Once a small tin-making town, Kuala Lumpur has developed into not only the largest city in Malaysia, but also one of the most vibrant capital cities in the world. Some say it is like Bangkok, probably because people like to compare Malaysia and Thailand, but I find it is completely different!
This wonderfully dynamic metropolis is home to some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers whilst maintaining its historic and cultural beauty with old colonial buildings, religious temples and mosques that are dotted about the city. With first-class attractions, fabulous shopping arcades, bustling markets and picturesque parks and monuments, Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic city with something for everyone to enjoy.
You could obviously spend more than a day in KL, and some even work out a worthwhile 2-day itinerary. However, before you do that, it pays to know what are the best things to see there…
Sightseeing – A pick of the best
No trip to Kuala Lumpur is complete without a visit to the world-renowned Petronas Towers. Skyscrapers galore fill the city’s skyline, however, when opened in 1998, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings on the planet. Still an impressive feat of engineering, these twin towers are an iconic example of the determination of the inhabitants of Kuala Lumpur in turning this city into something spectacular. Standing 452 meters-high, the views from the Skybridge and the observation deck are astounding. For even more exceptional panoramic views, visit the Kuala Lumpur Tower with its observation deck offering the highest viewpoint in the city.
Masjid Negara, the National Mosque of Malaysia, is not to be missed when visiting Kuala Lumpur. This immense and striking religious building stands on thirteen acres of beautiful gardens, and with its high minaret and colossal sixteen pointed star concrete roof, this structure is a wonder to behold. Thean Hou Temple is another religious building that is well worth a visit. This six-tiered temple contains some stunning artwork and embellishment and martial arts activities, fortune-telling and special religious services are available for members of the public.
Go on a shopping spree
When seeking the shops in Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Bintang is the place to go. This central retail hub is home to several shopping malls and entertainment complexes, and many well-known stores can be found here. For high-end shopping, visit the Starhill Gallery where Prada and Gucci outlets provide a unique shopping experience.
The Central Market is the location for those shoppers looking for traditional wares and souvenirs. This bustling market is a great place to pick up local crafts and try out the fantastic array of fabulous street food. Malaysia’s Chinatown is located on Petaling Street and is especially great at night when the market really comes alive. With goods ranging from clothes and shoes to traditional Malaysian dresses, Chinese medicines and gloriously fresh fruit, Chinatown is perfect for a spot of haggling and bargain-hunting.
A different side to the city
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Lake Gardens Park. This astonishingly beautiful nature reserve is a quiet retreat from the manic streets of Kuala Lumpur, with over ninety hectares of gardens and attractions. The National Monument is especially striking as it commemorates the soldiers who died fighting for Malaysian freedom during World War II. This huge bronze statue is surrounded by fountains and flower displays and is a perfect spot for taking photos. Orchid and hibiscus gardens can be located within this immense park, and the adventure playground is great for family fun. Lake Gardens is also home to both the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park which has over 3000 species of birds and features a walk-in aviary, and the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park which contains over 5000 species of butterflies and exotic plants.
So, for holiday-makers seeking a destination that offers great sightseeing opportunities, excellent shopping experiences, monumental structures and natural wonders that are simply astounding visit Kuala Lumpur and enjoy the magic of this cosmopolitan paradise. You can get yourself some great deals on flights to Kuala Lumpur if you take the time to compare airlines and travel times, so a magical holiday in Malaysia might not be as expensive as you’d think!
Alan Brown is a freelance travel writer who loves spending time in south east Asia.