I hadn’t planned on visiting Kuala Lumpur while I was in Asia, but I’m so glad I did. If you travel in that part of the world for any extended period of time it will actually be hard to avoid at least flying through KL – that’s how I ended up there. Honestly, I just love the place. It’s not overwhelming like Asian capitol cities can be – ie. Manila, Bangkok, Shanghai, and so on – and it’s not eerily quiet and clean like Singapore. It’s a lovely in between. I’m not suggesting you spend a week there, but rather, if you are flying through it’s worth stopping for 2-3 nights.
I was there twice in 2015, and both times I stayed near the KLCC – Kuala Lumpur City Center Park.This is where the iconic Petronas “Twin Towers” are located. Just about anything you could need or want is within walking distance of this park (or in it) so for that reason I think I chose location well and would recommend it. First time there I stayed at the Shangrila, second time at Traders. Click on the links to read about my experience at those hotels in more detail, but in summary, the Shangrila was superior, in the quality of its rooms, amenities, and service, but Traders is right on the park (had a view of the towers) and has a famous rooftop bar (yay???). Shangrila is about 7 minutes walk to the towers, and on the way to Bukit Bintang.
Do not miss the Twin Towers. To visit to the catwalk that spans between the 2 massive towers, and the observation deck/floor costs about $20 US, but if you can swing it, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s an old habit of mine to visit architecturally significant sites while traveling, and this was one of the most enjoyable so far. I won’t go on and on, but I will say it is thrilling to be on the catwalk suspended, high above the city, between the 2 towers, and the 360 view from the 82nd (?) floor is magical.
If you don’t want to spend to go to the top, go to KLCC and get nearby during sunset. There is a fountain/pond on the park side that does a light/water display (think mini Belaggio, Vegas) and as the sun sets the building begins to glow. Stunning, really.
If you are looking for nightlife KL has that too! There is a rather large expat scene, which is actually nice when you’ve been traveling for a while. The area (near KLCC) for expat-ish night life seems to be Bukit Bintag. One night I ate at Bijan, it’s near/in Bukit Bintang so after dinner we walked through and stopped at a few (unremarkable) bars. There are many. I highly recommend Bijan Restaurant and Bar, however. Nice little outdoor area, and very good food, really nice staff who offered great menu recommendations.
My friend and I wandered for several hours that night. The city is very textured, no block looks or feels like the last. Getting from one neighborhood to the next can be an exercise in patience, as many of the larger avenues are built like highways and difficult to find crossing areas. Work for it, it’s worth it. Or taxi.
Kuala Lumpur also has shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. By the time I got there I had been traveling for 5 months with a suitcase I had packed for two. I had to lay some items to rest and KL was a great place to replace staples like undergarments, t-shirts and the like. Endless shopping malls with all the usual box stores, and at least one decent street/night market. It’s for tourists, but still worth a walk through, and although it’s probably a rip-off by locals standards, stuff is way cheaper there than in the US.
I walk a lot, but for me all the sites located in the photo to the right are within walking distance of each other. For scale, from Traders and the Shangrila to the Pertonas towers is about 10-15 minutes walk.