Any visit to Malaysia is meaningless unless you have spent at least 3 – 4 days in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. The city is a bit more expensive than other places in Malaysia but it offers a unique mix of shopping, food and nightlife. In a nutshell, Kuala Lumpur or KL is an exciting destination and one of the best places in this part of the world.
Travelling to KL
There are numerous airlines that fly non-stop to KL. In general, a non-stop flight is more expensive than one with a stopover but if you are not too keen to spend additional nights in another city, then you should choose a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The best choice for flying to KL is Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. However, there are lots of other airlines, which offer flights to KL. You should consider the price difference and onboard services.
Getting around in KL
The public transport system is fairly developed in KL and is ably supported by a wide network of Light Rapid Transport (LRT), monorail, buses and taxis. However, Kuala Lumpur, like any other metropolis in the city, suffers from hour-long traffic jams, especially during the rush hours, which are typically from 7:30 to 10:00 in the morning and 16:30 to 20:00 in the evening. The best bet for the visitors is to use the monorail as much as possible and then continue your journey by taxi, if required.
Things to See & Do
When you are visiting a destination, there are some attractions that you can afford to ignore but there are others that are considered to be the essence of that particular destination. For example, it is a crime to miss out on Eiffel Tower when you are visiting Paris. Similarly, missing out on the following places or activities on your trip to KL would be considered a faux pas.
Petronas Towers – The iconic Twin Towers in the sprawling city centre of Kuala Lumpur is the #1 priority for any visitor to the Malaysian capital. You simply cannot miss these imposing doppelganger structures in the heart of the city. The two towers are joined at the 41st and 42nd floor by a 2 storey Sky Bridge.
Getting here - There is no monorail stop at KLCC. The nearest stop is at Bukit Nanas, which is around a 10-minute walk away. If you are using the Hop-on and Hop-off bus, you need to get down at the first stop. The nearest train station is at the tower complex and is known as KLCC. If you are staying in the Bukit Bintang area, you should use the air-conditioned walkway that connects KLCC with Bukit Bintang. If you are staying at the Mandarin Oriental or the Traders Hotel, you will be happy to note that the Twin Towers is just across the KLCC Park.
Go to the market – There are many markets in KL where you can get good bargains on food, clothes and electronics items. Central Market and the JI Petaling Market in Chinatown are considered to be the best. Central Market is accessible via the Pasar Seni LRT station.You will come across portrait artists and streets artists on the ground floor while there is a food court on the 2nd floor. The markets are usually open 24/7. Petaling Market, on the other hand, is renowned for selling quality handbags, wallets and watches.
Eat till you explode – Kuala Lumpur offers the very best in Indian, Chinese, Western and Malay cuisine. Being a multicultural city, KL offers an astonishing blend of local food. The roadside stalls and the markets are great places to pick up local delicacies. Little India and Chinatown serves delectable dishes at surprisingly low rates. Both the locations are just 5 minutes from each other. If you want to go to Little India first, you should take a MRT to Masjid Jemak and follow the signposts to Little India. It is just a 10 minutes walk from the MRT station. Once there, you can also walk over to Chinatown by following the signposts.
Aquaria KLCC – The massive Aquaria KLCC is located on the Concourse level of the KL Convention Centre. It is home to more than 150 species of exotic marine life. Many people term this attraction as nothing more than a tourist trap but you should not miss this, as you get a unique opportunity to view marine life, corals and sea creatures from a close distance. Visitors can come from Suria KLCC or Putra LRT station and then walk through the underpass tunnel for 5 minutes to reach Aquaria KLCC. There is also a GOKL bus stop new this attraction which makes it easier for the visitors to come here.
Explore the Natural History Museum – The Natural History Museum is an ideal place to get acquainted with the history and culture of the country. One of the most amazing exhibits is that of a 40,000 years old human skull and a gold coin that dates back to 15th century and has sight sides. There is no entrance fee to the museum. The Museum is located near the Sentral Station. You need to take the covered walkway from the station to reach the museum.
Spend a day at the KL Bird Park – The KL Bird Park is the largest covered bird park in the world. There are more than 3000 birds and majority of them are free. The park is divided into many sections and different species of birds have been allotted specialised enclosures so that they are as close to their natural habitat as possible.The park is just 5 minutes from the KL Sentral station. If you are using the KL Hop-on Hop-off bus, you need to get down at Stop No. 14. Rapid KL Bus # B115 will take you to KL Bird Park from Kotaraya. In terms of size alone, KL Bird Park occupies a massive area of 20.9 acres of land, which is twice the size of Jurong Bird Park, Singapore.
Shopping is the favorite pastime for people living in Kuala Lumpur. KL has more than 50 shopping malls ranging from the small ones to the highly impressive mega malls. The majority of the shopping malls are located within the Bukit Bintang area (around 55 km from Kuala Lumpur International Airport). There are at least two malls, which are fully dedicated to computers and electronics. Pavilion KL and Suria KLCC are the most popular shopping malls but you should also check out Lot 10 for designer clothes at cheap rates.
Dining in Kuala Lumpur
If you are staying at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, you should have your breakfast there during your stay. For lunch/dinner, you can eat at the mamak stalls like the locals or visit a western place for a sandwich. Street food usually costs around 2.50 USD and local food in restaurants will come for 4 USD per dish. Western food is generally more expensive than local food but a fast food combo would not cost more than 4 USD. A trip to Kuala Lumpur would remain incomplete if you have not sampled local dishes like Nasi Lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk paired with side dishes), fried oyster omelet, roti babi (pork toast) and, of course, roasted duck.
Staying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A number of hotel chains have opened shop in Kuala Lumpur. The best hotels are all located within the KLCC area, which is also known as the Golden Triangle. Traders Hotel, Hilton, Shangri-La are the most popular 5-star hotels but you may prefer the Traders Hotel, as it offers a majestic view of the Petronas Towers from the SkyBar. The room rates start from 100 USD but you can get a good deal on the Internet. If you are a budget traveler, you will be happy to note that budget accommodation is available everywhere in Kuala Lumpur. Tune Hotels (an initiative of Air Asia, a budget air carrier) has opened a number of budget hotels in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia. With an array of accommodation choice, fun activities and good food, there’s no reason not to visit the fun capital of Malaysia!
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