Kuala Lumpur, or more affectionately known as KL by most, is the sprawlzing capital city of Malaysia, boasting an intriguing diversity and abundant list of attractions and landmarks which would keep anyone busy for a few days of exploring.
After spending the best part of a week (and an arm and a leg) in Singapore, KL offered us something a little bit different but much of the same. KL is on the cheaper side that’s for sure, but similarly is also a large and ever expanding hub of Asian and International business, however maybe slightly lacking in the clean-cut charm that Singapore provides – but come on, who really needs clean-cut when in Asia… a few rats and cockroaches here and there never hurt anyone, did they!?
KL was due to be our last stop before heading back to Australia to kick-start our 2 month camping road trip, so we decided to treat ourselves with a swanky Airbnb condo apartment with floor to ceiling windows, a rooftop infinity swimming pool and gym, all boasting some seriously epic city skyline views of KL Tower and the famous Petronas Twin Towers. All a little bit plush for us really compared to some of the hovels we have stayed in, but everyone needs a treat now and then, right? At £30 per night it was certainly not backpacker budget, that’s for sure, however it was the perfect way to end a trip in Asia and start our next adventure; living out of a car and a tent in Australia.
The weather was a bit of a prick during our stay and regularly reared it’s ugly head at precisely the wrong moment. On our first night we decided to head to Heli Bar & Lounge – an active heli pad by day, bar with an epic view by night! With views of all the towers we could spot from our condo, however much closer and in much more detail, it sounded fantastic. Sod’s law, the rain came down so we had to make do with the views from the inside lounge instead of the rooftop heli pad. I still joined the scampering masses to run outside during a brief break in the rain to get the much-needed photos from the heli pad!
Having spent most of the budget we had set aside for KL either in Singapore or on our swanky-pants condo, we didn’t stray too far from the city during our 2 full days in the city. The furthest we went was about a 40 mins train ride north to the popular Batu Caves. Hindu temples, shrines and statues littered the 302 steps (yes I counted!) and the insides of the caves at the top, as well as an extremely rowdy troop of macaques who proceeded to surround and hound passers-by like a group of school bullies stealing people’s lunch money, or in this case, people’s actual lunch! The little bastards could smell the banana in our backpack. They taunted and intimidated us, and I thought better than to have a fight with a monkey over a banana – he had way more friends than me anyway – so I handed over my lunch to the bullies…
Apart from the hooligans lurking on each corner, the Batu Caves were impressive, free to enter (which is a rarity for tourist attractions in Asia) and worth braving the midday heat to go and explore.
Another of KL’s famous spots, popular with tourists, probably the main backpacker hot spot in the city is Chinatown, with average overpriced food, shopping and other Chinatowny stuff. Pentaling Street has a wide selection of extremely cheap / shit accommodation options (I checked out some of the reviews and we actually stayed a couple of nights in one of the cheap guesthouses here last year), so therefore a great go to for those on a tight budget. Just up Pentaling Street from the cheap accommodation haunts is the inevitable tat market. Never have I seen so many knock-off labels, from Mulberry bags, Nike and Adidas trainers galore, to Armani wallets, Rolex watches, Ray Ban sunglasses, tat, tat, tat and more tat… It all looks great, but no doubt it would all crumble into small indecipherable pieces within a matter of hours after purchase. I cannot say for sure… (I bought a hat here last year… it lasted about a week and then all the stitching fell out…) but maybe it’s worth the risk for a bargain!
Kuala Lumpur is actually a city I quite like, from what little of it I have seen so far, and with KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) being the home of Air Asia I foresee me dropping back in here a few more times throughout my travels over the coming years.