Kuala Lumpur, or simply KL, is the capital of Malaysia. Literally meaning "muddy estuary" in Malay, KL has grown from a small sleepy village to a bustling metropolis (population 4.2 million) in just 50 years. With the world's cheapest five-star hotels, great shopping and even better food, increasing numbers of travellers are discovering this little gem of a city.
Things to see
Kuala Lumpur is one of those cities which are a little short on must-see attractions: the real joy lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it.
You may find that most attractions are only crowded on weekends/holidays and deserted on weekdays.
• Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC, Jalan Ampang (Kelana Jaya Line: KLCC). Until recently the tallest structures in the world, they are now second only to the newly built Taipei 101 building in Taipei (the capital of Taiwan), but are still among the most spectacular. Visitors may pick up passes to marvel at the view from the Skybridge (level 41-21), one of the highest suspended bridges in the world. Entry is free but limited to the first 1200 who show up, so get there early (best ist 7:45 to 8:00 AM)because available tickets are usually snapped up by 11:30 AM. Open 8:30 AM to 5 PM daily except Monday. In general you have about 10 minutes at the Skybridge.
• Aquaria KLCC, KLCC Convention Center Basement Levels 1 and 2 (Kelana Jaya Line: KLCC). A gigantic aquarium recently opened, housing 5,000 varieties of tropical fishes. Has an underwater tunnel, various exhibits of flora and fauna, and multimedia kiosks. Aquaria "offers a unique underwater 'edu-tainment experience", as stated on the KLCC website. Open from 11am to 8pm daily, including school and public holidays; last admission at 7pm. Entrance fee for adults: RM38 (RM28 with the Malaysian ID card - MyKad); Children 3-12 years old: RM26 (RM22 with MyKad); for those below 3 years old, admission free.
• Petrosains, KLCC Level 4 (Kelana Jaya Line: KLCC). A surprisingly well done exhibit of the science and technology behind the petroleum industry and more, and a great place to bring kids. Adults RM12, teens RM7, children RM4; you must book your tickets at least 30 minutes in advance (and expect queues on weekends).
• KL Tower (Menara KL), Jalan Punchak. The observation deck on the top floor provides great city views, and you'll be a few meters higher than the Twin Towers since the tower is built on a hill. Entry to the observation deck costs RM15 and is open from 9 AM to 10 PM daily; for a free bonus, check out the wonderfully bombastic free film on the tower's construction, screened in a little cinema on the tower ground floor.
• Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) Merdeka Square has a special place in the hearts of all Malaysian as it was here that the Union Jack was lowered for last time in 1957 and Malaysia gained her independence. Standing tall here is also the tallest flag pole in the world which measures in at 100m. Surrounding the area are host of historical structures like Sultan Abdul Samad building and Old City Hall. The Royal Selangor Club and St. Mary's Cathedral are two famous landmarks nearby.
• Sultan Abdul Samad Building Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Originally the offices of the Colonial Secretariat, they later served as the first administrative centre of the Malayan government. Built in 1848 by British architects, A C Norman and A B Hubback, this historical landmark is famed for its Islamic-inspired architecture. Today, it houses the Courts of Law. The 40-metre high clock tower is a popular gathering-point for New Year and National Day countdown celebrations and parades.
• Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek) Located at the convergence of the Klang and Gombak rivers is the stately Masjid Jamek, one of the oldest mosques in the city since its construction in 1909. Inspired by the Mogul mosque in North India, this building's notable features are three elegant domes which dominated the KL skyline long before the popularity of skyscrapers.
• Chan She Shu Yuen Clan Association, Jalan Petaling (Monorail Maharajalela). The clan house (kongsi) of the Yuen family, this is the largest and oldest in KL, with the present version completed in 1906. Free admission (but donations welcome), open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM. If you have trouble finding it, look for the green walled temple near Maharajalela monorail station (there are no English signs).
• Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Jalan Tun HS Lee (in Chinatown). An elaborate Hindu temple known as the starting point of the yearly Thaipusam pilgrimage to the Batu Caves, where Hindu devotees haul portable altars pierced to their skin with 108 lances. Check out the elaborate gopuram above the entrance. Free admission (but donations welcome).
• National Monument (Tugu Negara), Jalan Tugu Off Jalan Parlimen. This immense bronze structure was built as a memorial to the soldiers who gave up their lives for their country. This sculpture depicts seven soldiers holding the Malaysian flag, each symbolising one of seven qualities; unity, strength, leadership, sacrifice, courage, suffering and vigilance. It was sculpted by Felix de Weldon, who sculpted the famed Iwo Jima Memorial statue in Virginia, United States.
• Muzium Negara (National Museum), Jalan Damansara. Contains exhibits on traditional life among the various ethnic communities of Malaysia, numerous well-explained artifacts including fine clothing and shadow puppets, and a sizeable natural history section showing the range of flora and fauna native to the country. A visit to this museum can help you to understand more about Malaysian history, culture, and nature.
• Muzium Kesenian Islam (Islamic Arts Museum), Jalan Lembah Perdana. Situates both modern and traditional Malaysia as part of the larger Islamic world and, through exhibitions of objects of religious and aesthetic significance, shows both the connection of Malaysian Islamic culture to the Muslim lands to its west and its uniqueness.
• Masjid Negara (National Mosque), Jalan Perdana. The Masjid Negara is unique in that it incorporates Malay-Islamic rather than the usual Arabic-Islamic architecture. It is known for its conspicuous turquoise umbrella-like roof. A yellow umbrella is usually part of the royal regalia of the sultans of Malay kingdoms.
• The National Planetarium, Lot 54, Jalan Perdana, the attractions here include space science and astronomy exhibits, a theatre screening 3-Dimensional movies, a viewig gallery and an observatory. Admission is RM1 for adults and children over 12 (extra charges for all shows). Open Daily : 9:30am to 4:15pm.
• Batu Caves, 13 km north of the city (45 min on bus 70 or 349 from Puduraya. Also bus 11 starting next to Central Market (walkable distance from Puduraya). Hindu priests have used these caves as temples since their discovery in 1878 by William Hornaday. Crowds of Hindus visit the caves in January/February for the spectacular Thaipusam festival, when devout Hindus skewer portable shrines to their bodies and carry them all the way from central KL. They contain a large number of beautiful and fascinating statues of the Hindu Gods. Beware of the smelly monkeys and bird/bat droppings in the cave, though. And discarded banana peels on the steps. The stairs that take you up to the cave is about 273 steps.
• Istana Negara (National Palace), Jalan Istana. The Istana Negara is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the constitutional monarch and paramount ruler of Malaysia, which is a largely ceremonial post. Built in 1928 by a Chinese millionaire and occupied by Japanese officers during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, the palace, which sits on a 11.34 hectare site, was bought by the federal government at independence in 1957 and has since then undergone extensive renovations to become what it is today. Visitors can witness the changing of the guards daily from the main gate. The palace is not open to the public.
Things to do
• Cosmo's World, Berjaya Times Square 4-9F (Monorail Imbi). Malaysia's largest indoor theme park, located on the upper floors of the giant Berjaya Times Square mall and particularly notable for its hair-raising seven-story indoor roller coaster. The park is divided into two sections, one geared for small children, the other for those who want a little more excitement; one ticket gets you into both. Admission for adults/children RM25/15, open 12 noon to 10 PM daily.
• Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, KLCC. The home of the well-regarded Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is nestled at the base of the Twin Towers, offering performances of classical music most Saturdays at 8:30 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM, with tickets starting at just RM 25. Advance bookings are possible online. Note that a strict dress code applies: long sleeve batik or lounge suit for gala and evening performances, "smart casual" (no jeans, shorts, T-shirts, sneakers and slippers) for other performances.
• Istana Budaya, (near Titiwangsa and Kampung Baru LRT stations). This is where most plays and theatre performances, both local and international, are held. The site covers 5.44 hectares and the auditorium has a seating capacity of 1,421. Tickets are available from the box office or online via Axcess.
• Rock climbing, nearby Batu Caves features a great variety of climbing on steep limestone routes. Over one hundred bolted lines contain features similar in nature to those found in Rai Leh, Thailand. Easy access from downtown and a simple street-level approach makes for a convienient and challenging day of climing.