Arriving from Burma, Kuala Lumpur was a huge change.
It was clear to see the difference – Malaysia is a rich country. Huge towers dominate the skyline, the monorail runs above the streets and huge electronic billboards Kuala Lumpur absolutely full of malls that dominate every street corner, I mean mall next to mall next to mall (there are 66 in the city). Not sure why you’d want so many within walking distance, but I liked it!
We arrived in the city a day ahead of my brother Alex’s arrival, who was joining us for 3 weeks in Malaysia, and headed straight for our hostel in Bukit Bintang.
Malaysia has a lot of Chinese and Indian influence and this is shown in the food more than anything. Both Chinese and Indian food are immensely popular, usually with a Malaysian twist. It really is food heaven in KL with the variety you can purchase at extremely low prices! For as little as 5RM (£1) you can buy a meal from the various hawker stalls in the city.
Jalan Alor food street was just behind our hostel and boasts the best Chinese food in KL, though we weren’t convinced – it was ok but seemed a bit overpriced compared to other places we had been in the city.
Lot 10 Mall was opposite our hostel, which had a great Chinese hawker type market beneath the mall. Again the food was really tasty though not as cheap as eating on the street.
Imbi Market was something I had read about online, after navigating our way to it, we walked amongst locals, in a cramped space, filled with food stalls and a market, we had some authentic cuisine at a rickety table on plastic chairs, this place only opens for morning, we got our breakfast of Wanton Mee (noodles), crispy popiah(savory pancakes) and curry. It was hot, sweaty and uncomfortable but probably the best food we had in the city, and SO cheap!
Bukit Bintang, the area in which we stayed, was a great place to base yourself for a few nights in the big city, close to many malls including Berjaya Times Square, a huge mall at 10 floors high and even has its own roller coaster inside (which was sadly closed).
We did however try an ‘escape the room’ game at Berjaya, and it was pretty cool, unfortunately we lost, but it was so much fun. They are becoming very popular around the world and this was our first experience of one – it’s kind of like a crystal maze type game, with puzzles to solve and rooms to be discovered.
Bukit Bintang is also very close to Pavilion Mall, with its air conditioned walkway to the Petronas Towers and City Centre Park with its amazing nightime water display. The towers look spectacular at night and are a must do sight in KL. We didn’t bother going up them though, we were happy to admire from below.
We took the monorail many times as it was convenient to get from Bukit Bintang to Chinatown and to KL Sentral, from which all the trains and buses to anywhere in Malaysia depart.
It is also close to the Lake Gardens, which has access to many attractions including the famous Bird Park (which was too pricey for us) and also the awesome looking planetarium. We spent a few hours strolling around the gardens and visiting the orchid garden.
Petalling Street is only a stones throw away from KL Sentral with an obscene amount of fake branded products filling the narrow street – good for shoes and trainers especially. There are also some very cheap Chinese hawker food stalls in and around the road.
One day we made a trip to Batu Caves, a huge cave at the top of a hill containing a Hindu shrine. From KL Sentral we took a train directly there for only 4 MYR (£0.80) return. This really is the only way to travel to the caves and with modern trains like this why would you not!?
When we arrived right outside the station we were met by a family of monkeys, there was a smaller cave which we went to see first, containing many Hindu statues. It was a short walk to the main cave, where you’re met by over 200 steps.
The climb is exhausting, and when you get to the top there really isn’t much there (unless you are Hindu) besides a few chickens and more monkeys. The cave is open at the top, so quite breathtaking, although mind out for falling branches as a few almost knocked us out!
On our last night, we did our usual – visited a sky bar. This one was at the top of the 5* Traders Hotel, and drinks were suitably expensive, though for Malaysia not too bad. The atmosphere was strange, there was a swimming pool in it and it seemed more a party venue than a nice posh bar. But it was a nice way to finish off our time in the city.
When we visited, the brand spanking new KLIA2 airport for low cost carriers had just opened. Previously (when Greg visited some years ago) the inconvenient LCCT terminal was used. Now both low cost and international airports are connected and accesible by train. Indeed we took the KLIA airport link which was very fast but expensive at 35 MYR. However the bus doesn’t take that much longer, only costs 10 MYR and still takes you straight to KL Sentral, the cities transport hub.
Where We Stayed
Sunshine Bedz is bang in the middle of Bukit Bintang and overall a good hostel. We stayed in a 6 bed dorm room, with air con and decent WiFi for all of £6 each. Everything was new and clean, and it seemed a great place to meet people.