7 October 2016

See Do Eat Sleep | Guide to Exploring Kuala Lumpur

My Plan was to visit Malaysia for a couple of days while doing a mini tour of Asia last year that consisted of China, Cambodia, and Thailand. Little did I know that the vacation Gods had other plans as I ended up back in Malaysia after missing my flight to Paris and also visiting this year on the way to Australia. While I was bummed about missing my Paris flight and consequently missing the New Year's celebration I planned in Paris but it wasn’t all too bad as I got to ring in the New Year in Cambodia then flew off to visit Malaysia before returning back to London. One gets over these little mishaps very quickly if you happen to get stuck in rather beautiful cities like Kuala Lumpur. I expected it to be Modern and lavish and I wasn’t disappointed either.

Kuala Lumpur is a modern city but one that still very much traditional. Although welcoming to visitors and its many expats that have taken the city to be their second or perhaps third home, you can still sense city or country's need or requirement for its visitors to respect the cultural values of the country. That’s not to say that you cannot enjoy your visit and be as free as you want. If you read my blogs often enough you will know that my researching of a destination doesn’t just include where to stay and the best places to stuff my pie hole but the little things like what not to wear when in visiting certain countries. The last thing I want is to reveal too much and end up on banged up and abroad. I am far too pretty for jail! Far more like to make others my bitch in case, if it got to that but let’s not wish all that type of lifestyle into my wanderlust...that reminds me, I wonder how those two Instagramming girls caught with millions worth of cocaine are holding up in jail. Swiftly moving back to Kuala Lumpur. We had an amazing time in the city so I thought I would share with you a few things you definitely want to add to your itinerary when you visit Kuala Lumpur.

1. KLCC Shopping Mall

This sits right at the foot of Petronas Twin Towers in Suria KLCC and definitely worth stopping by even if you are not into burning plastic when you travel. There is something for everyone in there. From Luxury brands the likes of Gucci, Fendi, and Gabbana to a cinema, food courts, art gallery, concert hall and to top it all there is also a lovely park on the other side of the building, perfect for people watching while taking it all in.

2. Petronas Towers Tour

Iconic landmarks of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia as a whole is well worth a visit if you having broken your neck by staring up at them from ground level. Built in 1998, the twin towers stand at 88 storeys high and are joined by a double-decker sky bridge that you actually get to walk on during the tower tour. From 88 storeys high you get amazing views of the city and beyond. I visited the City Museum which has a display exhibition showing proposed buildings that will litter the city's skyline so more exciting and awe aspiring structures to grace the capital soon.

3. Batu Caves

This is not to be missed! Batu Caves are 11km north of KL. A 400 million years old limestone hill with a 100-year-old temple inside its caves. You will be greeted by little monkeys that traipse the steep steps to the caves. A word of caution, this is a temple, even with the relentless heat in Malaysia you are still expected to visit the temple in modest dress. If you turn up with barely there short shorts like I saw many tourists turn up in you will be asked to cover up. If you don’t have anything with you, you can borrow a skirt from the ladies that sit at the bottom of the steps checking to ensure people adhere to the dress code. We visiting a week before the colour Hindu festival of Thaipusam that brings thousands to the temple who pay homage by carrying ornately-decorated kavids and other metal works used to pierce the skin, cheeks, and tongue. More pictures can be found on my post from my visit to the Batu Caves.

4. Petaling Street

Day or time if you can add this to your itinerary you will not regret it, well at least your taste buds won't. I shared a post on my visit to Kuala Lumpur's China Town. A colourful part of the city well known to locals and tourists alike for a being a bargain hunter’s paradise. You will find all sorts of knick knacks here including fake branded goods. From trainers, shoes and handbags. Name the brand and they have a luxury brand sticker for it. The vibe is lively comes day or night. You also cannot leave here without tasting the food in the open air cafes, stalls, and restaurants that line the streets.

5. Menara KL

So you have taken in the city views from Petronas Towers, gets what? Menara KL has a viewing deck that is 100 meters higher than that of Petronas Towers. Menara KL is also one of the world's tallest structures. To take in the views from her, though, be sure to arrive early in the day as tickets are in limited supply. That might have something to do with the fact that they are FREE!

6. Abdul Samad Building

Abdul Samad Building is up there with Kuala Lumpur's most famous landmarks. Located east of Merdeka Square, it sits right in the centre of the city right next to the Museum. We were lucky that on the day the roads were closed off for an even, I guess preparations for the New Year’s celebrations so were busy matching around on what would normally be a busy road in the heart of town. The building itself stands out with its Moorish-style architecture with a mix or western and Asia blended elements to it. Built in 1887, it originally served as the secretariat for the colonial British Administration and today houses the offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications, and Culture of Malaysia.

7. Bukit Bintang

I am sure you didn’t come all this way not to try the food. Head over to Bukit Bintang located in Jalan Alor. A shopping and entertainment district of Kuala Lumpur. Also known as the cultural heart of the city’s local cuisine. Right next to is Jalan Alor which has a strip of atmospheric Chinese seafood restaurants, with a row of hawker stalls set up on the five-foot walkway on both sides and plastic tables and chairs spilling out onto the road. If you are up for other cuisines this is where you will find it together with many an expat who resides and mingle in this part of the city.

8. KL City Gallery/Museum

There is far more to do in KL than this list. For more information on that and how Malaysia came to be this diverse and rich mix of people from in and around Asia, you need to head to Kuala Lumpur's City Gallery. This is as much a tourist information centre as it is a museum/gallery. You will find paintings, photos and other artworks showcasing KL's history from the 1850s to present day, in addition to what the city is to look like with proposed plans for new skyscrapers that are in the works to be built next to Malaysia famous twin Towers; Petronas Towers. The City Gallery is housed within an 115-year-old colonial-style building right across from the Abdul Samad Building in Merdeka Square. Entrance is free.

9.  Heli Lounge

Having explored and eaten your way through the city you want to chill and watch the sunset. Heli Lounge is a cool little hang out with 360-degrees of uninterrupted views of the city. Free entrance to the Heli Pad, after you by a drink of course. For more on this, you can check out my post on Kuala Lumpur's hidden gem.

10. Markets 

Like any major city, there are plenty of markets in Kuala Lumpur to practice your haggling skills. If you in the city for a while I would recommend venturing out to some of these as some are only open on certain days of the week. Even better, though, is the fact that a lot of the markets in the heart of the city open till late in the evening. Check out Central Market, split into different zones to represent the different races and cultures that make up Malaysia. This a cultural landmark not too far from Petaling Street. You will find boutiques, stalls selling everything from souvenirs to Malaysian batik. This is open from 10am to 10pm. Also check out Chow Kit Market, KL's largest wet market, here you will find seafood, meats, vegetable markets, and spices. This is a photographer's paradise, a lively part market with the butchering of meat right in front of you. From food stalls to clothing you will find it all here. It’s open from 6am to 5pm. If you have some time to kill on a Sunday, Kampung Baru is a Sunday only market that serves Malay community. So if you are up for hangout with the local population then this is where you will find them on a Sunday that is as well as the perfect place for traditional Malay wares with a touch of authenticity to it; from jewellery to handcrafts. Another late opening market is Taman Connaught Night market which is open on Wednesdays. Open from 5.30pm and closes at midnight. You are not the only one if getting the impression that no one sleeps in this town. That works out great, though, especially if you arrive late in the day, you know there is always something to do in the city even late in the night.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

For such a popular hub in the Asian region, you know there will be plenty of options. As my visit coincided with my birthday I wanted a little luxury and opted for.... I had considered many options and one other option which I am now kind of sad I didn’t take is the Airbnb option with UBER beautiful pool looking out on to the city. As much as I loved the view and the fact that it was an amazing apartment and cheap as chips, it seems little long way from the city (in my mind, mind you). Kuala Lumpur has Uber, which I used on multiple occasions while I was there so that wouldn’t have been a problem to get into the city. I opted for Mandarin Oriental because it was right next to Petronas Towers, the shopping mall was right next to the hotel too, the pool looking out on to the city below...ok if you want to see how that compares with Airbnb's Kuala Lumpur Top Floor Suite option then you can have a look at my post on my stay at Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur.

Getting Around Kuala Lumpur

Getting from the Airport is made easy as there are taxis waiting right outside. Even better if you haven’t already changed currency or don’t know too much about the going rate of taxi fares or can't haggle to save your life then Uber will sort you out! We used Uber from the airport straight to our hotel without breaking the bank. I believe it was under £20. Compared that to £50-60 from Heathrow into Central London. Getting around the city itself is super easy to as there is the monorail which is another item to add to an experience of seeing and experiencing Kuala Lumpur. There are buses you can also use but I didn’t get a chance to use these as was based right in the heart of the city, so we walked a lot or used taxis for places that were far, like the visit to Batu Caves.

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  1. I went to KL, many many years ago and would love to go again. Looking at your photos, it seem to have changed so much. Thank you for sharing. #theweeklypostcard

    1. If it was a while since you visited then I though you are well overdue a visit.

  2. Interesting! I would love to pin this for future reference as hoping to get to KL next year and this gives a lot of useful info! #theweeklypostcard

  3. I think thoose pics under Petaling Street are from Jalon Alor. The night food street.

  4. We went a few years ago and were so burnt out from a being on the road we spent most of our time at the hotel pool! So many Batu Cave regrets looking back!

    1. I think you now have a reason to head back and visit :D

  5. OMG, I missed KL after reading this! I visited KL while I was living in Singapore in 2009 and definitely loved walking around the city - and well, shopping!!!

    1. Yep, shopping!!! I expect shops but not on this scale. Yep, KL really knows how to do retail therapy well.