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Kuala Lumpur

Visit Kuala Lumpur

Introduction

It's been a hectic hundred years for Kuala Lumpur. In this time the former tin-mining shantytown has transformed into a heaving 21st century metropolis - a medley of mosques, museums and markets, temples and towers.

The iconic 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers dominates the skyline of this modern cyber-city, with excellent views to be had from the Sky Bridge that links the two towers. Around it, offices, hotels and shopping malls fill large spaces in the business area known as the Golden Triangle.

But KL, as the city is popularly known, is not just defined by its sky-high commercial aspirations. Like Malaysia as a whole, it is home to a mix of peoples and cultures.

Head out to Chinatown and Little India, for instance, and you'll see another side to the city altogether - one filled with the smells of tandoori and freshly baked roti, sizzling satay and dim sum; and the bustle of street stalls selling saris, traditional medicines, flowers and pungent durian fruits.

Masjid Jamek

One of KL's two most important places of worship, Masjid Jamek dates from 1909 and, as such, is the oldest mosque in the city.

Inspired by Mogul architecture from India, its striking pink and white exterior protects a walled courtyard (sahn) and a three-domed prayer hall.

Masjid Jamek was Kuala Lumpur's National Mosque until the construction of Masjid Negara in the 1960s close to the old railway station.

Masjid Negara

One of South East Asia's largest mosques, Masjid Negara is designed in the shape of an 18-point star, which is intended to represent the 13 states of Malaysia and the five central Pillars of Islam.

Nearby, in the landscaped Lake Gardens, is the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, where a superb collection of Islamic jewellery, books and other artefacts is on display.

Petronas Twin Towers & KLCC

At one time the tallest building in the world - until surpassed in 2004 by Taipei 101 - the imposing Petronas Twin Towers remains Kuala Lumpur's most recognisable landmark.

Its design takes inspiration from Islam, with a cross section based on the Rub el Hizb, a Muslim symbol of two overlapping squares.

The towers are located in Kuala Lumpur City Centre, or KLCC as it's familiarly known, a glitzy district of skyscrapers, boutique shops and top-end hotels. KLCC Park, a swathe of lawns, palm trees and fountains provides some welcome greenery amid the glass and concrete all around.

Chinatown & Little India

Petaling Street is the central point of Kuala Lumpur's energetic Chinatown, a bustle of restaurants, temples and coffee shops that is particularly atmospheric at night when neon lights abound, vendors fan out their wares along the street and the smell of hawker food drifts in the air.

The city's Indian community enjoy the pleasures of Little India, where Bollywood music sounds out and cheap but tasty snacks and sweet lassi can be enjoyed as you wander among the colourful street stalls looking for souvenirs.

Batu Caves

This vault-like system of limestone caverns to the north of KL is a popular day trip for overseas visitors and locals alike.

The temple caves are dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Muragan, a large statue of whom stands guard beside steep steps that lead into the caves. Inside the 400-million-year-old caves are temples and shrines featuring statues and paintings of Hindu gods, while mischievous monkeys scamper around.

The caves are at their busiest during the Thaipusam festival, when Hindus pierce their bodies to show their devotion to Lord Muragan.

Top itineraries in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur & Tanjong Jara

10-day tailor-made beach holiday from £1,380 pp incl. flights

Pair the cultural riches of Kuala Lumpur with a five-star stay on Malaysia's tropical east coast. Here, at your indulgent beachfront hotel, you'll relax with spa treatments and gourmet dining, all the while looking out to sweeping, palm-framed views of the South China Sea.

Penang & the Malaysian Peninsula

11-day tailor-made independent tour from £1,980 pp incl. flights

From Europe to the Far East, myriad influences play out across peninsular Malaysia’s colonial towns, city greats and island beaches. You’ll showcase the best of it all with bijou stays, private transfers and exclusive touring, ranging from rainforest cruises to tea tasting in the Cameron Highlands.

Kuala Lumpur & Gaya Island

10-day tailor-made beach holiday from £1,410 pp incl. flights

Compare the Malaysian capital’s skyscraping icons and bustling markets with a private-villa getaway to the white sands of Borneo. Here, you’ll spot turtles among colourful reefs and endangered monkeys hidden in dense rainforest on a range of complimentary excursions.

Kuala Lumpur & Pangkor Laut

10-day tailor-made beach holiday from £1,390 pp incl. flights

This luxurious twin-centre holiday combines two nights in bustling Kuala Lumpur with a private-island stay on Pangkor Laut, an idyllic retreat on Malaysia's tropical west coast.

See all itinerary ideas

Top places to stay in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malacca & Pangkor Laut

Accommodation

Venture to some of Malaysia’s less well-known highlights in order to see a side of the country usually missed by visitors focussing solely on the islands of Langkawi and Penang.

Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Accommodation

If you are looking for luxury, comfort and a haven to unwind in the heart of the capital of Malaysia, visit the 5-star Shangri-La hotel. Located in Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Golden Triangle,’ the Shangri-La is conveniently located within the shopping and business districts.

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur

Accommodation

The luxurious Mandarin Oriental is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Situated in between the flowering gardens of Kuala Lumpur city centre park and the landmark of the Petronas twin towers, the view from the hotel is spectacular.

Eastern & Oriental Express

Luxury train

Southeast Asia’s only luxury train is the continent’s answer to Europe’s Orient Express, resplendent in colonial grandeur, open-bar delights and fine-dining indulgences.

See all places

Kuala Lumpur articles

Eastern & Oriental Express: an enchanting rail journey

The glamorous Eastern & Oriental Express is unparalleled when it comes to epic journeys through the exotic Malay Peninsula. We share its highlights, from fine Asian dining and five-star service to speeding past Thailand’s temples and Malaysia’s tropical rainforests.

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