Affectionately known as “KL” by the Malaysians, Kuala Lumpur is beyond doubt a melting pot of architectural monuments as well as cultures.
From its humble beginning as a muddy mining town, the city today is hardly recognisable from the time Malaysia gained its independence from the British in 1957. The marriage of British colonial architecture with Moorish themes and that of modern skyscrapers produced a truly remarkable and seamless landscape of interesting sights.
You could be standing at one corner of the street looking up to the towering Petronas Twin Towers only to turn around and face the majestic Sultan Abdul Samad building, the most impressive colonial building in the Merdeka Square.
Kuala Lumpur has an estimated population of 1.6 million people and is one of the most successful cities in South East Asia and is comparable to Hong Kong and Singapore. It is also one of the country’s main destinations for the many millions of tourists each year visiting Malaysia via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
Kuala Lumpur certainly has a good mix of attractions, entertainment and historical monuments to justify a few days stay in the city before visiting the other parts of the country.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur
Being the economic, financial centre and capital of the country, Kuala Lumpur is the centre of everything. This actually makes getting to Kuala Lumpur quite a simple task.
Once you have landed at KLIA, you can take a shuttle bus, taxi or a train to Kuala Lumpur. The journey from the airport to the city takes around 45 minutes. The ticket price (one way) for the airport shuttle bus cost around Rm10 (approx $3.20) while a return ticket will set you back by Rm18 (approx $5.80).
Taxi fares from KLIA to KL will cost you from Rm70 for budget taxi to RM180 for a luxury taxi. You can purchase the taxi coupon from within KLIA itself. Be sure that you get an airport taxi and not one from the touts that are hanging around the airport. KL taxis are notorious for fleecing tourists.
The most comfortable way to get to KL from KLIA, in my opinion, will be to take the Express Rail Link (ERL). The train will stop at KL Sentral train station and from there; you can easily take a taxi to your hotel at a much cheaper cost.
The train fare, by the way is Rm35 and the journey itself will take around 36 minutes.
Once you are in Kuala Lumpur city the best way to get around is either by foot, train, bus or taxi. have a look here for more information.
Where to stay in KL
With regards to hotels in Kuala Lumpur, there is definitely a wide selection.
Not only does the city cater for business travellers and tourists, there is also a huge range of budget accommodation to for the backpacker.
Business travellers can easily find luxurious boutique and 5 star hotels like the JW Mariott Kuala Lumpur, the Ascot Kuala Lumpur or the Ritz Carlton Hotel Kuala Lumpur just to name a few. Personally, I prefer to stay at the heart of Bukit Bintang shopping district where everything is within walking distance, like the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall. Hotels like the Melia Hotel Kuala Lumpur and Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur are very comfortable and reasonably priced as well.
At the other end of the spectrum, budget travellers also have numerous choices of clean and modestly priced accommodation to choose from. The Alamanda Hotel Petaling Street Kuala Lumpur, the Hotel China Town Inn Kuala Lumpur and the Petaling Street Hotel Kuala Lumpur are all located in Chinatown and are just a stones throw away from one of the most famous Kuala Lumpur landmarks, the old Central Market. Prices for a room per night are all below $20.
Shopping in KL
Kuala Lumpur presents a good mix of everything, from shopping to the famous Kuala Lumpur nightlife along Jalan P.Ramlee and Bukit Bintang Road.
Around the Bukit Bintang district, there are several major shopping malls that are worth visiting. Sungai Wang Plaza, Bukit Bintang, the two oldest shopping malls in KL, the Berjaya Times Square, Lot 10 and the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur are just some of the few places that a shopping fanatic must visit when in KL.
As the city was also the administrative centre for the British during colonial times, the city has many architectural heritages left over by the British that will prove a delight to those who appreciate architectural history.
Modern development has also left its imprint on the city as well.
Kuala Lumpur is also the cultural centre of Malaysia and with this, it is not surprising to find many cultural attractions in this bustling metropolis.
Below is a list of some attractions that I recommend for new visitors to the city and old visitors if you have not got out and about yet:
All in all KL is a fantastic energetic city with lots to see and do. It is also a great city to use as a hub whilst you travel to other areas, specially with the affordability of low cost flights at the moment!