The cultural melting pot of Kuala Lumpur is the epiphany of modern Asia. In 1998 it audaciously erected the world’s tallest building, not once, but twice. The Petronas Twin Towers epitomize Modern Malaysia’s aspirations, but ‘KL’, as the locals prefer to call it, is a curious blend of colonial grandeur, ornamental temples and mosques, modern shopping malls and unhurried parks. You might find the humidity a little steamy, but it leaves the city lush and surprisingly green for an Asian capital.
Things to see
It all happens at the KLCC, a somewhat unromantic nickname for the Suria Centre that bundles shopping, sightseeing and people watching under the 88 floors of the Petronas Twin Towers. These soaring monoliths are a testament to Malaysia’s prosperity and progression, with the best views from the platform joining the two halfway up.
Bukit Bintang is where sensible locals spend their weekends shopping, occupying three busy streets in the Golden Triangle district of KL. This is Kuala Lumpur’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue and Tokyo’s Ginza district.
For a far more authentic experience of local culture join the bustle at Central Market. Known as Pasar Seni in Malay, this atmospheric market square offers an enormous range of handicrafts and souvenir items.
The National Palace gives you an intriguing insight into Kuala Lumpur’s royal past. To visit this monumental landmark without a camera handy would be a shame.
Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is renowned for its relatively large yet affordable assortment of five-star luxury hotels, especially in the city center. Both holiday tourists and business travelers are catered for in the many high-end hotels in Kuala Lumpur.
You won’t need to pay exorbitant amounts for a room though, even in the most elegant hotels Kuala Lumpur has to offer. But tourists should expect to pay more during the peak tourist season, November to April.
If you are looking to save, then opt for one of the many budget accommodations. Though these lodgings are basic, they are becoming ubiquitous across the heart of KL.
Where to stay
Without doubt, the premier place to stay is the Golden Triangle. It vaguely covers the five-star accommodation close to a host of landmarks, ritzy shopping malls, hundreds of mouth-watering restaurants, and all-night party spots, centered around the KLCC.
Central Kuala Lumpur, which is colloquially called Old Town, is where budget travelers tend to stay, as the best low-end accommodation is found here. It’s a charming atmosphere of real Malaysia.
If you’re in town simply to shop, then stay in the vicinity of Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Bargains are best found along the famous Chow Kit Road. Plenty of reliable hotels, ranging from budget hostels to glamorous four-star options, dot the neighborhood.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the main gateway into the city. Its only 30 miles south of KL, and both international and domestic flights are accommodated here. There are two primary terminals in operation, although the Main Terminal and Low Cost Carrier Terminal are not situated close to each other. A 13-mile shuttle ride is required to get between the two buildings.
Tourists can travel between the airport and downtown Kuala Lumpur via a high-speed express train. It takes about 30 minutes to make the journey, which beats the other road transport options, which generally take about an hour.
Some airlines, such as Firefly and Berjaya Air, use Kuala Lumpur’s former international gateway, Subang Airport. It is much smaller, quieter and closer than KLIA.