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Kuala Lumpur Travel

A Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur Travel Petronas Towers

Top Kuala Lumpur travel attractions include the Petronas Towers.

Photo by Greg Rodgers

Kuala Lumpur, affectionately known simply as KL to travelers, is Malaysia's capital and ultramodern, metropolitan hub. Kuala Lumpur travel is rewarded with a unique blend not found in many Southeast Asian cities. Chinese, Indian, and Malay residents deliver the best that their cultures have to offer, all in one exciting, urban sprawl.

Kuala Lumpur is an excellent starting point in Southeast Asia, and is far cheaper to visit than Singapore. Home to the low-cost carrier AirAsia, KL has cheap flights to all major places of interest in Asia.

If you're not sure, find out exactly where is Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Hotspots

Kuala Lumpur is actually comprised of many unique areas and districts, all easily walkable or connected via the excellent rail systems.

Chinatown KL

Kuala Lumpur's busy Chinatown is the hub for many travelers who are looking for cheap food and accommodation. Centrally located, Chinatown KL is within easy walking distance of the colonial district, Central Market, and the Perdana Lake Gardens. Close proximity to the newly refurbished Puduraya Bus Station -- now called Pudu Sentral -- allows quick access to long-haul buses going to nearly all points in Malaysia.

Busy Petaling Street is jam packed with a night market, food stalls, and revelers drinking beer at street-side tables.

Bukit Bintang

Not nearly as rough-and-tumble as Chinatown, Bukit Bintang is Kuala Lumpur's “main drag” for strolling with ultramodern shopping malls, technology plazas, European lounges, and glitzy nightclubs. Hotels in Bukit Bintang are priced slightly higher due in part to the convenience of everything. Jalan Alor, parallel to Bukit Bintang, is the one-stop place to go for all types of street food in Kuala Lumpur.

Bukit Bintang can be reached via a 20-minute walk from Chinatown, or via the rail transit system.

Kuala Lumpur City Centre

KLCC, short for Kuala Lumpur City Centre, is dominated by the Petronas Twin Towers -- once the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 beat them in 2004. The glowing towers are an impressive site, and have become deeply symbolic of Malaysia's progress and accomplishments.

Visitors are allowed to visit the connecting skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors for a view of the city. The first-come-first-serve tickets are free, however, only 1,300 are issued each day. People usually have to queue early in the morning for any hope of crossing the skybridge The tickets have the return time on them, so many people choose to kill waiting time by wandering the massive, upscale shopping mall at the bottom of the towers.

KLCC also includes the convention center, a public park, and Aquaria KLCC -- a 60,000-square-foot aquarium boasting over 20,000 land and aquatic animals.

Little India

Also known as the Brickyards, Little India is just south of the city center. Blaring Bollywood music pours from speakers facing the street as the sweet smells of spicy curry and burning water pipes fill the air. The main road through Little India, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, makes for an interesting walk; shops, vendors, and restaurants compete for your business and attention.

Try relaxing in an outdoor cafe with a traditionally poured teh tarik drink.

The Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is the informal name given to the area in Kuala Lumpur containing KLCC, the Petronas Twin Towers, the Menara KL Tower, Bukit Nanas Forest, and Bukit Bintang.

Menara KL

The Menara KL, or KL Tower, conspicuously rises to 1,381 feet and is the fourth-tallest telecommunication tower in the world. Visitors to the observation deck at 905 feet get an even better view of Kuala Lumpur than that offered from the Petronas Towers skybridge; a ticket costs US $13.

Alternatively, visitors can eat in the revolving restaurant located one floor above the observation deck, or visit the lower platform where a handful of shops and cafes are located for free.

Bukit Nanas Forest

The Menara KL tower actually stands on a fenced-in forest reserve known as Bukit Nanas. The green plot is quiet, free to visit, and a quick way to escape the concrete and congestion just outside of the tower. Bukit Nanas has picnic areas, a few resident monkeys, and well-done walk with labeled flora.

To enter the forest, go left at the lower entrance to the Menara KL tower. Bukit Nanas also has stairs which lead down the hill to the streets below, making it possible to leave the tower area without backtracking.

Perdana Lake Gardens

The Perdana Lake Gardens are a green, well-manicured escape from the crowds, exhaust, and frenetic activity so typical of capital cities in Asia. A planetarium, deer park, bird park, butterfly park, and various gardens all offer enjoyable, relaxed experiences for both kids and adults.

The Perdana Lake Gardens are located in the colonial district, not far from Chinatown. Read more about visiting the Perdana Lake Gardens.

The Batu Caves

Although technically eight miles north of Kuala Lumpur, around 5,000 visitors a day make the trip to see this sacred and ancient Hindu site. A horde of macaque monkeys will keep you entertained as you crawl up the 272 steps leading to the caverns, which are still used for worship.

Food in Kuala Lumpur

With such a fusion of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian culture, it's no surprise that you'll be thinking about the food in Kuala Lumpur long after you leave! From street carts to massive food courts and fine dining, the food in Kuala Lumpur is cheap and delightful.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Nightlife

Partying isn't particularly cheap in Kuala Lumpur; clubs and lounges can match or exceed European prices. Although you'll find plenty of watering holes scattered around Chinatown and the rest of the city, the heart of Kuala Lumpur's nightlife scene is found inside the Golden Triangle.

Jalan P Ramlee is the most infamous of party streets, and is as hedonistic as KL gets with clubs thumping a wide variety of music. The Beach Club is perhaps the most popular tourist party spot, although prostitution is often a problem later in the night.

Backpackers and budget travelers tend to frequent the Reggae Bar on Jalan Tun H. S. Lee in Chinatown. Outdoor seating, water pipes, a dance floor, and televisions for sports make the place extremely popular on weekends.

Getting Around Kuala Lumpur

While you'll find no shortage of taxis in the city, most points around Kuala Lumpur can be reached by walking or by using the three light rail transit systems.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Weather

Kuala Lumpur stays relatively hot, wet, and humid throughout the year. June, July, and August are the driest months and peak season, while rainfall can be heavy in March, April, and the Fall months.

Unfortunately, blue skies are a rarity in Kuala Lumpur; haze from fires in Sumatra as well as city pollution often keep the sky a blanched white.

Read more about Southeast Asia weather.

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