Our Kuala Lumpur wish list includes day trips, garden visits, and hunting down architectural treasures, all of which reflect Malaysia’s diversity.
We’ve visited Malaysia twice now, but we still haven’t been to Kuala Lumpur! KL is usually the first place visitors go in this remarkably diverse country. We loved our previous stays, and could see ourselves returning to Malaysia for at least a week or two. So, when Traveloka asked us to share our wishlist, I allowed myself to be distracted by their Great Sale into looking for a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.Even though we’ll probably revise this Kuala Lumpur wish list many times before we actually make a hotel booking online, for now we’ve grouped our most-wanted things to see and do there into a few broad categories:
Kuala Lumpur Wish List Item #1: KL Architecture’s Historical Diversity
The melting pot that is today’s Malaysia is reflected in social and political change. Chinese, Sumatrans, and Malays in the tin mines upriver were supplied by foot traffic from KL in the mid-19th century. At that time, it was a tiny village at the uppermost point boats could travel. Different political gangs and socio-religious groups regularly clashed in the region, and the town suffered economic decline, flooding and a cholera outbreak within the space of 30 years.
In the 1880s, KL underwent rapid growth and became a regional commercial center and state capital under the British colonial system. The rubber industry fueled an early 20th century boom, which brought more foreign investors and plantation owners. We’d like to chase down vintage buildings from these eras. Certain government buildings and residences from that time are still used today.As well, the multi-story shophouses with street level business space and housing upstairs, tell the tale of commerce at the macro level, which is still done this day. We fell in love with this architecture during a previous visit and discussed it in Johor Bahru: Bridging Old and New in Malaysia. In the latter half of the 20th century after a period of unrest, the government prioritized Malay economic development. Kuala Lumpur became a full-fledged city with a Lord Mayor, and then a federal territory. Today it hosts the Parliament of Malaysia, and, as a designated alpha world city, is the fastest growing economic region in Malaysia. The Petronas Towers symbolize this vibrant energy, and to many, are symbolic of the city. We’d like to photograph them from unusual angles during the day and at night.
Kuala Lumpur Wish List Item #2: Eat street and outdoor market food!
Food in Malaysia runs the gamut. Our favorite thing to do in Asia is to eat street and outdoor market food. In Malaysia, we visited a wonderful night market during our stay in Balok, a beach town outside of Kuantan. We’d make sure when booking our Kuala Lumpur hotel online that it was well situated. We would want to easily head to Jalan Alor and Imbi Market and hit up the vendors for some traditional street fare. In Lot 10 Hutong, we’d be after pork and beef noodles, and I can even see us flagging down a food bike for satay.
Kuala Lumpur Wish List Item #3: Fun at Resorts and Natural Wonders
KL is situated in the Klang Valley on the Strait of Malacca. Partially ringed as it is by mountains, the city has a tropical rainforest climate, which can get hot and steamy. In the highlands, there is more spring-like weather year round, with average temperatures 20°C to 25°C during the day and even cooling down to 15°C at night.
We’d take the Genting Skyway gondola for the view and make an online booking for a night or two in a mountain resort hotel. This might be the “Las Vegas” of Malaysia, but there is plenty to do besides gambling, including a 20th Century Fox World theme park in the process of being finished.
We’d like to visit the magnificent natural limestone Batu Caves, including the Hindu shrines in the large Temple Cave.As well, we’re thinking the Orchid Garden and Butterfly Park should be on our Kuala Lumpur wish list. Discovery Channel has said the Butterfly Park in particular is the best in the world, with over 5,000 butterflies.
Kuala Lumpur Wish List Item #4: Hindu and Chinese Temples
The Sri Mahamariamman (Indian Hindu) temple is the oldest Hindu temple in KL, dating from 1873. Although it was originally a private family shrine, it has been open to the public in 1920s. It has occupied its present location since 1885 adjacent to Chinatown. The modern temple’s tower is 75 feet high. On the Thaipusam holy day, worshippers begin a procession to the Batu Caves carrying containers of milk as offerings to Lord Muruga.
We also think it would be a good idea to have our fortunes read at the Sin Sze Si Ya Chinese Tao temple. This temple honors the guardian deity of the Chinese miners in Malaysia, Kapitan Shin. This temple was built in 1864 after a Chinese medium was consulted and indicated, via a deity who used the medium through which to speak, that it was a location with good feng shui. It’s a unique temple because it worships two local people who were elevated to patron deity status.
Tips and Practicalities: Kuala Lumpur is a world-class city, with an absolutely gorgeous $3.5 billion airport, at which we spent a very pleasurable layover. Its “Airport in the Forest, Forest in the Airport” concept includes an entire rain forest section in the interior and green space surround. We found Malaysia to be delightfully affordable, particularly when compared with neighboring Singapore. During Traveloka’s Great Sale, you can easily book great deals on an international flight into KL and the perfect hotel.