Kuala Lumpur was never in our travel plan, but we ended up booking a spontaneous stopover for two days on our way from Thailand to Bali, and what a decision this turned out to be! Straight away it’s become one of my favourite cities, and since we only had two days we wanted to make the most of it. Here’s what we crammed into our 48 hours in KL (I’m still not sure how we managed it)…
Chinatown & Brickfields
Before I visited Kuala Lumpur I repeatedly heard the phrase that it’s “a melting pot of cultures”, and this becomes apparent as soon as you see the city. There’s a seemingly equal mix of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese residents living in KL, each bringing their distinct cultures, which makes for a really interesting mix and some amazing food! Brickfields, which is KL’s ‘Little India’, and Chinatown, are the best places to go to experience two totally different cultures only walking distance apart.
Easily my favourite thing we saw in Kuala Lumpur! The biggest Hindu worship site outside of India set high up in the stunning caves of a towering limestone hill. The hundreds of steps you have to climb to reach the main cave are patrolled by dozens of very cute but pushy monkeys who aren’t shy about trying to steal whatever you may be holding, so make sure you do up your bag!
A huge and very beautiful public park which features a bird garden, butterfly garden and deer park amongst other things, however we didn’t get much further than strolling around the lakes before we had to give in to the KL heat. This city is THE HOTTEST place I have EVER been. It was verging on unbearable in January so I definitely couldn’t manage it in summer. Anyway, the Lake Gardens are definitely worth a visit.
We also encountered this huge lizard-thing there which I swear to god waved at me, anyone know what it is?!
Changkat Bukit Bintang
A buzzing, vibrant street packed with bars and nightclubs. It really would be one of the best nightlife areas I’ve seen in Asia if alcohol here wasn’t so expensive. Not just in KL but in Malaysia generally – apparently because it’s a Muslim country there’s a big tax on alcohol so as not to encourage drinking. This area is really cool to look around though, and I’m sure this street would be a wicked night out if, unlike us, you could afford it! The good news though is that aside from alcohol KL is pretty cheap.
While I couldn’t justify spending £7 on a small beer in an average bar, splashing out on (a couple of) expensive drinks up here felt more like a tourist experience, so we excused it. It’s a really luxurious bar/club/lounge with a swimming pool, on one of the top floors of the fancy Traders Hotel. Definitely the most VIP we’ve felt on this trip! Drinks aren’t actually any more expensive than in the other bars, and you get an incredible view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, with the iconic Petronas Towers lit up directly in front.
Kuala Lumpur’s aquarium! Hundreds of weird and wonderful creatures here, but the highlight is definitely the long conveyor belt which takes you slowly through tunnels underneath the huge tanks whilst sharks and giant sting rays swim around your head.
Malaysian food, Indian food, Chinese food. Just eat everything! Cheese rotis, which are a kind of flatbread, were my favourite local food – you can get them with all sorts of fillings and sweet ones too. The Indian influence means it’s not hard to find a great curry, and there’s lots of vegetarian places because of the city’s huge Hindu population. It is the norm here for food to be served on a banana leaf and eaten with your hands. Luckily though most places do seem to have plastic cutlery – I love embracing local culture but I just can’t get down to eating a curry with my fingers…
We had a busy couple of days in Kuala Lumpur (I’m exhausted just writing this) but we managed to check everything that we wanted to see off our list! I absolutely loved KL and I would go back in a heartbeat.