We started our journey through Malaysia in KL, a trip that was two years in the making. We had organised to meet our two very dear friends Wendy and Claire to begin our 3 weeks travels together around this wondrous country. Our taxi driver from the airport drove us to the city and an hour and 145 Ringgits (approx. €30) later we were at our hotel The Melange Boutique, a perfectly positioned little place in the very central area of Bukit Bintang. As we were traveling throughout Malaysia during our 3 weeks there we returned to KL for our final few nights and stayed at the wonderfully designed Hulo Hotel which was also really central but offered the sort of decor only usually saved for hotels with rather more stars to their names….we were all so very impressed. A stunning yet very affordable hotel.
Getting back to what Kl has to offer……We decided to venture out and explore the city. We visited the Menara Tower which is one of the tallest buildings in the world. The cost was 105 RM per person (€20) but was totally worth it as the views from the top are stunning!! There are two sky decks, one on each side, and although it feels rather worrying walking on bare glass 60+ floors above the city, it is (apparently) completely safe. We took heaps of photo’s and really enjoyed ourselves….even though our legs went a bit funny as your brain struggles to contemplate that you are about to walk off the edge of a building, which is exactly what it feels like as the glass floor is spotless and obviously looks like it isn’t there at all. We were also given free tickets for the FRIM Canopy Walk which are near the tower. They were fun as the surroundings were very lush and green.
We decided to make our way towards China Town…or as one very funny taxi driver called it, ‘Fake town’ :)))…..he wasn’t far wrong…. Near the markets you can visit Kuan Ti Temple and also the beautiful Sri Mahamariamman Temple unfortunately we weren’t able to enter either temple but took some nice lovely photo’s for our album.The Petaling Markets are in the heart of Chinatown it was fun to meander and enjoy the shops, although every stall is almost identical and sell brand names….many of which are far from authentic. Bartering with them is part and parcel of the experience so don’t be embarrassed and go as low as you dare and most of the time you will be walking away with a bargain….and a smile feeling rather proud of yourself and your purchase. We also went to Central Market, which is a somewhat more upscale market and they do have really nice things but unfortunately here you cannot barter with the shop owners as they point blank refuse to play on the prices offered, although to be fair things were reasonably priced and we all picked up some really nice pieces to take back home.
Petronas Towers was also on our to do list however we weren’t willing to wait for hours to queue in order to get to the top as you either need to book your tickets through their online website or queue up very early in the morning and prices are really expensive. Claire had done so in the past and informed us that the views weren’t as stunning as they are from Menara so we didn’t see the point. We did see them from below and they are amazing and extremely glamorous especially at night when they are lit up, and with the pond and it’s ‘dancing water’ show makes for a lovely way to spend an hour or so. If it is great views you are after but you cannot get to either of the towers we have mentioned here and you are on a budget then head for the Helipad Lounge Bar. It is a great option and all you need to do is purchase a drink!! The views from the helipad are amazing and on a clear day you’ll get a stunning 360° view of the city. If you get there around 6 pm you’ll get to watch the sunset but try to leave before 9 as this turns into a formal bar and you will need to spend at least 100 RM (€20) entry fee and be appropriately dressed as there is also a restaurant on the same level as the indoor bar….for the well to do……prices were a touch frightening!! As far as we were concerned, we enjoyed a couple of drinks, watched the wonderful sunset and made our way back down to street level.
Shopping: Well if shopping is your thing KL has some amazing malls, probably some of the best in Asia (bar Bangkok) however prices are exactly the same as European prices which is a shame as we tend to believe that the prices in this part of the world would be more ‘affordable’. We went to KKLC which is part of the lower floors of the Petronas Towers, it is an amazing mall but was just too expensive for us although they had every brand you could possible think of whether high or low end. Times Square mall is another option, the shops were locally recognised and therefore more affordable, not to mention it incorporates the biggest indoor fun park in Malaysia…..something that blew us away!! Picture walking within a mall and hearing faint screams which slowly increase in volume and become a cacophony of noise as a fully loaded roller coaster……yes, you read that right….roller coaster come rushing passed up above you full of excited and screaming fun goers!!….. It is a site to behold I can assure you, but if the rush of fair ground rides is a bit too highly paced for you then you can visit the other end of the spectrum…..A Thai Spa called Thai Odyssey. We found a beautiful one in the mall which was just divine. It was so good in fact that we went on two consecutive days and we all left feeling relaxed and pampered. For us personally nothing beats a good street old market and I can talk for all of us when I say that although we enjoyed visiting the comfort of the air-conditioned malls we thoroughly enjoyed the markets a lot more as the atmosphere is second to none and cannot be matched by a mall of any kind……even one with a full sized fun park!!.
We visited the Butterfly Park which was lovely, this is the largest butterfly garden in the world spanning over 80,000 sq ft, the tickets were super cheap at just 25 RM (€5) per person. The garden had heaps of mini water falls, reptiles, a mini museum, souvenir shop and of course butterflies. There was also a cafe to relax but not one we wouldn’t have wanted to sit at as unfortunately it was filthy and looked far from inviting, which a great shame as it was not in keeping with the rest of the park.
We took a cab to Little India and I must say I wasn’t surprised that it was really pretty and extremely colourful. We were there a very short time as it was a lot smaller area than I was lead to believe, in all it was basically one main street consisting of shops on either side. You can find nice Indian food, Saris, supermarkets with all the basic essentials, blaring Indian music being played from one of the music stores basically made the area feel like a mini India outside of India itself which is not a surprise a there is a huge Indian community in the whole of Malaysia.
Being in Asia, the food of course was yummy as we expected it would be and there was so much choice…. Here is a list of places we visited and highly recommend.
Jalan Alor was an amazing street full of street food with such an abundance of choice that this was the first place we visited. Its very busy so be prepared for a few delays but we were all happy in the end because any delays we faced were quickly forgotten as the food here is top notch, no matter what takes your fancy.
Bijan– Modern Malaysian cuisine, a touch expensive if you are on a budget however totally worth it and the decor and service of this place is second to none
Merchants Lane– A quirky little cafe with great Malaysian and western fares, great decor and great staff… be prepared to wait for at least 20-30 minutes to get a table. The cafe is directly behind the Petaling Markets
My Burgerlab- Now hear me out on this one…..I know, I know I’m talking about burgers….in Asia but we are not talking just burgers here….we’re talking great burgers!!…..so great in fact that you’ll have to deal with…..well…. huge queues!! But these queues are full of locals which you know will always guarantee that the food is great. There are 3 locations outside of KL city and we needed to take a taxi ride of about 20 minutes but it was so worth it ….. getting a taxi back…..well that was an altogether other experience…..so make sure you organise your return taxi, or give your driver a few quid to wait for you while you eat……otherwise you might find yourself walking up to the main road and hoping one drives past that you can pull over!! We got lucky
The Toast and Co was a breakfast place that made wonderful open sandwiches with great coffee to boot! They use only organic products as they truly believe in quality over quantity, it is also part of a hostel so you can look them up as a place to stay too. Located in Chinatown.
Lucy In The Sky (such a great name) was another top find for breakfast and good coffee. Opens early at around 8am unlike other cafes that open after 10.30am. It saved us one morning when we were starving and everything around Chinatown was closed.
Absolute Thai is located in Times Square Mall and we happened to pass by and decided to give it a try, it was great Thai food which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It is a chain restaurant but the food is lovely and of a very good quality that tasted super fresh.
For evening drinks, apart from the previously mentioned Helipad Bar, we frequented the Loco Bar which was our local place and we had lot’s of laughs with the girls here, the staff remembered us each time we would arrive and they played some great 70’s tunes from the likes of Barry White, Jackson 5, Blondie, Shalamar, Barry Blue…..remember him?….no nor could we !! :))))))) This place is in Bukit Bintang where all the action is, rows and rows of bars and restaurants to choose from but Loco was the one you could sit, enjoy some music but it was not too loud as to hinder your ability to have a chat and share a joke.
I could literally write on and on and on regarding Kuala Lumpur but I’m gonna sign off with a few tips to remember when travelling there…
KLIA AND KLIA 2 airport’s are quite a drive downtown so if you are catching a flight or flying into KL a taxi will take approximately 60 minutes and traffic is a nightmare…..at any time so make sure you give yourself ample travel time if catching a flight. There is also the KL express but if you are on a budget its expensive so do a bit of research beforehand.
Taxis are fairly cheap within the city, sometimes its best to agree on the price with the driver before you set off if you don’t want the meter on but at night 95% of drivers will say meter only and are a not so forthcoming with a price if you ask them for a rough estimate for the trip.
Buses traveling interstate are pretty cheap and we didn’t pay more than 40 RM (€8) per person….but be warned….they are not super comfortable and they stop very often and sometimes for up to 10 minutes, it can make for a very frustrating journey.
Once you have arrived in KL, on the ground floor of the airport you can find taxi kiosks where you can pre-book your taxi and pay upfront, all you need to tell them is the address you are traveling to and they will advise of the price, you can take the risk of approaching a taxi driver directly yourself but you may get ripped off as they target foreign tourists in the arrivals lounge.
Money exchange booths were found all over the city and around all Malaysia no proof of ID was needed and the exchange rate was almost identical wherever you find an exchange.
Kuala Lumpur is a delightful city and one where you’ll never struggle to fill your days no matter what your preferences are.