Kuala Lumpur is a modern metropolis surrounded by culturally diverse suburbs slap bang in the middle of a jungle. The overgrown, half-finished building works on the outskirts look like the remains of a hidden lost world and just a short train ride away you’ll discover ancient caves guarded by giant golden statues.
It’s not all rainforests and ruins though, Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC for short) is as modern as central London (and much cleaner) with towering skyscrapers, underground malls and some great hidden gems. Read on for our top five things to do in this epic city.
Five Experiences we think you simply can’t miss in Kuala Lumpur
See the view from the Kuala Lumpur Tower
The most famous buildings in KL are undoubtedly the Petronas Towers. Standing underneath them and gazing up at the sky bridge floating above, you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s the best place to get a view of the city. However, when you’re inside the towers gazing out…you can’t see them! The skyline, stripped of their iconic shape, suddenly loses some of its flair and individuality. A good alternative is the Kuala Lumpur Tower. The viewing deck is actually much higher than the sky bridge and you have the chance to see the Kuala Lumpur skyline in its full glory.
Get back to nature
You may be in the middle of a city but you’re also in the middle of a jungle. Kuala Lumpur has some fantastic nature sights including FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia), a massive conservation and research area which boasts a canopy walkway, traditional Malay houses and nature trails (we spotted a massive monitor lizard!). If you prefer nature of the avian variety Kuala Lumpur also boasts the world’s largest free flight walk in aviary with over 200 species of birds.
Hit the museums
The heat of the city can be intense. At midday an hour or two in an air conditioned building surrounded by interesting artefacts is too good a proposition to pass up. Luckily Kuala Lumpur is home to some fascinating museums including the massive Islamic Arts Museum where you can learn about the history of the peninsular as well as Islamic art and culture.
Sample the street food
Wherever you are in Asia, street food is one of the region’s true joys. Kuala Lumpur is no exception and, while you may have to go a little further afield to dodge the sterilised shopping centre cantinas, there’s plenty of good grub to be found.
One of the most popular street food stops is Jalan Alor, a small road just off the main drag of Bukit Bintang which comes alive at night with dozens of restaurants spilling out of the surrounding buildings and into the busy streets. If you’re looking for good, cheap food in the city centre a hidden gem is Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery Canteen, a modest Buddhist temple surrounded by skyscrapers which serves some of the best vegetarian food in the city for around 70p per (massive) plate.
If this has got you hankering for a little bit more talk of street food loveliness, check out our blog post on Where to Find the Best Street Food in Asia.
Shop till you drop
From the massive six story underground mall below the Petronus Towers to the infamous Petaling Street in the heart of China Town, Kuala Lumpur is a shopaholic’s paradise. For something a little more authentic head to Chow Kit Market – the largest wet market in the city – where you can wind your way down tiny alleys past hundreds of stalls selling everything from fabric to fish to blow torched horses heads. Seriously.