Kuala Lumpur vs Singapore – Which is the Better City Break?

Author Carina Klein
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Comprehensive travel guide: Is Kuala Lumpur or Singapore better for you?

Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are two major stopover destinations in Asia.

We visited both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 2023. Both cities have their pros and cons which we will outline in this blogpost.

How is Kuala Lumpur Different from Singapore?

Singapore is a city-state. It is a melting pot of cultures as can be seen in the official languages English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. It used to be a British colony and is hence pretty westernised.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of the country Malaysia. Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country which might be interesting e.g. if you plan to travel during Ramadan.

Should You Visit Kuala Lumpur or Singapore?

Is Kuala Lumpur Worth Visiting?

Is Singapore Worth Visiting?

Yes! Yes!

Is Kuala Lumpur Bigger than Singapore

Is Singapore Bigger than Kuala Lumpur

No. Kuala Lumpur covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) with a population of almost 2 million people. Yes. Singapore covers an area of 734 km2 (283 sq mi) with a population of over 5.5 million people.

Kuala Lumpur Best Time to Visit

Singapore Best Time to Visit

Dry season: December - February and June - August Dry season: February - September.

Kuala Lumpur Language Barrier

Singapore Language Barrier

Official language: Malay
The majority of people speaks English as well.
First official language: English
We had 0 language barrier.

Kuala Lumpur for First Timers

Singapore for First Timers

Definitively manageable but many travellers report more of a culture shock. Perfect. Everybody speak English, it’s easy to navigate and safe.

Kuala Lumpur Tour

Singapore Tour

Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Kuala Lumpur Private Tour Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Gelam City Highlights Tour

Is Kuala Lumpur Cheaper than Singapore?

Is Singapore more Expansive than Kuala Lumpur?

Our average daily budget: 40€
We paid slightly less in Kuala Lumpur but we splurged more on the accommodation and food.
Our average daily budget: 50€
Most of the budget went into basic accommodation. The rest was spent on food.

Is Kuala Lumpur Safe?

Is Singapore Safe?

This is personal but we did not feel 100% safe. The traffic is very chaotic. I also did not feel 100% comfortable walking alone as a woman during the day so I avoided going out alone at night altogether. Yes. We felt 100% safe. Even as a solo woman walking around alone in the dark.

Kuala Lumpur Solo Female Travel

Singapore Solo Female Travel

While my bad experiences did not take place in Kuala Lumpur but the stop before in Ipoh, I still was not 100% comfortable going out as a woman alone. Solo Travelling Malaysia – My Story I felt 100% comfortable exploring alone – day and night.

Kuala Lumpur Scams

Singapore Scams

We personally fell victim to the cashier scam.
We avoided taxi scams by always ordering Grabs.
While there are scams like picture scams, taxi scams, or bar scams, we personally didn’t fall victim.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Where to Stay in Singapore

We stayed at La Vista @ Regalia Residence.
100% recommend it!
We stayed at Galaxy Pods Capsule Hotel Boat Quay.
100% recommend it!

Kuala Lumpur Airport

Singapore Airport

Although Kuala Lumpur is a major hub, we found the airport to be a bit boring… Changi Airport is the best airport in the world. It’s like a whole holiday destination in itself.

Kuala Lumpur Transport

Singapore Transport

Cheap, available, and convenient.
  • Light Rail Transit (LRT) & Mass Rail Transit (MRT).
  • KTM Komuter (e.g. to the Batu Caves).
  • ERL - between KL Sentral and KL International Airport (KLIA).
  • Grab is very affordable.
  • Our favourite: The free Go KL bus.
We only walked or took the MRT. Super intuitive system. You can either swipe your credit card to pay as you go or buy a tourist pass if you want to move around a lot.

How Many Days in Kuala Lumpur

How Many Days in Singapore

You can see the highlights of KL including Batu Caves, Chinatown, and Bukit Bintang in 2 days. Because of its size, we recommend at least 3 days in Singapore.

Kuala Lumpur Main Attractions

Singapore Main Attractions

  • Batu Caves
  • Merdeka 118 (2nd tallest building in the world)
  • Petronas Twin Towers
  • Chinatown
  • Merdeka Square
  • Chinatown & Little India
  • Kampong Glam
  • Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay
  • Merlion
  • Clarke Quay

Kuala Lumpur Food

Singapore Food

  • Kampung Baru for Malay food.
  • Chinatown for Chinese food.
  • Brickfields for Indian food.
To be 100% honest, we are not huge fans of the Malay cuisine so we also had some nice but relatively expensive Western food.
One word: Hawker Centres. They are located all over the city and offer cheap, safe, and delicious food. Some even have Michelin Stars.
You can also have Western food but we personally did not try any…

Kuala Lumpur Rooftop Bars

Singapore Rooftop Bars

Countless options.
Our favourite: Heli Lounge Bar.
Countless options.
Our favourite: LAVO Rooftop Bat at Marina Bay Sands.

Kuala Lumpur Nightlife

Singapore Nightlife

Not the best place for nightlife. As a Muslim-majority country alcohol is pretty expensive.
Best nightlife area: Changkat Bukit Bintang.
Alcohol is heavily taxed in Singapore so we wouldn’t recommend it for nightlife.
Best nightlife area: Boat Quay.

Kuala Lumpur Beach

Singapore Beach

Kuala Lumpur is not a beach destination.
Places like Bagan Lalang Beach an hour’s drive from KL seem to be an option.
While Singapore is not a classical beach destination, there are public beaches as well as beach clubs and resorts on Sentosa Island which you can reach by public transport and we enjoyed.

Why is Kuala Lumpur Unique

Why is Singapore Unique

The skyline! It features the Petronas Towers (tallest building in the world 1998 - 2004) and Merdeka 118 (currently 2nd tallest building in the world).
Many affordable accommodations with rooftop pools.
It’s a melting pot of cultures like Chinese, Malay, Indian and various other ethnicities as well as a perfect blend of East and West.

Is it Worth Visiting Malaysia from Singapore?

Is it Worth Visiting Singapore from Malaysia?

Many locals go from Singapore to Johor Bahru in Malaysia to do their shopping. If you have the time, we recommend ending your Malaysia trip in Singapore and flying out from there.

Should I Go to Kuala Lumpur?

Should I Go to Singapore?

Yes, if you’re
  • a couple
  • a backpacker
  • looking for a nice accommodation on a budget
  • want to get off the beaten path
Yes, if you’re
  • a couple
  • a solo traveller
  • a foodie
  • a family
  • new to travelling
  • a beach person

Singapore Itinerary

3 Day Singapore Itinerary with map - for free in 2023!
Picture of Malaysia Picture of Singapore

Our Verdict: Which is Better Kuala Lumpur or Singapore?

Personally, we would go back to Singapore in a heartbeat. We loved the combination of quaint historical buildings with high rises and the different cultural areas like Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam.

We were also huge fans of the free light shows Spectra and Garden Rhapsody.

And of course, we loved the food. When we make it back – and we will – we will go to even more Hawker centres to try even more (Michelin star) street food.

Singapore vs Malaysia

Is Malaysia or Singapore better is a whole other question. Singapore is a city-state and while there are different islands, you’re working with a very limited area.

Malaysia on the other hand is a large country with

  • Mountains (Cameron Highlands).
  • Islands (Penang, Langkawi, Perhentian Islands).
  • Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
  • Cities (Malakka, Ipoh).

So if you have more time and you do want to experience a lot of different things, Malaysia should be your country of choice.

Visit Kuala Lumpur AND Singapore

You can easily combine the two South East Asian metropolises. The bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and vice versa only takes 5 hours and is pretty convenient.

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