Kuala Lumpur (KL) is in its totality, peripheral townships and all, a fairly large city of over 7 million people and may seem unwieldy to the unaccustomed eye. KL is the proud home of an amazing array of cultural and historical vestiges from a colorful past. It is also home to large Malay, Chinese, Indian communities, a number of lesser-known tribes, and a multitude of languages, religions, customs and quirks.
Malaysia offers an enticing concoction of some of the world's most interesting cultures - quite a deal for the Internet-age traveler looking to experience it all. At the very core of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is a kaleidoscope of architecture, lifestyles, tropical flora, percussion, and international cuisines. Step on in and experience its magic!
Kuala Lumpur began as a few square miles of unspectacular landscape that now hosts many of its most important buildings. Once you orient yourself along the lines of modern history, you will never get lost. Look for the
Across the street lies the
The progressive spread of Islam since the 15th century has bequeathed Kuala Lumpur some of the greatest mosques this side of Istanbul.
Lake Gardens Area
The greener side of Kuala Lumpur began as a vegetable and tapioca field. Today
Golden Triangle & Kuala Lumpur City Ccenter (KLCC)
For the city's newest gadgets and gizmos, head for one of the many shopping establishments. Which one? To err on the side of caution, choose the tallest among them: the
Certainly shopkeepers and department stores abounded before
What happened to the tin barons who got rich from the mineral that made Kuala Lumpur? The Ampang enclave hides a precious cache of private residences where the affluent still live. Some of these architectural marvels serve as glimmering veneers of cool and clever enterprises, and conceal several of the city's best-kept secrets, including
The old footpath to the Ampang tin mines evolved into Jalan Ampang, now lavishly adorned with eateries and merry-making stops of a tantalizing variety, seamlessly blending in with the adjacent instruments of commerce: high-rise office blocks, hotels, foreign embassies and political offices. For an unbeatable view of all these and more, head to one of the world's tallest telecommunications towers, the
Other Interesting Districts
For those who want a taste of India, check out Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, a mile-long street running north from the
Kuala Lumpur (KL) offers a wide range of hotels from leisure to business to budget, so there is something to meet everyone's requirements. Prices are generally affordable. Apart from the usual price and quality considerations, however, it is important to select a hotel that provides easy access to places you wish to visit, especially since getting stuck in a traffic jam is not on your itinerary, is it?
Most of Kuala Lumpur's best hotels are clustered within the famous Golden Triangle. With the many offices that have gained a foothold here, it shines as the city's prime commercial and banking district. If you came to KL to shop, stay in or near this zone because no other place offers as much to buy. The famous Bintang Walk is also found here, teeming with rows of shopping outlets and outdoor cafes.
At the highest end of the scale you might try the Hotel Imperial Kuala Lumpur at Jalan Sultan Ismail. It ranks among Southeast Asia's finest hotels. Another hotel that needs no introduction, the elegant Shangri-La Hotel, is a city getaway amid lush tropical gardens.
Hotels linked directly to shopping establishments include the JW Marriott Hotel which is joined to the opulent Starhill Gallery. On the west side of the district on Jalan Imbi, the Ritz-Carlton sits next to the upscale Lot 10, one of the oldest shopping malls on this side of town. Concorde Hotel on the other hand houses the famous Hard Rock Cafe. Guests will not only enjoy countless music memorabilia but also a shopping arcade that features some of the world's leading designer names.
Standing pretty much on its own on a five-hectare hillock, the majestic Crowne Plaza Mutiara lies a few minute's walk from the shopping belt. It offers impeccable service with prices to match. Others like the Royale Bintang and the Parkroyal Hotel provide reasonable value, considering their favorable locations in this prime district.
Omit all that luxury and extravagance and discover a range of moderately priced yet decent hotels. A short walk from Jalan Bukit Bintang sits the Allson Genesis Hotel and the Hotel Capitol - business traveler establishments with rooms worth your consideration.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)
The famous KLCC district offers a fair share of hotels. These hotels stand close to the famed Petronas Twin Towers with an upmarket shopping complex, Suria KLCC. Though several internationally renowned hotels are located in this district, the others here provide value-for-money in the heart of KL's most modern commercial hub.
Overlooking the 50-acre landscaped KLCC Park, the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel has become a landmark on its own. It connects by a walkway to the 88-story Petronas Twin Towers, Suria KLCC retail center and the Petronas Philharmonic Concert Hall. In the same class is the Corus Hotel, which features a shopping arcade, a magnificent outdoor park and varied entertainment outlets.
Business travelers might want to consider the Dorsett Regency, which nestles in a quiet enclave just a short walk from the majestic Petronas Twin Towers. The Regency and Melia Kuala Lumpur are not too far from commercial plazas in the Golden Triangle.
Putra World Trade Centre
For those who must frequent the Putra World Trade Centre, several hotels lie scattered around the area. Positioned in one of the city's most exciting commercial sections, these are suitably located for business travelers. Located directly above the famous entertainment and shopping complex Mall, is the Legend Hotel. Opposite and next to the Putra World Trade Centre is yet another famous 5-star property—the Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur. Less lofty choices in the area include the Dynasty Hotel and the Grand Pacific Hotel.
For additional inexpensive lodging away from the city center, try Chinatown. Perfect for bargain hunters, this district lies close to the colonial core's attractions and the Lake Gardens area. The area also houses Hindu and Chinese Temples, such as the Sze Ya Temple and the Sri Mahamariamman Temple plus the Central Market on the west side.
Moderate accommodations in Chinatown include the Swiss Inn at Petaling Street, while at the lower end you might try others like the Hotel Grand Olympic, opposite KL's sports stadiums, and the Hotel Malaya. Basic yet pleasant rooms can be found at Hotel Grand Centrepoint.
Quiet Ampang also offers a range of hotels, starting with the world class Hotel Nikko. Comfortable business class accomidation is found at Hotel Maya while Zon offers short and long term service apartments.
Kuala Lumpur (KL) boasts a bustling commercial center by day and offers exciting entertainment by night. It could be Asia's next big entertainment and party capital as discerning clubbers from around the region and the world hotfoot it here.
A myriad of nightspots provides a great and varied selection, and attract the fickle loyalties of party-goers. No doubt, a dull moment never exists in KL. The various races and cultures also present a great base for many festivals and cultural shows.
After 10p Poppy clears the tables and turns into a throbbing dance club. The Beach Club Café, on the other hand, offers a less conspicuous spot in an idyllic resort setting. It draws an already ecstatic crowd with perennial pop tunes. By night, the Hard Rock Café, a favorite, becomes the haunt of a crowd ready to groove to the varied sounds of rock, soul, R&B, funk and blasts from the past. Meanwhile the two-floored and many roomed Rivas is a place to come for something surprising and delightful.
Many of Malaysia's festivals demand grand celebrations including the most joyful of Muslim celebrations, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Thaipusam, a day of penance and thanksgiving for Hindus, begins with a grand procession of the magnificent silver chariot bearing the statue of Lord Subramaniam. Spring Festival is also a big event, a celebration lasting 15 days beginning from the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, usually in late January or early February. Colors of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur's response to carnival, with a lively parade and representations of every ethnic group that currently calls Malaysia home.
Kuala Lumpur offers an extraordinary variety of museums, and they provide plenty to do on rainy days. Art lovers can view eye-catching exhibitions at the National Art Gallery with its collection of more than 2,500 art pieces from mainly local artists. The Craft Museum, featuring handicrafts from different sectors of Malaysian society, provides yet another great place to check out diverse crafts and handiwork.
The National Planetarium is a must-see, offering exciting astronomy exhibitions plus facilities such as the Space Science Exhibition, a viewing gallery and an ancient observatory park.
If your curiosity about Malaysia has not yet been sated, visit the National Museum, which features interestingly laid-out displays and exhibits on local history, culture and traditions, arts and crafts, economic activities and currency, weapons, and the local flora and fauna. The Orang Asli Museum offers dedicated and thorough exhibits on the fast disappearing Orang Asli ethnic group, indigenous to Malaysia. Meanwhile the one-of-a-kind Islamic Arts Museum has been praised not only for its beautifully designed five-domed structure, but also its collection of over 7,000 artworks and artifacts.
Theme parks get more and more exciting as thrill seekers become more demanding. Kuala Lumpur's theme parks generally combine a mixture of water activities, adventure, futuristic experiences, games and rides, while others present just the place for relaxation and sightseeing. Sunway Lagoon, a recreation area in a sunken mining wasteland, endows Malaysia with a premier water theme park. Spanning some 80 acres, the park's emphasis centers largely on water adventure rides and an arcade. The Mines Wonderland tops the list for relaxing family entertainment with just the right blend of experiences for visitors of all ages. The Snow House claims the major attraction rights, as children love indulging in a bit of snowball throwing or sliding down a snow slide. The park also offers additional winter wonderland entertainment with its ice skating rink.
The movies supply Malaysians with a favorite past time, and Kuala Lumpur has the best range of cinemas in the country. However, be aware that most movies screened here have been thoroughly censored of questionable content. Tanjong Golden Village provides one of the best sound systems plus comfortable chairs in a rather posh setting. Golden Screen Cinemas, equally posh and grand, screens films that compete in prestigious film festivals such as Sundance, plus the normal box office hits. Coliseum Cinema is a fully updated facility housed in a colonial era building. The outdoor Starlight Cinema takes advantage of Malaysia's typically warm evenings for screenings under the stars.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)
As Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur has some of the country's greatest landmarks of modernity. Touring the city center gives visitors a greater sense of why KL has become one of the largest shopping and touring destinations in Asia. Start out in front of the majestic Petronas Twin Towers. At 88-stories high, they were the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 was built. These towers house the upscale mega-mall Suria KLCC, a concert hall and so much more. Within Suria you can find specialty shops ranging from the 130 year old Boutique Piaget, run by a family of jewellers, to the high-quality outdoor gear shop Tearproof. After exploring the center, make sure to stop in at Aseana Cafe. The cafe is set within a gallery dedicated to traditional Malay handicrafts. Enjoy a meal of pan-Asian cuisine with an English twist or even a full English high tea. After lunch it is a short walk to Kuala Lumpur Tower. Among the tallest of its kind in the world, the telecommunications tower hovers at 421 meters. The observation deck is a great place to get a bird's eye view of downtown, especially in the late afternoon or early evening. The rotating restaurant serves incredible meals in a romatic setting, but after a day of shopping and walking, the cocktail lounge within the tower may be equally welcome.
Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown holds some of the city's oldest buildings, including traditional two-storied terrace shophouses, small streets and lots of fun discoveries. Start at Peter Hoe Evolution to look at high quality crafts and traditional home accessories mainly imported from China. From Jala Hang Lekir turn north onto Jalan Tun HS Lee until you arrive at Sze Ya Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in KL. From here take a left on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lok and walk one block to Petaling Street, try your hand at bargaining in some of the small shops to pick up knick knacks, curios and more but be aware that "branded goods" may not be genuine. Halfway down the street is the KL Big Bookshop filled with towering bookshelves and plenty of titles in a variety of languages. Cuisine options along Petaling Street are plenty, but of particular note is the Amata Vegetarian Restaurant on Jalan Sultan, where mouth watering Asian-style vegetarian food, complete with fake meat menu items, is found. Or, one block further down is the Old China Cafe where classic Chinese cuisine is served. Also along Jalan Sultan is the Chan See Shu Yuen with its 18th century courtyards, pavillions and serenity. Make a loop from Jalan Sultan and turn onto Jalan Tun HS Lee to walk to Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and see why it is called Malaysia's most impressive Hindu temple.
The district surrounding the elegant Lake Gardens encompasses many of the cultural centerpoints of Kuala Lumpur. Start out at the National Museum to enjoy highlights from Mayalsian history and arts, including reconstructed sections of ancient palaces. Next take a stroll through Lake Gardens to the Mahsuri Dining Room where you can enjoy an incredible lunch of traditional Malay cuisine. Take your time to enjoy the many sites in the gardens, including the National Planetarium, before heading down the scenic Jalan Perdana, which pases some of KL's many museums, including the Royal Malaysian Police Museum, to the Islamic Arts Museum. The Malay-designed building has five domes, but the fifth can only be seen from the museum's interior. Enjoy the exhibits on Islamic art traditions before heading over to the National Mosque to appreciate the detailed motifs and tilework.
Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin's Colonial Architecture
Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin is a main artery that connects many of Kuala Lumpur's Colonial era museums and buildings. The architecture is a blend of British and Moorish details with some Gothic accents that make old KL structures really stand out. Start at National History Museum, housed in a former bank dating from 1910. Head north and across the street you will see Sultan Abdul Samad Building - the Big Ben of KL. In the same vicinity lies the old Selangor Club, a mock Tudor style cricket club. Continue northwards, appreciating the colonial buildings with their captivating Moorish designs, until you reach the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station with its enchanting design incorporating Islamic, Gothic, Moorish and several other eclectic styles. Just opposite the station is the hard-to-miss Malayan Railway Building, designed in the early 20th century. Turn onto Jalan Raja to visit Merdeka Square where the Malayan flag was first raised after independence. Continue up Jalan Raja to Plaza Putra where you will find the Gothic Cathedral Virgin St Mary, built in 1895. Finally, if you have the energy, cross the canal and walk the three blocks to Jalan Hang Katsuri and Ginger Restaurant, where you can reward yourself with delicious Nonya cuisine in a comfortable dark green setting with traditional wooden chairs and tables.
Enjoy the center of Kuala Lumpur's arts, entertainment and shopping. Start your exploration of the center of Kuala Lumpur at Asia Heritage Row, a walking street of refurbished older buildings and homes that has a festive atmosphere with fun shops and restaurants. Next, take a short cab ride to Ampang Plaza, formerly known as Yow Chuan Plaza, to sample some of the best shopping in KL, from the Middle East Handicraft Gallery to the House of Leather, everyone is likely to find something of interest here. Finally head down to Bintang Walk, a lively walking street full of live entertainment and a happening night market where everything from tasty Nonya snacks to imperial-style dining can be found. The Lot 10 complex is open late for shopping and entertainment, or head over to Emporio Grand Cafe for dinner. If you do, be prepared to to choose from an overwhelming selection of excellent restaurants.
Kuala Lumpur is the launching point to many other places in Malaysia. There are plenty of ways to see highlights of the city and surrounding area.
Motorsports Adventure (+60 3 469 2665)
Outdoor Recreation Consultant and Instruction ( +60 3 451 2548)
Utan Bara Adventure Team (UBAT) ( +60 3 4022 5124)
Global Scuba Adventures(+60 3 2142 5206 http://www.globalscuba.com.my/)
Association of Backpackers Malaysia (+60 3 7875 6249)