The bustling metropolis often known simply by its initials, KL, has plenty to offer in terms of spectacular skylines, culinary delights and cultural experiences. You’re likely to find yourself gravitating to the Petronas Towers at some stage, drawn to this focal point in the heart of the city which is immersed in commerce, yet borders onto an oasis of greenery, complete with a lake, fountains and landscaped gardens lined with trees.

Petronas Towers

Standing at 450 metres tall, Petronas Towers are the largest twin towers in the world and number among the world’s tallest buildings. They’re impressive enough when viewed from ground level, but if you’d like to go up in the world, there’s a 45-minute guided tour which starts with the Skybridge on the 41st Floor, then ascends to the Observation Deck on the 86th Floor for a panoramic view of the city. Then it’s back down to the 83rd Floor to see state-of-the-art digital displays about the building, before returning to ground level to visit the gift shop.

Thean Hou Temple

For a complete contrast to the cutting-edge skyscrapers of the metropolis, head out to the Thean Hou Temple, in Robson Heights, which is built according to time-honoured traditions, but is a relatively new building, completed in 1989. The temple is crammed with ornate carvings and eye-catching artwork and features tiled rooftops, dragons coiled around columns, and rows of red lanterns dangling and fluttering in the breeze. The architectural style takes its influences from Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. It was built by a community group from the island of Hainan, China, and is dedicated to Tian Hou Niang Niang, or Mazu, a goddess who protects seafarers from danger.

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and School of Hard Knocks

As the world’s largest pewter manufacturer, the Royal Selangor brand has long been recognised for its quality craftsmanship. Before exploring the exhibition in the visitor centre, don’t miss the world’s largest pewter tankard, which is on display outside. Inside, admire a replica of the Petronas Towers, among other ornaments and sculptures, and watch skilled craftsmen and women at work. On the walls are handprints of all the staff who work in the centre; the ones burnished with gold are long-standing employees. Try your hand at making a pewter bowl at the “School of Hard Knocks.” The basic aim is to hammer a plate of metal into the shape of a bowl.

KL Bird Park, Perdana Botanical Gardens

Set in spacious botanical gardens, which are also known as Lake Gardens, the bird park is the largest of its kind in Asia, with 200 different species, including hornbills, flamingos, parrots, peacocks, and Oriental birds. Many of the birds are allowed to roam and fly freely within large aviaries which are designed to resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible. The waterfall aviary is among the highlights. Parrot shows are held daily in the amphitheatre.

KL Butterfly Park, Perdana Botanical Gardens

Another area of the park houses a butterfly garden spanning an area of 80,000 square feet, containing 5,000 live butterflies, exotic plants and ferns. Winding paths meander around waterfalls and a pond teeming with Koi carp, as butterflies of all shapes, sizes and colours flit from flower to flower. There is a vivarium of live insects and a museum-style collection of butterflies and insects from around the world.

Masjid Negara Mosque

The National Mosque, Masjid Negara, has served as the main mosque for Kuala Lumpur city since 1965. The building has an elegant minaret and an umbrella-shaped roof with eighteen corners, symbolizing Malaysia’s thirteen states and the five pillars of Islam. The main hall features stained-glass windows and chandeliers. The building is surrounded by lush gardens set around marble fountains.

Petaling Street Market

Jalan Petaling is a street in the Chinatown area, not far from the National Mosque and other attractions. A popular shopping area for tourists, the covered market is filled with market stalls selling souvenirs, clothing, bags and watches, some of which seem like bargains, but keep an eye out for counterfeit “knock-offs”. It’s a case of buyer beware, though most vendors are prepared to barter on the price. There are also some decent restaurants along the street. The Hungry Tapir, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant serving tasty dishes such as satay with peanut sauce, laksa soup and rainbow-fried rice, is well worth a visit.

Merdeka 118: The world’s second-highest building

The second-highest building in the world, the Merdeka 118, was completed in 2022. At 678.9 metres (2,227 ft) tall, it is outstripped only by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 828 metres. Casting a critical eye at the construction, it could be considered a bit of a cheat, since a tall spire had been added to give extra height. Take a trip up to mezzanine levels 115 to 116 if you’re interested in seeing the view from Southeast Asia’s highest observation deck.

The National Textile Museum

The National Textile Museum is worthy of note, particularly for its impressive façade: it’s an old colonial building with distinctive stripes of red and white bricks which are characteristic of the Moghul-Islamic style of architecture. Built in 1896, it was once the Headquarters of the Federated Malay States Railways, and then housed government departments for many years. It became a Textile Museum in 2010. Four galleries contain a wealth of material tracing the trends in textile production that have shaped Malaysian society from past to present.

Sample Durian Fruit – a local delicacy

Durian Fruit is an acquired taste that some people simply don’t wish to acquire. The smell is enough to put many people off before it even reaches their lips. The outer skin is covered in spikes and the flesh is orange and juicy. The scent when ripe is sometimes described as rotten or rancid, and it can leave an unpleasant after-taste. Fresh Durian fruit can be purchased from food markets and street food stalls.

How to get around the city

Taxi is probably the most convenient way to get around town, and the best option is to download an app called Grab, the local equivalent of Uber. These drivers offer one ride only from A to B with no stops in between and are not always reliable. If planning a journey or day trip with more than one sightseeing stop, your hotel concierge may be able to help, or contact Faisal Transporter on +6011-11847146 to get advice and a quote for airport transfers, KL city tours and trips further afield.

By Angela Lord

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