Heli Lounge Bar aka the Helipad bar is a bar that sets up at night on a working helipad located on the 35th floor of a KL skyscraper – as such there’s no walls, no ceiling, no safety barrier – just a fabulous view of the KL skyline. It describes itself as KL’s Best Kept Secret, but considering how many people were up there the night I went, that secret is well and truly out! But here’s my need to know guide
Admittedly, Heli Lounge Bar is should not be my first choice of drinking venue – I’m scared of heights. I once got stuck up the top of the Wat Arun temple in Bangkok and had to be carried down by a taxi driver and I cried on the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver. I won’t let my fear beat me though and so now head up tall buildings in a single bound, albeit it with very sweaty palms – I think I’m getting better, but this was a new test, I was going solo without The Boyfriend to
laugh at me supportively calm me down when I start to shake. But more of that in a minute, let’s get to the useful stuff.
Where is Heli Lounge Bar?
It’s in a building called Menera KH on Jalan Sultan Ismail which is very close to the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur. I’d read that it was really hard to find….not least as google maps has it in two different locations. Note: it’s actually the one in the slightly triangular building, not the one marked in what looks like two buildings close together (see the map below – it’s marked with a star). I walked from my hotel (The Pullman KLCC) which took about 15 minutes but, if you’re using public transport, the Raja Chulan monorail station is right outside the front door (also handy if you’re in a cab and the driver needs reference point) and the name of the building is clearly marked above the big glass doors. When you get to the building, you won’t see any obvious signs for the bar but head to the bank of lifts on the right that says Floor 34, push that button and you’ll get there.
What time does it open?
Online it will say 5pm – don’t believe them. You see Heli Lounge Bar is actually made up of two bars – a sleek aircraft themed bar on the 34th floor of the building, and the main event – the Helipad bar one floor above this. That actually opens at 6pm. However, don’t rock up then either. You see to gain access to the helipad bar, you have to buy a drink first downstairs. And, if you want to get a good seat on the helipad, you need to be ready to go when they open the secret door at 6pm – which means you need to have your drink in your hand – and have paid for it.
I arrived at 5.50 as I didn’t know any of the above and quickly sussed there were a lot of people ordering cocktails – because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with standing up that high, I had to get a seat – so I got tactical and just ordered a glass of wine figuring they’d pour that super fast. I had my drink and had paid for it within five minutes while the couple who had come up in the lift with me were still perusing the cocktail menu.
How much are these drinks?
Actually, drinks at the helipad bar were pretty cheap – which considering the view I was impressed by. Happy Hour at Heli Lounge Bar is between 5-9pm and at that point a glass of wine or pint of Tiger, Heineken or Guinness is 30MR (about AUD$8 or £5) – they also have a selection of cocktails for the same price during Happy Hour, After Happy Hour prices increase, but not by much – beer. for example goes up to 33-37MR and cocktails start at 33MR.
What happens at 6pm?
I’d done my research and I knew where the door to the Helipad bar was – spoiler, it’s behind the white curtain – and so had chosen a seat within view. There’s no big announcement as the door opens, one guy nodded at another guy and he then beckoned the people at the closest table. At this point, a queue started to form – and the walk to the top began. And this is the bit I’d been scared of.
Can you go up Heli Lounge Bar if you are scared of heights?
Now, this all depends on your level of phobia. I can now handle being in a tall building – but have issues with looking up, looking down – or climbing/descending stairs in them. And this was my worry with Heli Lounge Bar – to get to the top you have to climb what I think was four short flights of stairs (I was slightly hyperventilating so it’s a big vague) – the last one and a half flights of these is outside. Yes, you’re 34 and a half floors up a building and climbing stairs on the side of it.
This was the point I was expecting to freak – but getting there as the doors opened saved me (and I definitely recommend it if you’re nervous). Because I was following a heap of people and had another hoard behind me, I just had to keep moving – I couldn’t think about what I was doing. When I got into the open air I simply stared at the back of the guy in front and kept climbing – seriously there could have been a unicorn above my head and I wouldn’t have seen it!
Once on the roof, I headed straight to a seat with a back not too near the edge – all things I know will keep me calm. I’ve learned I can’t perch on stools in high places, it makes me sway and I start to freak out. I need to ground myself as quickly and firmly as possible – then once I’ve calmed down and got comfortable I can stand up and wander about.
I admit, I wasn’t totally sure how the heck I was going to get down! That was what scuppered me at Wat Arun, I had to seemingly step off the building to go down the stairs and I was frozen. I have similar issues in glass lifts and need a helper to get me in them. Luckily though, I ended up sharing my table with a group of sailors (a story that does not end as excitingly as something including that phrase should) and one of them, also scared of heights, shared a brilliant tip with me. He said to hold the hand rail and just look at my hand on it, rather than my feet. When the time came to leave, it was dark so not quite as obviously ‘I’m launching myself off the side of a building’ and I used his advice. I didn’t look out, just at my hand – and it was all fine. This however is why there is no picture of this set of steps on here – if I’d had to stall long enough to take it, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get on them – you can however find an image here if you want to check them out.
Where to sit when you get up to the helipad bar itself.
At first, I was congratulating myself on my seat – it was on the right of the bar directly opposite the famous Petrona’s Towers and I couldn’t work out why everyone else had headed to the left. Then the sun started to go down – and I realised the left hand side of the building gets the cool sunset views. If you want sunset pics with no people in them, head to that side instead.
Is there actually a bar up there?
I’d been a bit worried about this too – how was I a) going to keep my table as I went to the bar if there was one as I was traveling as Lady No Mates b) if there was no bar, was I going to have to brave the steps if I needed a refill – but no. The waiters from downstairs head upstairs when it opens and take your orders for you. And they notice as soon as you finish your drink – which is good if you do want another one, but might lead to guilt trips if you don’t. Note – the toilet is down the stairs of scariness so you might want to factor that in when placing your order (and maybe go before you get up there).
What’s the dress code?
Before Heli Lounge turns into a nightclub at 9pm the dress code is fairly lenient. After that though the rules comes in – no flip flops, no slippers, no crocs, no sandals, no shorts, no sleeveless wear and no hats. This is another reason for getting there early – you don’t have to gussy up too much (unless you want to). Also, after 9pm you have to buy a lot more booze to get a coveted seat.
Would I recommend Heli Lounge Bar?
Absolutely – once I’d got over the fear of getting up onto the helipad bar itself, the view was brilliant (plus you get to post heaps of pictures on all known social media proclaiming that you’re drinking on a helipad which doesn’t get old) and I thought the prices were super reasonable – especially as alcohol is quite pricey in KL anyway. The bar downstairs doesn’t have the same wow factor, but it is still pretty cool with model planes hanging from the ceiling and seats made from parts of old Boeing planes.
What else is near the Helipad Bar?
It’s about a five-minute walk to Bukit Bintang and all the shopping delights that holds. It’s also good for foodies – I pretty much ate incessantly for the three days I was in town and my nearby haunts were the Lot 10 Hutong Food Court which has bundled up all the best street food in one easy to find venue and Jalan Alor food street which mixes up street food vendors and restaurants in one handy stretch. There’s a post coming soon on the fun things I did eat so if you like the sound of that, sign up to the site by email, or, via your wordpress reader. so you don’t miss it As I was travelling solo this trip I didn’t go to the Changkat drinking area this time, but that’s also nearby and if you want to find more bars all in a handy row, that’s where you should head. Culture Trip have done a recent guide to what’s what or just wander past and see what suits you.
My Top Kuala Lumpur Navigation Tip
I’ve taken to buying SIM cards via Klook for my last few Asia trips. You simply pick them up at the airport and are good to go. My seven-day package in Malaysia cost just $7AUD (about £4.50) and while it’s probably cheaper to source your own deal, the convenience of having wi-fi (and therefore maps) from the get go at the airport and someone activating the card for me meant I was happy to pay a couple of bucks more. It also doesn’t say it, but you can call internationally using the minutes – I can’t tell you exactly how long you get as my mother wasn’t home, but it’s definitely long enough to leave a message saying ‘Where are you? I’ve been trying to face time you for days.’
Have you been to Helipad Bar? Let me know if I missed anything useful above – or what you thought in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, why not share it on social media so other people can find this super cool bar too?