KL is a truly multicultural city as reflected in the clothes the people wear, the food they eat, their places of worship and its contrasting architecture. Like much of Asia, KL is on the move - skyscrapers continue to grow and new transportation systems will soon provide greater connectivity.
KL started as a mining settlement to extract tin but quickly blossomed into the capital city. While KL has protected heritage sites, most Malaysians want the trappings of modernity.
KL will appeal to Australians as it provides an encounter with different cultures but is still in tune with the good things of life and there are many familiar elements of Malaysian society to make visitors feel right at home. KL is also a great hub to explore Malaysia and the rest of Asia.
- Country - Malaysia
- Currency - Ringgit (RM)
- Visas - Australians travelling to Malaysia are issued free a three-month tourist visa upon arrival
- Tipping - There is a 6% GST but small tips for good service are welcomed
- Electricity - Type G British BS-1363, you’ll need an international adaptor
Kuala Lumpur is home to an array of Malaysia's biggest and most fascinating attractions. Standing at the base of the iconic Petronas Towers, you can really feel the dwarfing effect they have on the rest of the city. However, the city's grandeur isn't only built on concrete and steel. In fact, more natural attractions prove to be the most popular with the KL Bird Park welcoming an average of 200,000 visitors each year. Inject a bit of culture into your sightseeing with a visit to the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia or fulfill every child's dream by stepping into the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park.
Where to eat and drink is an easy question to answer in KL, almost anywhere! Food is the number one topic of conversation with Malaysians and venues attain famed status to ensure the locals travel halfway across KL for the best interpretation of popular meals. Few other countries have the breadth of dishes, cuisines and price points so it’s possible to eat in stalls for A$3 or venture to five-star restaurants where only platinum cards are recognised.
While most Malay restaurants are halal (no pork or alcohol) there are restaurants selling both if required. Food (Jalan Alor) and pub streets (Changkat Bukit Bintang) make it easy for first timers – drop in and make it a moveable feast by sampling dishes in any number of outlets. While Malay, Chinese and Indian are the dominant styles there are many variations and global cuisines are well represented. Try Peranakan or Nyonya food which could possibly be the world’s first fusion style (Chinese and Malay).
KL room rates still offer some of the region’s best value. Even budget travellers can afford to lash out and sleep a star higher than their usual rating. Most international chains operate in KL alongside a few credible local ones.
Budget travellers revel in locations such as Chinatown and parts of Bukit Bintang (around Jalan Alor and Changkat Bukit Bintang). Walk 100 metres from these areas to stay in the city’s most luxurious accommodation.
There are a handful of hotels near the airport but with the ERL train taking just 28 minutes to KL, even those on late or early flights are best to stay in the city and travel by train to the airport rather than stay near the airport where facilities are limited.
For those about to shop, KL salutes you. New shopping malls spring up almost overnight to offer global brands with most items cheaper than Australia. There are lots of bargains to be had in Sungei Wang Plaza while Suria KLCC, Pavilion KL, Starhill Gallery and Lot 10 malls sell designer labels.
Everyone loves a bargain and it has become institutionalised in KL with sales always on somewhere. Sales coincide with the Malaysian Grand Prix (mid March to mid April), Mega Sale (late June to early September) and End of Year (mid November to early January).
Department stores and most boutiques have fixed prices but there’s no harm in asking for a cash discount. Chinatown often over-inflates prices, so halve the first offer then bargain hard. Enjoy the encounter but don’t expect warranty for that A$30 Rolex.
Pasar malam are ‘pop up’ markets held regularly on different nights and different locations from sunset to after dark. Popular night markets include Chow Kit (Monday), Mont’ Kiara (Thursday) and Bangsar (Sunday).
- Suria KLCC at the base of the Twin Towers is best known for its shopping and dining. Delve deeper to discover Petrosains (a hands-on tribute to petroleum that will excite the kids), Galeri Petronas (take time out between shopping to admire some credible art) and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (a world-class music auditorium but check the dress code requirements).
Bangsar is the trendy part of KL and, depending on the traffic, just 15 minutes by taxi from the city centre. It’s where Porsches and Lamborghinis double park because they can but it’s also home to some smart cafés and designer shops with two focuses – Bangsar Shopping Centre and Bangsar Village.
Chill out in the Genting Highlands with its integrated facilities such as casino, theme park, hotels, shopping and dining in the clouds. Just one hour away, the weather and vibe are both cool.