Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Delights of Traveling: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is definitely a metropolis. Filled with big buildings, cars, and people like every other city in the world. However, I personally believe that it doesn`t really show the true image of the country.
History Of Kuala Lumpur
Officially called the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, the city is among the fastest metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia. It serves as the cultural, financial, and economic center of Malaysia. It is home to the Parliament of Malaysia and Istana Negara (Royal Palace). KL is considered one of the leading cities in the world for tourism and shopping and was the 6th most visited city in the world in 2019.
No one truly knows who named or founded the city, but it originally a small hamlet with a few houses and was officially established as a town in 1857. What seemed to draw people to the now capital city was tin mining and trade. As a small town, it suffered from many social and political problems due to the materials used to create the buildings and the poor sanitation.
Malaysia as a whole has influence from many different countries due to it being captured by multiple nations. You can see this just walking down the street with street names still having English influence.
How To Get To Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is considered a major hub for all countries in Southeast Asia. Especially if you are using budget airlines like AirAsia, you would most likely by flying into one of the two main airports in the city. Both airports are about 45 minutes out of the city center, but there are multiple ways to get into the city. You can take the express train which will bring you to KL Sentral, which is where all buses and trains go out of. Additionally, you can take the bus for about 12 RM (3 USD) and will also drop you off at KL Sentral. Another option is to get a Grab or regular taxi into the city. Word of advice is that there is a fixed rate with Grab (about 12 USD), while taxis may upcharge depending on where you are going and whether they want to be douches.
If you have the time and choose to take the bus, it is also definitely possible. With borders officially opening on the 1st of April, tourists can now enter Malaysia through Thailand or Singapore by land. The best way to check prices I have found is through easybook.com or redbus.com.
Accommodation In Kuala Lumpur
If you are backpacking, the most popular place to stay would be either KL Sentral or Chinatown. Those places are where most of the hostels are and possibly the most connected because you can get anywhere with either a bus or the train. If you have a pretty low budget, the best options would be Explorer's Guesthouse (RM 13 or 3.08 USD) located on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, it is walking distance to many restaurants, Central Market, and the bus and train station. Travel Hub Guesthouse is also a great option especially if you are looking to socialize. Located on Jalan Balai Polis, it is on the other part of Chinatown, but is still close to everything. There is also a bar on the rooftop that is considered to be one of the hidden gems on the city.
The most expensive hostel on my recommendations list would be Dorms KL at RM 37 or 9 USD. Personally, I know that there are other hostels around the city that are way better for quite a lot cheaper, so I don't think it is really worth staying there. Maybe it is because of the location, being right near bar street and food street, but I personally do not think it is worth it. If you are planning to stay around the KL Sentral, PODs is a hostel I highly recommend. It is close to Brickfields, which is where you can find the best Indian food and shop for everything that would be considered part of the Indian culture. If you are looking for accommodation that is social, but still has privacy, I would suggest Kitez Hotel & Bunkz (RM 32 or 7.58 USD). It is located right on Jalan Petaling, which is the famous street market in the city. For being right on that street, you would think that it would be pretty loud, but you can definitely get a good night sleep.
Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur
Much like every other city in the world, Kuala Lumpur is filled with skyscrapers and tall buildings. However, there is still some relative cultural charm to it. As mentioned, Chinatown is generally the place to be. Most of the historical buildings are located in the area including Merdeka Square (where the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time on Independence Day), Central Market (where you can find souvenirs and local artwork), and Dataran Merdeka (which is now used to house government officials).
Probably one of the most famous landmarks in all over Malaysia is the Petronas Twin Towers. According to the official definition and rating of the Council on Tall Structures and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), they were the world's tallest buildings from 1998 until 2004, when Taipei 101 overtook them. The Petronas Towers are still the world's tallest twin towers. They, together with the nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower, are a key landmark in Kuala Lumpur and can be seen from various locations throughout the city.
You are able to go to the bridge, but it can be quite pricey though. (RM 80 or 20 USD) It is normally closed on Mondays and you will need to book it in advanced because they only allow a certain number of people to enter daily. My advice is to find a spot in front of the towers to take a photo rather than being in it.
Another important landmark in Kuala Lumpur is the Batu Caves. It is a limestone hill near the city center, with a series of caves and cave temples. Its name comes from the Malay word batu, which means 'rock.' From the tale of Si Tanggang, the hill was formerly known as Kapal Tanggang. The cave is dedicated to Lord Murugan and is one of the most prominent Hindu sanctuaries outside of India. It is the center of the Thaipusam Tamil celebration in Malaysia.
To get into the actual temple, you will need to climb up the 272 multi-colored steps and you will be met with beautiful shrines and cave architecture.
Where To Eat & Drink In Kuala Lumpur
When it comes to the cuisine in Malaysia, it can be divided into 3 main cuisines; Indian, local Malay, and Chinese. There are so many restaurants in the city, but I will break down a few that I have been to.
Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur
If you're looking for authentic Indian banana leaf rice, look no further. Vishal's is where you should go! Tourists and locals visiting Brickfields are familiar with this location. Because they serve dishes and sides with thick, strong spice, it is quite popular and has retained its popularity through the years. Bone marrow curry, black pepper chicken, and dhal rasam are all delectable! If this doesn't pique your interest, we're not sure what will.
Sin Kiew Yee Beef Noodle Soup is simple to find on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, just off the edge of Chinatown near the main entrance to Chinatown. Because this is a very busy spot during lunchtime, it's preferable to arrive before or after the rush. In my experience, it's best to arrive before 12 p.m. or after 1:30 p.m. You can choose your noodle preference here, as at many other noodle stores in Kuala Lumpur. They also presented a dry noodle dish with minced beef and scallions, but if you prefer noodle soups, that is also an option. Thin beef slices, minced beef, beef balls, beef tripe, tendon, and scallions were among the ingredients. One thing to keep in mind is that this restaurant is quite small, and the service can be rushed at times. Take it with a grain of salt because this is quite common in Asia.
A cheap food tour of Kuala Lumpur would be incomplete without a stop at the famous Jalan Alor Night Market in the heart city's Bukit Bintang neighborhood. This vibrant street market is made up of street vendors that line a row of restaurants and begins around 5 p.m. and lasts till late at night. It is popular not only with tourists visiting Bukit Bintang's party district, but also with the locals. Prepare to be approached by restaurants vying for your business, with servers wanting to show you their menu. This is the ideal location to sample a wide range of cuisines at a fair price, making it ideal for any budget-conscious traveler.
This well-known hawker is located in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown and specializes in Clay Pots, grilled meats, and grilled seafood. One of the most popular dishes cooked in a clay pot over a charcoal fire is chicken and rice clay pot. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the clay pot for the crunchy bits because the clay pot provides the rice a nice crispy texture. The chicken has a sweet and savory soy flavor with a tinge of smokey charcoal flavor, and it's best to order this meal with Chinese sausage put on top.
Village Park Restaurant is located in the Petaling Jaya district, just outside of Kuala Lumpur. Nasi Lemak, Malaysia's cherished distinctive national dish, is served at Village Park Restuarant. Nasi Lemak is a Malaysian rice dish made with coconut milk and pandan leaves. This dish is served with fried chicken, peanuts, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, and a spicy sambal.
Bars in Kuala Lumpur
If you are someone like me who prefers having a few options in one place, Changkat Bukit Bintang is the best place to be. It is a street filled with a lot of bars, clubs, and restaurants. My personal favorite for a Friday night is Havana because the DJ that plays is quite decent. However, if you aren't good with crowds, I would probably avoid it because it does get very packed. There are many bars and clubs to choose from, so if you feel like doing a bar crawl, it is definitely possible.
The city, especially Chinatown, has a large secret bar scene. This one in particular is located in Chinatown and is disguised as a vintage toy store from the street. When you go through the doors, you only see booths to sit at and another door. When you go through the second door, you enter an open-aired courtyard with more seats and actual people. The final door is where the actual bar is. It is dimly lit and features a floor to ceiling display of all the alcohol they have.
For amazing 360 degree views of the entire city, Heli Lounge Bar is the best option. Used as a functional helipad during the day, the bar is perfect to watch the sunset and the lights come up around the city. While the drinks and cocktails are a bit pricier than other bars around the city, all drinks have a fixed rate of RM 25 (6.50 USD). Even you aren't really a drinker, all non-alcoholic drinks are the same price. So, you might as well act fancy for just a few hours with a nice drink.
There are plenty of other restaurants and bars in the city, but the ones listed above are the ones that I went to frequently when I lived in Kuala Lumpur or went back to visit family. Hope you enjoyed this guide and enjoy Kuala Lumpur even more.
Liz Westwood from UK on February 02, 2019:
Very true. You can miss out on a lot in trying to get the best photos or video.
Liza from USA on January 31, 2019:
Good to hear that Tina, enjoy your trip!
Tina Thanabalan (author) from Malaysia on January 30, 2019:
doing pretty well so far!
Tina Thanabalan (author) from Malaysia on January 30, 2019:
It is, but I quite enjoy living in the moment. Not having to constantly stare at my laptop or phone
Liz Westwood from UK on January 30, 2019:
Very sorry to hear that. That's my nightmare, losing my phone/photos.
Liza from USA on January 30, 2019:
Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that. I hope everything is okay with you though. Have a safe trip.
Tina Thanabalan (author) from Malaysia on January 29, 2019:
I wish I did, but my phone got destroyed and stupid me didnt put them up on the cloud
Tina Thanabalan (author) from Malaysia on January 29, 2019:
hi there. I have visited those places. I really liked them
Liza from USA on January 28, 2019:
I enjoyed reading your review about visiting places in Kuala Lumpur. How long will you be in Kuala Lumpur? Have you visited Central Market or Pasar Seni?
Liz Westwood from UK on January 28, 2019:
This is an interesting introduction. Do you have any photos you can add?