This is not a guide, so much as a post about how to do a short layover in Kuala Lumpur as a vegan. KL is a major airport hub, but it’s worth stopping over for at least a few days for the vegan eats alone. I didn’t really think much of KL at all, but decided to stay a few days to chill before heading to Vietnam. I was very pleasantly surprised! There is SO much amazing vegan food there, I actually want to plan a trip to go there again to spend more time.
Anyway, if you have a layover in KL, or are there just a few days for business, here are my recommendations for which areas to stay in (the one with free buses to the amazing vegan lunch at the Dharma Realms temple!) and some highlights to check out. Ah, and some good cafes to get some work done too (with cats!).
If you want to see all my video of what I ate and did in Kuala Lumpur, head on over to my Instagram on your phone and click my “Kuala Lumpur” highlight!
Vegan Food in KLIA2 Airport
I heard that KLIA2 was an awesome airport with lots of vegan options so I actually got there 4 hours early to explore. Then my flight got delayed 45 minutes, so I had a bunch of time. My one word of warning: Don’t go through security until you absolutely have to! There is nothing really behind it in terms of food, at least not many vegan options. I often make that mistake and regret it, haha.
Anyway, I got a tip that there was great vegan laksa at a restaurant called BMS Organics in the KLIA2 airport. I looked up where it was in advance, as there is an entire MALL associated with this airport, and made my way over there.
This vegan laksa from BMS Organics was expensive (for Malaysia), but super tasty!
Now, do not be confused. There are two BMS Organics in the airport. One is more of a shop (lower floor), the other is also a restaurant (with a shop, upper floor). I did peruse the shop-only one though and got a couple quinoa probiotic coffees and hot chocolate that were tasty!
A couple things to try from the BMS Organics shop. Quinoa white coffee and quinoa cocoa.
Here’s a shitty picture of the BMS Organics that has the restaurant and vegan laksa!
They had all the health food store items of your dreams in the BMS Organics shop. Including psylium husk. Yes, in the airport!
KLIA2 Grocery Store – Vegan Options
There’s a full grocery store in the KLIA2 airport with lots of vegan stuff in case you need to stock up for your flight or your next destination. I had my eye on this vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! So, if you haven’t tried it yet, here’s your chance in SE Asia…
Vegan Coffee in KLIA2 Behind Security
There was Starbucks and all that before security where I could have gotten coffee with soymilk, but I made the mistake of going through security too early where there were not many vegan options to be had. I did find one Malaysian coffee place that had soymilk on the menu, so I was able to request that they make me a coffee with it. The guy looked intrigued, but was like, “Oh I’ve never tried coffee with soymilk…is it good?” So points for an open-mind! I actually had to google the Malysian coffees though as they had a whole different wording system for the different things. Eventually I figured out what a (to me) regular coffee was though. Plus this coffee was about 5x cheaper than Starbucks so I consider it a win.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
Dorms KL 2 (Agoda / Booking.com) – Okay so I booked Dorms KL 2 after I saw a friend rave about it and how there was a cute kitten there on my Facebook. All you really need is a kitten to convince me. I don’t stay in hostels much these days, but they had cheap private rooms so why not? I never saw the kitten, but of the maybe 4 hostels I stayed at on my trip, I enjoyed this one the most, even though it wasn’t fancy at all. Kuala Lumpur has several free bus lines (with wifi and air-conditioning!) that go around the center and this was close to one. With a 15 minute walk + free bus I could also get to the most amazing vegan place I ever ate in my life, the Dharma Realms temple (see below). It was also walking distance to a few other vegan places, and a great coffee shop for working, VCR (also see below). AND major points for it being across the street from the bus station that takes you from the airport because I am NOT a fan of lugging my shit around when I first arrive somewhere even if I am carry-on only!
They had a kinda weird system with the AC, but it was fine. All the private rooms are small with holes in the ceiling bit (no one can see in). Then there are air-conditioners in the hallway that blast AC and it goes through the holes into the rooms. It worked good enough and I was only paying around 8€ per night so whatever. Dorm rooms are around 5€ per night.
I pretty much never end up talking to people at hostels so I always question why I stay if I’m not gonna be social, but this place was the right kinda chill. They had a TV in the entrance where anyone could use Netflix so I always chatted with a few people there on my way in and out.
So that’s my budget-but-private-room option for you. I booked on Agoda, which is usually a bit cheaper in Asia.
If you’re looking for guesthouses in KL a bit fancier than a hostel have a look at Booking.com’s Kuala Lumpur options here. They usually have a 100% money-back guarantee until a day before your booking (affiliate link, money goes to support this blog!). I use them a lot!
There was an Indian temple near my hostel that gave out free vegan food sometimes. They very generously gave me this bean and mango dish outside on my way to the airport. Plus there was always lots of good music and stuff going on near here so I really liked to wander around near this area, hah.
My hostel was walking distance to the center of Kuala Lumpur, and on the free bus lines. Here’s a view of some of the tall buildings in the center of KL.
Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery Canteen
Okay, so without a doubt the best experience I had in Kuala Lumpur was this vegan canteen in the monastery. I think it’s actually the best vegan experience of my life. Normally I love buffets because of the value, and the food is good enough. But oh my…the sheer amount of choices…and all of it was REALLY GOOD. There was the main buffet area with two sides, plus a soup stand, a sweets area, an ice tea and fruit section, and a steamed dumpling area. I need to live in KL for a month and go everyday just to try everything. AND you get to help yourself to free tea and soup after purchasing.
You can see all the volunteers hard at work making the food at the sides of the room and damn, they really know their stuff! Make sure to go right at noon to get the best selection and hopefully snag some vegan donuts!
The vegan lunch adventure begins. See how packed it gets?! All these people eating vegan!
One side of the savory vegan food buffet at Dharma Realm. This wasn’t even when it was totally full!
Part of the sweets section of the vegan buffet
Filled with some kind of peanut filling. I just grabbed it unsure what it would be, but it was a win!
My plate on my first visit. Okay yes, I went a bit crazy. But. I scored the vegan donuts! I think I confused the cashier because I took a little bit of everything instead of a lot o a few things so they weren’t quite sure how to charge me. I think this all came to like RM11 though, which is less than 3€ so I’m really not complaining. If you fill your plate with only 2-3 dishes it will be around RM6, which is like 30 euro cents. Seriously, take my money. The food is so good.
My second time at Dharma Realm. Yes, I went twice in 4 days. I should have gone every day. Tried out more stuff from the buffet this time, but wasn’t early enough to snag the donuts.
Vegan Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur
Your standard oldschool Chinese-style vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant. This was also walking distance from my hostel. My food was way different than what I thought I ordered, but it was my bad, and ended up being pretty tasty anyway!
I forgot the name of this, but it was a sort of clay pot soup with tofu. Simple, but good.
BBQ vegan steam bun. This was freaking delicious.
A friend who lived in Kuala Lumpur at the time took me to this place, and it was yummy! KL does pretty great Indian food, and there’s a ton of it. This place was all vegetarian.
Vegan Thali plate. Yaaaas.
Looks gross, but it was just lemonade blended with mint and super refreshing in the very hot and humus weather.
I think this was filled with potato? I don’t remember. Tasty though!
This was my second favorite place in KL besides the monastery. They have a focus on tex-mex, but I also had laksa and the most amazing vegan brownie with ice cream. It’s a bit out there but so is everything in KL (it’s a city of highways). Taxis are cheap so go!
Amazing vegan gooey brownie witt gula melaka flavored ice cream. It’s from a coconut palm I believe and tasted like caramel. Super good.
Small nachos with vegan cheese sauce from Sala KL
The small laksa from Sala KL. I like that they had small sizes of things so I could try a lot.
This is a chain all over KL with all vegan ice cream. Super tasty so look it up and see if there’s one near you (or make the trek!).
The vegan ice cream selection at the Kind Kones in Bangsar (in a mall). Yaaaaaas.
I believe I got the toasted almond brittle, but all I remember is it was super flavorful and amazing. Like seriously one of my top vegan ice cream experiences.
They also have cake and stuff! I think all of this was vegan, but I don’t remember. Certainly most of it was!
Ravi’s Banana Leaf
My friend Raw Chef Yin and her boyfriend Az took me here as it was supposed to have good vegan curry options. Banana leaf curry is a thing in Malaysia and it’s pretty awesome. You get a banana leaf and then a few vats of curry delivered to your table with some rice and toppings and you help yourself.
Banana leaf curry from Ravi’s Banana Leaf
I went here because it was right around the corner from my hostel and I got this whole plate for RM 6. Some Australian girl who was vegetarian raved about it as I looked in curiously so I gave it a try. It’s pretty easy to find good Indian food in KL and most of it is vegetarian anyway, so not hard to get vegan stuff.
Vegan curry plate in Kuala Lumpur. This was less than 30 euro cents.
Cafes for Digital Nomads in Kuala Lumpur
There are two VCR cafes in KL. One in the downtown and one in Bangsar. I went to both. I liked the downtown one better as it was a bit bigger, but both were great for working, had non-dairy milk and air-conditioning. Not many vegan food options so don’t go hungry. Super reliable and fast wifi.
My soy cappucino from VCR in download KL. It’s two floors so lots of seating.
Cat outside VCR at their download location. Best unintentional advertising.
This place was recommended to me by an awesome woman I met in Sala. It’s across the street from Sala and has lots of nice sunny big tables. Unfortunately the wifi was not super reliable when I was there though so I eventually had to leave.
Vegan Hangouts in Kuala Lumpur
I have to give a shoutout to my new friend Raw Chef Yin and her boyfriend Az who invited me over and fed me awesome raw vegan food. We met in Chiang Mai and I was happy to have some other cool vegans to hang out with in KL.
Yin teaches vegan cooking courses in Kuala Lumpur, so definitely check her out if you’re heading to KL. She does healthy vegan Malaysian dishes via her AirBnB experience, and also occasional tempeh and raw vegan cheesemaking workshops you can book on her website.
Az, Yin and I after devouring a bunch of delicious raw creations
Raw vegan matcha brownies. These were so awesome. So happy to be her food tester for the day.
Raw vegan Malaysian Rendang. Yummmm.
And that was my time in Kuala Lumpur! Short, but sweet. I will certainly schedule any possible layovers through KL in the future, simply to eat at Dharma Realms alone lol. Penang is supposed to be very vegan friendly as well. I’m planning to go early next year!
Traveling in Southeast Asia? Here are my other vegan guides for the region
- Vegan Bali – What I Ate During A Week in Ubud
- Vegan Bangkok Guide
- Super Thorough Vegan Chiang Mai Guide
- My 1st All-Vegetarian Hotel Experience in Chiang Mai!
- Vegan Kampot, Cambodia – Go Live in a Treehouse in this Hippy Mountain Town
- Koh Phangan – Vegan Heaven or New Age Hell?
- Vegan Pai Guide – I got in touch with my inner hippy in Pai