Families will find much to do in KL city. It is a great getaway for architecture, shopping, food and nightlife.
Kuala Lumpur – or KL as it is fondly known – is a great getaway for architecture, shopping, food and nightlife. By day, stroll around British Malaya edifices and visit temples and mosques, or shop till you drop at the city's many malls and high streets. Come sundown, sip a cocktail while enjoying the city lights, and sample the incredible variety of food on offer; in KL it's possible to try a different cuisine at every meal. At midnight, the city's great clubbing scene revs up.
Families will also find much to do in the city, whether indoors or out. KL-ites love children. So, while facilities might not always be kid-friendly, a helping hand is always close by.
KL is hot and sunny all year round. The wettest months are usually from March to April and October to November, while February is usually the hottest.
Passports must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry. Generally, visas are not required for citizens of Commonwealth countries for stays of up to three months, nor for citizens of ASEAN countries for stays of up to a month.
Check the Immigration Department website (www.imi.gov.my) for details.
The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is divided into 100 sen. Bank notes come in units of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100. Coins are 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen. Money changers are plentiful and credit cards widely accepted. For ATM withdrawals, banking networks include MEPS, Maestro, Cirrus and Bankcard.
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the high-speed KLIA Ekspres takes 28 minutes to reach the main transport hub of Stesen Sentral (popularly known as KL Sentral). Taxis take 40-60 minutes and buses over an hour to reach KL Sentral.
Kuala Lumpur's public transport system is modern and efficient and there are three types of service: the LRT, the KL Monorail and the KTM Komuter. If you're pushed for time, the KL Hop-on Hop-off double-decker bus service is a good option. The free GO-KL bus services downtown. Taxis are plentiful, but make sure that the driver will use the meter before you get in.
Kuala Lumpur has high health standards with well-stocked' pharmacies and good hospitals. However, take out travel medical insurance and have hepatitis and tetanus shots. Dengue fever occurs occasionally and visitors suffering from respiratory illnesses should avoid visiting during the haze period during August and September. Always ensure your belongings are secure, as snatch thefts are prevalent and pickpockets operate in crowded areas. Exercise common sense when walking at night and when approached by strangers.
|How are you?||Apa khabar?|
|Fine, thanks||Khabar baik|
|Excuse-me! (to get attention)||Maafkan Saya!|
|Thank you||Terima kasih|
|What's your name?||Apakah nama anda?|
|My name is…||Nama saya ialah…|
|Pleased to meet you||Gembira berjumpa anda|
|Are you on Facebook/Twitter?||Awak ada Facebook/Twitter?|
|Where’s an internet café?||Di manakah kafe internet?|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Di manakah saya boleh mendapatkan teksi?|
|Where is the bus/train station?||Di manakah stesen bas/keretapi?|
|A one-way/return ticket to…||Tiket sehala/ulang-alik ke…|
|Do you have a room for one/two?||Ada bilik untuk seorang/dua orang?|
|When's check out?||Bilakah untuk mendaftar keluar?|
|Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar?||Bolehkah anda mencadangkan sebuah restoran/bar?|
|A table for two, please||Sila berikan meja untuk dua orang|
|A menu, please||Sila berikan menu|
|The bill, please||Sila berikan bil|
|Where's the toilet?||Di manakah bilik air?|
Destination content brought to you by Insight Guides
Anchored by a field, Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) was the core of colonial British administrative and social life. Besides government offices, a town hall and courts, the square included a post office, bank, printing office, Anglican church and a clubhouse. The architecture is largely a combination of Western classical and Indian styles, adapted for the local climate.
Sri Subramaniam Temple (Batu Caves Temple)
The Sri Subramaniam Temple complex is best known for hosting the Thaipusam festival. The main deity worshipped here is Murugan, whose 43-metre-tall gilded statue lords over the site. The Batu Caves became a site of pilgrimage over a century ago and the main Temple Cave, a massive chamber with a skylight, is still accessible up 272 steps. The main shrine here pays homage to Lord Murugan.
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Arguably the city’s best museum, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia showcases collections from all over the Islamic world. Asian and Southeast Asian Islamic art are particularly well-represented here. Of note are Koranic manuscripts from the Malay Peninsula, which was once renowned for its Islamic scholarship and intricate models of the world’s best-known mosques. It also has an excellent gift shop and decent restaurant.
An area of pre-war Chinese shophouses and predominantly Chinese businesses, Petaling Street is home to a festive bazaar best known for its fake branded goods. Savour the excellent street food and snacks on offer in the neighbourhood and check out temples such as the Sin Sze Si Ya temple and the ornate Chan She Shu Yuen Clan Association. Opposite the Guan Di Temple is the Hindu Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, a focal point of the Thaipusam festival.
Petronas Twin Towers
The glass-and-steel Petronas Twin Towers are among the tallest in the world, rising to a height of 452 metres, with 88 storeys. While there are Islamic geometric elements, it is the state-of-the-art engineering that impresses most. An immensely popular tour takes in the skybridge midway up, as well as Level 86, the topmost level allowed to visitors, which offers a breathtaking panorama. At the base of the towers is a mall and concert hall as well as a lovely park with 'dancing' fountains.
Taman Botani Perdana (Perdana Botanical Garden)
Commonly known as the Lake Gardens, Taman Botani Perdana is Kuala Lumpur’s green lung and its largest park. Avoid the heat and explore it comfortably either in the morning or evening. There are 104 hectares to discover: lawns, trees and landscaped gardens, as well as enclosed parks for birds, butterflies and deer. Flower-lovers will enjoy the Hibiscus Garden, the adjoining Orchid Garden and the excellent Conservatory and Herbal Garden. There is also an interesting plot of trees and plants after which many places in the country are named.
For colonial architecture, head to Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). Here, 19th-century British architects combined Mughal and Western classical styles to create a distinctive architectural style. The centrepiece is the Sultan Abdul Samad building, with its graceful domes, colonnades and arches, and imposing clock tower. Around it, similar buildings include the Old High Court, the Old Town Hall and the Old General Post Office. Near the giant flagpole, in the former Government Printing Office, is the KL City Gallery with charming miniature models of Kuala Lumpur.
East of this area is where the city's first brick buildings were constructed. The Petaling Street vicinity still contains fine examples of double-storey Chinese shophouses, where owners would run businesses downstairs and live upstairs. Look out for elaborate clanhouses, family guilds for 19th-century migrants from southern China. Taoist temples also abound. Check out the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, whose odd orientation is due to feng shui rather than bad planning. It was built by the city's most influential clan leader, Yap Ah Loy. Look for a bust of him amongst the many statues of deities.
To the southwest lies Brickfields, where the bricks for many of the city's old buildings were once made. Today, a strong south Indian flavour pervades the neighbourhood. An heady combination of curries, sweets, saris and flowers is accompanied by loud Bollywood music from competing shops. Stroll around after a hearty banana-leaf meal to take in the numerous places of worship, particularly in Jalan Scott and Jalan Berhala. Hindu temples, Buddhist temples and churches of every denomination cater to the largely Indian community.
Mall rats should head to Bukit Bintang, which has eight air-conditioned shopping malls catering to every budget. They offer shoppers not just local and international brands but eateries, cinemas, exhibitions and even ice-skating rinks. Photography and electronic goods are often good buys.
For handicrafts, take a train or taxi to Central Market, west of Bukit Bintang. This Art Deco building houses shops and stalls selling traditional kites (wau), pottery and Bornean beadwork, as well as souvenirs such as pewter ware, wood veneer items, and bamboo and rattan products. This is a good place for traditional fabrics, which are available in contemporary designs too. Besides the ever-popular batik, there is songket, the distinctive gold-woven fabric, and the Sarawakian pua kumbu indigenous weave. Behind the main building is the Annexe, where local artists sell tourist-targeted pieces as well as fine art.
In the evening, walk several streets north to experience the city's most intense street market, the Petaling Street Bazaar. Besides t-shirts, jeans, leather products, and art and curios, you'll find the usual range of fake branded items. Be sure to bargain hard. End the day by strolling alongside locals through a neighbourhood pasar malam (night market). These itinerant markets set up around 6pm and sell everything from fresh produce to underwear. The closest pasar malam to Central Market is at Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Saturdays). Grab a taxi to experience the ones at Jalan Berhala, Brickfields (Thursdays) and Jalan Maarof, Bangsar (Sundays).
Kids will enjoy the tropical outdoors by spending the morning at the Taman Botani Perdana (Perdana Botanical Garden). Popularly known as the Lake Gardens, this green expanse is full of wildlife attractions. The large covered aviary that is the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is home to over 200 species of birds, and feeding time and the bird shows are fun to watch. Another covered attraction is the Butterfly Park. Here, hundreds of species of butterflies and moths flit about a beautifully landscaped garden. Visitors get to see the insects in all stages of development, too. Meanwhile, the Deer Park is one of the few places in the country where it is possible to see the world's smallest deer. The mouse-deer is the size of a cat and extremely shy.
As the day heats up, head to the air-conditioned Petronas Twin Towers, where there are family-friendly eateries and activities for children. Inside the mall, the two-storey Petrosains discovery centre has great interactive displays on science and the oil and gas industry. Fun exhibits include a prehistoric section featuring an animatronic dinosaur. Children can also experience a real-life oil rig and 'drive' a racing car. Alternatively, music-lovers should head to the Ground Floor of Tower Two to check out the offerings for kids by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Their family fun days and music appreciation sessions are popular and affordable.
In the evening, kids can run around in the park outside the towers, where there is a large playground and a paddling pool. At dusk, they'll enjoy the lake's illuminated 'dancing' fountains.