Answers from Our Experts (1)
1. Petronas Twin Towers
At the time of their construction, the Petronas Twin Towers (known locally as just the Twin Towers) were the tallest in the world, though these days they’ve been relegated to sixth and seventh place. They’re still an awe-inspiring sight though – 88 floors of glittering steel and glass, visible from nearly anywhere in Kuala Lumpur, despite the increasingly congested skyline. The architecture has been variously claimed to symbolize a giant ‘M’ for Malaysia, motifs of basket-weaving, a traditional local craft, and even an upward-pointing arrow to depict the country’s progress and aspirations.
You can visit the Skybridge that links the two towers on the 41st floor (get there early in the morning, as passes are free, but limited) or go right up to the observation deck on the 88th floor. When you tire of the view, there’s Suria KLCC, one of the city’s best malls, right at the foot of the tower.
2. Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Unfortunately the National Museum (or Muzium Negara) in KL is a somewhat dusty institution – skip that and make straight for the Islamic Arts Museum. It’s a beautifully designed piece of architecture, referencing traditional and modern Islamic structures. Inside is an exceptionally well-curated collection of artefacts, artworks and replicas. Each year the museum brings in an acclaimed traveling exhibition as well.
3. Masjid Jamek
Masjid Jamek, or Jamek Mosque, is a beautiful example of Moorish architecture in Kuala Lumpur. The mosque occupies prime real estate in the centre of the city, and can be a restful escape from the noise and traffic of the CBD. It sits at the intersection of the Klang and Gombak rivers – the ‘muddy confluence’ that gave Kuala Lumpur its name. Visiting hours are changeable and visitors required to cover up, but if you’re turned away wander along the river banks where you’ll find the old law courts, and slightly further on, some of the best graffiti on show in KL.
4. Dataran Merdeka and the Sultan Abdul Samad building
Dataran Merdeka, or Independence Square, is the historic location where Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, declared independence for Malaysia in 1957. Back then it was a cricket grounds, but today the square is a well-kept lawn, backed by the mock-Tudor Royal Selangor Club, and fronted by the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building. Another lovely example of Moorish architecture, the building used to house the Federal Court and the Court of Appeals, as well as various other administrative departments.
5. Menara Kuala Lumpur and the Bukit Nanas forest reserve
Before the Petronas Twin Towers came along, Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower) was the city’s biggest claim to fame. The communications tower is looking a little dated today, but still commands an excellent view of KL. Make your way to the observation deck for a 360 degrees view of the city, or to the revolving restaurant for a gently spinning meal. Just behind the tower is the Bukit Nanas forest reserve, one of KL’s few remaining green lungs. Take a walk and you may be lucky enough to spot a slow-moving monitor lizard – the rest of the fauna have long left the city. The virgin rainforest is a spectacular sight though, especially contrasted against the highway right next to it.