My recent trip to Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it’s widely known) left me impressed in more ways than one. First off, the food is phenomenal. From street stalls to five-star hot spots, KL is a foodie’s dream. There is also so much to do for every type of traveller that you could spend weeks here and not get bored. If you’ve never been to KL, we have some insider tips for a visit to this multi-faceted Asian capital.
See and do
Petaling Street: Whether you feel like souvenir-hunting or simply browsing the multitude of stalls selling everything from iPhone cases to handbags to shoes and wallets, a stroll through this busy semi-covered shopping area is a fun way to spend an afternoon. If you do want to buy something, be sure to bargain. It’s expected, and you’ll get a much better deal.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park: Billed as the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary. If you like birds, you can get up close and personal with many of your favourite feathered friends in this unique attraction, where most of the birds roam (or fly) freely. The park is divided into four zones, three of which make up the free-flight zone. Wandering through the lushly landscaped park feels at times like walking through a tropical rainforest.
Eat and drink
You won’t go hungry in Kuala Lumpur, with its broad range of restaurants (from high end to hole in the wall) and street stalls, offering cuisines from all over the world. I ate the majority of my meals in KL on Jalan Alor, a street dedicated to food. Each side of the street is lined with food stalls and restaurants, each with plastic tables and chairs set up out front. Vendors call out as you walk by, encouraging you to take a look at their menu. Don’t feel compelled to stop at every one (otherwise you’ll be there for hours), but do walk up and down once to see what’s on offer before you decide. Satisfy your appetite with anything from Thai and Chinese to Malay, grilled meats and seafood and fresh fruit. Eating along Jalan Alor is a lively experience and shouldn’t be missed when in KL.
Nearby Jalan Changkat is a great spot to go for a drink. It’s lined up and down with a wide variety of bars and restaurants, all offering happy hour deals. “Happy hour” usually starts around noon at some places, and deals vary as the day goes on. If you’re looking to save some money, take a look at various deals before settling on your watering hole of choice.
Would I go back?
After being in KL four times over two months, I would still go back — there’s that much to see and do, and it’s that easy to explore. Along with really falling in love with the food (and admittedly, the happy hours), I also found the people to be really friendly (both in KL and all over Malaysia), but I did skip a few things I would go back for. I missed out on the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, a slice of tropical rainforest right in the centre of the city. I would have loved to walk one of the trails, but the reserve was closed for maintenance when I was there. Given more time, I would also have checked out the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), where visitors can explore the forest from above on a canopy walkway that consists of a series of bridges suspended 30 metres above the forest floor.
Good to know
Kuala Lumpur is an easy city to get around, and it’s very walkable. Sites and attractions around the city are well marked and signposted — signs even tell you how far you are from where you’re heading toward, which help keep you on the right track. When you’re not walking, avoid sitting in traffic in a taxi, and instead make use of the efficient transit system that consists of three light rail transit systems, including a monorail, which is what I mostly used while in the city.
In terms of accommodation, KL offers a wide range of options at all different price points, depending on your budget. When seeking out accommodation, look for something close to transportation and in a busy area, which will offer more to do and more eating options than somewhere more out of the way. Bukit Bintang, Chinatown and the Golden Triangle area are all good options, with ample spots to stay.