I found myself in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after Phuket and was happy to get back to city life as I’m a city girl at heart. If you love a built up, city centre type of setting, this city will be perfect for you. Upon arriving, the bus shelter was very easy to find from the airport transfers costing only around 15MR, which is around £2. The journey took around half an hour into the heart of Kuala Lumpur, otherwise known as The Golden Triangle. This area is an incredible melting pot of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian culture, with Chinatown in one corner, and little India in another.
First day there
Upon settling into my hostel (Step-inn Too, which I will go more into a little later), a friend Anique, who I met in Phuket, and I decided to explore the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur. We found that there were many transportation links very close by, with maneuvering around the city being simple and easy to grasp. We took the sky train in to KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) and immediately entered what seemed to be the western world again as the first thing we saw as we got out of the station, was every girls dream… a giant Sephora! I managed to use all of my strength to control the urge to spend my whole travel budget in there, and calmly walked past it to see endless floors of stores with everything from H&M, to Topshop and Gucci, and what appeared to be every type of cuisine except Malaysian. The malls in Kuala Lumpur are huge and stock just about everything you could dream of, including having cinemas and escape rooms for those rainy days you don’t want to waste on just hanging out at the hostel. However, don’t loiter there too long, there’s so much more to see in the city centre.
Around sunset we headed over to KLCC Park to see the infamous Patronas Towers against the backlit sky and got so much more than we bargained for. When we arrived at the park it was still fairly light out, and we struggled to get a good picture with the towers because of the amount of tourists around trying to do the same, so we went for a short walk around the park. We didn’t have to wait very long to be awestruck as we were met by beautiful stretching ponds, and a man-made waterfall in the middle of this green haven, and as the sky began to to darken, the park around us transformed. Lights below the water became illuminated, orchestral music began to play, and on proceeded one of the most intricate and extravagant water fountain displays I have ever had the pleasure of watching began, complete with coloured beams, live performances, and synchronised jets of water dancing across the pond to create the show. Meanwhile the sky began to change to an entrancing and unbelievable shade of dusty orange/red, looking as though illuminated from behind, as a backdrop to the Petronas Towers. You can see pictures I snapped from this event below. It was honestly the most amazing way to start of my trip in this beautiful city.
The first night there
Now the first night held a completely different story than the first day for us as the hostel manager had a treat for his guests. Step-Inn Too (not to be confused with Step-Inn just down the road) is well known for being a raucous party hostel, and it lives up to it’s reputation. The hostel offers a happy hour deal every other night which involves 3 hours of unlimited pour-your-own spirits for only 50MR (yes, that’s only £9), so you can imagine how quickly the party comes to life on a night here. The hostel was full of sociable and lively guests who we made friends with very quickly, and learnt how to play all the drinking games they had picked up along the way, such as the well known flip cup. P.s. If you’re playing flip cup, please stick to beer and don’t do what we did and try to down gin and tonics, it does not end well for anyone haha. We were also introduced to the KL clubbing scene where we hopped from bar to bar and club to club with no entry fees as we had plenty of girls with us. I even found myself in a Jamaican club at one point, with a mixed race DJ who I spent a lot of time speaking to. I wish I could tell you the name of this club, but in all honesty, your memory isn’t at it’s best after 3 hours of gin and tonics. After this we found ourselves in Indian clubs with live drummers, and patrons who were happy to keep us plied with drinks and dance with us. We danced the night away, learning to to belly dance, dancing on the bars, and being the embodiment of the term ‘living your best life’. Even though there are a few hazy moments from the night, its definitely one I’ll never forget.
What to do in Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves
One of the most famous attractions that Malaysia has to offer, are the Batu caves. Although Malaysia is officially a muslim country, they have a very large Sikh population also as the country is home to many Southern Indians, and therefore the culture is influenced by this. The Batu Caves is known as a religious experience in which each year there are festivals, which we were lucky enough to attend, in which Sikhs from all over crawled to the limestone caves which were perched at the top of what appeared to be a never ending flight of stairs. They crawled on their hands and knees after consuming a hot liquid which appeared to have an opiate effect, and carried heavy tributes to the gods, some bearing fresh piercings, with hooks and spears through their skin, as a way of paying homage to their beliefs and Gods. It was an incredibly humbling and superlative experience and Anique and I climbed the 272 steps in the pouring rain along with these pilgrims to see the wonders of the caves. Inside were Shrines and statues dedicated to their different gods, and a temple which was reserved from picture taking. Further along the caves was another temple, where the caves opened up and rain poured down on us from above, whilst they sung around us and we danced in the rain. There was something almost magical in the feeling of us being there. It is definitely an experience I’m glad I went on, and had my friend there with me to experience.
The Helipad Lounge Bar (Heli Bar)
This is one of the most iconic spots in Kuala Lumpur as it provides an incredible 360 view of the KL skyline with the Petronas Towers standing tall and shining in the background. One thing I will say for this place, as we decided to walk, is that it was quite hard to find as there isn’t a lot of signage for the building, but I guess that’s why it has managed to stay one of KL’s best Kept secrets. We made our way up to the top floor which houses the Heli Lounge’s nightclub, and were greeted by gorgeous gentlemen dressed in pilots uniforms. The whole theme of the bar hints to the fact that the bar features a roof deck drinking area which doubles as a helipad. Beware, if you’re trying to sneak into this bar just to take pics, there is a 1 drink minimum which you will have to buy before you go upstairs to the roof. Drinks average around UK prices, however if you come before 9 you can catch happy hour and so get a discount. This is definitely one of the places you get to unpack that one fancy dress you packed just in case as the clientele dress to impress. You get stunning views of the city against the night sky, and is a wonderful place to get those Instagram worthy pictures with the Petronas Towers in the background, and came off as a very romantic place for a date, or even to propose.
The KL Tower
I very nearly never visited this gem, however I was convinced by the wonderful Maddy Thicke on my last day to go up to the top of the famous KL Tower, well known for it’s glass box photo opportunities. Up here you tower above the city, looking down on the sky scrapers, feeling the wind rush through your hair.. and the searing heat also, but we can’t complain about the heat as Londoners. It is absolutely breathtaking up there, with plenty of photo opportunities, not only in the boxes, but around the entire building, as well as a small garden themed cafe with luxurious slices of decadent chocolate cake and freshly squeezed juices for those who get a little peckish. Upon entering you’re given 2 numbers, one for box number 1 and 1 for box number 2. When your number is called you enter 1 of the 2 glass boxes which hang over the city, giving the illusion of floating, and making for some incredible photos as seen below. After this, you can head inside to see facts about the tallest buildings in the world, a few of which, such as the Sears tower in Chicago, I have had the pleasure of visiting. There is also a free chocolate “museum”/shop downstairs, and an aquarium right across the way. This is all also situated right next to one of my favourite KL attractions, the canopy walk and petting zoo which I will be telling you all about in the next section.
The Canopy Walk
The canopy walk shows you the amazing versatility of Kuala Lumpur, a teeming city, built in the heart of what was a rain forest. There is a tonne of wildlife around the city, from planted cherry blossom trees, to tall grass along the roadsides, to miniature jungles hidden around the city such as this beauty. The Canopy trail is relatively easy to find, and easily accessible from most of the city. You start the trail by climbing your way up the steps, high into the luscious green of the treetops, taking in the sounds of the native insects and birds which still call this miniature jungle their home, and marvel as you take in the sights and sounds of the forest, while the sky scrapers rise from the ground, above the trees in the background. It gives a startling reminder that this is what the surroundings were built up from originally, and is breathtaking in its eerily quiet beauty. If you enjoy walking, and are sporty, this is the perfect day trip for you as you’ll get to work those leg muscles climbing the stairs and walking the canopy bridges across the rain forest. For those who aren’t as sporty, or just love animals, there is a pleasant surprise at the end of the canopy walk. One you make your final descent down the stairs you are met by a petting zoo of Guinea pigs, rabbits and turtles which you can feed and hold. If you’d like to go in you can pay a small fee and this gives you access to the whole mini zoo in the middle of the jungle. The zoo boasts posters around advocating kind treatment of animals, and the workers are incredibly friendly and caring. The zoo walk contains a small mammal section, an albino monkey section, llamas and alpacas which you can feed, an aviary where you can feed the birds and have them land on you, and another petting zoo where you can get up close and friendly with wallabies and snakes, and hold a parrot. I had an incredible time at this place with Laura and Maddie, two wonderful girls I met while in KL(also the girls pictured in my Heli lounge entry), and honestly was the highlight of my trip.
China town, located in what is known as the Golden Triangle of KL, is a hub of chinese culture, food, and of course, cheap markets. Here you can buy some of the finest quality knockoffs you will find anywhere in the world. I know we’ve all seen the horrendously spelt knock-offs, such as my friend Kyle’s Adidas trainers which said ‘Ababis’ on the side instead, but here you can find replicas with almost no difference to the real thing, even sporting the brand labels and original tags for next to nothing. I also highly recommend visiting Mingle Cafe in the heart of China town. This gem plays laid back soul music all day, with delicious and heart meals available, but their speciality being their smoothie bowls. Can you imagine anything better, than on a hungover morning, when its scathingly hot outside, sitting in a cool restaurant, with soft music playing over the speakers, with an ice cold smoothie bowl, topped with fresh fruit and super-grains to help you get through the day? It beats a bottle of water and laying in bed moaning about it all day. I revisited this place almost every day whilst being in KL and it made its way into this post so it must have been memorable. If you make it to Malaysia, definitely give them a try.
Sights I didn’t get to see
Unfortunately I never got to make it to the Botanical Gardens as I ran out of time in this beautiful place, but if anyone makes it there, send me pictures and tell me how it was. I heard great things about it from the people who went.
Food in Kuala Lumpur
If you like Indian food, your tastebuds are going to be in absolute heaven in Malaysia. As I mentioned before, KL is heavily influenced by Southern Indian culture, therefore you can find an Indian Restoran on every corner. Here’s my tip for travelling, if the interior and exterior looks pretty basic from the outside and it doesn’t look too fancy, but there’s a lot of locals inside.. The food will be some of the best you’ve ever had. Whilst in Malaysia I had the great pleasure of trying an incredible dish called Nasi Lemak, a highly aromatic and flavourful rice dish which is cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf. This is considered the national dish of Malaysia, and I can see why. Food is traditionally served on large bamboo leaves, and you eat with your hands, however often the servers in restaurants take pity on us Westerners and immediately hand us a fork and spoon to eat with upon arrival. Although I was excited to try eating rice and curry with my hands, it turns out curry can get very hot, so regretfully I resorted to my spoon for the sake of the skin on my hands.
I get that not everyone is into foreign foods and whilst they appreciate the culture, they might not be fans of the food. Well fear not my homesick travellers, because Kuala Lumpur is home to restaurants of pretty much any kind of food you could want, even boasting a… wait for it… Nandos! Yes, Malaysia has a Nandos, which was of course visited by our fellow English travellers frequently while they were there. They also have a Mcdonalds and KFC on practically every corner as well as having everything from Wingstop, to Italian restaurants, to Mexican in KLCC, so whatever you’re craving, you’ll be sure to find it here. But if you’re a bit more adventurous and also want to save money then I would highly recommend the local restaurants and stalls where you can get delicious foods, for a fraction of the cost you’d pay back at home.