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The Secret to Visiting the Petronas Towers

by Michael on March 14, 2012

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Tickets for the Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, once the tallest buildings in the world, are familiar to anyone who watched Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones dangle precariously from them in the movie Entrapment. Michael’s not much of a dangler but he really wanted to visit the observation deck at the top. Unfortunately, there was a problem.

The ticket office for the Petronas Towers opens at 8:30 AM and provides, on a first-come basis, a limited number of tickets for that day. Unfortunately they are as popular as front row seats for Lady Gaga. According to the guidebooks, visitors are advised to arrive as early as 6:30 AM to get a spot before they sell out. During our travels we met several people who skipped the tour because they didn’t want to get in line that early. A friend of ours who lives in Kuala Lumpur has never even gone to the top because of that supposed requirement.

Michael was torn.  He is a self-proclaimed building geek, the Petronas Towers was one of the main reasons we came to Kuala Lumpur (or “KL,” as the locals call it).  But he is not a crack-of-dawn kind of guy.

Petronas Towers

These students from Indonesia were thrilled to pose with Little Rocky.

Can you buy tickets for the Petronas Towers in advance?

However, we managed to sleep in and still get to the top. In the unofficial handbook of good travel planning, our visit to the Petronas Towers falls into the category of “Dumb Luck.”  It turns out that, despite all evidence to the contrary, tickets are sold in advance: who knew?

Enter the Dumb Luck.  We went over to the towers one afternoon to take photos from the ground.  Afterward we sought out the ticket office to get some idea of the whole ticketing process.  A computerized billboard told us tickets for that day and the following day were sold out.  But there were tickets still available for select times two days from now. Hmm, what about having to get there early to buy tickets?

There were no lines at the ticket office. Why would there be? It was now 2:30 in the afternoon and everyone else was there before sunrise.  Sure enough the ticket agent confirmed we could purchase tickets for two days from now so we did.

Petronas Towers Skybridge

On the 42nd floor Skybridge the limited capacity keeps down the crowds.

First stop at the Petronas Towers: The Skybridge

As tours to the tops of tall buildings go, and we’ve been to most of them, this was by far the best. Since only a limited number of tickets are issued for each 15-minute time segment it doesn’t get crowded. Show up at the designated time and guides escort a small group of about fifteen to the distinctive 42nd story Skybridge connecting the two towers.  Fifteen minutes are allowed, plenty of time to walk around, take photos, and marvel at the fact that you are suspended between the two towers.

After that the guide boarded us on the high-speed elevator that soared to the 88th floor observatory of the eastern tower. We were given another twenty minutes to roam around and see who could fill the memory card of their camera first.  The building’s unique 8-pointed star shape provides plenty of nooks and crannies to find a private spot to take in the view of Kuala Lumpur and the hills in the distance.  It was a gorgeous view and, best of all, we didn’t have to get up early to see it.

Petronas Towers observation deck
Even allegedly grown men get as excited as little kids on the top of tall buildings.

Visiting the Petronas Towers

Web site: http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/ UPDATE: As of December, 2013 we learned you can now buy advance tickets at this site online.

Time to allow: About an hour for the visit from bottom to top and back again

Who should go? Lovers of tall buildings and long-range views

Is it worth it? Compared to tours of most skyscraper observation decks, the Petronas Towers escorted tour is well-organized. Knowledgeable guides are available to answer any questions about the building or the views. Touch-screen TVs on the Skybridge provide information about what the visitor is looking at. The limited tickets sold each day mean no waiting or jostling at the windows for a view.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Needham March 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm

The Taipei 101 tower is maybe third or fourth tallest and worth a trip up if you are in Taiwan. Because Taipei is in a basin, you can look over the tops of surrounding mountains to the next set beyond from up there. And, I was lucky enough to see the great Robert Parrish there last summer when visiting (didn’t know it was him until I read it in the Taipei newspapers). He is awfully tall, but not like Taipei 101…

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Us March 15, 2012 at 3:12 am

What was Robert Parrish doing in Taiwan?

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Richard Needham March 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

He was there on an NBA promtional tour. Taiwanese love basketball (as attested by the Jeremy Lin craze). When I saw him waiting for the elevator to the observation deck I thought it might be him. We lived in Boston during that golden era of Bird, Parrish, Maxwell, McHale , etc. and I was in the old Boston Gardens once for a Bruins game (I worked nearby on Commercial Street).

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Barbara March 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

Thanks for the presentation. What a great place for a photo shoot…
All the best to you both.

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Us March 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

We did avoid doing a Margeret Bourke-White and climbing out the building for some shots.

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Doz & Amanda March 19, 2012 at 7:19 am

We needed some of that dumb luck :) The towers were the main reason for our visit too but when we arrived in the afternoon we we given the wake up early advice. No chance that was going to happen! Thanks for the photos to show us what we missed :)

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Us March 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

Maybe you guys would have been better off just staying out late and strolling over at 6 when the bars closed.

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Gusto March 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

My experience in the Petronas Towers was on a business trip, where the presentation I was suffering through on the 104th floor had frequent sound disruptions due to the nasty electrical storm passing through. I started getting concerned when I saw lightning bolts contacting the windows and cascading down, along with the torrential rains. Not to worry, we were told — the building is designed as a lightning rod. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but I was happy when it was over….

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Us March 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Maybe the lightning was drawn to your magentic personality.

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Jesse April 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

By chance did you ride the rails to the night market?

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Us April 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I don’t think so.

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MC June 13, 2012 at 2:44 am

May I know how much you paid for the ticket to Petronas Towers? I will be visiting KL next week. This will help in my planning.

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Michael June 13, 2012 at 4:04 am

We don’t remember exactly, it may have been about $20 USD. There is a link in the story to the Petronas Towers web site that will have that information.

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T Gould February 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

We were in KL for a full day twice – both times on a Monday, when the Petronas Tower is closed to public tours.

We went for a drink to the Traders hotel opposite instead. They have a bar on the 33rd floor with fantastic views of Petronas and the surrounding city side. It was lovely having a couple of cocktails and watching day turn into night, and seeing the lights come on all over the city, including the towers. You may want to try it next time to see the towers from a different viewpoint.

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Michael February 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

That’s a great idea. Quite often the best views in cities can be had for free or by buying a drink at a bar on a high level. Thanks for the tip.

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TIA International Photography.com October 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Thank you for this article. I plan to visit KL in two months’ time and your article describing your experiences was immensely helpful. I realize I will have to be very proactive in order to plan my visit to the Towers. I am looking forward to it.

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Mel December 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

you can now buy tix online! do a google search for the offical petronas site!

here – http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/

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Michael December 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Thanks! What a great tip.

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