From revered, sacred temples standing side-by-side with cutting-edge architecture to one of the world’s richest street food scenes – Kuala Lumpur really is vibrant, ever-changing mix. If you’ve been craving a proper adventure or just want to experience something completely new, then this city is definitely a fantastic place to start! I’ve put together some handy tips to give you a deeper insight into how awesome this place really is.
Experiencing Kuala Lumpur – why a trip to this city is always worth it!
Getting around | Culture | Sights | Shopping & Street Food
There are indirect flights from Ireland to Kuala Lumpur all year round, with the cheapest airports being Dublin, Cork and Shannon. Once you’ve landed, there’s an express non-stop rail service that runs between the airport and Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station, meaning that you’ve got a cheap and easy way of getting back and forth. The journey lasts half an hour each way.
While you’re in the city there are busses, light rail and even a monorail to help you get around. The traffic in Kuala Lumpur can be notoriously bad, often being reduced to gridlock, so most of the time it’s better to explore by foot and invest in a travel card that will last you a few days. It’s super cheap to use public transport here, so make the most of it! If you want an easy way to get a quick first impression of the city, then you can always use one of the hop-on, hop-off busses – you’ll be able to see a lot of the city centre quite quickly.
Culture is in abundance here, so those seeking to experience new cultures will be in heaven here! While Islam is the state religion in Malaysia, non-Muslims have the freedom to practice whatever religion they choose. And since the country has a long and rich history of migration and immigration, dozens of cultures have lived side-by-side for years.
As a result there’s a whole wealth of temples, mosques and sacred sites across the city that are open to visit. Two of my absolute favourites are the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, located on the outskirts of Chinatown. It’s the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, having been built in 1873, and is an important place of worship for many Indian immigrants.
Another fantastic temple within the city is the Thean Hou Temple. It’s a place of worship for Buddhists, Taoists and Confucianists – I’m pretty sure you’re starting to see what I mean about how diverse this place is! Many festivals and events are held here, and there’s even fortune telling, tai-chi and martial arts classes that are run within the temple grounds.
The last one I wanted to mention is outside of the city, but it’s definitely worth the day trip. The stunning Batu Caves are a real sight to behold – built within age-old limestone caves are colourful, intricate Hindu temples, drawing in pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. If you’re feeling brave, you can climb the huge staircase for fantastic views of Kuala Lumpur.
You can’t talk about the sights without mentioning the Petronas Towers! They’re the icon of the city, towering a mighty 1,483 feet above the ground. Although the architecture is modern, there are very subtle nods to the geometric shapes found in Islamic architecture, meaning that it’s the perfect blend of old and new. At the foot of the towards are acres of parkland, and there’s even a massive shopping centre, the Sria KLCC, which houses a theatre hall, aquarium, science centre and a gallery.
I recommend booking tickets in advance if you want to visit the towers – entry is always ticketed so this is the best way to avoid any disappointment. You’ll be able to head out on the famous Skybridge and enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the city. You’ll definitely need a head for heights though!
The Merdeka Square is also worth checking out too. It’s here where you’ll find the Sultan Abdul Samad Building where many parades and national events are held, and it’s a great place to brush up on some Malaysian history before crossing off other sights too. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll definitely get your culture fix. With places like the National Mosque of Malaysia, the exclusive Selangor Club or a whole wealth of museums, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Shopping & Street Food
This is what brings a lot of people to Kuala Lumpur. Not only can you pick up some fantastically cheap bargains, but you can also enjoy some of the most diverse and delicious street food around! Chinatown is definitely where a lot of the shopping revolves, and it’s definitely the place where you’ll find most of the cheapest goods. Petaling Street, the main thoroughfare, is brimming with shops, restaurants and food stalls – it really is a city that never sleeps! There’s also the Central Market not too far from Petaling Street, where you’ll find lots of local artists selling paintings, handicrafts and one-of-a-kind items. It might sound a little weird at first, but the people who sell here are grouped together by race, so that visitors can clearly see just how different each culture is and how diverse the country is as a whole.
And the street food… It’s absolutely fantastic stuff, and I’m more than happy to do away with fancy restaurants while I’m here! Again Chinatown is the place to be if you want to try your hand at some delicacies. The street food scene reflects the mix of cultures and races here, so you’ll have everything from Chinese, Malay and Indonesian to even Indian dishes and curries. One dish I recommend trying out is bak jut teh, a rich broth that’s served with plain rice. You can also pick up authentic satay skewers no matter where you go. Just be brave and trust your nose – it always tastes as good as it smells!
That’s exactly why I love Kuala Lumpur. It’s a heaven for foodies, culture lovers and adventurers alike. And you know what they say – variety really is the spice of life! If you’re interested in going, then I’ve got a fantastic Kuala Lumpur deal coming very soon… So keep those eyes peeled!