The colorful ethnic neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur include Chinatown and Petaling Street, where you find plenty of souvenirs to buy, and temples to explore. Other ethnic neighborhoods not to miss include Little India for sari shopping and spice shops, and Malay town; filled with ethnic snacks and sweets stands with plenty of chances for sampling each.
A more modern addition in Kuala Lumpur is BBKLCC, one of world’s largest shopping malls, or visit Central Market, a Malaysia Heritage Site offering a look at the country’s culture and heritage.
Since the city is steeped in Islam, you will hear the daily call to prayer, but to get an even closer look, a visit to Jamek Mosque, the oldest mosque in the city, is a good way to better understand the culture. The National Mosque of Malaysia is another option and is one of Southeast Asia’s largest, surrounded by acres of gardens.
Stroll in one of the city’s parks like Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, located within the Perdana Botanical Garden. It’s a relaxing experience where friendly birds will perch on your shoulder if you offer a treat, and a great photo opportunity. There is also Butterfly Park offering a leisurely walk through the gardens while butterflies gently fly around.
Home to one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular temples, a climb up to the Batu Caves about 20 minutes outside the city is highly recommended. It’s a climb with 272-steps, but at the top there is a great reward, with a giant golden statue and stunning views of the cityscape and surrounding area.
For food lovers, Malaysia offers some of the best cuisine in the world and you can’t begin your search at a better place than the bustling food courts called “hawkers centers.” These are a great place to catch the local vibe and experience the city’s famous street food at its best, like at the Jalan Alor Hawker Center.
Of course, for a more glamorous meal dine at Marini’s on 57, one of the hottest restaurants in town, with spectacular views of the towers, followed by a drink at No Black Tie, one of the city’s best jazz bars.
When looking to the best of Malaysian cuisine, it is wise to keep in mind there is not one particular distinction of food, but a culinary diversity originating from its multi-ethnic communities, from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan to Eurasian and the indigenous people of Borneo.
Odalys Flores, Account Executive at SAESHE says “As a predominantly Muslim nation, ‘Halal’ Malaysian cuisines are also served. This diversity makes Malaysia a truly unique food paradise.”
Definitely try the Roti Canai, one of the most common and well loved dishes of Malaysians of all races. Roti Canai has its roots in southern India and is an Indian flatbread made out of dough, ghee, egg, flour and water.
There are also other dishes like Char Kway Teow or stir-fried rice cake strips, arguably one of the most popular dishes among Malaysians of all races. The name is derived from ‘char,’ the Chinese Hokkien dialect term for ‘fried’ while ‘kway teow’ refers to the ‘flat rice noodles,’ which are the main ingredient.
Satay is another Malay food known around the world and the best place to find it really is in Kuala Lumpur. The dish is made of barbecued meats that are marinated, skewered and grilled on sticks and served with delicious peanut sauce.
For a little daytrip outside of the city, visit the historical UNESCO city of Malacca where you will find amazing European colonial architecture, the perfect ending to a trip around the country.
Don’t forget the events and festivals that happen each year in Kuala Lumpur. The KL Tower International Towerthon Challenge is on May 17 and the Kuala Lumpur Fairground opens during the entire months of May and June. The KL Samrah Festival is from September 4 to 6, followed by the KL Tower International Jump Malaysia from the 26 to 29 and in October, Arts in the Park. www.tourism.gov.my