Kuala Lumpur or Dar es Salaam for a Tropical City Break

Cities are the beating hearts and vital organs of countries. From culture and landmarks to food and nightlife, visiting cities is a fantastic way to sample all a country has to offer. Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania are two fabulous tropical cities, boasting vibrant cultural diversity, an array of activities and thriving energy. So how do they differ when comparing the two?


Scenery / Activities

Both Kuala Lumpur and Dar es Salaam are big cities with so much to explore. Whilst Dar es Salaam is a bustling city that rests along the Indian Ocean coastline, Kuala Lumpur is a modern metropolis where innovation and imagination is rife.

Kuala Lumpur is a homage to the old and the new, where soaring skyscrapers tower between beautiful colonial buildings. The most famous of these structures is the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, where visitors can enjoy jaw-dropping views over the city from the sky bridge and observation deck.

A more historic but equally impressive building is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. The temple is a striking and fascinating place to learn about the city’s cultural and religious diversity, and visitors can explore the temple’s intricate carvings and impressive design.

A view of Batu Caves at Kuala Lumpur

Go crazy for the Batu Caves!

Head to KL’s Central Market and browse the stalls or wander through China Town and visit the famous Petaling Street Market.

Explore an incredible range of cultural diversity by visiting Kuala Lumpur’s historical and religious landmarks.

Jamek Mosque is the oldest in Malaysia boasting beautiful architectural style, whilst Thean Hou Temple is a striking Buddhist temple.

Kuala Lumpur also has beautiful green spaces and outdoor activities. Visit the Bird Park and the Butterfly Park to see the beauty and colour of this tropical destination. Walk up rainbow-coloured stairs surrounded by dramatic natural scenery and climb the limestone cliffs in the Batu Caves.

Meanwhile, though Dar es Salaam is a bustling metropolis, it also boasts beachside laidback charm. Once a sleepy fishing village now turned vivacious city, Dar es Salaam is the main port for Tanzania. Witness the incredible morning spectacle of dhows sailing into Kivukoni Front to offload the night’s catch to the fish market.

Step back in time at the open-air Village Museum and explore historic dwellings from some of Tanzania’s 120 ethnic groups. Wander through tribal homestead replicas and see traditional crafts and artefacts.

Visit the Slipway Shopping Centre to browse colourful clothing, local artworks, and handmade bags, or hit the stalls in Kariakoo Market which is busy with vendors and people day and night. Oyster Market is one of Dar’s coolest coves, with boutique galleries and shops to explore.

 Like KL, Dar es Salaam has plenty of historical and religious landmarks. Visit the Azania Front Lutheran Church, framed by palm trees and looking out over the water, or marvel at the striking features of St. Joseph Cathedral.

You’ll be swamped when visiting Dar!

For a break from the bustle, stroll through the city’s Botanical Gardens or take a day trip out to Bongoyo or Mbudya Island. Discover the unique beauty of Dar’s Mangrove Swamps with a guided tour.

Kuala Lumpur is an exciting metropolis and a desirable location to live, work, and explore whilst Dar es Salaam is a vibrant and bustling city known for its beaches and down-to-earth energy. Kuala Lumpur wins this round with 8.5/10 as Malaysia’s worthy capital, and Dar es Salaam 8/10 for its unique character, and the best of both city and beachside.


Food and Restaurants

Both Kuala Lumpur and Dar es Salaam have vibrant and thriving food scenes showcasing local, fusion, and international flavours. From seafood spots and easy eateries to high-end restaurants, there is something to suit every taste.

Kuala Lumpur is taking the food scene by storm, recently being dubbed as one of Asia’s best food cities. The rich cultural diversity of KL has impacted the food scene, creating an exciting fusion of flavours that focuses on Malaysian cooking styles and produce.

Enjoy a unique dining experience at Ninja Kitchen, where owner Heng Mok Zung invites guests to his home amongst the rice fields for an omakase style seafood dinner. Check out the weekend food market at Sekinchan Coconut Farm to sample an array of street food or have dinner in a revolving restaurant at Atmosphere 360.

Dar es Salaam is a great catch!

Dar es Salaam is a haven for seafood lovers, with restaurants boasting an exquisite selection of traditional dishes and international influences.

Enjoy a stellar seafood platter at the rooftop restaurant at Alexander’s Hotel or sumptuous seafood and tasty cocktails at Hamu Restaurant. Addis in Dar is best for traditional Ethiopian dishes or for something special, book dinner at Oriental.

Kuala Lumpur wins this round with 8.5/10 as a food lover’s paradise teeming with hundreds of eclectic eateries, and Dar es Salaam 7.5/10 for fabulous fusion flavours.



Book your city break to Kuala Lumpur or Dar es Salaam with JourneyHero!




Both cities are happening hubs with nightlife and after-hours activities across a range of budgets and tastes. The bustle of the day blends through to the pulse of the night in both Kuala Lumpur and Dar es Salaam.

Make the most of Indian Ocean sunsets in Dar es Salaam, with live music and cocktails at Cape Town Fish Market. Salsa with the locals at Samaki Samaki or opt for elegance at Level 8 in the Hyatt Regency and enjoy 360-degree views over the city. Dance the night away at Club Bilcanas where a glass dancefloor and VIP lounges make for an excellent evening.

In Kuala Lumpur there is an incredible selection of after-hours options for every kind of party goer.

Dance your way through six themed rooms at Zouk KL or enjoy basement beats at Club Kyō at the Mandarin Oriental.

Head up to the Sky Bar to enjoy poolside drinks, jazz and techno music, unbeatable views and a Havana-themed lounge at Marni’s on 57 on the 57th floor of Petronas Tower 3.

KL has killer sunsets!

KL is best for swish and swanky bars, whilst Dar es Salaam is great for beachfront cocktails and laid-back energy. Kuala Lumpur wins this round with 8/10 as it is safer than Dar at night, and Dar es Salaam comes behind with 7.5/10.



Both cities have accommodation options for every style and budget, from backpacker hostels and boutique accommodations to luxury and high-end hotels.

In Kuala Lumpur, enjoy quintessential elegance at The Mandarin Oriental, where the open-air pool with views of the skyline, and luxurious sight spa make for an indulgent stay. The Alila Bangsar offers a stylish design, an excellent restaurant, and a rooftop pool for a fabulous price. Book a boutique stay at the Villa Samadhi and enjoy a cosy atmosphere, a tranquil pool, and intimate spa, in this peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.


KL is twice the fun!

Alongside the many beach huts and backpacker hostels, Dar es Salaam has a range of luxury options.

The Oyster Bay is one of the city’s best hotels featuring attractive rooms, and an excellent restaurant.

Enjoy a private beach and diving packages at White Sands Resort & Conference Centre or rooms with ocean or garden views at Ramada Resort by Wyndham.

Dar es Salaam has a number of fabulously affordable options, whilst Kuala Lumpur does luxury well. Kuala Lumpur wins this round with 9/10 and Dar es Salaam behind with 8/10.



Kuala Lumpur

Dar es Salaam


  • Modern metropolis
  • Great food and nightlife
  • Safe and clean city
  • On the warm Indian Ocean coastline
  • Great music
  • Fabulous seafood


  • It can be hot and humid
  • KL rush hour traffic is crazy
  • Can be dangerous at night
  • The air pollution


So how do these two tropical cities compare? When it comes to the numbers, Kuala Lumpur wins with a final score of 8.5/10, and Dar es Salaam comes behind with a final score of 7.7/10. Kuala Lumpur is an impressive modern metropolis, perfect for a city break, and Dar es Salaam is a fun and fascinating adventure destination. Go to both for a taste of each place!





2 Comments to “Kuala Lumpur or Dar es Salaam for a Tropical City Break”

  1. Nothing more exciting to pick between exotic and ancient cities

    Sabrina Rodriguez at 6:26 pm
    1. Yes, ancient and cultural are a great combination for adventure travellers.

      Thanks for leaving us a comment,


      Isabella at 4:11 pm

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