Kuala Lumpur offers a whirlwind tour of Asian cultures, customs and cuisines. Its busy streets are home to Chinese joss-houses, colourful Hindu temples and towering mosques.
Above them all rises one of the most distinctive skylines on the continent – dominated by the twin turrets of the Petronas Towers. The streets form a living map of the cultures and races who gathered here in colonial times. Turn one corner and you could be in Shanghai or Kowloon. Turn the next, and find yourself transported to steamy south India. One moment, you might be standing among shimmering skyscrapers; the next you’re surrounded by traditional tin-roofed Malay houses.
Festivals transcend religious boundaries and an air of tolerance and mutual respect pervades. This ‘stronger together’ approach has allowed KL to achieve great things. Aided by oil wealth, the city has quickly transformed itself from jungle outpost to futuristic cyber-city.
The rapid pace of change is most apparent in the central business district, where pockets of jungle and colonial bungalows still stand amongst the glass and steel towers. Old parts of the city are vanishing fast as KL marches towards the future. The pockets of old that remain in Chinatown, Little India, Brickfields and Chow Kit are still the most atmospheric parts of the city.
For travellers, KL is first and foremost a place to shop and to eat. The fusion of flavours created by KL’s cultures has created one of the most dynamic dining scenes in Asia. Breakfast on nasi goreng (fried rice with eggs), grab a gorgeous banana leaf curry for lunch and hit Jalan Alor ‘Eat Street’ for the best Chinese street food in Malaysia.
KL’s status as a shopping destination grows yearly, with huge malls across the Golden Triangle area of the city playing home to major brands. If you don’t want to trawl for bargains, sights are plentiful and easily reached via monorail.
Whether you head to the top of the Petronas Towers or lose yourself in Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, a slice of virgin jungle at the heart of the city, Kuala Lumpur is Asia incarnate.