5 reasons to visit Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian capital has it all – unique architecture, timeless mountain ranges and tasty food, all of which add up to a rich culture and history.

Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur mixes the old with the modern.
  • Helen Martin
  • April 2019

Many people think of Kuala Lumpur as a stopover city, a place you pass through but don’t really explore. We’re here to tell you, you’re missing out. There are interesting corners everywhere so stay a while and seek out these five reasons why KL is a worthy destination in its own right.

1. The famous Petronas Towers are a must-see

Soaring an incredible 452 metres into the sky, the Petronas Twin Towers are among the tallest buildings in the world. But did you know the iconic 58.4-metre long skybridge connecting the two towers isn’t firmly attached? The bridge is designed to slide in and out of the buildings when it’s windy. What’s more, Tower 2 was 25 millimetres off vertical during construction, so the top 16 floors were slanted the other way to fix it.

2. It has colourful culture

Located about 11 kilometres north of the city, the Batu Caves contain a Hindu temple and shrine guarded by a 42-metre tall statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. On the full moon in January or February, more than one million people flock to the caves for Thaipusam, a colourful Hindu festival marking Lord Murugan’s birthday. Some pilgrims perform ritual acts of penance and it’s not uncommon to see devotees lanced with hooks and skewers.

Scale the legendary steps into the Batu Caves
Scale the legendary steps into the Batu Caves.

3. Escaping the crowds is easy

Nearby highlights may lure you away from the city’s bustle: two hours’ drive south is the former Portuguese, Dutch and British outpost of Malacca, while two hours’ drive north there’s Fraser’s Hill, a charming British colonial getaway. The tea plantations and misty mountains of Cameron Highlands are also three hours’ drive north. Or you could always stay put and toast the sunset high above the capital at Vertigo, a rooftop bar on level 59 of Banyan Tree hotel opens in new window.

Sneak away into the temperate Cameron Highlands
Sneak away into the temperate Cameron Highlands.

4. It’s got interesting food

With Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian influences, Malaysian cuisine is a spicy, fragrant (and unusual) delight. Street-food stalls are a terrific place to sample the weird and wonderful. Sure, there are fried chicken feet and black preserved eggs called century eggs but how does frog porridge sound? If that doesn’t grab you, there’s still bull penis soup, cow lung and duck tongues to try. Alternatively, you can indulge in a colonial-style high tea. The prettiest place for afternoon tea is the Orchid Conservatory at Hotel Majestic opens in new window where cakes, scones and sandwiches are served alongside tea brewed to perfection inside an atrium full of phalaenopsis orchids.

You will never run out of culinary options in KL
You will never run out of culinary options in KL.

5. The architecture is fascinating

The architecture of Kuala Lumpur has an eclectic mix of structures that reflect the city’s changing landscape. From traditional Asian buildings, classic colonial designs and newly built skyscrapers, the city is constantly reinventing itself. A slice of history can be found at the 109-year-old Kuala Lumpur railway station, which wasn’t intended for Malaysia’s warm weather. The architect’s design was drawn up for a trade fair in Moscow, Russia, so the roof has been built to withstand a heavy dump of snow.

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is just one of the examples of the city's interesting architecture
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is just one of the examples of the city's interesting architecture.

Also worth checking out is the historic estate Carcosa Seri Negara - it served as a major set for 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians. What's more, it was the site of Malaysia’s first electricity and telephone wire and a white-clad lady is said to haunt the hallways.