Kuala Lumpur Holidays
It's come a long way from origins as a rough and ready tin-mining town. Ethnic Malays, Indian migrants, British colonials and Chinese prospectors all helped carve out Kuala Lumpur, or 'KL', from the jungle at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers. Today Malaysia's capital merges modern high-tech skyscrapers and flourishing commerce with streetside hawkers and ancient temples. The tropical weather in Kuala Lumpur means the temperatures remain reasonably constant, with maximums hovering between 31 and 33 degrees Celsius and minimums between 22 and 23 degrees Celsius.
The Petronas Twin Towers are the image of modern Malaysia. One of the things to do in Kuala Lumpur is walk on the skybridge linking the towers at 170 metres above ground, or head up to the level 86 observation deck. If you want a really good view over the city though, the 421-metre Menara KL tower built atop the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve is the place to find it. There's a restaurant and XD theatre at Menara as well, and forest walking trails (re-opening after maintenance in September 2013). Take respite from the urban in the 92-hectare Lake Gardens Park, dotted with attractions, including the Islamic Arts Museum and Kuala Lumpur Bird Park.
Malaysians love their food. Feasting in the mamak restuarants and street stalls here is a joy. The variety of flatbreads, rice dishes (including fried and made with coconut milk) and sweet and spiced meats are a treat. Kuala Lumpur restaurants serve up the world though, not just local cuisine. In general, Malay food can be found in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district; Chinatown, not surprisingly, is the best place for Chinese food; and many high-end restaurants serving Western food can be found in Bangsar. If you've a hankering for Middle Eastern dishes, there are several restaurants in Bukit Bintang, Cyberjaya and Damai.
Where to Stay
KL's CBD equivalent is the Golden Triangle, north-east of the old city centre and this is where you'll find many 5-star hotels (and the Petronas Twin Towers). Kuala Lumpur accommodation is generally strong at the budget and upscale ends of the spectrum, so here are a few picks of the crop. Near the Petronas Towers you'll find the top end hotels Royal Chulan Kuala Lumpur and Hotel Maya. Hotel May invokes calm with its minimalist furnishings but it still has all the toys you might want. Carcosa Seri Negara is a luxury hotels comprising 2 colonial mansions on adjacent hills in the heart of the beautiful Lake Gardens Park.
With almost 70 malls, Kuala Lumpur shopping is unlikely to leave you wanting. Similar to Tokyo's Ginaza and New York's Fifth Avenue, the premier shopping area here is in the Bukit Bintang area of the Golden Triangle. This area spans 3 streets and cafes and restaurants are dotted between the extensive shopping complexes. Top malls across the city include: Starhill Gallery – all the renowned fashion houses are here; Suria KLCC – set across 6 floors beneath the Petronas Twin Towers; Bangsar Shopping Centre – a popular place for expats living around the local neighbourhood.
Kuala Lumpur like a Local
Be mindful of wearing clothing that's not too revealing and know before you go public drunkenness isn't tolerated in Kuala Lumpur. If you're eating in public, without using cutlery, only use your right hand as it's impolite otherwise. If you have a few phrases in either Cantonese, Tamil or Bahasa Malaysian up your sleeve, you'll be far more endearing to the locals. Remember this is a tropical climate, so pack a brolly too.