A slimmer wallet during these ‘tax’-ing times just isn’t an excuse to stay home. Here’s a comprehensive guide to all things free and cheap in the city.
If you’re not one for steam rooms and Zumba classes, the Flex ‘n Fit Gym is a steal because an all-day entry to its weights section is just RM6 (add another RM1 to use the cardio equipment). The compact space means you’ll have less room to do floor exercises but the gym makes up for it with a good number of treadmills, adjustable benches and chest presses.
Finding it hard to include exercise in your daily routine? Body Factory is open from 12 midnight to 11:45pm daily so you can still squeeze in a workout after a huge plate of late-night Hokkien mee. Spanning two floors, the gym is equipped with power stations, dumbbells and a variety of weight machines to turn your flabs into abs. Best of all, Body Factory also offers fitness classes, personal training services and sauna facilities for both men and women.
Get a haircut on the cheap
If you’re in desperate need of a trim and have an hour or two to spare, here are a few top-notch hair academies offering student haircuts below RM10. What you need: plenty of patience (these are students, after all). If you’re worried about the outcome, rest assured as hair instructors will be on hand to monitor their handiwork. Toni&Guy Academy Bangsar charges RM8 for all cuts (reservations required) and RM50 onwards for colouring. Kimarie Hairdressing Academy in SS2 charges a RM9 flat rate for haircuts (wash and style included) by advanced students, and colouring for short hair starts from RM38 (which is a steal if we ever saw one). Also, Miko Hair Academy in Sungei Wang charges RM10 for ladies and RM8 for the men.
One-for-one burgers and beers at The Bee
Beat the Monday blues at The Bee (but only at their Jaya One branch!) – from 5pm onwards, it’s buy one free one for burgers and beers. Eat with relish the avocado chicken burger, Mexican chilli burger, the signature The Bee burger or the other varieties available, and then cap off with a cold one or two.
Dance on a budget
Dance Lessons teaches trial salsa and bachata classes on a random day in the last week of the month (call ahead to find out). However, if you’ve already mastered the basics (and if you are enrolled in one of their courses), you can join them for free practice sessions on Saturdays.
To learn swing and meet new friends, New Star Studio organises Swing Socials on Friday nights. Rock up sometime before 9pm for a 30-minute East Coast Swing beginner class and then join in the dancing fun from 9.45pm onwards. Better yet, wear your vintage best to better improvise and jazz dance with the rest of them.
To learn moves like Taeyang or 4Minute, sign up as a member online to be eligible for Korea Plaza’s free contemporary dance classes.
Free film screenings
We’re all familiar with Publika’s Monday Movies. Here’s another one: Kelab Filem Bangsar hosts screenings (or ‘#FilemGig’ as they like to call it) monthly, and the choice of films ranges from documentary, indie and local titles. The event is followed by a discussion where filmmakers, cinemagoers and the organisers exchange their thoughts about the film. The club also collaborates with art space Lostgens’ sometimes, which also organises their own free screenings.
Get rid of unused items and get something you actually need at BarterIt
No cash? No worries. Get something you need (and declutter too) at the BarterIt market. To participate, just bring along any unused or unwanted item to exchange with others. If you have a lot of things, then display them on a tikar. The value of items exchanged may not be similar, but who cares when you manage to get a new(ish) water filter without forking out cash? Check their page for when their next market will be held, and in the meantime, you can head to their bartering platform savepot.com.
Bargain baked goods
If you’re not willing to settle for plain white toast, here are the best places to score on the buns. After 5pm, Yeast Bistronomy in Bangsar and in Mid Valley offer 30 percent off on their breads and pastries, takeaway only. Swiss Bakery Heistand in Bangsar Village makes the most delicious sundried tomato loaves, made all the sweeter with its 30 percent off deal after 8pm. If you’re at Suria KLCC, head to the Marks and Spencer Food Hall for some sweet tea time deals. Between 3pm and 6pm, you can usually buy one and get a second at 50 percent off. After 9pm, Tedboy Bakery in Telawi offers 30 percent off on all their preservative-free loaves.
Still hungry? Here's another option: Lemon Garden 2 Go in Shangri-La Hotel KL offer 30 percent off cakes and 50 percent off breads and pastries from 6pm to 6.30pm.
Score cheap designer fashion
NR is a discount outlet carrying off-season pieces from designer brands such as McQ by Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Kenzo, M Missoni and Sergio Rossi. We’re not talking about a measly 20, 30 percent discount but a whopping 60 to 80 percent. We once bought a pair of Kenzo pants for RM120! There are clothes, shoes, bags and some accessories (even iPhone cases). Sizes, of course, are very much like luck of the draw, with a majority of them being odd sizes.
MO Outlet in Sungai Besi’s Lake Fields is just as reliable – bigger, too. It offers some of the hottest designer brands (under the Melium group) at deep discounts – Tod’s, Hugo Boss and Emilio Pucci, to name a few. And they have everything from bags and small leather goods to heels, sneakers and dresses.
The new Mitsui Outlet Park may be far to get to at KLIA (we suggest you factor in a visit the next time you fly) but the sheer variety of upper middle and high end brands is impressive. Brands include GUESS, Superdry, Bally, Topshop, Topman, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dr Martens, adidas, New Balance, Puma, Converse, Onitsuka Tiger and more.
If you want to navigate Kampung Baru a little better, the Jalan- Jalan @ Kampong Bharu walk is led by qualified guides, where they’ll bring you to notable landmarks such as Master Mat’s house (a traditional Malay house built in 1921), the Kelab Sultan Sulaiman Gallery, which showcases the history of the Malay political struggle, as well as the Gurdwara Tatt Khalsa built in 1922.
Brush up on your language skills
Learn about Chinese folklore and Mandarin in classes of 20 students on weekdays or Sundays for just RM40 per month at the Kwong Siew Free School (it’s been open since 1927!). Call them up when registrations open mid-December.
To pick up the Japanese language on a budget, there’s the Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur (JSKL) near The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur which offers lessons every Wednesday night, 6pm onwards. The course will last for three months. At the time of print, you only pay a registration fee of RM30. Check them out when enrolment starts in early July.
At Korea Plaza, learning hangul for free is somewhat like the lottery. After registering online, all you can do is hope you’ll be lucky enough to be selected at random by the management. Lasting for 16 weeks each, the King Sejong Institute-affiliated language classes have two intakes a year (in January and July), so if you didn’t make it this round, keep your fingers crossed for the next.
Cheap parking in Bukit Bintang
Pavilion KL has one of the most expensive parking rates in the city, charging RM3 for the first hour and RM3 for the subsequent hour with no maximum cap limit. Let us do the math for you: If you shop from 12noon to 8pm, you’ll end up paying RM25. That’s the price of a vegetarian banana leaf rice for four people and you still have money for a packet of papadum. Here are some cheaper parking alternatives:
1. Menara Standard Chartered
You might have to jostle with the Standard Chartered employees on weekdays (RM3 for the first hour; RM3 for every subsequent hour) but parking on a weekend is just RM7 per entry.
2. Menara Keck Seng
Menara Keck Seng is a good alternative for parking when Pavilion KL gets too full. It’s a flatrate of RM8 per entry, daily, after 6pm.
3. Wisma Cosway
The building is right opposite Pavilion KL. You only pay RM4 per hour on weekdays from 6am to 5.59pm; RM2.50 per hour after 6pm. On weekends, it’s a flat-rate of RM4 per entry.
4. Wisma UOA car park
Take the escalator down from Fashion Avenue in Pavilion KL – the open-space parking is on your left. Parking on a weekday may be a little pricey but it’s just a flat-rate of RM5 on Saturdays from 4pm to 11.59pm, and RM5 per day on Sundays.
If you don’t want to park in the dodgy alleys around Imbi, fahrenheit88 charges RM4 for the first two hours; RM2 for every subsequent hour after that. Weekends go by the rate of RM6 for the first three hours; RM1 for every subsequent hour.