Too often overlooked as a mere gateway to Asia, Kuala Lumpur is anything but a stopover on a flight itinerary. Possibly one of the most liveable cities I have been graced with visiting, it offers gorgeous architecture and a wealth of culture to absorb. The mix of Islamic and Hindu influence has created a multicultural and diverse feel in Kuala Lumpur, reflected in all aspects of life in the city.
The iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur, chances are the towers are already on your ‘to see’ list. Despite a slightly steeper entry price, I highly recommend you go up the towers themselves. At 7:00pm we were lucky enough to catch the gorgeous sunset over the cityscape and also witness Kuala Lumpur light up as the sky darkened. The transformation truly is breathtaking. The whole tour takes around 40 minutes, which is ideal when combined with my next suggestion.
The Petronas Towers are situated next to KLCC Park and shopping centre – both of which make an excellent addition to a trip up the towers. The park itself is a solace of greenery amongst the skyscrapers and humidity, ideal for a stroll or relax in the shade. However, one thing to definitely make a note of is the water show that takes place outside the centre at 8pm. Completely free to watch, expect colourful fountains and music for around 10-15 minutes.
The secret to success here is the timing of your visit. To really embrace the serenity and reverence of the caves, it is best to avoid the crowds and tour buses. We arrived just before sunrise (which can be easily checked online) and were free to explore as the only tourists. Climbing the 272 coloured steps to the shrine filled caves above was my most memorable experience in Kuala Lumpur, made even better by the resident monkeys. In terms of accessibility, this attraction is an easy visit as trains run here directly from Sentral. Alternatively, download the app Grab for a cheap Uber-like service.
The Central Market is the shopping hub of Kuala Lumpur – whatever you are after, chances are you can find it here. Have a suit tailored, treat yourself to an ornate keepsake or simply just get lost in the endless maze of stalls. Central Market has a chilled and welcoming vibe, which allowed me to feel safe to browse despite being alone. It is also a great place to try out some bartering if you have not done so before.
Find a rooftop pool
Quality accommodation in Malaysia tends to come at a very reasonable price. For this reason I would firstly recommend booking in to a hotel with a rooftop pool. We stayed at Red By Sirrocco which had an incredible pool and bar overlooking KL tower. Whilst this may seem like an unnecessary luxury, after a day of sightseeing this was the best way to recover from the heat and humidity. In fact it was one of our favourite parts of the trip. However, if this doesn’t sell you, I would definitely recommend adding a day visit to a rooftop pool to your itinerary. Plenty of hotels offer this in exchange for the purchase of drinks or food and it really is an amazing way to take in Kuala Lumpur’s iconic city scape.
Whenever I used to see this as recommendation of things to do in KL I would assume the writer had run out of suggestions, however, I now realise just how ridiculous it would be to exclude this from your itinerary. The Malaysian cuisine is beyond sublime; the food we ate during in our 3 day stay far surpassing any meal I had eaten in my 18 years prior. I actually don’t know if you could find a bad meal in Kuala Lumpur, but if you are looking for suggestions look no further than Limapulo and Kafe Old China. Kafe Old China has remained (mostly) unchanged since 1920 and is unique in that it has a museum style atmosphere. If you go, make sure to try the coconut rice – a blue colour from pea flowers. It is also an excellent place to sample local Malaysian coffee. Expect outstanding service from the moment you step through the saloon styled doors. Limapulo was located conveniently near to our hotel, Red By Sirocco. Having won many awards, the restaurant was pioneered by a renowned chef Baba. Limapulo’s tastefully trendy interior manages to still retain that ‘street food’ vibe and makes for a fantastic dining experience.There is a high likelihood that you too are blissfully unaware of the love affair you are to be ensnared in upon your visit, all I can say is carve out a space in your packed itineraries. Honestly, if I go to heaven, there will be a plate from Malaysia waiting for me.
Kuala Lumpur is the gift which keeps giving; an ideal taster of Malaysia with all the luxuries of a thriving first world city. With only 3 days we barely scratched the surface, and I would recommend a longer trip in order to maximise your experience. We wish we could have fit in the Orangutan Island and Genting Highlands. Further afield Penang, famous for its incredible food, would make an excellent addition if you have more time to explore Malaysia as a whole. Furthermore, the proximity to the rainforest gives you the opportunity for experiences such as viewing orangutans in the wild. Kuala Lumpur is a bucket list city and I know it will be one I will return to. The culture, nature and food combined with it’s welcoming atmosphere makes it perfect for solo travellers, couples and families alike.