling nightlife. In contrast, Kuala Lumpur delights with its multicultural tapestry, modern architectural wonders, and pockets of natural beauty within the city.

    For a traveler, both cities deserve a visit, not for comparison, but for the unique experiences they individually bring to the table. So, rather than choosing one over the other, why not plan trips to both and let personal experiences dictate the preference? After all, travel is about immersing oneself in new cultures and experiences, and both these Southeast Asian gems have plenty to offer in that regard.