The best part of traveling to a new city is discovering what makes it unique, and Kuala Lumpur (KL) in Malaysia is in a class all by itself. A recent visit to this city was a thrill as I was able to peel back the layers and dive headfirst into the unknown. Set amidst a sea of manicured green foliage, this metropolis is a stimulating destination where you can discover the ancient and the modern, the hectic and the serene and everything else in between; all harmoniously co-existing.
If you want to explore the sights, sounds and culture of KL, one of the best ways is with a half day City Guided Tour by HotelQuickly’s sister company eOasia. It’s a first-class affair that offers roundtrip transport from your hotel, stylish and comfortable private vehicles and the intimacy and expertise provided by your friendly and knowledgeable local guide. Although they have a basic itinerary of popular sites to see, you can customize it if you want to skip something or spend extra time at a destination. Another benefit is the insightful stories that you learn about every location you visit. Below are just a few of the places I stopped at on the tour, along with some fabulous recommendations for additional eOsia activities to consider on your next visit to Kuala Lumpur. Be sure to bring your camera, some spending money for souvenirs and your appetite for adventure.
With the street hawkers opening early in the morning, and many of the restaurants and vendors staying open deep into the night, there’s no better place than the covered market of Petaling Street to spend your time in China Town. It is a shopper’s paradise set under a sea of red and gold Chinese lanterns strewn from above where everything under the sun is for sale. If you are willing to haggle for the best deals, some unbelievable bargains can be found here. You can expect the unexpected as you explore its adjacent alleys and you are likely to stumble upon gilded Chinese temples and ancient shrines. Tasty food can be found everywhere and it’s best to discover for yourself the finest shops and stalls to get crispy suckling pig, Peking duck, dim sum, steaming bowls of Chinese noodles and some of the most delectable seafood that KL has to offer.
A real feast for the senses, Little India is an explosion of color, with its colonial buildings boldly decked out in vibrant hues of saffron, canary yellow, electric pink and seafoam blue. Intricate mosaic tiles adorn the walls and floors of many shophouses and an alluring mix of smoldering incense and tantalizing spices like cardamom, cinnamon and masala perfume the air. Even the colorful sidewalks are framed by a series of hand-painted decorative arches, and there is no better place to enjoy a cup of chai tea under a bodhi tree, find brilliant fabrics and textiles, get a bargain on jewelry and enjoy delectable Indian curries and kebabs.
The Confluence Of The Two Rivers
Kuala Lumpur literally means the “muddy place where two rivers meet” and this historic site is where it all began. Sitting in the heart of downtown and straddling the colorful historic colonial buildings on one side and the towering steel and glass skyscrapers on the other, this is a striking line of demarcation where the future and the past converge. A rolling man-made fog of dry ice cascades along the banks of the two rivers giving way to one of the most compelling and little-known photo opportunities in the city.
The National Monument
Set in a serene botanical garden overlooking the lush foliage of Lake Garden Park, The National Monument is a poignant and moving bronze sculpture commemorating the veterans of the “Malayan Emergency”. It was created by Felix de Weldon who is the same artist who designed the famous Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington D.C. It’s an elegant mix of both Islamic and Western architectural elements, mosaic tiles, soothing fountains and glassy ponds.
Orchard & Hibiscus Gardens And The Bird Park
With immaculate gardens, shaded walking paths and trails, and an on-site restaurant, this is a nature lover’s dream. It’s best to go in the early morning or in the early evening so that you can avoid the hottest part of the day. You can easily take the family and spend the entire day exploring this park. It’s a magical place to go birdwatching and see the diversity of Malaysia’s wildlife in an easygoing and carefree way.
Petronas Twin Towers
Probably the most iconic buildings in the country, the Petronas towers are smack-dab in the center of KL’s shopping district. Although the tour does not include the entrance fee to go to the top of the towers, you can easily get some terrific photos from the ground level. There are always plenty of locals willing to help you get the best pictures, and the easy accessibility and functionality of the grounds around the towers allow you to roam around at your leisure and take your time getting the perfect shots.
Once In A Lifetime Excursions
The City Guided Tour described above takes about 3 hours overall, and I visited several additional locations including The Old Market Square, the historic KL Railway Station, and the Royal Palace Kuala Lumpur, which was built in 1928. This tour is a fantastic way to acclimate yourself to the layout of the city and discover the museums, shopping centers and areas of interest that you may want to come back to and visit on your own. If you are looking for some in-depth guidance on where are the best food finds, make time to go on the Off The Eaten Track culinary adventure. If you prefer truly unique tours eOasia has an Airplane Piloting Experience, where you actually have an opportunity to sit in the cockpit and pilot the airplane as part of your aerial city tour. For a full-on cultural immersion experience, check out the Kampong Sea Gypsies Village tour, which is also offered by HotelQuickly’s sister company eOasia.
Melissa is a passionate foodie, travel writer, and editor working in media internationally and in the USA. She has lived in Bangkok since 2004 and has a background in the travel industry. Melissa’s writing has been published globally in many prestigious online and print magazines for over a decade. Her motto for life is “You cannot live or love well if you have not wined and dined well!”