Looking for a chill itinerary in Kuala Lumpur? Then this post is perfect for you. It has the basic element of heritage you need to not be a complete cultural heathen plus some modern architecture and must-see touristy spots and of course – food trip! Word of advice: Malaysia is a pretty conservative country so keep it on the down low. Food is heaven and pretty cheap but alcohol is hella expensive. Oh yeah, it’s really hot and humid so be prepared to sweat. Don’t get me wrong, KL is still a great city! Even if you only have a few days to spare, there are still lots of fun stuff waiting for you.
How To Get There: Air Asia and Cebu Pacific has cheap flights to and from Kuala Lumpur and Cebu.
How To Get Around: Free Tourist Buses plus Uber. If you stay in Bukit Bintang, everything worth seeing and the bus stops are within walking distance.
Where To Stay: Orange Pekoe Guesthouse. More details at the end of this post.
So here goes my list of things to do/ places to see in KL:
The Petronas are the tallest Twin Towers in the world. Designed by Architect Cesar Pelli in the postmodern style, the Petronas is a gorgeous sight. All that steel and glass is so sexy. Feel free to take as much photos as you can under the sweltering heat and humidity. After doing that, go inside the KLCC Mall and have a Godiva ice cream. While you’re in there, drop by Kinokuniya – a treasure trove of books and pens that’s perfect for bookworms and stationary addicts.
2. Jalan Alor & Food Tripping
So a lot of people will tell you that this whole strip of Food stalls is a tourist trap. I beg to differ. If it’s your first time in Kuala Lumpur and you only have limited days to enjoy the food. Come straight here!
Everything, and I mean everything, that you want to taste and try can be found on this street. From savories to soups, snacks to sweets and drinks and balls and rolls on sticks – Jalan Alor is the place to be.
At the junction of Changkat and Jalan Alor is this awesome stand that sells all kinds of awesome food: grilled, fried, steamed. We may have gone a little overboard ordering all kinds of stuff. Crazy story, we picked up this guy in the airport and invited him to join us for dinner. He was in a bad mood cos he couldn’t withdraw his cash and he got pissed off that his fried rice had seafood so he totally started yelling. When he left to find his hostel, we were like buh bye, good riddance. Not to waste a plate of clean food, we ate his rice. It was delicious.
Making our way to Japan Alor, we discovered THE best thing in KL – grilled bacon jerky. I’m sorry but everything else paled in comparison because hello, Bacon. If you find yourself in that street, look for this place. Not just bacon but pork and beef and all kinds of meaty smoked cured grilled goodness.
I tried the famous Chendol for the first and last time. It was a bit too funky for my taste. This traditional dessert is made up of shaved ice, red beans, palm sugar syrup and droplets of worm-like green rice-flour jelly. It’s not a flavor combo that I like but try it for yourself. One other thing that you cannot miss while in KL is the laksa – a tangy spicy noodle soup that will make you sweat buckets. Not for the faint of heart.
On our last day, we decided to just order anything we could possibly want. I got the satay with a super yummy peanut sauce and the Char kway teow which is a dish made of flat rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, cockles (an oyster like shell thingy), Chinese lap cheong(sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in a mix of soy sauce. The cockles were not very nice. I’m not such a fan of shellfish but the noodles had a very nice texture and taste. Well, there were only 4 of us and our table was close to tipping over. Needless to say, the server and the restaurant owner loved us.
3. Changkat Bukit Bintang
If you’re looking for nightlife, Changkat Bukit Bintang is where the hip and happening is at. Then street is lined with shophouses turned into nightclubs, restobars, cocktail lounges, whiskey bars and everything that’s fun and alcoholic. Note: Since Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, liquor and beer is quote expensive but don’t you worry because that’s what happy hour is for. Drop by, have fun, enjoy the music and make new friends. It’s an explosion of bars in all shapes, sizes, themes and decor. Baan 26 was a Thai Resto and Bar with red oriental interiors and special promos on Tequila. Don’t try to make sense of it, just go with the flow.
Photos from www.kuala-lumpur.ws
My favorite spot is Opium House, a creative cocktail bar serving unique concoctions in a setting reminiscent of 1930’s Chinese opulence with gold and red decor, antiques, Chinese pots and lanterns and other oriental artifacts. I honestly can’t remember what I ordered but it was good. Check out their website http://opiumkl.com
Aside from the night life, there are also artsy cafes and coffee shops a little off Changkat where the locals flock to for some good food and great ambiance. My favorite was Lima Blas, this quaint and quirky cafe that had fast internet, good coffee and lots of tasty desserts. Photos grabbed from http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws/magazine/lima-blas.htm
4. Batu Caves
One of the iconic tourist attractions in Gombak, Selangor, Batu Caves is a site of a Hindu temple and shrine. You have to climb up a steep set of stairs with 272 steps. Yeah, no thanks. I decided to just take photos at the bottom and of the large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance. Also, as I approached the steps to take a photo, the Hindu lady told me “no shorts allowed”. So if you plan to climb to the temple, wear appropriate attire or rent one of those cloth wraps to wear around your waist.
Since culture and museums were not part of this trip’s itinerary, we asked around for interesting places to hang out and our Uber driver pointed us to Publika Art Mall. Located in an upscale neighborhood far away from KLCC area, Publika is an artsy and creative complex with art galleries, high-end boutiques, specialty stores, novelty shops, restaurants and bars.
We met this Argentinian artist Lupe who had a gallery/ studio right in the mall. Beautiful works but very pricey. Publika is really an artist’s haven.
The interiors are beautiful. Even the restroom areas are super colorful and playful. I just couldn’t get enough of this mall. We just walked around all afternoon.
We are also super happy to see fellow Filipinos working in the restaurants and they pointed us over to this bar that served happy hour beers and pork. Crispy, deep-fried pork. Heavenly pork. After having chicken and lamb for the past days (Hindu + Muslim after all), it was such an epiphany.
Bangsar Village is a nice, quiet uptown neighborhood with shopping malls, restaurants and boutiques. After talking to another Uber driver (they really are the best tour guides), we set off to have dinner and some drinks. The place was really nice. Fairy lights in the trees, cool establishments. We decided to really try some local flavor so we ate dinner at an Indian Banana Leaf Cantina which is a mom-and-pop place that serves really really good Indian food on a…yup you guessed it…banana leaf.
We basically walked off all the food we ate which made us eat some more. It’s a vicious cycle but hey, all worth it. There’s just too many things to see and a couple of days is not enough. Will I be back? Definitely!
We’ve always stayed at the Orange Pekoe Guesthouse which is located right at Bukit Bintang. Just a hop, skip, jump away from all the food streets, bars, malls and bus stops in the city. Things I love about this place: affordable and comfy rooms, free breakfast (continental) at the pantry, free WIFI, towels and toiletries and really friendly staff.