Depending on your love for cities, Kuala Lumpur doesn’t require a huge amount of your time – its infrastructure is superb and the layout of the city isn’t too complicated. As a girl who craves city life every now and again I spent four days there getting to know it and I’m heading back soon for a rest bite from all the bus travel I’ve been doing exploring mainland Malaysia’s East coast.
What to see in Kuala Lumpur depends on your time there. Many use Kuala Lumpur as a transit point to far flung shores like Australia or as a whistle-stop ‘city twinning’ with Singapore before exploring some of Malaysia’s stunning island retreats, leaving themselves with limited time to explore the city properly. Even though the transport systems are great, many of the city’s key sights are scattered around the city in the outskirts – there isn’t a typical ‘central’ place where everything is.
I was staying at an awesome hostel called Reggae Mansion on Jalan Tun H S Lee (Jalin Masjid metro). It’s a party hostel that looks like a giant posh mansion with ‘capsule’ bunk beds and an awesome atmosphere. I seriously recommend this place – I’m excited to be going back!
Like most hostels, it caters for its backpacker residents (not just via the pumping rooftop bar) by offering tours, day trips and other activities. After a couple of days exploring the central aspects of the city myself I decided it was time to see the sights that were slightly harder to reach, and while easy to get to, would take a lot of time and potentially spill into two days should I reply on public transport. Plus I would get to meet other people in my hostel – always a bonus as a solo traveller.
Starting at 10am (they obviously know us travellers don’t always emerge at early hours) I joined Reggae Tours Malaysia’s full day “Seven Wonders of Kuala Lumpur Tour” complete with a driver who also acted as our constant information source. The tour costs 70 Ringgit (approximately £14) and lasts until 5pm. Luckily our driver guide didn’t chaperone us around each of the sights (I’m not too much into that) but he did give insight on each of the ‘wonders’ before we arrived and pointed out other aspects of the city as we passed them in the mini-bus, some of which I went back to on my own the next day.
So what do you see?
Thean Hou Temple
While not the grandest of Chinese temples I have come across this one, constructed in the 80’s, is a KL landmark. It has all the ornate décor and carvings you would expect but I found the lantern ceiling upon entry pretty impressive.
Little India Brickfields
It is said that Little India was given its title in 1997 after 95% of the population in the area was deemed Indian descent. Here you will find a whole host of restaurants and shops. My suggestion is to mainly seek out the food here!
Merdeka (Independence) Square
This is the spot where Malaysia symbolically declared independence from the British at midnight on August 31, 1957. The square is also surrounded by some stunning colonial architecture, which I spent a morning looking around the day after.
National Palace (Istana Negara)
The official residence of the King of Malaysia is imposing but rather majestic, even if you can only peer through the gates for a quick glimpse of the royal structure on the hillside – you are not permitted to enter the grounds. Just like in London, everyone is fascinated with the horse guards.
So it turns out that Kuala Lumpur houses the world’s tallest bronze sculpture (so they say), which commemorates those is died for Malaysia’s freedom in various wars. It’s a beautiful freestanding sculpture set within beautiful gardens. Well worth the relaxing stroll and amazing backdrop of the city.
Batu Caves – Hindu Temple Caves
These limestone hill caves, said to be over 400 million years old, didn’t have the wow factor I was expecting but climbing the 272 steps of one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India in the Malaysian heat is a feat worth congratulating yourself for. Be sure to turn around the check out the view of the city.
Kuala Lumpur is a city where many religions co-exist in harmony. This mosque is the main Islamic centrepiece in the city. Built in 1965, it has a modern design featuring a 73-metre-high minaret, Islamic art décor, water pools and a surrounding garden. You have to wear a robe to enter, but we had fun with that!
We also drove past the Petronas Towers on the way home and although most of us had already checked them out, we couldn’t resist another photo opportunity!
While not on the itinerary we were taken to some chocolate shops at the end of the tour. But all we did was walk around and get offered free chocolate samples, so it wasn’t something I could really complain about. However, some might not appreciate this add-on, but you have to make of it what you will. If your group is that much against it I am sure the driver would happily drop it from the sightseeing menu.
This is a great way to cram a lot of the city’s key highlights into one day, without feeling like you are rushing through them. Although you may be paying just a few pounds more than you would using public transport, this is a good means of eliminating an exhausting couple of days of fast paced navigation in the heat and bustle of the city.
Thank you to Reggae Tours who kindly invited me to try their new ‘Seven Wonders of Kuala Lumpur ‘ tour. All opinions, as always, are my own.