Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, or "KL" as it is commonly known, is the focal point of new Malaysia. Bringing together the country’s past and present, and its many cultures – fundamentally indigenous Malays, Indian migrants, Chinese prospectors, and British colonials – KL is a modern and cosmopolitan hotspot that exudes elements of traditional charm.

A thriving 21st-century metropolis, spurred from a humble and at times troubled past (occupied by the Japanese in World War Two), Kuala Lumpur is an exciting and diverse Asian hub. Its bustling districts spruik evocative colonial buildings, alongside shiny mega structures like the Petronas Twin Towers. Hawkers work the streets, outside big name luxury design houses. While shanty towns pockmark the city, overlooked by stately mansions.

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Currency Malaysian ringgit (MYR)
Area 243km2
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Time Zone GMT +8
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Electricity 240v 50Hz
Population Approx. 1.9 million (urban)
Dining

Kuala Lumpur’s nature as a melting pot of cultures and traditions is wonderfully highlighted in the city’s food scene. Street vendors, markets, kopitiams (coffee shops) and upmarket restaurants permeate the city and its surrounds offering up an array of fantastic dining opportunities. Popular tourism hub, Bukit Bintang is jam-packed with dining options.

Acclaimed restaurants share the streets with hawker stalls, as the area cater to all palates and budgets. Bukit Bintang has five main eat streets: Bintang Walk (Arabian cuisines), Changkat Bukit Bintang (fine dining, western fare and nightclubs), Jalan Alor (Chinese hawker and roadside stalls), Jalan Bukit Bintang (cafes and restaurants) and Jalan Imbi.

Close by, Chinatown also swells with dining choices. Every corner and lane teems with street food stalls and restaurants, most serving Chinese fare.

Designed to be a city within a city, the multipurpose development area of Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) is a great location to experience the city’s multifaceted food culture. Five-star hotels spruik five-star restaurants. The Petronas Towers – the tallest twin buildings in the world – are home to sprawling food courts and international fast food and café franchises. While no-frills mamak restaurants –alfresco-style roadside eateries – provide a humble introduction to Malay fare.

Located just off Jalan Sultan Ismail, not too far from KLCC, the once-abandoned houses of Jalan Doraisamy have been rejuvenated to foster one of the city’s most exciting dining hives, Asian Heritage Row. Boasting a distinct European feel – akin to Soho in London and Montmartre in Paris – Asian Heritage Row offers a myriad of international eateries (with flavours ranging from Vietnamese to Portuguese) in super-stylish surrounds. The area is also home to some of the city’s trendiest nightclubs.

30minutes from Kuala Lumpur’s commercial centre, Petaling Jaya is local favourite foodie haunt. Food from all over the globe can be found in the city-suburb, in a variety of settings covering everything from 24-hour mamak stalls and posh bistros. Weekends in Petaling Jaya are particularly lively, inundated with KL locals and tourists looking to enjoy good food.

Shopping

Shopping is one of Kuala Lumpur’s major drawcards. Hosting some of South East Asia’s biggest and grandest malls, and a vibrant collection of street markets, Kuala Lumpur is a shopping wonderland – so much so that the cityscape has been appropriated to be called a ‘mallscape’.

The mallscape’s most prominent district is Bukit Bintang. An illustrious retail belt, Bukit Bintang presents a wealth of shopping opportunities, in particular major shopping malls. Berjaya Times Square is one of the city centre’s most easily located structures – a 48-storey twin-tower complex boasting retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues. Kenanga Wholesale City has 800 stores, selling clothes, accessories and shoes at cheap prices. Low Yat Plaza (LYP or Low Yat) specialises in electronics and IT products. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is touted to be the city centre’s trendiest and most popular shopping development. While Starhill Gallery is KL’s ritziest retailer hub, home to names like Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Fendi, Valentino, Dior, Sergio Rossi and more.

Vying for the title of KL’s most popular retail zone, KLCC also presents a huge variety of shopping opportunities. Situated at the foot of the world’s tallest twin towers, the Petrona Towers, the Suria KLCC Shopping Complex (Jalan Ampang), spans six floors with flagship, franchise and boutique stores. As one of KL’s luxury retail emporiums, Suria KLCC’s inventory of stores include designers such as Bally, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, DKNY, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo and the list goes on. Located across the street, lifestyle mall Avenue K also features internationally-acclaimed high-fashion brands.

Where shopping malls highlight KL as an emergent city of the future, the metropolis’s markets and showcase its traditions, customs and history.

Chinatown’s Petaling Street is the biggest and best of the KL’s markets. A sprawling outdoor bazaar, lined with stalls selling knockoff handbags, wallets, purses, shoes, belts, watches, traditional handicrafts and kitsch knick knacks, Petaling Street is a must visit for visiting shoppers. Lively and vibrant, the market is particularly exciting after dark.

Just a short walk from Petaling Street, the Central Market is one of KL’s most familiar landmarks and a popular tourist attraction. Once a simple wet market, the bazaar was transformed to become the city’s most important handicrafts outlet. A hub for the city’s artistic community, the building fosters a warren of boutiques, handicraft and souvenir stalls with traders selling authentic local merchandise.