Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



As with much of the rest of Malaysia, Malay is the main language in Kuala Lumpur, and almost universally spoken by everyone. However, being Malaysia's capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur is a mosaic of Malaysians of many different cultures and ethnicity, and while Malay is the lingua franca, several other languages are commonly heard as well.

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Among these languages, the most commonly spoken ones are Tamil, which is the first language of a majority of the Indian community, and Cantonese, which is the lingua franca of the Chinese community when conversing amongst themselves (even though their mother tongues could be other Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Hakka or Teochew). As most Malaysian Chinese learn Mandarin in school, most of the ethnic Chinese are also able to converse in Mandarin.

Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur


English is also widely spoken, and tourists should have almost no problems getting by with English. Urban Malaysians are generally known to be multilingual, with proficiency in Malay, English and their respective mother tongues. Malay and English are taught in all schools from a young age, while most the Chinese and Indians also learn Mandarin and Tamil respectively in school. 

Central Market, Kuala Lumpur

Central Market

Locals are very friendly to the tourists, and many in Kuala Lumpur can speak decent English. Communication in English with the locals is almost as easy as it is in Singapore and significantly better than that of Bangkok. Among the Malaysian Chinese, many are able to converse to Mandarin and Cantonese while Malaysian Indians would be able to converse in Tamil. Be friendly if you are lost, just ask anyone smartly dressed on the street for assistance.

Guide to
Kuala Lumpur
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