Kuala Lumpur – the Southeast Asian melting pot

Most of you guys spending your holidays in Malaysia are probably travelling directly to the island destinations like Langkawi, Tioman or Sipadan. Fair enough, what is a Southeast Asian holiday like without the beach, right? About Malaysian islands you can find some useful info here.

At the same time many of you will have a layover in the capital Kuala Lumpur. This metropolis is an Asian melting pot – here old and modern walk hand in hand, Indian, Chinese and Malay traditions live next to each-other, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian religions coexist. So why not spend a day or two there? I visited KL for a few days, and I found plenty of great places to choose from, so I thought I should share my itinerary with you in my travel blog.

My first morning in KL, watching families having fun in KLCC Park.

I started off my day with checking out the world renowned Petronas Towers area. I know, I know, this might sound like a mainstream idea, but for me it was a good spot to slowly start familiarizing myself with KL. I loved watching people running and families playing at the KLCC Park. After getting a coffee, I went up the skydeck of the towers. All in all, it was a great way to start my day a bit slower. Believe me, it did get rough later!

At KLCC station (right below the towers) I hopped on the monorail and headed towards Masjid Jamek. I came across a nice and peaceful mosque, Masjid Jamek itself. It is situated in sort of a peninsula where two rivers (Klang and Gombak) meet.

Merdeka square in Kuala Lumpur
The Sultan Abdul Samad building on Merdeka square.

I took a walk towards Merdeka square. This is basically the main square of the city where the Independence Parade is held every year. Although I missed that one, the Sultan Abdul Samad building was worth the visit also. It is the old centre for the British colonial administration and it is located just by the square. You can’t miss it.

By this time I was up to speed, the rhythm of the city engulfed me. It was time to head to Bukit Bintang. For me this was the absolute highlight of the day. The quickest way to get there is to take a cab, but you can walk also if you don’t mind the heat and 100% humidity. Bukit Bintang is a shopping and entertainment area of the city and a gastro paradise. I walked directly to the Central market area where I was looking for the Kasturi walk. It is a lane within the market with some reasonably priced merchandise, cultural performances and souvenirs. I got hungry and as I read about Jalan Alor, a magical alley of Chinese street food, I decided to venture further into this area. I was astonished and fell in love with this street food paradise. I was seated at a plastic table literally on the street in a jungle of restaurants and smells, but authentic food can’t get any better than that. My personal recommendation is grilled stingray. Exquisite! Here are some more great choices to consider while in KL.

Kuala Lumpur Chinatown
Colorful buildings by Bukit Bintang.

In the afternoon I took a cool stroll in Taman Burung, the world’s largest covered bird park, and in the Botanical Gardens next to it. Trust me, that was a refreshing trip. 

At dusk Menara Kuala Lumpur was also a great experience. This is basically a TV tower right next to the centre of the city. You have an amazing view on the neighbouring highrises, and on the Petronas Towers. Probably this was the best place for taking pictures of the skyline.

In the evening, if you are still able to move your feet, plan a visit to the SkyBar at the Traders Hotel, right next to the KLCC Park, where you started your day. That’s what I did. You can grab a bite, have a drink by the bar’s pool on the 33rd floor and enjoy the view of the illuminated Petronas Towers.

Golden statue at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur
The way up to the shrine at Batu Caves.

For those lucky ones who stay for another day in the city (you should!), I have another recommendation. Although it is a short ride from the city centre, Batu Caves is an absolute must-visit sight in the cooler morning hours. The place is one of the most important hindu shrines with a huge golden Buddha standing below the hill where the caves can be found. To reach the top, you have to put on your comfy shoes and climb hundreds of stairs, but the experience is worth your efforts. The easiest way to get to Batu is by taxi. Warning: cheeky monkeys are waiting for tourists arriving to the caves downstairs – hold on to your food, cameras and sunglasses to avoid trouble…

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