Kuala Lumpur, “Asia’s green capital” often goes overlooked by travellers exploring South East Asia. During the planning stages of this year’s lengthy world tour, many a person seemed baffled or confused when we mentioned that our first stop would be Malaysia’s capital, and more than one told us “not to bother” with the sprawling city.
Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, though, because when we did arrive in KL, adamant it would be our gateway to the rest of Malaysia, we were more than pleasantly surprised.Without the hustle-bustle and stench of a Bangkok, but maintaining more of an Eastern ambience roots than say, Singapore , to me KL feels like the middle ground between the east and west. Everybody speaks perfect English but local customs are still adhered to loyally and patriotically.
True, there isn’t an obscene amount of tourist attractions, but to Mr. T and I, this was actually a refreshing change from the usual lengthy list of must-sees found in country capitals and thriving tourist cities. It felt good to spend a day attacking the main attractions, and another day or two simply walking the streets of KL, jumping in a cab to someplace else and then sniffing out the best of the local food fare. It takes the pressure off when you don’t feel like you have to go to attractions A to Z or you can’t really say you’ve visited said city. Plus, it’s terribly easy to get around in this city of 6.5 million people. Just jump in a cab. It’s affordable and more pleasant than trying to find your way to train and bus stations and when you only have a few days, you don’t want to waste precious minutes just WAITING.
Most taxis around the city will cost no more than RM15, and the taxis are all metered in KL, however many taxi drivers will try to set a price before you set off and cover up the meter – this is illegal and will leave you
with an inflated price so either insist on the meter or use a different cab, hailed from the street.
If you don’t mind the old hop-on-hop-off tourist buses, the one in KL is a multi-award winner and is actually a great and relaxing way to see the city in a few hours for RM45 per person. You can get off at the attractions that strike your fancy and just sit back and enjoy the view from the upper deck at the rest of them, like we did. So, to get you started for your weekend in Kuala Lumpur , here is a decidedly brief list of things you may (or may not) choose to do in this city that is open to whatever you are willing to make of it…
1. Petronas Twin Towers and its outside coffee shops and gardens
2. KLCC Suria Shopping Mall and the Pavillion (the shopping is fantastic in KL)
3. KL Tower for 360-degree views of the green city – skip this one if you can’t
handle cheesy tourist spots, although the view is fairly impressive.
4. Bird Park – the biggest walk-through aviary in the world (if you’re into that sort of thing)
5. China Town for fantastic food, cheap market goods and plenty of colourful sights and smells
6. Batu Caves (sorry, but this one is non-negotiable as you can see per the beautiful images below)
7. Central Market for an air-conditioned respite from the steaminess and for local nick-knacks
8. Local hawker centres and street stalls such as Jalan Alor in Bukit Bitang for an authentic local culinary experience
As a luxurious base, central to all of these attractions, we recommend staying at the Grand Hyatt.