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City Guide: Kuala Lumpur

The Best Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

I have visited Kuala Lumpur approximately 8-10 times and every time that I visit I cannot help but be excited by the fast pace of life and the non stop construction that has taken over this city. It really is a city that offers something for everybody. You can relax in the park one minute and then be in the middle of a traffic jam the next. A truly vibrant city that is clean, modern and full of local friendly people.

Kuala Lumpur, The capital of Malaysia is a modern capital city and still comparatively young. Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century at the meeting point of the Kelang and Gombak Rivers. Chinese pioneers discovered an abundance of minerals here, thus this region attracted many settlers and the name stinking River became ever more appropriate. Since then however things have much improved and Kuala Lumpur is now one of the cleanest cities in the world. Let us look at the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

1. Go up the Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

Skyscrapers and residential buildings seem to appear almost overnight. This city that never sleeps is growing has an incredible speed, the Petronas Twin Towers are easily the city’s most famous icon. Each tower is 452 meters tall and is connected by a glass covered bridge. The tower is beautiful during the day but absolutely mesmerising at night. This is the headquarters of Petronas Malaysia’s national oil company. It’s like a small town with its own shopping centre and even a concert hall.

2. Marvel at Kampung Baru

Kampung Baru
Kampung Baru

Just a few minutes away and the contrasts couldn’t be greater. In Kampung Baru chickens freely cross the streets and the local people live in a well-ordered houses. Living a calm life, no hustle and bustle here. In the background the tall skyscrapers and a television mast overlooks this traditional village set within the city. In 1889 it was commanded that this small Malaysian village be relocated from the river banks and this this this city village emerged. Here the hubbub of the city seems far away, the well-arranged Malaysian houses stand in the shade of various fruit trees, surrounded by fertile gardens. It’s only on Saturday evenings that there’s a noticeable change a traditional Malaysian market takes place here but it attracts a good number of people until the early hours of the morning.

3. Spend Time at Masjid Jamek

Masjid Jamek
Masjid Jamek

The old Masjib Jamek mosque is one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur and is situated in the centre the city on the junction of the Kelang and Gombak rivers. In the exact position where the city was formed. Located on a ton of land deformed by both rivers amidst the city’s skyscrapers, it is a sacred place that is extremely popular with the faithful. Several prayer halls in the inner courtyard contain palm trees. These make the mosque into a peaceful oasis. The central water basin is used for ritual bathing and also for drinking water.

4. Go to Merdeka Square

Merdeka Square
Merdeka Square

Merdeka Square, the square of Independence, is at the Colonial heart of the city. In 1957 the Union Jack was replaced by the Malaysian flag. Each of the buildings around the square was influenced by the architecture of the moguls. Combined with Victoria design.

5. Admire Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Sultan Abdul Samad Building

The largest building in Merdeka Square is more than 200 meters in length. Almost the entire length of the square. It’s the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. This incredible Moorish style building was designed in 1897 by architect A.C. Norman. With onion shaped towers and a central clock tower. Where once colonial administration was conducted is now the courts of justice. Arcades and arched windows decorate the two-story high façade as well as several circular towering stairways. At the southern end of the square are several small colonial administrative buildings that have now been transformed into museums. These buildings are also magnificent examples of the work of architect A.C. Norman who had their characteristic oriental facade decorated with tiny alcoves and rows of bricks. Particularly impressive are the futuristic-looking mix of traditional building materials such as steel and glass.

6. St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral KL

A small white church is located on the northern edge of the square. St. Mary’s Cathedral of Victorian design. Following Sunday Mass the British colonial community venture through the tropical heat to a nearby club

7. Go Back in Time at Muzium Negara

Muzium Negara
Muzium Negara

For those interested in history and culture there’s the National Museum. The Muzium Negara, it also features steam engines and old sedan chairs. Outside there’s the first Malaysian car, old huts and simple boats from the various cultural communities in this region. The country’s history is depicted on the external walls at the museum and the internal walls feature numerous scenes of daily life. A special exhibition provides information of the traditional shadow puppet theatre. There’s a large collection of puppets on sticks made from buffalo skin and metal and wood. A skilled puppeteer operates the figures and tell stories accompanied by traditional music. Due to the large variety of ethnic groups in Malaysia there’s a vast quantity of arts and crafts, and the huge fish a particularly fascinating.

8. Learn Some Moves at a Cultural Dance Show

Malaysian Cultural Dance
Malaysian Cultural Dance

Music has always been an important part of Malaysia’s religious ceremonies, as well as being an essential ingredient in traditional dance forms and shadow puppet theatre. Malaysians will dance at every given opportunity. Although traditional clothing and dance styles change from region to region, they are always full of emotion, love and passion. Traditional Malaysian festivals also include dances where the women and men dance together without touching. Some of the dances were once only performed in the royal palaces and others originated from war.

9. Visit a Hindu Temple, Sri Maha Mariamman

Sri Maha Mariamman
Sri Maha Mariamman

A little surprising, the main Hindu temple is situated in China town. The Sri Maha Mariamman. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of rain. The Hindu gods ride, dance and meditate in colourful paintings above the entrance to the temple as well as within. Each day the faithful Hindus bring garlands of flowers and other items to all of the gods, always assisted by holy men. Mariamman is worshipped in order to protect against disease and misfortune. Many other gods are also worshipped here.

10. Sin Sze Si Ya Temple

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple
Sin Sze Si Ya Temple

Built in 1880, one of the oldest Chinese places of worship here is the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple that is located close to the central markets in China Town. The temple is said to have been founded by a Chinese Kapitan Yap Ah Loy. The lighting of fumigants is believed to bring financial success. In the 19th century many Chinese immigrated here as their homeland was rife with war. Soon they controlled both Trade and Industry, however in addition to their economic success the Chinese have always been a very devout people and the temples are usually kept busy.

11. Walk Around Chinatown

Chinatown
China Town

Little remains of the Chinatown of old, most of the cities shop house buildings, with shops on the ground and apartments on the top floor, have since made way for modern buildings. Only a few of the old buildings have survived the building boom of recent years. But those small shops that remained are still open for business and if you want to see one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur you should put here on your list.

12. Central Market

Central Market KL
Central Market

Chinatown also features a huge Central Market, but in recent years this has developed into a stylish shopping centre. Once farmers and fishermen from the surrounding area offered their goods. Today there is arts and crafts is sold at fixed prices. There is also abundance of souvenirs, a real tourist’s paradise.

13. Ride the Monorail

KL Monorail
KL Monorail

The monorail is the city’s most recent mode of transport, it provides a good over ground view of the city.  A futuristic city also needs a well-thought-out transport system, so it was a good idea to separate the monorail from the main traffic routes. Modern stations are often integrated into glass skyscrapers and the readily accessible line of closed passageways to protect passengers from the elements. It takes a little adjustment to become accustomed to traveling high between the skyscrapers, but exploring Kuala Lumpur this way soon becomes a pleasure. The city’s inhabitants are used to the elevated trains, for them only one thing is important. The city must expand, they are proud of their newly build skyscrapers, city districts and contemporary transport systems.

14. Visit the Animals at Zoo Negara

Zoo Negara
Zoo Negara

Tropical gardens, jungle like forests, and small lakes. They are all to be found at the National Animal Park set in the environs of Kuala Lumpur. Zoo Negara gives a good look at the animal kingdom of Malaysia and Southeast Asia. The animal pens are very large and a visit is highly recommended. As those zoo covers such a large area, a number of small trains are available, a good way to see the animals. The open-air enclosures are adapted to the natural environment of each species. They certainly seem to be at home here. Huge herds the flamingos with splendid shining feathers crowd into the zoo’s large water areas. The monkeys are particularly popular there is no other zoo in the world that has as many varieties of monkey, each one an endearing centre of attention. In both jungle and savannah they’re difficult to spot me but here the Panther, lion and tiger can be observed at close quarters. A secure setting for both man and beast.

15. Visit the King’s Palace

Kings Palace
Kings Palace

Set high in the south of the city is the Istana Negara, the official residence of Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The King of Malaysia. This building was originally the residence of a wealthy Chinaman but in 1926 it was transformed into the palace of the Sultan’s of Selangor. It is protected by guards in shining white uniforms. The representative head of Malaysia is elected by the country’s 13 sultans, they always select one of their own and he reigns for five years.

16. Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple

A breath taking spectacle of colour greets those who visit the elevated Thean Hour Temple, it is situated close to the king’s palace. The faithful are welcomed to the temple by various huge figures of the gods. This temple is also popular the wedding ceremonies. Each Post of this splendid temple complex was donated by numerous Chinese multi-millionaires. Its construction was extremely costly. The city’s inhabitants come here to worship the goddess Tian Hou and pray for Wealth and good fortune. It seems that many of the prayers have been answered. Judging by the fine skyscrapers of this impressive City. A moving God makes thanks for the above donations, everywhere sacrifices are offered. Here religion is part of the everyday life for the people. The view above the city’s many beautiful golden roofs is quite unique, it’s not surprising that Thean Hou is one of the most beautiful temples in Asia.

17. Go to the Railway Station

Railway Station KL
Railway Station KL

The station dates back to 1910 and is one of the city’s most famous buildings, with its couplers and minarets it’s more like a Sultan’s palace. Only the railway track and various trains indicate that it’s a station. The British architect AB Hubback was responsible for its design. According to Victorian building regulations the roof had to be built strong enough to carry one meters snow. In this tropical climate this seems slightly over cautious.

18. Relax at Perdana Lake Garden

Perdana Lake Garden
Perdana Lake Garden

The Perdana Lake Garden is the Green lung of the city. Numerous canals connect several small ponds in this English garden that was created in 1890. Seventy hectares with green meadows, shady trees and blossoming exotic plants prove the jungle can sometimes be tamed. Elegant tiny white bridges span the canals. This artificially created landscape also boasts a number of waterfalls. A stroll in this park is a fascinating experience. It’s also possible to hire a boat. The park is extremely popular in the early mornings, and in the evenings it’s a popular place for joggers, family picnics and couples.

19. Enjoy the Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park
Butterfly Park

A 2,400 square meter garden enclosed by a huge net is also open to the public. Here the koi fish are an exotic sight and 8,000 colourful butterfly’s fly around this magnificent garden. The turtles observe visitors as they walk among the gardens sweet scented flowers and delicate butterflies. An artificially created paradise for insects, tiny animals and above all, butterflies.

20. Watch the Birds at Taman Burung

Taman Burung
Taman Burung KL

The largest bird park in the world is also nearby, here more than 3,000 birds inhabit 9 hectares of land. There are exotic birds from all over the world such as peacocks, ostriches, pelicans and flamingos and even a white cockatoo. Trainers work alongside the animals in large enclosures, a breeding station focuses on various birds that are threatened by extinction. A visit to this garden is a real treat and all these creatures are free to fly beneath this huge net.

21. Go up the KL Tower

Menara KL Tower
Menara KL Tower

In 1996 it was the third highest tower in the world and the tallest in Asia. High-speed elevators on the television tower transport passengers to a viewing platform. Here at a height of 400 meters there is a wonderful view across the city.  A fascinating view of the Petronas Towers and the colourful chaos of the streets way below. It’s a good place to take a photo and buy a souvenir or two.

I hope you enjoyed finding out about the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

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