Kuala Lumpur, or KL as everyone including the locals call it, has often been seen as just a stopover or plane change on the way to the real beach action of Langkawi or Penang or over to Borneo to check out the Orangutans, primitive tribes and scuba diving. Think again, KL is a vibrant and modern city: well worth a stop for a day or two and with some great luxury hotels to lay your head at. Consider Kuala Lumpur for your next luxury destination
Maybe its because Malaysia is Islamic that tourists skip Malaysia in favour of Thailand. Certainly Malaysia has always been more expensive and less welcoming of the backpacker crowd. “Drug smugglers will be killed” is not exactly the normal, welcome to my country sign, but at least its direct and to the point! Malaysia is not the Middle East by any stretch of the imagination: you will never find it hard to find an excellent cold cheap beer in KL or maybe a Lychee Rose Martini at the Skybar of the Shangri-La overlooking the spectacular Petronas Twin Towers. Thanks to the British colonial rule, KL has sizable populations of Indian and Chinese extraction which makes the visit to any market a mouth-watering experience. Downtown Jalan Alor (Alor Street) showcases al fresco dining including Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisine.
Warm and humid year around KL comes alive after dark. Check out the families hanging out at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) under the glow of thousands of fairy lights sturng up around the square and over KL’s ornate Moorish administrative complex, the Sultan Abdul Samad building.
Unless you come via the train from Bangkok or Singapore you will probably arrive in KL at the ultra-modern KLIA, the International Airport. The airport is huge, and empty and clean, and well, Jetson-like in it modernity. It is also over 70km from downtown KL but there is a high speed train connection from within the complex which will get you there faster than a taxi.
Malaysia’s current tourist campaign slogan is “truly Asia” and KL is probably the best example of this. Full of spectacular modern towers and shopping centres: oh and did we mention the shopping? From the traditional street markets where you haggle and hang out to the ultra-modern and huge malls you really can buy anything here. KL City Centre (KLCC) is probably the largest shopping precint don’t let the unimaginative name put you off. Take the monorail over and plan to spend a day, several if you are serious about your shopping, or check out a concert or take a stroll in the park.
Prepare for unique twists on the familar: you like tea: try “pulled tea” which is the local tea’s answer to capucciino where the froth is added by pouring the tea from the pot to the cup and back again – you may not normally take sweetened condensed milk in your tea but try it at least once.
Think you are an experienced spa-goer? Try the Kenko Fish Spa in the Paviliion shopping centre. You feed the fish: with your feet. The carnivorous fish are housed in a long tank sunk into the spa’s floor purpose built for dangling legs – much more interesting than any old pumice stone!
Looking to stay somewhere special: well check out our guide to KL’s top 5-star hotels coming soon!