5 Things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Pretty spontaneous trip out of Hanoi. My friend Mollie and I bought tickets two nights in advance, with New Years Eve the next night, and our flight at 8:50AM the day after, we should be fine right? Well, New Years of course was a party. Nothing too crazy until Mollie ended up loosing her purse. Inside the purse: keys to her house, her phone, and her wallet..
After looking all over the ground multiple times, we had to come up with a plan B. We accepted defeat, leaving the bar around 5AM. Next plan: try and break into her apartment— for her passport and bag. Tried calling her roommate nonstop: unsuccessful. Her trying to climb the gate: unsuccessful. Me trying to climb the gate: unsuccessful. Now what?
To paint the picture a little better: two small girls still in their clothes from a New Years Eve party, under the influence of few drinks, not one minute of sleep since 24h prior, hungry, trying to scale an iron gate 3X the size of us, in her very Vietnamese tight alleyway of a neighborhood. Not to mention she lives on the third floor. So we weren’t sure what we would have done if we even got up the gate. I mean we were desperate to say the least, and we were really taking this plan step by step.
Numerous attempts, not working, but two persistent girls not ready to give up yet. It’s probably around 6AM now and we got a hold of one of her roommates, unfortunately he was in Ireland for the holidays (but thank God for the time difference being 7h behind). He worked on calling and waking up the other roommate (inside the apartment) to let us in.
We finally got in. Ran up to get her bag and passport, took a taxi bike to my apartment, got my half-packed bag and passport. Now our race to the airport in a taxi, still not feeling 100% and very late for our international flight, the Amazing Race was on.
Ok, so we made it, but it is a fast paced blur from here, running on adrenaline. Checked in, went through security, and we had 15 min until our flight departed.
Still not having eaten nor slept, our hunger took control. Passed a Burger King on our way to the gate and nothing sounded more appetizing than a BK chicken burger. We needed it, I’m sorry… we deserved it. Phone-less Mollie ran to the gate, while I ordered the fastest thing we could get. Oblivious to the fact that they were repeatedly calling my name over the intercom telling me that our flight is leaving. I get the two burgers and start running. While one of the flight attendants was running down the terminal trying to find me. We were those people that hold up the plane and get on fully out of breath. In our defense, it was a win in my book: we got our Burger King, we made our flight, and we only held up the plane 5 min past departure time. Pretty impressive if you ask me, with how we got to that point.
The plane took off and we immediately passed out for the 3h30 flight. Welcome to Malaysia: waking up in not in a very pleasant state. A very slow, and not so smooth, journey to our hostel (train-taxi-metro-walk) and straight to a long awaited bed.
5 Things You Need to Do in Kuala Lumpur
1. Petronas Towers, KLCC
(COST: 80 MYR ~$20)
When visiting KL, the first thing that stunned me was how tall the entire city center was— there are so many massive skyscrapers, and with new construction and plans for the next few years, the city is getting even taller. The Petronas Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world— 88 floors (Total height: 1,483 ft). A really futuristic design two mirrored skyscrapers connected by the 2 story glass Skybridge, makes them seem like they’re straight out of the future. Even just looking up while standing at the bottom is pretty unbelievable. Especially at night, the lights make them shine even brighter. If you’re planning on going up the towers, make sure you check for ticket availability or go early. In our case, it was sold out for that day by the time we got there.
[BONUS: At the KLCC Lake Symphony, the small lake right behind the Petronas Towers, there is a water show every night at 20:00, 21:00, and 22:00. The changing colors of the shooting fountains essentially dance to the music. Worth it to have a check, it’s free too! Then just grab dinner or drinks around the city center.]
TIP: When taking a picture of the towers, if you can’t get the entire two towers in frame, switch your camera to panorama mode and turn your phone horizontally. Then take a vertical panorama shot of the towers— makeshift fisheye effect.
2. KL Tower
(COST: 49 MYR ~$12, for the observation deck)
This other tower just adds to the unique skyline of Kuala Lumpur. The 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world. The communications tower is another place worth a visit in KL. It has an observation deck, allowing you to walk around and see 360 degree city views, a luxe rotating restaurant, and a Sky Deck (glass box overhang). Since we did not go up the Petronas Towers, we decided to venture up the KL tower (1,099 ft). The elevator took us up and it was pretty sweet the views of the city. Also going up the KL tower and not the Petronas Towers, just gives a different perspective of the beautiful twin towers.
3. KL Forest— Eco Park (Bukit Nanas)
Just after visiting the KL tower, you can walk just next door to the Eco Park. This little bit of natural rainforest situated in the middle of the surrounding city, gives a good contrast. Wander around traversing the canopy walkways leading you through the dense greenery. It’s hard to believe the hustle of the city is just right through the trees.
4. Chinatown/ Central Market
(COST: FREE, kind of)
We stayed right next to Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. The Central Market is also right beside. So many cultures, cuisines, and people all around— street art, street food, and street shopping, you name it. If you like shopping, it is a sight to visit and walk around, for sure.
The Central Market was more genuine Malaysian things, the more cultural side of things to buy. Chinatown is more of a knock-off market. Where you can find all your fake, but super real looking, cheap, luxe brand items.
5. Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
The KL City Gallery is right next to the I Love KL sculpture across the street from the National Textiles Museum. I am not sure if the exhibit changes frequently, but there was a really neat 3D art exhibit and a cool, interactive short film about the city and the future of Malaysia.
Some more things about Kuala Lumpur/ Malaysia:
The food in Malaysia is yummy. There is a large Indian influence in Malaysia, and great Indian food around where we stayed (Reggae Mansion Hostel). There are also the Batu Caves, just a train ride from the city. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to go to but heard beautiful things about it. Click Here for a good, in depth guide on how to get there from KL.
Aside from that, the food definitely had a little bite to it (for someone who doesn’t take too much spice), and the coffee is delicious. Big fan of the Malaysian coffee! The people speak pretty good English, so getting by was usually not a struggle. The tropical weather was so nice, the rain did come down but tropical rain— it was strong, warm, and didn’t last very long. Kuala Lumpur is a cool city, I enjoyed it.