Kuala Lumpur is a major stopover city and many people break their journey there en route to a final destination. It’s a city that is well-suited to a forty-eight hour visit and there is more than enough to keep the visitor busy for a couple of days. Kuala Lumpur is truly multicultural. Although distinctly Malaysian, it is also greatly influenced by the Chinese and Indian immigrants who have made the city their home. A variety of other minorities add to the unique character of the city.
Skyscrapers sit next to crumbling traditional buildings. The aroma of delicious street food tempt passers-by. The muezzin’s call to prayer echoes through the streets, while incense wafts from Buddhist temples. In contrast to its spiritual side, Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s paradise. The city’s commitment to consumerism is evident in its bustling street markets and modern malls, which can be found throughout the city.
Kuala Lumpur’s airport is one of the largest in South-East Asia. Opened in 1993, the airport is 45 miles south of the city center. It takes 30 minutes to reach Sentral Station, Kuala Lumpur’s downtown transport terminal by train. By taxi, it takes an hour.
A monorail connects many of the major tourist attractions and the transit network is the most cost-effective and efficient way to get around the city.
Kuala Lumpur offers accommodation to suit all budgets. From five dollar dorm beds to five star hotels and an excellent choice of good value mid-range hotel options in between, finding a crash-pad for a couple of nights shouldn’t be a problem.
Start your city adventure with a tasty breakfast at the Antipodean Café (20 Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru). Check out the pumpkin and sweetcorn fritters accompanied by bacon – it’s awesome. The coffee is pretty good too. It’s a contemporary café, with cool red and black décor.
The Petronas Twin Towers are the city’s showpiece. At 451 metres high with 88 storeys, it was the highest building in the world until 2003, when it was overtaken by Tapei 101 in Taiwan. Walk across the skybridge between the 41st and 42nd storeys and then head up to the 86th floor for incredible cityscape views. Whilst in the building, have a wander around the KLCC Shopping Mall, which is at the base of the towers.
The Petronas Towers, Malaysia’s most iconic building
Next up, head over to Chinatown and take a stroll down Petaling Street. If you are looking for a bargain, you are likely to find it here. From electrical goods to t-shirts and souvenirs, the street is also well known for its wide selection of imitation brands. It’s also an ideal place to sample some mouth-watering street food including the locally popular salted roast duck.
Petaling Street in Chinatown
Just around the corner, you will find Sri Mahamariamman (Jalan Tun H S Lee), the city’s oldest Hindu temple. Intricately designed in South Indian style, it has three shrines and is the main place of worship for Kuala Lumpur’s Hindu population.
Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple
Also in the vicinity, Central Market is chock-a-block with stalls selling Malaysian handicrafts, batiks and artwork. Adjacent to the market is an arts center, where you can watch artists at work. Frequent traditional music and dance shows can also be seen at the center.
For dinner, why not try some authentic Malay cuisine? The award-winning Bijan Bar and Restaurant is a slick, chic venue, where you can choose from a range of Malaysian food. Vegetarian options are available and it is also one of the few restaurants in the city that serves alcohol. The wine list is impressive.
For those wishing to partake in some Kuala Lumpur nightlife, there is a discreet, but fairly active LGBTQ scene. Check out www.utopia-asia.com/tipsmala.htm for events and venues.
The dramatic Batu caves are situated thirty minutes by train from downtown and easy to reach from KL Sentral. The complex consist of four caves. The main cave has 272 steps leading up to it and is guarded by a giant Shiva statue. Monkeys hang out on the steps, waiting for any scraps which pilgrims may throw their way. Colorful shrines are hidden in the nooks and crannies of the caves. At the entrance, restaurants do a roaring trade in vegetable curries, rice and poppadoms served on a banana leaf.
Hanuman the Monkey God – Statue at Batu Caves
Back in town, The Islamic Arts Museum is a bright modern building, exuding a calm and peaceful aura. There are both permanent and temporary exhibits and Islamic culture worldwide is well-presented. It would be easy to spend a couple of hours appreciating the intricate designs and learning about the art and culture of Islam (Jalan Lembah, Perdana).
Nearby, The National Mosque has a capacity for 15,000 people. The architecture is impressive with soaring minarets and a star-shaped concrete ceiling. A number of reflecting pools and fountains in the grounds are surrounded by lush foliage.
The Lake Gardens are also close to both the museum and mosque, a sprawling area consisting of five different gardens and parks. It’s an oasis in the heart of the city and includes a deer park, a bird park with over 3,000 species as well as butterfly and orchid gardens. Due to the huge size of the area, it rarely becomes too crowded and serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Little india of Brickfields, transports the visitor to sub-continent minus the madness of Mumbai. It’s a vibrant and colorful area and a great place to buy sparkly bangles or even a sari! Restoran Sri Kortumalai (215 Jalan Tun, Sanbanthan, Jalan Brickfields) serves cheap, but mouth-watering South Indian food.
After trekking all over the city, it’s time to chill. Head to Sky Bar for a cocktail or two. Situated on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel, the view of the Petrona Towers is spectacular and it’s a perfect way to relax and round off your two-day jaunt to Kuala Lumpur.