I would not recommend going to KL specifically for partying, but if you happen to be in town, there are enough good venues to have fun. The following review will guide you to the best bars and nightclubs in the city as of late 2018.

Comments, criticism and questions are much welcome, just write them below at the end of the article.

If you don't have time to read the whole review, here is a summary in 50 words:
- If you are a backpacker, party on the street Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang (near Havana Bar).
- For something more sophisticated, try the TREC complex and especially the mega-club Zouk.
- If you are an expat, try Kyo in Mandarin Oriental.
- Recommended good value hotel for nightlife: MOV (50$ per night)

Note: This article was last updated in September 2018.

KL Nightlife
Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur has a poor reputation as Malaysia is considered one of the most conservative countries in Asia. Authorities often cancel high-profile concerts due to religious and cultural issues, such as Beyonce in 2007 or Ke$ha in 2013. Lady Gaga is banned from performing as well. More recently, Islamist militants protested against the venue of Elton John because he was homosexual and Selena Gomez for being "too sexy".

The government is actually rather hypocritical. While flirting with Islamists, the previous prime minister, Najib Razak is also the grandson of the co-founder of Genting Berhad, one of the largest casino operators in the world and also the owner of nightclubs like Zouk. It is not surprising that in March 2016, his son was able to replace DJ Fadi in Zouk Singapore, causing a backlash from fans

The low-point of KL nightlife for me is the generally poor atmosphere within nightclubs. Communities don't seem interested to mix. Chinese go to Chinese clubs, Arabs to Arab Clubs, Indians to Indian clubs, etc. Within nightclubs, party-goers will stay in groups around tables and avoid any interactions with others. Expat hangouts seem more diverse and open though.

Even worse, you can feel racial tensions from time to time. Just last week, I was on Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang having a drink when a group of rich Malay teenagers started to insult an Indian guy because he was staring at one of their girls. They made him beg for forgiveness on his knees. The same evening, I received a copious amount of insults, again from very young Malays, because I had let my glass on their table. This contrasted with the rest of the Malaysian population that I found really friendly in general.

Nightclubs in KL also have a disproportionate percentage of males and few unattached ladies. Malay girls are a rare sight: By law, they are not allowed to drink alcohol and they cannot sleep with a guy they are not married to. This means the girls you'll meet in KL are often Malaysian-Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino or Indian. There are also quite many European, American and Australian girls, both tourists and expats.

The price of alcoholic drinks is higher than in Bangkok, Saigon, Phnom Penh or Manila, but still cheaper than in Jakarta at around 7$-10$ for a cocktail and 3$-5$ for a beer. Bottle service is almost always the best option if you are a group of more than 4 people.

In most nightclubs, you need to be at least 21 to enter. They will check your ID if you look young. Many venues close at 3-4am, Zouk at 5am. 

Nightlife Areas in Kuala Lumpur

TREC
Many of the trendiest nightlife spots in KL are located in a new complex called TREC, just outside of the city. It is huge, drawing several thousand visitors on weekends, and consists of nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Each of them comes with a different stereotyped theme. You have a hipster bar, an Irish bar, a speakeasy, a small rooftop, a wine bar, a comedy club, a piano bar, an electro bar, an exotic bar, a shisha bar and an artsy bar.

The whole place feels kind of fake, but it is efficient and practical. To go there, it's only a short taxi ride from the city center. You can then just move from one bar to the other very easily. Many clubbers in TREC are Malaysian-Chinese, and foreigners are still rare. You should dress up to avoid looking like a tourist: Shoes, pants and shirts are a must.

The bars/clubs I recommend in Trek are:
Iron Fairies, The KL branch of the famous BKK bar, live music, hipster
Arte Bar: Non-commercial dance music and hip-hop, hot girls)
Reggae Bar: Self-explanatory
Supperclub: Trendy restaurant with live music
Le Noir: Great live music, older crowd
Donkey And Crow: Irish pub
Trak: Live music - Afrobeats, Hip Hop, RnB
The gorgeous Iron Fairies Bar in TREC
On a Saturday, almost all venues are crowded and happening actually. You can check TREC's Facebook for the complete list.

It is also in TREC that you have the city's largest and most famous nightclub, Zouk (see below), as well as smaller ones like Vibes or the boutique club Red Room.
Zouk
I don't really like Zouk but it is still a must-try if you go to TREC. It is the most crowded nightclub, the best designed and the one with the most happening events in KL. The sound and lighting system are also really impressive.

It is made of several rooms:
- The main one where guest DJs play, ACE (hip-hop and R&B)
- Phuture (EDM and Mash-Up)
- Velvet Underground (House)
- Apex Lounge (Retro)
- Imperial (VIP room).

Bottle service costs from 95$ up to 120$ depending on the time, the day, the event and the kind of entry you choose (premium or normal). A bottle gives free entry to 4-6 pax. Alternatively, a single entrance with 1 drink costs between 5$ and 10$. They enforce a strict dress code and strict age verification.

City Center
The city center of KL is not that big. I visited the whole area on foot and it didn't take so much time. If you need a nearby hotel you can check Hotels near City Center Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur.

If you need a 50$/night place to stay near the nightlife, I'd recommend you to try MOV Hotel. It is brand new, comfortable, and walking distance to at least 15 bars/clubs.

Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang
This is a small and lively street in downtown KL with numerous bars and nightclubs. It is messier than TREC, with traffic jams, street sellers and a constant flow of people on the sidewalk. You'll find more foreigners, particularly backpackers. There are also many Middle-easterners due to the proximity of Arab Street (Bukit Bintang). It is not a very stylish area and you'll be fine wearing shorts and sandals.

Some of the most crowded bars are Havana (Latin music), Gypsy (retro) and Movida (for dancing). The nightclub Zion is not too bad as well and it features 3 rooms (Hip Hop, Dance Music, Reggae). Fire & Ice was empty when I visited.

In nearby streets, you can check Pisco bar (Peruvian restaurant with latin nights on Mondays), its rooftop Barrio by Pisco bar (live music, happening) and the jazz club No Black Tie.

Near Jalan P Ramlee
Though near to the Petronas Towers, this street is rather seedy with two famous freelance prostitute bars: The Beach Club and the Thai Club (it may be closed, I couldn't confirm). Both are institutions among foreigners looking to pay for sex. Girls are most often from Vietnam, Indonesian, Thailand or the Philippines.

The Thai Club is on the ground floor of Cabana Inn (which seems to act as a short-time hotel.) Nearby, there are a few other venues catering to an Indian/Arab crowd.

Pavillion Mall
This mall has a high-traffic F&B area with many popular venues, usually part of larger chains. These include La Bodega (Tapas Bar). Weissbrau (German Bistro), Malone's (Irish Pub) and Tom, Dick and Harry's Live (with live band). Even though alcohol runs free flow, it is a family and Muslim friendly area.

The Row
Formerly called Asian Heritage Row, this complex on Jalan Doraisamy is your typical hipster/hippy hangout. It has a few restaurants, caf├ęs, coworking spaces, pubs and live music spots. Walking distance, you have the nightclub Noovo (local crowd, EDM and Hip Hop).

Other spots in the city center

Kyo
Girls in Kyo Club
Ren techno club in Kyo
This is probably the best club in KL at the moment. It comes from the same group as its Kyo Singapore (more information about it: Singapore Nightlife Guide).

Located in the Mandarin Hotel, it has a crystal clear Void sound system and a chic interior design (they label themselves as an "underground" club but I don't see how being in a 5-star hotel is underground). You have the main room with RnB/Hip-Hop DJs and a smaller one, called Ren, with House/Electronic/Techno. A famous foreign DJ will play there at least once a month. Entrance fee is around 60RMB. The crowd is quite mixed, including many expats.

Privi
This underground and secret club is located inside Drift Restaurant. It is members only so contact them in advance on Facebook to make sure you'll get in. Music is techno in an intimate atmosphere. It closes at 3AM on weekends.

Zeta is the bar of the Hilton Hotel. It is the only one with daily live imported bands. Quite a few freelancers inside (it was on my list of Prostitute Bars in Asian Hotels.

There are a few other recommended clubs, but most of them have a more local crowd and they tend to favor bottle service. In the city center, you can also check KX, Fuze (very popular) or  Envy.

Outside  KL Center

Bangsar
This is an area where many Western expats live. You have several pubs and bars in Jalan Telawi 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Popular nightclubs include Jiro (good DJs), TipsyBarAtas and Rock Bottom (Live Music). You also have a rooftop bar called Mantra.

T Club & Bar (Bhangra music) target mostly Arabic and South Asian customers.

Petaling Jaya
I haven't been to Petaling Jaya as it is a suburban town 15-20 kilometers away from KL. Some of the nightclubs are apparently worth the expedition like the flashy Play Club at the Roof complex (young and rich local crowd) or Soju in Sunway Resort.

Rooftop Bars with Views on Petronas Towers
One of the cool things to do in KL is to have a pre-party drink in a rooftop bar with a view on the Petronas towers. They are usually upmarket so you should wear nice clothes.

Perhaps the most famous is the very average Sky Bar inside the 4-star Shangri La Traders Hotel. It has indeed a great view (and an indoor swimming pool), but likes in sophistication.

The Heli Lounge Bar is more impressive as it offers a 360° view from a helipad and hosts regular live bands (the photo above was taken from there).

A great newcomer is Vertigo. It is the highest rooftop in KL at the moment, on the 59th floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. Chic and expensive, it has a strict dress code (no shorts, no flip-flops).
Vertigo has the best view of the Petronas in KL
Marini on 57 is a chic Italian lounge/restaurant very close from the towers. It is rather expensive but perfect for a date.

The trendy Elysium Bar + Terrace is my personal favorite. They have excellent guest DJs, friendly staff, reasonable prices (especially during happy hours from 5 to 9pm) and a rather eclectic crowd.

Prostitution in KL: Hostess Bars, Gogos, Karaoke, Spas
Prostitution is rather common in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from the venues mentioned above such as Thai Club, Beach Club and Zeta, you'll be often offered "young girls" by taxis drivers around Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang. In the area, some smaller bars have hostesses, just walk around and you'll spot them easily.

Most locals visit "Thai clubs" (not necessarily with Thai girls). These venues have either live music, a DJ or a live show (sexy dancers, fashion show, models, etc). There are always pretty hostesses to whom you can buy flower garlands or lady drinks in exchange for company (they might go home with you as well depending on your generosity). There are dozens of them in the city, especially outside KL city center (Mount Kiara, Hartamas, Petaling Jaya, Brickfields) and they target wealthy Malaysian-Chinese or other Asians. The famous ones are Paramount ClubDe Vegas, Bintang Palace, D'Arc Club, Dynasty Lounge & KTV, Zeus, Kingsway and W Club. Most of these luxury karaokes/KTVs have prostitutes.

Finally, some of the famous massage parlours "plus plus" are Golden City Spa, Sky River Spa, Bond Spa (ex-Saboon Spa) and Genesis Spa (that also has a small lounge called Livello). The price is about 300RM for 1 hour (full service).

JJ Spas have several locations and they seem to provide extra service too.
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In case you heard about them, the nightclubs Providence, Como, Rootz, Modestos, Sultan Lounge and Gravity are closed.
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10 comments to '' Kuala Lumpur Nightlife - Best Nightclubs and Bars in KL (2018) "

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Anything comparable with legendary Stadium Jakarta going on in KL?

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    Replies
    1. Mmmh... The closest thing would be Zouk but it's almost an insult to Stadium to say that...

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  3. I disagree with you about the girls... You can meet Malaysian girls easily online, especially with the website Malaysia Cupid (or Muslima if you want a Muslim Malay). If you prepare your trip in advance and chat girls beforehand, you are certain to go home with someone every night...

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  4. But there wasn't a lot drinking in the streets.

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  5. COMO is also closed now

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  6. This is such a bad and bias review!!! perhaps the person writing this article has not been nor seen the classier part of Kuala Lumpur. If you go to rowdy places and mix with rowdy people, this is the kind of experience you will get. I would highly recommend ppl to read more "reliable" online portals before planning your trip to Kuala Lumpur and make a fair judgement.

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  7. There's very little information available on Sarawak. I'm skipping KL and flying directly into Kuching for a week in early July. Any pointers? Not interested in regular bar/club information. Plus plus plus only:)

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  8. i am malaysian and take it from me as i put food on the table with salary earned from working in the vice industry.. if u think vice means bitches and hoes i would say child gtfo of this site..

    anyways the point of the my claim is to enforce the next one

    malaysia is shit for partying... bitches are hypocritical, religious mofo wannabes are everywhere but i bet cha all the money in your bank account each and everyone of them has something that will make u cringe (most of them are pedos anyways).. now now don't try to clean up your phone.. yes you the holier than thou doofus about to comment..

    and no i wasnt picking on a specific race.. i was addressing all

    editor feel free to delete this if u are offended.. its your right to be and so is the same for you so call "patriots".. all i can say is you r better finding a hoe to bang on wechat rather than a club.. that is where all them preachers dont preach

    ReplyDelete