City Guides: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

City Guide: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is a more than just a layover city! Thousands of flights land and go via Kuala Lumpur Malaysia every day and many travellers ignore the opportunity to add a day or two to visit this metropolitan city in Asia. In this article I share why I love Kuala Lumpur, my favourite things to do in the city, the best places to stay and enjoy the skyline view on a visit to Malaysia’s capital.

Why Visit Kuala Lumpur

Most likely Kuala Lumpur is not on your bucketlist, it doesn’t have the allure of nearby cities of Bangkok or Singapore and is often overlooked when travellers are booking their holidays. But I highly recommend making a stop in Kuala Lumpur for a few days if you are planning to spend more time in Malaysia or for a one to two-night layover when heading to another destination.

Kuala Lumpur is a unique city where the skyline is punctuated by both skyscrapers and minarets. Its history brings together a mix of Malay, Chinese, British and Indian cultures that sit side by side around the city creating a colourful and vibrant atmosphere mixed with old colonial architecture. This blend makes Kuala Lumpur a truly unique and exciting city to visit.

Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur

My favourite place to stay in Kuala Lumpur is the Grand Hyatt hotel. The Hyatt brand is synonymous with luxury, but the real reason that I love this hotel in Kuala Lumpur is the view! Set in the heart of the golden triangle the hotel offers its guests one of the best views of the Petronus towers in the city – right from your bed! The Hyatt has 412 rooms, but make sure to book a Tower View Room if you want to recreate my photograph!

The Grand Hyatt is situated in the KLCC area where you find the Petronus Towers and Menara KL Tower. There are plenty of hotel options in this area, many with similarly impressive views to the Hyatt. Other luxury hotel options in this area are the Mandarin Oriental, Shangri La, the Ritz Carlton and the Double Tree by Hilton.

If you prefer to be in the heart of the shopping, nightlife and restaurants then you can book a hotel in the Bukit Bintang area. For those looking for a budget or hostel option then you should look at Chinatown where more affordable accommodations can be found.

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Bars & Hangouts In Kuala Lumpur

As with any city filled with tall buildings, it’s always advised to try and get to the top of one of those so that you can take in the view and Kuala Lumpur is no exception! There are countless bars and restaurants that offer cocktails and dining with a view. Here are a few of Kuala Lumpur’s popular options:

• Mantra Rooftop Bar
• View Rooftop Bar, G-Tower
• Marinis On 57 – also an Italian restaurant
• Sky Bar – on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel
• Luna Bar – offering 360 degree views from Pacific Regency Suites
• Bridge Bar Kuala Lumpur – an exclusive nightclub suspended between two blocks of G-Tower Hotel. You can also a glass platform for the brave ones!
• Heli Lounge Bar

The Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Hotel Review

Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur

There are plenty of things to do in Kuala Lumpur. I have visited the city three times and still find something new to do each time I go, but I do have my favourite activities and must-see recommendations which I have listed below:

1. Visit Thean Hou Temple:

The Thean Hou temple situated atop Robson Heights is my number 1 place to visit in the city. The temple is originally a Chinese temple that was dedicated to Thean Hou and now sees worshippers and a handful of tourist visitors coming every day. The temple is a sanctuary away from the city, it is quiet with spectacular views and beautiful design that makes you want to stay all day at one of the many spots where you can sit and look out over Kuala Lumpur.

2. Take In The Petronus Towers:

A visit to Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Petronus Towers. There are plenty of different times and ways to see them. Either come very early morning to avoid the crowds and capture the photos you want around sunrise or you can come later in the day towards sunset or after the sun goes down to see the towers lit up and glowing against the night sky, but you will find crowds at this time. If you want to head up to the towers to the Skybridge, 1500 tickets are available per day with half sold in advance online so be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment. If you haven’t booked online arrive early in the day to secure one of 750 tickets sold on the day.

3. Shop Till You Drop:

If shopping is your thing you can head to one of the many air-conditioned malls all over the city. You will find the designer and luxury brands at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Suria KLCC and Mid Valley Megamall. For smaller independent brands head to Bangsar and Publika. To find trinkets and souvenirs head to the central market and if you look hard enough you may find a few antique shops and some old artisan shops in and around Chinatown.

4. Eat Your Way Through China Town:

Chinatowns shop house lined streets reveal the history of Kuala Lumpur. Head here to enjoy some traditional Chinese food and just wander aimlessly. You can also make a stop at Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, the oldest temple in Kuala Lumpur whilst you are in this area.

5. Climb Up To Batu Caves:

Another famous landmark in Kuala Lumpur are the Batu Caves, recognised by the 140ft statue of Murugan (a Hindu deity) at the foot of the 272 steps leading up to the caves. The Batu Caves are a 400 million year old limestone hill with three major caves and many smaller ones that is considered an important religious landmark for Hindus. Cathedral Cave is the largest and most popular one for visitors and houses many Hindu shrines. If you time your visit around the end of January, you can join thousands of visitors and devotees that head to the caves for the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam.

6. Visit The Masjid Jamek:

On your city tour you should make a stop at Masjid Jamek, the first brick mosque in Malaysia when it was completed in 1907. The mosque was the city’s centre of Islamic worship until the opening of the National Mosque in 1965.

7. Take A Break At Merdeka Square:

Besides the Petronus Towers, Merdeka Square (also known as Dataran Merdeka) is one of Kuala Lumpur’s best known landmarks. Essentially just a big green lawn, the square is set in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (the former State Secretariat) and is also home to the Royal Selangor Club and to the north you will see St. Mary’s Church, one of Malaysia’s oldest Anglican churches. Stop here for a casual walk around the square and to take in what remains of some of the old British empire.

When To Visit Kuala Lumpur

The wet season in Malaysia runs between May to October, so there are less tourists at this time of year. If you want to enjoy the city without tourists and when prices of hotels will be cheaper you could visit through this period. However, as with any city you probably don’t want to visit in the height of summer or during the middle of the rainy season, so try and select the shoulder seasons to get the best weather and best deals on your stay.

Beyond Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is a beautiful country and whilst there is a lot of tourism to the country it still seems to feel like you are in on a little-known secret when you visit Malaysia. If you plan to spend more than a few days in Malaysia, you should consider trips to the island of Langkawi to explore beautiful beaches, head up to the Cameron Highlands to see the tea plantations, Penang to explore all of the street art and if you want to venture to the East coast I highly suggest a trip to the Perhentian Islands.

I hope that this article has inspired you to visit Kuala Lumpur. If you have any questions about the city or tips for our readers please share in the comments below. 

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