Kuala Lumpur is the epicentre of modern Malaysian culture…
My short familiarisation trip to Kuala Lumpur (compliments of Gold Medal Travel Group) was short but gave me an insight into this vibrant city.
KL as it is fondly known, has been transformed over the years with many new modern tall buildings, and if you are prepared to explore you will find some of its former colonial charm has been retained unlike ultra-modern Singapore. However your first impression might be of a noisy grid locked city – you can’t help noticing rather dilapidated buildings inter mingled with the modern architecture of the city. If you look further the city has much to offer the visitor depending on your interests. When visiting a large city it always pays to do your homework before travelling so that you have some sort of plan in mind of what you may wish to do, particularly if your stopover is only a few nights.
Overcome traffic delays by using the transport system
Getting to and from the main international airport is quick and easy by using the KLIA Express which runs every 15 minutes and takes only 30 minutes to the town terminal (Kuala Lumpur Sentral) using modern trains: http://www.kliaekspres.com/ …Sentral is the major hub and station for KL’s public transport. Train tickets can be purchased at the airport or on arrival at Sentral. It is easier to take a taxi when you have luggage from there for the last leg to your hotel, buying a coupon for the taxi in advance at Sentral.
It is worth being familiar with the public transport system in advance due to the chronic constant traffic congestion in the inner city; it can take you 30 mins to travel 100 metres in traffic, or be prepared to walk. Kuala Lumpur’s rail based transit system consists of 2 light rail lines (LRT similar to London Docklands Railway), 1 central monorail system, 2 commuter rail links and the airport link. Touch n go cards can be purchased at stations (if you intend using the system quite a bit) or pay cash for each trip. The easiest to understand web link is below:
Outside the City
Just outside the city are the famous Batu Caves (Hindu temple inside limestone caves) – the huge gold painted well maintained statue of Lord Murugan, Hindu god of war and victory, outside the caves was impressive as well as the monkeys that inhabit the caves. The 272 stairs climb to the caves were less so – these steps are steep so not for the fainthearted! The caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. You can take the KTM Komuter line train from KL Sentral to the Batu Caves in 30 minutes – cost RM1 or RM2 only! Around 5.5 Malaysian Ringgits = £1.
Also the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory – the world’s largest manufacturer of pewter. You can view how items are manufactured (or take part) and the inevitable gift shop offers unique pewter items – ideal for gifts. Check all viewing and tour details before going. Taxi from the city takes around 30 minutes, cost RM25 single or take Kelana Jaya (formerly Putra) LRT train to Wangsa Maju and 5 minutes by taxi costs RM10.
The Kings Palace surrounded by beautiful green lawns and parks is lovely and the Royal guards on horseback dressed in red uniforms (influenced by the British) are very smart. However you do not get past the gates so if short of time maybe one to miss out.
National Monument and Lake Gardens Area
An impressive and relaxing open area of the city to visit and popular with families with children. Beside the gardens you will find the National Monument Sculpture and Fountains commemorating freedom fighters of Malaysia. Lake Gardens itself is a vast green area of grass and other green vegetation which includes the Bird Park (world renowned aviary), Deer Park, Butterfly Park, Hibiscus Garden and Orchid Garden.
The old part of the City including Malaysia’s Independent Square
For anyone interested in older architecture like me, this old part of the city is well worth a visit. Another attractive green wide open area, especially at night when lit up with fairy lights. The square is bordered on one side by the Selangor Club where the English colonists played cricket and the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad Building built in a beautiful Moorish style in the 1890s and designed by a British architect. As the names implies this square with its extremely high flagpole was the location when in 1957 the Malaysian flag replaced the Union Jack on independence of the country. Many important parades and events take place here including of course Independence Day. It is only 5 minutes’ walk from the Masjid Jamek LRT Station.
There are other sites close by within 10 minutes’ walk including Textile or Natural History Museums, KL Library, Central Market and China Town. At Chinatown you can find a great variety of food stalls and night markets. Central Market is great for local goods and crafts; also for souvenir shopping. Also nearby is the 100 year old Masjid Jamik Mosque with its most beautiful North Indian Islamic Architecture. If visiting remember appropriate dress.
Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC (Kula Lumpur City Centre)
Unfortunately we did not have time to go up the towers – charges now apply and you can buy on the day for the Sky bridge only – level 41 (on the day queuing at the Towers office from 6.30) or a package for Sky bridge and Observation Deck (level 86) up to 3 days in advance but still queuing from 06.30. Open except Mondays. This crude way of booking is bound to change so you best check well in advance before your travel date.
A good alternative with a lot less hassle is to go up the KL Tower which is nearly as high and you will get great views of KL and the Twin Towers.
Advertised the best view in Kuala Lumpur, go to the SKY BAR on the 33rd floor at The Traders Hotel which includes super views of the Petronas Twin Towers from a huge open window.
The Saria KLCC, next to the twin towers, includes a huge world class shopping mall with a superb selection of restaurants and food outlets as well as international and local shops. You will also find an art gallery and The Philharmonic Hall home to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Close by are beautiful gardens with water features and shaded areas to sit – a great place to relax and admire the view of the towers. This area also comes alive at night with pubs and restaurants surrounding the water features.
Malaysian Cuisine – Shopping – Families
Many visitors just come to the city for the shopping – a vast selection of shopping malls and shops are on offer. While others come to experience the marvellous food delights that are produced by the different nationalities that live and work harmoniously in the city. In fact there are now quite a number of quality culinary and cultural tours which gives the visitor the opportunity of tasting and experiencing Malaysian local cuisine at its best.
During my visit I noticed lots of families who were on holiday – there are several attractions for them including many Museums and aquarium not mentioned in this piece. Also prices in general for everything are very attractive – an important ingredient for a family holidays and serious shopaholics.
See other blog on Kuala Lumpur Selected Hotels, Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
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All details quoted are thought to be correct at time of posting but are always subject to confirmation at time of booking
Photo: Gold Statue of Lord Murugan (Hindu God of War and Victory) – Batu Caves (SG) 123