Kuala Lumpur (affectionately abbreviated to KL) is known as the Garden City and the cosmopolitan capital city of Malaysia. It is also being called the new gateway to South East Asia and it’s easy to see why. The city is a central hub for visitors travelling to Asia and beyond. It is also a city with an interesting history, great culture, amazing architecture, fabulous food, wonderful shopping – and some of the world’s most affordable five-star hotels. Yes really!
For travellers and adventurers with a little time to spare and with a flexible agenda, it’s possible to use KL as an exciting and strategic hub, from which to fly on to so many other places relatively inexpensively. This is because you can fly throughout Asia and beyond on a budget-priced/flexible ticket with Air Asia from its own terminal at KLIA2 and from KLIA1 with a choice of many other airlines internationally.
We recently flew on a budget-priced ticket with Air Asia to the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. On another occasion, we flew to Singapore for the weekend to enjoy a Singapore Sling at the famous Long Bar at Raffles. On another trip, we flew off for a few nights to the Malaysian duty-free island of Langkawi. Penang is another popular destination within Malaysia (a foodie paradise) that is well worth experiencing and exploring from your base in KL.
This is why I absolutely agree with the new and popular opinion that KL is the new gateway to so many exciting cities throughout South East Asia and indeed the world!
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited KL many times over the past few years and I vividly remember my inaugural visit. It was a one-night stopover before I flew onto Cebu City in the Philippines. Arriving at night, and seeing the breathtaking sight of the Petronas Towers lighting up the KL cityscape through the window of a high-speed train from the airport, I sincerely wished I’d factored in more time to explore this impressive looking city.
My wish came true just a couple of weeks later when a typhoon cut short my planned trip through the Philippines. I returned to KL to stay right in the heart of KLCC – the city center – for a whole week. During this time, I made sure to get a ticket to take the lift to the top of the glittering Petronas Towers and to also walk across the famous sky bridge link that has been the location for so many action movies.
My most recent visit to KL was when my backpacking husband and I were enroute from Japan to Thailand and we used KL as a four-night stopover and a central meeting point to catch up with our son and his wife who live in South Korea. We all stayed in the Golden Triangle – KL’s main nightlife and shopping area – just steps away from the Petronas Towers at The Intercontinental hotel.
You’ve planned your stopover in KL. What now?
Where to stay? Hotels – including the five-star ones – are incredibly affordable in KL compared to other cosmopolitan cities in the world. Boutique hotels, for those who prefer a more personal ambience, are also sited in convenient city center locations. Do your research online and book with confidence knowing that the fabulous transport systems in KL will whisk you comfortably and most affordably to your destination.
The metropolitan transport system compliments KL with world-class KL Sentral. With its a mono-rail system, scheduled buses, and taxis (even more affordable are Uber/Grab taxis) and an excellent rail network, including a modern express train service linking the two international airports, swift access in and out of this cosmopolitan city is a real option even if you only have a limited stopover.
See: The Tallest Twin Towers, The Sky Bridge, Malls, Forests, Temples, and Caves
The Petronas Twin Towers: I can’t help it – I get a rush of adrenaline every time I see the twin towers. They are the tallest twin structures in the world with both towers joined one hundred and seventy-five feet above street level by the fifty-eight-meter-long sky bridge. At the base of the towers is the Suria Mall – a very popular high-end shopping mall. At the top – at level eighty-six – is the observation deck. Do note that a pass is required to enter the observation deck and the sky bridge and visitor numbers are limited each day so do plan ahead. Your hotel will be able to advise and assist.
The Menara KL Tower: The Menara Tower is another of Malaysia’s most recognisable landmarks. Built in the Bukit Nanas forest reserve, which is home to age-old trees including a hundred-year-old Jelutong tree and other plants indigenous to Malaysia’s tropical climate, the tower stands one hundred meters taller than the Petronas Towers, and it is visible from almost anywhere in KL. The Atmosphere 360 revolving restaurant is in the top section of the tower and the views from there are incredible!
There is so much to do in this city and in its surrounding areas that it is hard to know where to start and indeed where to finish. Online research is the key. The Batu Caves are KL’s most frequented tourist attractions. The cave is just a few miles outside the city center and is said to be some four hundred million years old. It houses an important one-hundred-year-old temple. If you are looking to do a little shopping in KL then you’ll be spoiled for choice. There are so many areas and street markets and air-conditioned malls that can turn your shopping experience into a retail therapy session. Pavilion Shopping Centre in Bukit Bintang is a luxurious shopping complex featuring all white marble, while at the entrance is the Pavilion Crystal Fountain, one of the most commonly photographed structures in the city. For an evening cocktail when the sun goes down I recommend the Trader’s Hotel sky-bar for its uninterrupted views of the Twin towers and the Golden Triangle that is the stunning city center of Kuala Lumpur.
To conclude… Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic place to schedule a stopover for sightseeing, dining, relaxing, and of course for shopping in its fabulous malls and street markets. There are hotels aplenty to suit every budget and, it has to be said again, that a luxury treat in KL (and in Malaysia in general) is far more affordable than you might think with such a favourable exchange rate on the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). KL is one of my favourite cities in the world because it is beautiful, so centrally located in Asia, and so comparably affordable.
Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur?
What were your impressions of the city?
Did you go to the top of the Petronas Towers?
Or are you planning a trip or a stopover in KL and have a question?
Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!