Visiting Kuala Lumpur? Don't miss these top things to do

Kuala Lumpur is a popular layover hub for flights in and around Asia. To add to this is that you can pick up some really cheap flights to bordering countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Despite the reason you found yourself here, this truly diverse metropolis has a lot on offer for just about every kind of traveller.

Here is a list of 10 not to miss attractions that will keep you entertained for a few days.

1. Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers in the city centre are among the world’s most impressive twin skyscrapers and from 1998 to 2004 they were the tallest buildings in the world.

Architecturally, the building signifies the important Islamic principles of unity, harmony, stability and rationality. Its impressive post-modern design will just amaze you. The Towers feature multi-faceted walls of 33,000 stainless steel and 55,000 glass panels that resemble Islamic motifs, unique to the Malaysian Culture.

The exterior isn't the only thing that is unique. The interior boasts local handicrafts and intricate patterns of 'songket' (weaving).  The floor designs are based on simple Islamic geometric forms of two interlocking squares, creating a shape of eight-pointed stars.

What's more is that each tower weighs 300 000 tons, and to put it into perspective for you, that is equivalent to 42 857 elephants. Say what?!

There are also 1765 flights of stairs that take you to the top. Don’t go questioning your fitness levels just yet, the lifts offer a great alternative to getting to the observation deck on the 86th floor. They are pretty impressive in that it will only take you 90 seconds to reach. Each of the 10 double-decker lifts reaches speeds of 6.1 minutes per second.

It’s impressive height isn't the only thing that has made this building world famous. The double-decker sky bridge that links the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors is the highest two-story bridge in the world. Despite it offering visitors an amazing view, it also acts as an escape should disaster ever strike.

You daredevils out there will appreciate this. French climber Alain Robert climbed to the top of one of the towers using only his bare hands and without any safety equipment. It took him just under two hours to complete.

2. The best rooftop bar - Sky Bar

Awarded Asia’s Best Bar Award in 2016, the upscale cocktail Sky Bar, located in the Traders Hotel is something not to be missed. It is one of the only rooftop bars in the city where you can enjoy unobstructed views of the Petronas Twin Towers and its surroundings.  

Lounge around on one of their designer furniture pieces, take a dip in their swimming pool or sip on one of their creative cocktails for sundowners.

After 7 pm, the bar really comes alive. Guests must be at least 21 years old to enter and to party it up with one of their many popular Dj’s.

3. Light Symphony at KLCC Park

By day, immerse yourself in the modern and vibrate atmosphere of KLCC’s Urban Park.

The park is 50-acres and was originally designed to provide greenery to the areas surrounding it, including the Petronas Twin Towers.  Its 2,000 odd palm trees, 74 different plant species, lakeside pond and high-pressure jet pool provide tranquillity amidst its city skyline views.

By night, the park turns into a symphony and puts on a spectacular light show over its lakeside pond. Dozens of water jets shoot up in the air and are highlighted by colourful beams of light dancing about to the beats of the music.

There is no room to get bored. There are five programs featuring 380 individually sequence defects of water shooting up to a height of 42 m.

4. Spend a night at the Space Hotel

Arguably a favourite experience when visiting the city - A night at a Space Hotel.

Why it's so cool? Firstly, it is only a two-star hotel (resembling more of a hostel than a hotel), which means that it comes at a fraction of the cost than other hotels in the area.

Secondly, it will give you a once in a lifetime experience of sleeping in a “space-like” setting in a futuristic boutique capsule bed. The pods are in shared rooms, however still private and comes with your own TV, music library and headsets, side table for eating your meal, and the worlds most comfy pillows and plush bed linen. You even have your own ultra retro, colourfully lit, wardrobe for your clothing and bags.

Fancy sliding your way to your abode? The hotel features a slide, from the reception to the ground floor of rooms. It’s pretty entertaining and makes your heart jump a beach.

5. Batu Caves

A visit to Kuala Lumpur would be incomplete without a visit to the Batu Caves, a mere 30-minute scenic drive from the city centre. And for good reason. This temple cave complex boasting many Hindu shrines will give you insight into Malaysia’s deep and diverse religious past.

On arrival, you will be greeted by the very impressive 42.7m high golden statue of Lord Murugan and like other Hindu temples around the world, hundreds of monkeys.  The statue is the tallest one in the world and is made of 1550 cubic meters of concrete and 250 tonnes of steel bars sourced from Thailand. In addition, 300 litres of gold paint was used to give it its finishing touches.  

Speaking of paint, the 272 steps leading up to the main cave complex has recently got a new colour-do reflecting eye-catching colours of the rainbow.

There are three main caves and a few relatively smaller ones inside a limestone mountain and are 400 million years ago. Cathedral Cave is the biggest of them all and shelters several ornate Hindu shrines beneath its 100-m-high arched ceiling. Other caves to check out are the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, also featuring Hindu statues and paintings, and the Ramayana Cave that depicts the story of Lord Rama.

Getting your fair share of exercise climbing those stairs is not the only fitness based activity you can do here. Rock climbing is a popular activity, and you can enjoy the 160 rock climbing routes that rise up 150 meters up the limestone mountain. The Nyamuk Wall is the hardest and longest route in the region whereas the Damai Wall, Comic Wall, and Nanyang Wall are great for first-timers. Abseiling and spelunking (exploration of caves) trips can also be arranged.

6. China Town

Atmospheric narrow, bustling alleyways, old Chinese buildings and beautiful temples all await you at China Town.

The famous Petaling street is a great place to start to experience this vibrant area that is deeply immersed in an oriental culture, heritage and history. It is an area that never sleeps.

What’s more is that it is a bargain hunter’s paradise, filled with imitation goods like clothing, electronics, watches and handbags.

Love street food? There are plenty of opportunities to try out a delightful array of local cuisine.  In front of the Koon Kee Wantan Mee restaurant, you will find a street food vendor selling Apam Balik which are small pancakes made of coconut milk.  They are delicious!

Other Chinese and seafood restaurants can be found at every corner resulting in an interesting mixture of aroma filling the air that is quite hard to resist. While you are there, try out the steamed dumplings, chicken floss sandwiches, deep-fried chicken feet (if you lean that way), Chinese buns, stir-fries and freshly cut fruit.

Central Market, with its restored art deco facade, is more upscale when compared to Petaling and boasts trendy cafes and art and craft stores.

The market also houses Malaysia’s most popular coffee shop chain - Old Town White Coffee. The coffee shop offers extremely cheap coffee and tastes like no other coffee you will ever taste.

To immerse yourself deeper in the culture visit some of the many colourful temples. A few worth mentioning are the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Shrine, and the elaborate Chan See Shu Yuen Temple. They are hundreds of years old.

7. Kuala Lumpur Tower

If you love chasing the best cityscapes in every city you visit then the Kuala Lumpur Tower is your place. It is 276meters high and the viewing deck is 100meters higher than that of the sky bridge at the Petronas Twin Towers. In addition, it is also Malaysia's second-tallest building and the tallest tower in all of Asia.

The design is unique too, in that firstly, the tower head is made of glass and secondly, arranged in a traditional Islamic form of Muqarnas. This construction cost around $110million and its spindle-like apex is visible from almost anywhere in the KL.

The views from up here are just breathtaking, giving way to an uninterrupted 360-degree view of the city. You should plan to visit around sunset, so you can witness the evening fall.

Afterwards, enjoy dinner at the revolving restaurant. It provides a spaceship-like atmosphere and serves both local and international cuisine. You can expect a widespread buffet which includes, but not limited to, stir-fried chilli crab, venison fillets and assorted dim sims. Tasty desserts and a selection of cocktails are on the cards as well.

City views and fine dining are not the only things you can enjoy here. The upper ground floor has a 86meter long shopping mall, a reflective pool, a mini theatre and an amphitheatre.

8. Fireflies Night Tour

Malaysia's breathtaking city and its light symphony at KLLC park isn't the only thing that comes alive at night. Bioluminescent fireflies flash about producing glimmering lights in a synchronized rhythm.

You can find these in the coastal town of Kuala Selangor, where you can enjoy a boat ride along its river banks. You will pass through mangrove swamps where you will catch the colonies of fireflies. It’s pretty breathtaking, to say the least.

9 & 10. Altingsburg Fort and Bird Park

Enroute to Kuala Selangor for your fireflies tour you will pass by the ruined Altingsburg Fort, now called the Bukit Melawati. It was built by the second Sultan of Selangor in the 18th century to defend the city against foreign invasion.

The hill that it is situated on offers beautiful panoramic views of the Selangor Coast. Other historical buildings like the Altingsburg Lighthouse and The Royal Mausoleum are found amongst the ancient rain trees. Moreso, you can find silvered leaf monkeys, which are a primate descended from the lineage of old world monkeys.

Migratory birds grace the foot of the Fort at the world-renowned bird sanctuary. There are about 160 species of birds that can be found flying over the sanctuary broads walks, hides and watchtowers.

Article commissioned by Travel Start, South Africa.

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