Kuala Lumpur City Guide
As the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of diverse Asian cultures, ethnicities and architecture. Walking along the streets of KL, as it is popularly known, it will be hard to determine whether you are in KL, Hong Kong or India for that matter. The city has an astonishingly short history spanning two hundred years. What was once a rainforest has under British rule transformed into a concrete jungle. Today skyscrapers brush shoulders with traditional Malay houses complete with their tin roofs. While the face of KL is rapidly changing, much of its history is contained within the old historic quarters.
While Malaysia is home to some of the most stunning beaches, nature reserves and wildlife the continent has to offer, Kuala Lumpur is every food lover’s dream come true. There are restaurants as well as food stalls throughout KL that will excite your tastebuds. There’s something tasty available on every street corner, marrying flavors from the continent on a plate. Local specialties include Nasi Lemak, Nasi Campur and Ikan Bakar. Markets like Imbi, Chow Kit and Setapak are the best spots to get your fill of local cuisine. Head over to Chinatown for dim sum or to Brickfields (Little India) for a Dosa.
A visit to Kuala Lumpur should not be without seeing the iconic Petronas Towers. Travel up to the 86th floor to take in the view or stroll along the sky bridge connecting the twin towers. Thrill seekers can head over to the Menara KL Tower to perch on the edge of the 421-meter high rise. Take in the panoramic views while strapped in to ensure you don’t plummet to the ground.
Malaysia is an Islamic country and home to some stunning mosques in the continent. Masjid Jamek and the National Mosque are visions to behold. Not far from the National Mosque is the Islamic Arts Museum, home to Islamic paintings, sculptures and religious manuscripts including illuminated medieval copies of the Quraan.
Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve located in the city center, allows visitors to catch a glimpse of the city in its natural, jungle habitat. Nature lovers can head north to Templer’s Park to walk trails leading to waterfalls. This trip may be combined with a dip in the nearby Kanching Falls. For a touch of nature with a hint of elegance, then drop by the Lake Gardens to peruse orchid and hibiscus gardens, lakes and pavilions.
Sign up for a trip to the Batu Caves just 13 kilometers from KL, where you can marvel at limestone formations and climb the 72 steps to visit Hindu temples and shrines. Malaysia has several islands and beaches that make the list of some of the jaw-dropping beaches on the planet. The nearest beach lays just an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur, which should hold you off before getting to Penang Island or Langkawi.
Golden Triangle is the number one hotspot for clubs and bars. Despite popular belief, alcohol is widely available in Malaysia and will be served at many establishments. The only exception is a Muslim-run business. While having a few drinks and dancing is one way to party, the best night of your life in KL can be had at the Malay market. This night market has food stalls that serve up delicacies that will transport you straight into food heaven.
Kuala Lumpur is serviced with cheap and convenient buses and trains. The city is not exactly going to break your budget, so taxis are the most convenient means to getting around. They can be found at stands or simply hail one down. It’s a good idea to agree on a fixed fare before starting your journey, and a little haggling is more than welcomed. Some drivers have however been known to refuse passengers wanting to venture into busy districts during rush hour. So be warned.
Health and Safety
Whenever traveling to a country in Southeast Asia it’s advised to be cautious at all times. Never carry valuables as it’s common for thieves on a motorcycle to grab your purses as they ride by. Women are advised to cover up to ensure entry into religious sites. Mosquito repellent and sunscreen should become every traveler’s best friend. Mosquitoes infecting Dengue are active in KL, so stay protected at all times.
When to Go
The one thing you can always bank on in KL is the heat. The temperature hardly ever drops below the 30-degree mark, making it a prime destination for summer lovers. While the sun shines all year round, Kuala Lumpur is far from a desert. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are the norm and can often bring on bouts of floods. The wettest months of the year are from February through May, and then again from September until December.
Whether you are recovering from jet lag, a night on the town, or simply adjusting to the new climate and food, your accommodation will offer you much-needed respite in Kuala Lumpur. Take a look at our listing of places to stay in KL to ensure you’ve got a place to sleep during your stay.