Kuala Lumpur is a modern metropolis of cultural diversity that residents of Malay, Indian and Chinese descent proudly call home. The blend of these fascinating and colourful cultures make up everything that I love about KL; the excitement of the city, its deep cultural roots and the wonderful hospitality of its residents.
Kuala Lumpur literally translated means “muddy confluence”. Unattractive maybe, but this vibrant metropolis belies its name. The city is a shining, modern, clean, convenient and friendly place to visit. Under British rule until independence in 1957, Malaysia named Kuala Lumpur the capital of its Federal District which ensured the importance of the city’s development.
You may be looking for less-heatos instead of Mojitos!
The Kuala Lumpur International Airport is a masterpiece of architecture and sustainability. It is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top airports and its easy to see why, with its stunning design that includes a tropical rainforest right in its centre. The glass atrium in the departure lounge hosts a lush rainforest which offers peace and tranquillity in what could otherwise be a stressful environment. The shopping in the airport is magnificent and there are plenty of food outlets. The airport is around 50km (31 miles) from downtown KL. Taxis are readily abundant but, with traffic, can make for a long trip to your hotel. My recommendation is to take the KLIA Train which requires just 28 minutes to reach the centre and costs MYR55 (£9.50) one way.
Here’s a pro-tip: If you prefer to take a private taxi then your best option is to download the “Grab” app, a ride-share company, where prices will not be inflated because you’re a tourist.
There’s so much to do and see in KL which is a testament to the ethos of this welcoming place. Here’s where I recommend you visit:
- Petronas Towers– This is the most iconic sight in the city and is most visitors’ only image of KL. These twin towers are still the tallest in the world and they feature post-modern architecture mixed with Islamic design. Walk over the sky bridge that joins the two towers for breath-taking views across the city.
- Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower – This structure stands 335 meters tall and has an observation deck that offers an impressive panoramic view of the city. I recommend that you visit around dusk to observe all the twinkling lights as the sun sets.
Order a double at the Petronas Towers!
- Shopping– KL was just made for shopping! There are markets everywhere but these are my favourite spots for retail therapy:
- – The Central Market, known as Pasar Seni is the best spot to experience the different ethnic groupspresent in Malaysia. The market sells local products like souvenirs and art.
- – Suria KLCC is a six-storey shopping centre right in the centre of town. It includes shops, amusement rides, a cinema, and a variety of dining options including food courts with incredible views over the city.
- – The Starhill Gallery is for high-end shopping including the world’s best luxury brands which often are a bargain in Malaysian Ringgit.
The temple is ornate and beautiful
- Sri Mahamariamman Temple– This is the oldest Hindu temple in KL, built in the 19th The temple is bright and colourful and wonderful to explore. A visit is a great way to learn about one of the diverse cultures and religions that cohabit peacefully in KL.
- Kuala Lumpur Railway Station – This railway museum used to be the city’s main train station. It was built during the British colonial period, completed in 1886, and contains an interesting mix of classic British and Asian architecture. You can stroll around the platforms, see model replicas and learn about the historical importance of the railroad.
- Istana Negara– Once the palace of the kings of Malaysia, this is now a beautiful museum. You can visit different rooms throughout the palace, learn about Malaysian royalty and also witness the ceremonial changing of the guard.
- KLCC EcoPark – Walk through a jungle in the middle of the city at the Bukit Nanas Forest. The park is connected by 200 meters of bridges hanging among the trees for exploring the rainforest canopy. It reminds me of the Capilano Suspension Bridge walk in Vancouver. The KL version is the perfect place for an adventure away from the noise of the city while never leaving town.
- Batu Caves– Marvel at the wonder of these limestone cliffs, with caves and rock-carved temples to explore. The complex is a significant Hindu shrine that is an important place of pilgrimage.
Kuala Lumpur is the place for foodies, with Malay, Chinese and Indian influences blended to perfection. There’s an incredible array of fine dining options. These are my three favourites, although it’s hard to narrow down to just three:
- Dancing Fish– This award-winning restaurant offers some of the best Malay-Indo cuisine in the city. Try their famous chicken peanut satay.
- Dining in the Dark – Try a unique sensory experience by dining in complete darkness. Great attention is given to the foods texture, taste and aroma so that you have the best sensory heightened experience possible.
- Shook!– One of my favourite restaurants in the entire world is Shook! at the Starhill Gallery. Chef Mo, who was a finalist on Master Chef UK, offers an incredibly diverse menu of the most delicious and unusual recipes from restaurants worldwide. He then includes Malaysian produce and spices to make the dishes unique. Paired with an excellent wine selection, Shook! Is always a treat.
I wonder what the Colonel would think?!
With the abundance of skyscrapers there’s a large number of rooftop bars and lounges to enjoy. Here’s where I like to party in style:
- Marini’s on 57– This ultra-chic rooftop bar specialises in whisky and cigars while also offering an extensive range of cocktails, champagnes and premium wines. The bar’s futuristic design and floor to ceiling windows provide one of the best views in the city.
- Heli Lounge Bar– A fully functioning helipad during the day, it converts into one of the coolest rooftop lounge bars at night. It even includes a nightclub. The venue’s design keeps to the aviation theme and is fun all night.
- Zouk KL – If you’re looking to dance the night away, then this nightclub is the place for you. There are six different rooms where international DJs visit to keep the vibe cool.
There’s no shortage of epic places to stay in KL. The city is known for excellent hotels and impeccable service. Here’s where I stay when I’m visiting the city:
- The Kuala Lumpur Journal Hotel– This retro-inspired hotel is fun and offers a rooftop infinity pool. The comfortable and modern rooms include all the mod-cons you’d like and comfortable ergonomic mattresses for an excellent night’s sleep.
- Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur – By Samadhi– This beautiful garden resort is styled with luscious bamboo and Asian inspired architecture. An outdoor lagoon weaves like a river through the resort and connects all rooms. It’s an oasis within the busy city.
- Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur– The Mandarin O is one of my favourite hotel chains in the world and KL’s property is one of its very best. This luxury venue’s excellent facilities including a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and a world class spa.
Kuala Lumpur is all dressed-up and ready to party!
Kuala Lumpur is one of the best places in the world for a city-break. It offers all of the shopping options of Hong Kong, with the hospitality and cleanliness of Singapore and the excitement one of the world’s greatest cities. I love KL and I’m just waiting for a good excuse to return!