Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.

Kuala Lumpur [1], or simply KL, is the capital of Malaysia . Literally meaning "muddy estuary" in Malay, KL has grown from a small sleepy village to a bustling metropolis (metro population 6.9 million) in just 150 years. With the world's cheapest five-star hotels, great shopping and even better food, increasing numbers of travellers are discovering this little gem of a city.

Historical Sultan Abdul Samad Building at Independence Square



KL TowerKuala Lumpur is one of those cities which is short on must-see attractions: the real joy lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it. It's hot, humid and sometimes crowded though, so schedule some air-conditioned downtime in shopping malls or restaurants into your plan. You may find that most attractions are only crowded on weekends/holidays and deserted on weekdays.


KL Tower



The following gives a brief description of KL’s attractions according to district. See the respective district pages for more details.


The main attractions are spread throughout the city, although the greatest concentration of places of interest are in the City Center, where you’ll find the Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka) where Malaysia’s independence was declared at the start of Aug 31, 1957; the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and other Colonial-era buildings surrouding the square; the National Mosque; the Moorish-style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station which now houses a mini-museum on Malaysian railway history; many of KL’s other museums including the National Museum; and the pretty Lake Gardens to the west. Within the city center is also the fascinating narrow streets of Chinatown, KL’s traditional commercial district, with its many Chinese shops and places to eat.


Another area of interest to the traveller is the Golden Triangle. Although predominantly a shopping and nightlife district, it is also home to the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) and the Petronas Twin Towers , once the world’s tallest building. In the nearby KL Convention Center is the Aquaria KLCC which contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish. Just south of the Twin Towers is Menara KL Tower, which is situated on top of Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill), a forest reserve right in the heart of the city. Views from the Tower are far superior than those from the Petronas Towers , though it is not a particularly easy place to reach by public transport.


There are also several attractions just outside Kuala Lumpur which are worth visiting. The Batu Caves in the Northern suburbs of Kuala Lumpur , are located in a limestone outcrop and are the focal point of the fascinating annual Thaipusam festival, usually held in February. The caves are easily accessible by RapidKL bus U6 from Titiwangsa station, though ask the driver to let you know the correct stop as the caves are not immediately obvious. Malaysia ’s National Zoo (Zoo Negara) is also located in the north of the city.



KL is the type of city where the first things that come to mind when you talking of doing anything is "eating" and "shopping", both of which are adequately covered by the Eat and Buy sections.


Those activities aside, KL has its fair share of sporting opportunities such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and even equestrian. If you’re into rock climbing, the Batu Caves in Northern Kuala Lumpur is a popular weekend haunt of those wanting to scale some heights. However, for anything more strenuous and challenging, you’re better of heading to other spots in country.


Malaysia is trying to encourage greater cultural expression and KL has several good theatres and places for performances, such as the National Theatre (Istana Budaya) and KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in the northern part of he city, the KL Philharmonic in KLCC, and the Actors Studio in Bangsar.


You can also get a good dosage of pampering in KL. For those in search of spas, there are several five-star hotel-connected as well as independent treatment centers in the Golden Triangle. You’ll also find heaps of reflexology and foot massage places everywhere but especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and Chinatown.


Of course, you can always immerse yourself at The Sampuoton Fish Spa the first fish therapy designer concept spa in Malaysia . A unique trait that sets it apart from the rest, the highly-priced Garra Rufa fishes from Turkey found at the Sampuoton Spa are known to rejuvenate and relax the soul while providing great beautification benefits for your whole body.



Malaysians are obsessed with food and it is hardly surprising that as the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur reflects this love affair with eating. You'll be able to find the entire range of Malaysian cuisine (although some, especially those from Penang, argue that what you get in KL is not the best) as well as food from around the world.


As far as the budget is concerned, you can eat fairly well for fairly little in KL. Just head to the roadside stalls and what Malaysians call coffeeshops (kedai kopi) - a shop which operates like a foodcourt with many stalls selling a variety of food (mostly Chinese, and hence, non-halal). Some coffeeshops offer streetside dining by placing their tables on the sidewalks of roads. Coffeeshops are found on virtually every street in KL but Chinatown (especially Jalan Sultan, Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Petaling) in the City Center and Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle have some of the greatest concentration of coffeeshops and stalls. They mostly open only at night.


Rivalling the coffeeshops in terms of numbers, as well as the price of food, are what Malaysians call "Mamak shops" - food outlets run by Indian Muslims. They can also be found at almost every street corner in KL. The food is of course halal. The streetside version, called the "Mamak stall" is also popular. One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row (see Tuanku Abdul Rahman page).


Foodcourts in shopping malls can also provide you with a good opportunity to sample Malaysian food in more hygenic conditions, although the prices will be a little higher than coffeeshops.


KL has a good number of restaurants, some of them offering better food than others. The Golden Triangle, Bangsar and Midvalley, Heritage Row and some areas in Damansara and Hartamas are the usual places for people looking for a restaurant meal. Beware that most restaurants close by 10 PM, so you'll probably need to look for street food if hungry at night.


In terms of ethnicity, Chinatown is the best place to search for Chinese food, although all kinds of Chinese cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, can be found all over KL. Head to Lebuh Ampang in the City Center and Brickfields for Indian food. Malay food can be found in Jalan Masjid India , Chow Kit and Kampung Baru areas in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district. Bangsar has many high-end restaurants offering Western food. If you are dying for Korean food, head to Ampang Jaya. A lot of Arab and Middle Eastern restaurants have mushroomed in Bukit Bintang.



KL has quite a vibrant nighlife and the Golden Triangle is the epicentre of most of the partying which goes on in the city. Jalan P. Ramlee, just south of KLCC, is Kuala Lumpur 's central clubbing area, while the action also spills onto Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Pinang and Jalan Perak. Nearby Bukit Bintang also throbs with action, and its neon- lit nightclubs, many of them with hostesses, certainly have a more Asian feel to them.


Heritage Row, in the Tuanku Abdul Rahman district, is fast catching up as a popular nightspot. It occupies a row of refurbished colonial-era shophouses and is now home to one of KL's swankiest clubs and trendy bars. Strictly for well heeled visitors and locals. It is located on Jalan Doraisamy just off Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Dang Wangi.


Bangsar has long been one of the busiest places in Kuala Lumpur after the sun goes down. The action is around Jalan Telawi and its side streets, and is definitely the place to go for clubbing and deafening music.


Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara in the Damansara and Hartamas district have popular pubs and some clubs as well as nice coffee places. You may be able to find live performances in some of the outlets.


After a tiring night out, Malaysians like to head to Mamak stalls - basically streetside stalls or shops operated by Indian Muslims - which offer a range of non-alcoholic bevearages like teh tarik (frothed tea) and light food. In fact, these stalls have also become night hangouts in their own right, and many outlets have installed wide-screen projectors and TV where they screen football matches. Most outlets are open 24 hours. They are found all over the city and are a wonderful part of the Malaysian night scene.


Another trend that has hit Malaysia is the kopitiam fad, basically a more upmarket version of the traditional Chinese coffeeshop. These mostly open during the day and offer some of the best tea and coffee and light meals and snacks like nasi lemak and the ever popular toast with kaya (coconut jam). If you prefer Western style coffee, there are many coffee outlets in KL, most of them part of international and local chains like Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and San Francisco Coffee. Most of them can be found in shopping malls



KL's budget accommodation is mostly found in Chinatown in the City Center where a bed for the night can be as little as RM20. Increasingly, more are opening in the Bukit Bintang and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman / Chow Kit areas which are near the Golden Triangle, where prices are slightly higher than in Chinatown but you’ll be next to KL’s entertainment, shopping and dining center. The places also tend to be more spacious and cozy. Try and avoid any hostels marked Rumah Tumpangan; these are dodgy boarding houses for foreign workers or cater to the trade where rooms are rented out by the hour.


Mid-range hotels are comparatively poor value in KL, and it's worth it to spend a little extra (or look a little harder) for a true luxury hotel on the cheap. Mid-range hotels are found in almost all districts of the city.


KL has a deserved reputation as one of the world's cheapest places to experience five-star luxury, with rooms available (at the right time and with the right discounts) for as little as RM250. Most of KL's best hotels are located in the Golden Triangle, smack in the middle of all the shopping, dining and entertainment that you will need during your visit to KL.