Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stein Travel
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Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the bustling capital city of Malaysia and its showpiece of prosperity and grandeur. Kuala Lumpur means 'muddy estuary', a name coined by the original tin prospectors who arrived at the confluence of the Kelang and Gombak rivers in 1860. Kuala Lumpur has progressed considerably since then as can be witnessed in the reflections of the glittering skyscrapers elegantly rising between the well-preserved colonial buildings of yesteryear.

This blend of old and new worlds, interspersed with the diverse influences of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultural lifestyles, makes for a fascinating exploration of the city's streets. An orientation of Kuala Lumpur is best begun from Merdeka Square, the heart of the city. To the southeast of the square is the modern business centre and the bustling streets of Chinatown. The picturesque National Mosque (Masjid Negara) and impressive Railway Station can be located to the south and beyond them to the west is the city's green belt. The tranquil and lush Lake Gardens provides some respite from the frenetic activity of the city. The National Museum (Muzim Negara), the National Monument and the Malaysian Parliament are also found on this stretch.

Information & Facts

Climate

Kuala Lumpur has a hot, tropical climate with heavy rain storms occurring throughout the year, mostly in the early evenings. Day time temperatures can reach around 95°F (35°C).

Eating Out

A melting pot of cultures and cuisines, eating out in the cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur is a gastronomic exploration and a treat for the senses. With so many different cuisines on offer served in some exotic, trendy and stylish settings, visitors will have their hands (and mouths) full sampling the delicious fare on offer in Kuala Lumpur. But not all locals or travellers have the time or money to sit down to a three-course meal and many opt to dine, quite simply, on the side of the road making eating out quite literally 'eating out'. There are thousands of roadside stalls and food bazaars catering to all kinds of tastes and budgets and popular bites include satay(marinated and barbecued meat, normally chicken, beef or mutton), nasi lemak(savoury rice steamed in coconut milk) and chicken rice and fried noodles. Indigenous Malaysian cuisine is influenced by Thai, Indian and Chinese to produce new and exciting flavours and dishes such as Nasi Goreng, fried rice flavoured with pounded fried fish, Nasi Lemak, rice cooked with coconut milk and served with anchovies, roasted nuts, cucumbers, a slice of egg, sambal (chilli paste) and curries.

Indian Muslim (Mamak) cuisine is especially fragrant with lots of spices, coconut milk, and curry leaves and is some of Kuala Lumpur's most popular cuisine due to the wide range of dishes and speed at which they are prepared, while Malaysian Chinese cuisine still remains distinctly Chinese. Dishes such as Bakkwa(dried pork) is sold everywhere, while Char Kway Teow(stir fried noodles with prawns, eggs, pork and sprouts are popular with locals. With so many types of cuisines and types of eateries to explore, eating out in Kuala Lumpur is just another one of the city's fabulous attractions and adds to the authenticity of the experience.

Getting Around

The hot and humid streets of Kuala Lumpur are usually jammed with traffic, even on the pavements. The easiest way to get around, therefore, is on the five different commuter train routes, each operated by a different company. The KL Monorail is the one that serves the main shopping and hotel districts, while the Putra LRT serves Chinatown. Fares are reasonable and the trains are very frequent on all routes, which operate from about 5.30am to midnight. City buses are hot, crowded and totally unreliable. A hop-on hop-off bus service has been introduced as an easy and comfortable way for tourists to visit the major attractions within the city, which visits 40 tourist attractions from 8.30am to 8.30pm every day. Taxis can be hailed at the roadside or found at most obvious locations outside hotels, shopping centres and the like. Metered fares rise steeply between midnight and 6am, and drivers sometimes raise the price during peak hour or in bad weather.

Kids Attractions

One might not think that Kuala Lumpur would be a children's playground, but on closer inspection, visitors travelling with their families will have plenty of opportunities to explore this fascinating and cosmopolitan city with their children too. With a plethora of attractions, shopping malls, playgrounds and activities, figuring out where to begin will be the hardest part! The iconic Petronas Towers is a must for those with young children. The dizzying heights and breathtaking views over the city from the skybridge are thrilling to children of all ages. Once back on terra firma, a trip to nearby colourful Chinatown is in order where cultures meet and cheap toys can be purchased - but make sure you keep a close eye on the little ones in the crowds. Visit the Lake Gardens where plenty of wide open space and will allow kids to let off some steam, and if that's not enough, a boat ride across the lake should keep them quiet, while the Butterfly House and Bird Park will captivate young and enquiring minds. Take a walk through the National Park (Taman Negara) and marvel at the flora and fauna and indigenous bird life- a great way to tire out the kids so mum and dad can enjoy a night to themselves on the town. Too hot to handle? Take the kids to one of the Kuala Lumpur's many water parks to cool off, such as the Sunway Lagoon or the Desa Water Park, and when the sun goes down, take the kids on the unique and unforgettable Fireflies tour, where they can travel by boat down the Selangor River to watch fireflies lighting up the mangrove trees.

Language

Bahasa Melayu is the national language, but English is widely spoken and is the language of business. Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka are spoken by the Malaysias Chinese population and Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi among the Indian population.

Money

The Malaysian Ringit (MYR), also referred to as the Malaysian Dollar, is divided into 100 sen. Malaysian banks charge in the region of US$2-3 for foreign exchange transactions. Moneychangers are generally quicker to deal with and do not charge commission; their rates however are variable. Pounds or dollars are the easiest to exchange. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and some hotels. All major credit cards are accepted at upmarket hotels, shops and restaurants. ATMs are widely available.

Night Life

A city that never sleeps, Kuala Lumpur's streets come to life with bright lights, bustling bars, loud music and pumping clubs after dark. From karaoke lounges and pubs to discos and jazz clubs, there's something for everyone to enjoy on a night out in Kuala Lumpur. It may be predominantly Muslim, but due to its cosmopolitan nature alcohol is widely available and the city's nightlife is some of the best in Asia. The city centre is the commercial and business hub by day, but once the sun sets things heat up and some of the city's most eccentric bars and trendiest clubs can be found along Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Ampang and Jalan Sultan Ismail. Visit the ultra-chic Sky Bar for intoxicating views of the city or the trendy rooftop Luna Bar at the Pacific Regency Hotel Apartments, while the Caribbean-themed Ruums caters to all tastes with four rooms of different music genres to choose from. Bukit Bintang is another one of the most popular areas for excitement, and in particular Changkat Bukit Bintang where the restaurants burst to life with bustling energy, some of which even metamorphose into busy bars pumping out the hottest tunes, while the young, hip and international residents and visitors spill out of Bangsar's bars and restaurants. For those looking for a quiet night on the town, why not enjoy a few drinks while at a karaoke bar where getting in on the entertainment is optional, or enjoy the local theatre, cabarets and cine-plexes showing contemporary English, Malay, Chinese, Hindi and Indonesian movies. With so many options and more, the only difficult thing about heading out for a night on the town in Kuala Lumpur will be deciding what to wear and where to start.

Shopping

Boasting more than 70 shopping malls and priding itself as the retail, fashion and electronics hub of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is a shopper's paradise and roaming the city's malls is a popular pastime for many visitors who consider it one of the main attractions and activities associated with visiting Kuala Lumpur. Be sure you pack lightly and bring an extra large suitcase when you come here because you're in for a shopping marathon! The Golden Triangle is the city's premier shopping area and is the entertainment and commercial centre of the city. Head to Bukit Bintang Street where fashion merchandise, IT goods, designer brands and electronic goods can be picked up at shopping malls such as Low Yat Plaza, Sungai Wang Plaza, Lot 10 and Times Square, while the Suria KLCC is one of Malaysia's most popular shopping spots due to its location beneath the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Midvalley's Megamall in the Bangsar and Midvalley area is also a great place to browse for fashionable items. The Art Deco Kuala Lumpur's Central Market on Jalan Hang Kasturi is a great place to buy arts and crafts and is a popular stop on most travellers' shopping lists where everything from antiques and paintings to handicrafts, clothing and quirky souvenirs can be found. Best buys include pewter, brass and silver jewellery and items as well as wood carvings and pottery. After rummaging through the busy Central Market, take a walk across to nearby Chinatown where everything from jewellery, herbal medicines, dried food, designer t-shirts, handbags and wallets can bargained for so brush up on your haggling skills and don't be afraid to put on your best act when you walk away uninterested from that gorgeous handbag that'll go perfectly with that summer dress of yours.

And if all the usual shopping isn't quite enough to whet your appetite, then plan your trip to Kuala Lumpur between the beginning of July and the end of August when the official Mega Sale Carnival, kick-started by the Ministry of Tourism for Malaysia, takes place in an effort to boost Kuala Lumpur as a leading shopping destination.

Sightseeing

Any time is a good time of year to visit Kuala Lumpur where the city's skyline is a stark contrast of towering modern structures juxtaposed by charming heritage buildings and travellers who choose to holiday here will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

The world-famous Petronas Twin Towers, some of the world's tallest buildings, are a good place to start your sightseeing where some of the most incredible views over the city can be enjoyed, while the breathtaking Masjid Negara Mosque, Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque) and even the intricately ornate Moorish-style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station create an old world charm. History buffs will love the National Museum where they can learn more about Malaysia's culture and heritage and visitors can enjoy a shadow play here too.

Outdoor enthusiast will love Taman Negara, which contains some of the oldest rainforest in the world and spans thousands of square miles of protected land where visitors can enjoy trekking, fishing, river rafting, bird watching or even climbing the Peninsula's highest mountain, Gunung Tahan.

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