From the world’s tallest twin towers, to the world’s best Irish bar – here are 7 things you must do in Kuala Lumpur!
My second stop in Malaysia brought me to Kuala Lumpur, a modern bustling city where skyscrapers stand along side colonial buildings, mosques beside Chinese temples and street markets beside designer shopping malls. Most people fly into KL but we drove from Penang, (read my Penang travel guide here). We crossed the Penang bridge, a 13.5km bridge that crosses the Penang Strait, and the drive in total was a leisurely four hours. We only spent two nights in Kuala Lumpur, but I saw enough to know that it is a city I would like to come back to. Many choose KL as a short stopover on route to Asia or Australasia, but I recommend spending at least three nights there to enjoy all the highlights. Kuala Lumpur is very easy to navigate, as most of the sights are all within walking distance of each other. Here are 7 things you must do in Kuala Lumpur when you visit!
1. Visit the Petronas Towers
No visit to KL would be complete without seeing the Petronas Towers. These iconic towers are not only synonymous with Kuala Lumpur, but they are the tallest twin towers in the world. Night-time is the best time for photos as the lights shine so brightly. It is impossible not to get a good photo, even on your phone! Purchase a wide angle lens from the street vendors outside. They will try to charge you about €20 but after haggling you should settle on about €5, or 25 Malaysian ringgits. This lens will allow you to fit both towers into the frame.
Make sure you visit the Petronas Towers during the day too. As well as having an enormous shopping mall inside, you have the opportunity to cross the Sky Walk bridge on the 41st floor. This is 179 meters above street level and you can walk between the towers, which is a great way to see the city. Be sure to book in advance online, as they only allow 1000 people to access the bridge each day. Don’t miss the observation deck on the 86th floor, at 370 meters above street level, you can see the second tower up close.
2. Go to Independence Square
The colonial quarters of Kuala Lumpur, this area is very different to the modern skyscrapers of downtown. The pretty Moorish buildings as well as the grass lawns of Independence Square, are definitely a ‘must see’. This is where the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time in 1957. It happens to be home to the world’s tallest flag pole too!
The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is also located here. You will see miniature replicas of the cities most popular attractions and get free tourist information, as well as getting some great photos! The featured image for this post, where I have skyscrapers as wings, was taken there. The ‘I love KL’ sign is right outside too, which is another great spot for selfies.
3. Visit the KL Tower
Adrenaline junkies will love the Sky Box at the KL Tower, a ledge that extends out with a glass floor, 300 meters above street level. Face your fears and get incredible photos at the same time! There is also revolving restaurant here, where you can get great views of the skyline. I would suggest trying it at night to catch the bright lights. We went for lunch and it was not as dramatic, although if you want to walk the Skybox, daytime is probably best!
4. Step inside the National Mosque of Malaysia
What I love about this Mosque is that all races and religions are allowed enter. It has what looks like a half open umbrella at the top, not a traditional dome. This symbolises that, rain or shine, you can get many people under an umbrella, from all walks of life. The Masjid Negara mosque holds 15,000 people and has beautiful reflection pools as well as amazing architecture throughout. Women need to be covered when entering but robes are available at the entrance.
5. Stay at the Majestic Hotel
I can’t say enough good things about the Majestic Hotel. This landmark which dates back to 1932 was one of the first hotels in Kuala Lumpur, the original building is a national heritage site. Prince Charles stayed here last winter and it is the venue for many glamorous social events and receptions. The rooms, service and food are terrific. What amazed me the most was how reasonably priced it was. Standard rooms in the new wing cost from €100 per night including breakfast and junior suites from €140 per night. The junior suites are huge with a free standing bath, two TV’s (one over the bath) and even a small office desk.
The buffet is superb with a wide selection of local and international dishes. From prawns to pizza, steaks to sushi, you name it, they have it, and all exceptional quality. They also offer a great ‘unlimited wine’ deal for 70 ringgit, about €15. Wine is expensive in KL, in fact all alcohol is heavily taxed, so this is excellent value. If you have time, treat yourself to a Malaya massage, trust me you won’t regret it.
6. Shop till you drop.
Shopping is great in Kuala Lumpur. Although renowned for its cheap electronics (many international brands are actually made here), Malaysia also has excellent designer and high street clothes shops. The shopping mall in the Petronas Towers is a must visit with many brands about 20% cheaper than you will find at home.
The Central Market is one of KL’s most famous shopping areas, with indoor and outdoor shops selling everything from local souvenirs to antiques! Just around the corner is Chinatown where you can find designer bags, sunglasses and copies of the latest trends. Petaling Street has the best selection but make sure you haggle!
7. Pay a visit to Healy Mac’s Irish Pub
This bar was voted the best Irish pub in the world by the Irish Times and Diageo, so they must be doing something right! We watched one of 6 Nations rugby matches here and the atmosphere was electric. You can also go to listen to some music, enjoy some pub grub and some famous Irish hospitality. It is located just minutes from the Petronas Towers, so you can grab a night time photo before, or after your visit. Visit their website here.
How to get there:
Qatar Airways fly daily from Dublin Airport to Doha with onward connections to Kuala Lumpur four times weekly and Penang three times weekly. They will also be starting a new service to Langkawi later this year. You can choose to avail of a free overnight stay in a four star hotel in Doha, or connect straight to Malaysia with a short layover. At the time of issue, return economy tickets to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are available from €602, with return business class saver tickets from €3098, both including taxes and charges. For more details visit Qatar Airways or see your local travel agent.