Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it’s affectionately known as, is one of those cities that has it all. It’s culturally rich, teeming with life and full of possibilities; whoever you are and whatever you’re into, there’s something for you. The city is energetic without being chaotic, and developed without being totally westernised. Plus, there’s a Nando’s. (Don’t judge me, I’ve missed it.)
I hadn’t originally planned to visit KL over Tết holiday, but since I ended up getting more time off than expected, I decided to join my friend, Stacey, who had already planned a trip to KL, Langkawi and then Penang. Although I was pleased to be going, Kuala Lumpur was the place I felt the least excited to see; living in Ho Chi Min City makes me crave peace and nature on vacation. However, I began to fall in love as soon as I arrived, and here’s why:
It’s not bad to look at…
Kuala Lumpur manages to mix charming colonial architecture with stunning skyscrapers in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing rather than jarring. The streets are quaint and colourful, and during the Lunar New Year period they were adorned with lanterns galore. Everywhere I looked made me want to take a photo. Basically, it’s Instagrammable AF.
I love a good skyline, and Kuala Lumpur’s is often ranked as one of- or the– best in the world. Not only does it boast the Petronas Towers, the twin skyscrapers that have become a symbol of the city, but there’s a wide range of architectural styles intermingled with the skyscrapers.
We didn’t actually go up the Petronas Towers or the Kuala Lumpur towers, but, on the advice of our hostel, went to the Heli Lounge bar. You can buy a cocktail there for between 30-40 ringgit (roughly £5.50-£7.50/$7.50-$10.50), which is less than half the price of admission to the aforementioned towers, then head up to the helipad on the roof and enjoy breathtaking views of the city while feeling like an absolute baller. There’s a dress code for guys (full length trousers, smart shoes) but for girls it doesn’t matter #sexismftw. I promise, my dodgy photography is not doing the view much justice.
From street markets to upscale malls, Kuala Lumpur has some fantastic shopping. The Central Market was not only full of cute souvenirs and bargains, it was pretty quiet and without-pushy stall-owners (a.k.a. a world away from the sweaty, stressful markets of Vietnam). We didn’t purposefully visit any malls, but the shopping in KL Sentral train station alone was enough; there were a bunch of Australian shops like Cotton On and Factorie, as well as SEPHORA (I nearly died of excitement).
As well as its metropolitan delights, Kuala Lumpur has also got some natural beauty going on. The Batu Caves are a series of caves and temples inside a limestone hill, and they’re one of KL’s biggest tourist attractions.
Even on approach, the sight of the caves is pretty impressive; a huge, golden statue of the Hindu deity Murugun greets you in front of the enormous limestone hill. Women have to cover their legs to enter the caves (I just took a towel with me) but for men it didn’t seem to matter. Monkeys scurry up and down the 272 steps to the top (whilst the tourists huff, puff and sweat) waiting to be fed; we even saw a baby one drinking mountain dew…
Inside, the caves are beautiful, although the temple was less impressive. You can take an educational tour of the Dark Cave (so-called for obvious reasons) which I would recommend; we learned a lot and the cave is incredible.
It’s true that you can go swimming anywhere. But we managed to get access to Kuala Lumpur’s ‘secret pool’, an infinity pool with an insane view of the skyline. For. Free.
The pool is part of Sky Society, a luxury hostel that we didn’t want to blow our budget on. Luckily, our, much cheaper, hostel had some sort of deal with them, meaning that we could use the pool without paying a penny. It was a pretty sweet way to spend an afternoon, and made me love KL all the more.
So that, my friends, is why I fell in love with Kuala Lumpur.
What makes you fall in love with a city?