Kuala Lumpur – home of the famous Petronas Twin Towers. Some love this city, some hate it. If you are starting your SE Asia trip in Singapore and then travelling to KL, be prepared to ‘step back in time by at least 20 years’ (these are not my words but the tourist guide’s from KL Tourist centre).
In theory, KL has loads to offer and I personally extended my stay there, simply because I kept giving the city second chances to impress me. I knew that there must be so much more to do in KL than just see the Petronas Towers!
1. Batu Caves
This is a must do on your trip to KL. It will take you only a couple of hours to go there and back (as it’s in the outskirts of KL) but it’s definitely worth it. This little Hindu temple is so impressive, however, be prepared to climb a step or two. And if you get tired just say hello to the monkeys. When I visited it, they were building a few more temples (or maybe an extension to the main one, I am not too sure) so hopefully, it will be even more beautiful in a couple of months!
You can book a half day tour via Viator.com or Hotels.com. They will pick you up from your hotel or hostel and will also take you to the pewter factory and the batik gallery for only £11. I tried to book it a day in advance and the majority of the tours there sold out so if you can’t find one, alternatively just get a taxi (or grab) which will cost you about the same but obviously won’t take you to the pewter factory or the batik gallery.
2. Trader’s Hotel Sky Bar
If you want some good shots for your Insta and another beautiful sunset, then head to Trader’s hotel sky bar. This was a recommendation from my friend and I wasn’t disappointed. They make pretty sick mojitos (yes, that’s my go to drink and I can’t help it!) and you can watch Petronas Towers lighting up for the night. And if you want to kill two birds with one stone, then you are in for a treat. The KLCC Lake Symphony’s dancing fountains are also visible from the sky bar. It takes place every day from 12:00 – 14:00 & 18:00 – 23:00 on weekdays, and from 10:00 – 00:00 on weekends and public holidays.
3. Perdana Botanical Gardens and KL Bird Park
There’s something about green spaces in the cities that I can’t resist! Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to spend a lot of time in the Botanical gardens but from what I could see it was very peaceful and quiet. There were barely any people around me. However, it was quite difficult to find the entrance to the main park as the signage was a little bit misleading and a couple of gates were just locked. Anyways…
Whilst you are there definitely definitely definitely go to the Birds Aviary. It’s 70MYR (approx £12.60) which is a lot for Malaysia I guess, however, it’s worth the price! I spent good two hours just walking around and admiring peacocks, cockatoos and FLAMINGOS! (Honestly, do you reckon if I ever get rich and famous I could just have a couple of flamingos in my back garden? That would make me mega happy). And the craziest thing is that they are not scared of people at all. So they are just pottering around the aviary, doing their thing. God, I smile just thinking about this place!
4. Central Market
If you are after some local (or not so local) goods at a good price, check out the Central Market. I loved it so much and was way too tempted to spend all my cash there. You can get everything from the most beautiful silk and cashmere scarves (which were about £20-£30, so cheap!) to silver jewellery, antiques or organic cosmetics. You can also find a couple of food stalls inside and outside the marker and most importantly… cheap fish pedicure. It costs around 15MYR (approx £3) for 15min. (I am real sorry if it’s against animal rights but that’s all I wanted after doing 20,000 steps for 5 days in a row.)
5. Heli Lounge Bar
Hands down one of the best bars I have ever been to. EVER. It is what it says in the name. It’s a heli pad turned into a bar and oh my goodness, it will blow your mind. It offers you a 360 view of KL and some fairly good cocktails. Make sure you get there at least an hour before the sunset or better book a table. It gets really busy around that time and you might need to queue to get in. It then dies down once the sun sets for obvious reasons. They also have a DJ which plays chilled house music. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful evening.
6. Free walking tour around the historic centre
And if you want to learn some historic facts about KL and how it was founded then book yourself onto a free Heritage Walk tour organised by KL Tourism Bureau. I can’t say that it was the most interesting tour I’ve ever been on (though it might be because I was dying from the heat), however it was absolutely free and they didn’t even expect any tips from you as majority ‘free’ tours do
It takes 2,5 hours and runs every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. They are happy to accommodate walk-ins however I would recommend booking yourself a place as they can only have groups of max 30 people.
7. Visit China Town and Lai Foong hawker
I will have to say that China Town is probably not the most beautiful or pristine place but it has its charm and it definitely grew on me (probably because I was staying there). So if you go to KL, spend a couple of hours just walking around Chinatown, pop to Sin Sze Si Ya Taoist temple and Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple (they are next to each other) and then grab some sticky rice and roast duck from Lai Foong hawker. I swear by this food stall! I literally went there for 3 days in a row. It’s super busy during lunch hours and I have never seen any tourists there. I would say it’s the best rice and roast duck I’ve ever had and it will only cost you 7MYR (Approx £1.30). Also the guys who serve food were always super nice to me even though I stuck out like a sore thumb from the local crowd.
8. Mingle hostel and rooftop bar
Lastly, whilst in Chinatown pop to Mingle Hostel. Their café is top notch if you are after some hipsterish décor, coconut lattes or western food (no, I am not taking this back) and they have an amazing rooftop terrace which is open to public and serves cocktails with a FULL ON presentation (some included prosthetic hands and Japanese sandals… don’t ask me why but I am sure bartenders will be able to explain this to you!). It was always full of locals as they said this place is BIG on Instagram and they all wanted to check it out! Look at me, still down with the kids!
So as you can tell I’ve spent the majority of my time in KL chasing sunsets, green spaces and spending my money drinking mojitos. I personally don’t know whether I would come back to Kuala Lumpur, in my opinion, it was lacking something but I just can’t put my finger on it. Either way, you don’t know whether you will like it or not until you actually visit it!