Kuala Lumpur sets a benchmark for multiculturalism and cultural potpourri like few other cities in the region can. Established for generations, Malay, Chinese and Indians have imbued the city’s architecture, music and arts, and the cuisine with variety and complexity and a vibrant sub-culture flourishes. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a gastronome, an adventure junkie or a clubber, KL is an exciting place to discover. The city is a popular transit point for travellers heading to Southeast Asia and Australia. Here’s how you can pack in a full itinerary even if you have just a single day’s stopover.
Getting around in KL
To explore KL effectively (and especially if you have time constraints) you’ve got to use the public transport systems, especially the Monorail, Putra LRT and Star (light rail transit systems) that use elevated tracks, moving across and above the city’s busy intersections. Taxis are readily available and usually stick to metered payments. Avoid travelling by taxis and buses during the rush hours, which extend from 7.30am-9am and 5pm-7.30pm. If your hotel is near the town centre then a ten-minute walk will get you to most city landmarks and tourist areas.
For an authentic spread of Malay, Chinese and Indian food, head straight for a lunch (MYR 46) or dinner (MYR72) buffet at the Seri Melayu restaurant right in the heart of the city’s ‘Golden Triangle’. Almost three decades old, the restaurant is widely considered the best place to sample local cuisine in KL. For creative Italian cuisine, check out Prego at The Westin hotel. Complete with a stone terrazzo, impressive views of vibrant Bintang Walk and the magnificent city skyline.
The city’s Indian and Chinese quarters—Chinatown and Little India respectively—are worth at least one visit. Petaling Street, in particular, is the hub in Chinatown for its street food and flea market.
KL is a good place to shop for clothes—whether you’re looking for premium brands or rip-offs. For the originals step into to The Pavilion and other malls on Bintan Walk or to the impressive Suria KLCC mall at the base of the Petronas Towers.
The art deco Central Market is worth a dekko as well. The pink and blue pastel market was constructed in 1936 and for many years was the place of the city’s largest fresh produce market. Today it houses more art-and-craft outlets hawking batik, basketry, pottery and wood-carved objects. It also has frequent cultural performances on the stage near the river.
It’s one of those cliches you can’t escape: a visit to Kuala Lumpur is incomplete without a visit to the imposing 88-storied Petronas Towers. Go a step further: make a beeline at seven in the morning when free passes are given out for the viewing gallery on the 41st and 42nd floors, for a magnificent view of the city’s skyline.
Last but not the least; spend the evening amidst the cornucopia of bars and nightclubs at Bangsar. The affluent suburb is located just about four kilometres out of town but can take a lot longer to reach by road, especially on weekends. That’s because everyone in town makes a beeline for the ‘strip’- a part of Bangsar teeming with bars, clubs and a night market.