Country: Malaysia
Currency: Ringgit (RM)
Peak Season: December-January, June-September
Shoulder Season: April-May, October-November
Median Temperature: 27.50 C / 81.5 F
Main Languages: Bahasa, Cantonese, Mandarin, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, rail, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $80.00/day
Tourist Passes: RapidKL ALL-DAY Ticket
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A grandiose mix of Malay, Chinese, and British congregation has made Kuala Lumpur what it is today – a bustling young metropolis of massive structures, diverse culture, and a progressive outlook in the years to come. The city has been documented for being rife with insurgencies, but despite these, it remains as one of the most prosperous cities in Asia; in fact having an alpha city status due to its urban agglomeration and economy. Its tropical climate makes it an amiable place to visit and live in. Furthermore, it being a center of finance, media, and tourism has made it a hub of many multinational tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and many others. It is also home to the Petronas Twin Towers which, to this day, remain as the tallest pair of skyscrapers in the entire world.

KL, as many Klites (locals) call it, was once a small rural settlement in the 1950’s where people made their living from tin and rubber. Countless civic problems plagued the city for decades to come. But what looked like a downward spiral turned for the better when, at the late 19th century, the combined efforts of Chinese and British settlers, Yap Ah Loy, and Frank Swettenham, respectively, bolstered the modernization of the town. A decade later – in 1972, Kuala Lumpur became a bona fide city. It still had its fair share of insurgencies, but after economic boom following its city status and its resilience against the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 90’s, it exhibited plans to continue building larger-than-life skyscrapers, improve its financial and educational sectors, and to build more tourist facilities. To this day, there has never been a slowdown of tourists, expatriates, and laborers. In fact, more than 10,000,000 tourists visit Kuala Lumpur annually. The overpopulation in the Kuala Lumpur has led the government to move the administrative and judiciary power to the Putrajaya, a planned city.

Packing List

  • Cash and plastic only, other modes of international payment, such as traveler’s checks are usually dishonored
  • Summer apparel, sunscreen, sunglasses and an umbrella if you must—the daytime heat is usually accompanied by afternoon/night drizzles
  • Conservative/business apparel to gain entry to religious sites; to save up on luggage space, remove all thick clothing—the heat is present year-round
  • Essential medication, sanitizers, toilet paper, napkins, tampons and other personal necessities
  • A camera and a laptop will do just fine; don’t bring too many electronics to KL, since you’ll be staying outdoors more often

Things to Do

  • Touring the Petronas Twin Towers at KLCC, the world’s tallest buildings from 1998-2004; a skybridge connects both halfway through the top, with an observation deck on Tower 2’s top floor
  • Visiting the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, the world’s largest aviary, host to some 3000 birds coming from 200 species; unlike most aviaries, birds’ natural habitats are meticulously emulated here
  • Enlightenment inside the Batu Caves, whose area is a Hindu place of worship; the height of the caves makes it a suitable venue for rock climbing and photography
  • Relaxing in Lake Gardens Park, Malaysia’s oldest and most famous park; it is a 91.6-hectare landscaped expanse with three distinct sections: Orchid Garden, Deer Park and Butterfly Park
  • Enjoying slick bargains and affordable cuisine at either Chinatown or Little India; ethnic handicraft and food can also be bought from Central Market, famous for its cultural zoning system

DON'T

  • Bring up contentious topics like politics, religion, illegal and ethnic relations; Kuala Lumpur, though cosmopolitan superficially, still honors Islamic virtues and etiquette
  • Initiate a handshake or kiss a local publicly if you do not know him/her personally—both are signs of disrespect
  • Board taxis near hotels and bars, unless they are metered; many taxi meters are also tinkered, so you’re better off using public transport or renting a private car and a chauffeur
  • Contemplate or even attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into the country; a death sentence or lifetime imprisonment will be imposed regardless of nationality
  • Consort with underage women, nor commit revelry in public spaces (or hotel rooms for that matter); if caught, you will be banned from the country and pay a hefty fine