Kuala Lumpur is one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia, and one of the most developed, when it comes to the economy. It is a city of contrasts, where modern skyscrapers like those of Qatar or Dubai set within a British urbanism, stand together with beautiful, yet ruined, colonial buildings and Moorish style palaces. Unlike most of its regional counterparts, which attract tourists with their cultural heritage and local hospitability, KL offers tourists great shopping opportunities and excellent top class accommodation. Its additional assets include well equipped congress venues and good facilities for medical tourism.
The urban area of Kuala Lumpur together with that of Singapore and Yangon are the only Southeast Asian non compact metropolis, probably due to the fact that the three were British colonies. Several compact settlements are connected to each other through boulevards and freeways, and in between there are large portions of skyscrapers surrounded by green areas. There is not much left from the colonial heritage with most remaining parts located in the Old Town or the colonial district. A few steps away and partly integrated into the old town are the famous Chinatown, and old Little India. Just northeast from the old town, the Golden Triangle is the modern city center, where the main bar and restaurant area is located, together with the best shopping venues. South of the old town, near the Sentral train station the colorful Brickfields street is home to the new Little India.
There are several tourist areas in KL, and the main attractions include the old parts with several very interesting religious complexes on one side, and the modern architectural gems that color the sky with their size and glamour on the other side. The Merdeka Square inside the colonial district is home to some fine examples of colonial architecture blended with oriental influences. The best example can be found directly on the square in the form of the Sultan Abdul Samad building, which today is home to the tourist office of KL. Just behind it, on the confluence of two small rivers the Masjid Jamek or the old mosque is one of the oldest mosques in the city. South of the old town, the modern Masjid Negara or the national mosque dominates the area together with the beautiful Moorish style Kuala Lumpur Train Station. Near the old town in the Chinatown area the best examples of Hindu and Buddhist architecture are represented in the form of the Sri Maha Mariamman temple and the Sze Ya temple. The main attractions in the Golden triangle area are the famous Petronas Twin towers, once the tallest building in the world and the elegant KL tower – Menara KL, both offering astonishing views. Check out this guide for more places to visit in Kuala Lumpur.
Choosing an accommodation in KL is a time consuming issue. It is one of the most expensive cities in the region, so good and relatively cheap midrange options are almost nonexistent. Therefore there is a big difference between the budget hotels and the expensive high class hotels. The first group can be found in different parts of the city, especially in the Chow Kit area and further up north. The second group is also present in various locations, but the best option is in the Golden Triangle next to the main attractions.
Kuala Lumpur has one of the best public transport systems in the region, with several lines of independent railway networks that include metro, monorail, light rail and suburban trains. Unlike the rest of the region there are no tuc-tucs, cyclos or motorbike taxis. Although it’s possible to walk around the city, most streets have a primary transport function, and are lacking content like cafes and restaurants, shops and services. Apart from that, there are no indications for pedestrians, so it’s easy to get lost between numerous traffic corridors.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the newest among the regional capitals. In over 150 years it has grown to a wealthy metropolis. It is a prime destination that offers one of the best shopping opportunities and amongst the cheapest five star hotels in the world. The proximity of historical sites like Malacca City and George Town, and beautiful beaches are an additional reason to visit this interesting city. It’s a pity that the restoration of the beautiful old town still hasn’t become part of the municipality’s agenda, because this is what makes KL a unique city, apart from being home to one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in the world.
Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide
- The old town with Merdeka square;
- Chinatown and Little India;
- The National mosque and the KL Railway Station;
- The Lake gardens and ASEAN sculpture park.
- Have dinner around Jalan Bukit Bintang.
- On foot, by metro, monorail, tram or taxi.
- Escape to the beautiful Batu Caves.
DO NOT MISS:
- Climb the Petronas Twin Tower;
- Shop at one of the shopping malls in the Golden triangle;
- Enter the Masjid Jamek and the two temples in Chinatown;
- Climb the KL tower and explore the park around it;
- Take the monorail to enjoy the views while moving above the city.