Easily one of the most popular long-distance travel destinations is South East Asia, and for good reason. This region has it all – pristine beaches, tropical climate, gorgeous cuisine and accommodation prices fit for a backpacking budget.
No matter how long you plan to spend in South East Asia you should always make time for Kuala Lumpur. Like its neighbour Singapore, the developed Malaysian capital offers a softer introduction to South East Asia. The cosmopolitan city has all the comforts of the West but with a strong Asian flavour. Visit for the food, the culture, the shopping and some of the cheapest five-star hotels in the world. If you’re stopping by for just a day or two make sure you don’t miss these city highlights…
Visit the Petronas Towers
The Twin Towers of Asia in all their shining glory dominate the diverse KL skyline, outside are a zillion photo opportunities, inside is a veritable shopping heaven with every brand, product and cuisine your heart could desire. There is an opportunity to cross the sky bridge but tickets are offered on a first-come-first-served basis so best to be there before 8am, if you miss out on the Petronas panorama, don’t worry nearby Menara Tower offers an equally breath-taking view.
Spend an afternoon in the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens
The Lake Gardens area is home to many of the key sites including the bird park (where the lovebirds will eat sunflower seeds out of your hand), national museum, planetarium and national monument. The park is easily accessible by the amazing public transport system and there are plenty of street vendors hawking their traditional Malay snacks which, are essential fuel as you trek around the park.
It’s hard to be in KL and not go shopping, whether you’re planning on splashing the cash at the vast array of shopping malls and shopping streets or driving a hard bargain at the markets, it’s all there. The famous Petaling Street is an absolute must, due to the multi-culturalism in the city, the market oozes tastes from all over Asia including Little India street and Chinatown.
Paint the town red at night
Take the monorail or rail line to the bustling area of Bukit Bintang which, is a modern hub teeming with hip restaurants and bars offering Happy Hour cocktails, impressive wine lists and gastronomic delights from all over the world. KL is where people from across the globe can gather and still feel at home. Park yourself at a good table on the pavement, tuck into a nasi goreng and watch the world, literally, go by.
Take in some culture
Although culture is practically the paving of the streets in KL, the trip to the Batu Caves is definitely the icing on the cake. Hailed as one of the holiest Hindu sites in Malaysia, the hike to the summit to reach the Lord Subramaniam shrine is exhausting but if you can climb the 200+ steps you will be granted some good luck. What more could you ask for? A gallery displaying centuries of Malay art? That’s there too.
Malaysia is truly unlike any other part of Asia you will visit, less sterile and more cultured than uber-sophisticated Singapore but more westernised than its south-eastern neighbours like Thailand. The weather is consistent and comfortable, with accessible public transport and a maze of towering, architecturally defying skyscrapers I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the city like I did.