Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
A glittering and modern city with a colonial twist and a melting pot of cultures.
Sitting resplendently as a testament to Malaysia’s incredible 21st Century growth and prosperity, Kuala Lumpur or ‘KL’ as it is affectionately known, boasts the best of Malaysia all in one place. Absorb this sparkling capital city where South East Asia’s tallest skyscrapers sit happily alongside Moorish buildings, colonial architecture and traditional street markets.
The colonial, economic and commercial heart of Kuala Lumpur lies in the City Centre and at the district’s core is Merdeka Square, the spot where the last British flag was lowered when Malaysia gained independence in 1957. To the west of the square, which is still surrounded by colonial-era buildings, are the picturesque Lake Gardens where visitors will find a deer park, orchid garden and planetarium as well as spot to enjoy a refreshing respite from the hustle and heat of the city.
The modern Kuala Lumpur City Centre (not to be confused with the more aforementioned City Centre) that sits in the so called ‘Golden Triangle’ portion of KL, is home to many of the city’s luxury hotels as well as the iconic Petronas Towers which dominate the city’s skyline. The towers are tallest twin structures on earth, rising up 88 storeys, or 452 metres, into the Malaysian skies. For a bird’s eye view of the streets, buildings and parks below, head to the Sky Bridge which connects the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors, 175 metres above street level.
Other attractions that sit in the shadow of this legendary landmark are the city’s aquarium, Aquaria KLCC, and the beautifully landscaped KLCC Park that extend out over 50 acres to the south east of the towers. To view Kuala Lumpur’s skyline, this time including the renowned Petronas Towers, then head to the top of the Menara KL Tower which offers the ultimate city vista – the viewing deck sits at over 100 metres higher than the Petronas’ Sky Bridge.
The main entertainment region of Bukit Bintang is the city’s premier shopping and entertainment district and is home to landmark shopping centre such as the colossal Berjaya Times Square which even boasts its own indoor theme park. This lively part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ plays host to a vast array of restaurants from inexpensive food stalls to award-winning restaurants – a real mixture of high-end and hawker.
Chinese, Indian, and Malay traders line the vibrant Petaling Street, the main strip of Kuala Lumpur’s popular Chinatown district. Bargain hunters can peruse the stalls and haggle down prices while food lovers can sample dishes from the numerous restaurants and hawker stalls. The atmosphere is particularly special at night when crowds of locals and tourists gather to eat, drink tea, bargain and explore the narrow streets.
Although I’m not a city person, ‘KL’ as it’s trendily called, is one of my favourites (after Cape Town!) as it’s so clean, very green and with an infrastructure that puts our roads at home to shame. The food here is great - with the fusion of Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisines, supported by good hygiene standards, it’s time to spread out my napkin and loosen my belt a notch or three…