What is the best way to see Kuala Lumpur in one day?

Sophie Friedman

The best way to see Kuala Lumpur in one day begin early with a visit to the city’s most recognizable landmark and the world’s tallest twin towers, the Petronas Towers. If going up to the top is on your agenda, you’ll need to queue for tickets early, or ask your hotel to book them for you. After the towers, work your way toward Chinatown; grab lunch at one of the numerous street-side stalls, such as Restoran Say Huat, where Hokkien prawn noodles with boiled egg and crispy fried shallots will be calling your name. From Chinatown, it’s a stone’s throw to Central Market, where jewelry, trinkets, and Malaysian dresses and sarongs abound. If it’s nearing the end of your day, head toward the towers and have dinner at Lot 10 Hutong, a delicious, hawker-stall-style food court in Lot 10 mall.

  • On June 26, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What would be a perfect date night in Kuala Lumpur?

    Start with dinner at Acme, one of KL’s most stylish restaurants at the foot of the spectacular Norman Foster-designed building, The Troika. Remember to leave space for dessert, as Acme’s cakes are phenomenal. After dinner head up to the rooftop of the Troika for drinks at Claret. Claret is the new kid on the rooftop bar block, and combines an excellent winelist with a really great view of the Petronas Twin Towers.

    Speaking of the Petronas Twin Towers, after drinks take a slow walk through the KLCC park to enjoy the sight of the towers glowing in the dark. Book yourself in for a show at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas. Whatever the concert, half the pleasure is in enjoying the beauty of the concert hall and the spectacular pipe organ. The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is made up of some of the most accomplished international musicians, but the DFP also hosts performers musical and theatrical from all over the world.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    Where is the best nightlife in Kuala Lumpur?

    KLites love their nightlife districts – a clutch of good clubs and bars on the same road means you can take the party from one place to another with minimum inconvenience. Right now the most popular area is still Changkat Bukit Bintang, a tangle of roads just off the main Bukit Bintang shopping district. New club The Establishment has made a name for itself with its good music policy and cooler than thou clients; down the road twentyone is a small bar with excellent, modern food and creative cocktails. Or swing by Spanish bar Pisco for golden oldies and their famous ginger shots.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What are the best stores for designer clothes in Kuala Lumpur?

    M Women
    Emma Cook, Clover Canyon, Elizabeth &James, Sam Edelman, Vita Fede – you won’t find these brands anywhere else in KL. M Women is a stylish multi-brand boutique tucked into a corner of the stylish, multi-brand mall Gardens. Staff are not the most well-informed but generally friendly, and stock is held in limited quantities, so you know you’re getting something special.
    The Gardens Mall.

    Aseana
    Aseana could be considered M Women’s sophisticated older sister (the two boutiques are run by the same company). It’s the largest multi-brand boutique in Kuala Lumpur, and carries an excellent edit of established and up-and-coming designers. Think Catherine Malandrino, Mary Katrantzou, Issa London, Roland Mouret and Victoria Beckham.
    Suria KLCC.

    Seethrough Concept Store
    The designers carried in Seethrough are young, regional and oftentimes experimental. Run by stylist Calvin Cheong, the boutique prides itself on supporting young designers, but is also padded out with rare finds from Maison Martin Margiela and Alexander McQueen.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What are the best coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur?

    Coffee connoisseurs are in luck in KL because the last year has seen an explosion in independent cafes trying to oust the established chains. Now fighting for your latte dollars are organic, bean-to-cup brewers using top quality ingredients, serious machinery and experienced baristas.

    Artisan Roast Coffee
    One of the first players in the independent coffee movement, Artisan Roast has now grown to become one of the more established names. With cafes in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bangsar Shopping Centre – two of the city's most happening suburbs – the shop has found a following among trendy coffee drinkers. But don't be fooled, Artisan Roast is as welcoming to coffee newcomers as it is to coffee aficionados. There's even a hand-drawn flowchart of coffee types to help you get just the drink you're after.

    Coffea Coffee
    South Korean coffee chain Coffea Coffee went international when it branched into Malaysia in early 2013, but that's done nothing to take away from its independent coffee shop feel. Sourcing, roasting and blending its own beans, the shop has outlets in Bangsar and Section 15, Petaling Jaya with shopping mall locations planned for later in the year. Its growth is based on getting the basic things right, and Coffea Coffee outlets do a good job of mixing excellent coffee (producing one of the city's best mochas) with real chill out locations.

    Espressolab
    Like many of its coffee shop competitors, Espressolab started out as a small operation. Now, however, outlets appear to be sprouting up in every high-end mall. The cosy coffee kiosks aren't the best place to lounge for long periods of time, but that's not the point at Espressolab. Here what matters most is the blend of fresh, rich beans and deliciously airy microfoam.

    Top Brew
    When a coffee bar can boast to serve drinks prepared by the country's top barista, you know you're going to get a top cup of coffee. Founded by JH Yee – 2012 Malaysian barista champion and 2012 Asia Barista Challenge second runner-up – Top Brew prides itself on serving the best of the best when it comes to the black stuff. The bar at Plaza Damas, Sri Hartamas is the one to try for coffee purists.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What are the best day trips near Kuala Lumpur?

    Whether you've exhausted the sights KL has to offer or you just want to get out of the city for a while, there are a number of excellent trips and activities all doable in a day from Malaysia's capital. From back-to-nature exploits to charity projects and historical sites, there's plenty of variety for visitors willing to leave the Klang Valley.

    Kuala Selangor
    70 kilometres north-west of Kuala Lumpur is Kuala Selangor, a small seaside town with a real treat for visitors. In the day time, there's not a lot to this sleepy region of countryside, but at night it really lights up – literally. Home to a population of fireflies, the town offers tours around the surrounding mangroves where you can catch a glimpse of the famous kelip-kelip as they twinkle their way across the night sky. Bring a camera, but be warned: not even the fanciest of DSLRs will catch the beauty of this rare and breathtaking sight.

    Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary
    Kuala Gandah ticks a number of must-do day trip boxes. As an organisation, its aim is to raise money and awareness for elephants across Malaysia, coordinating rescue missions and projects to save the species. As a sanctuary, it offers visitors an incredible close-up experience with the gentle giants that call its reserve and parkland home. An hour-and-a-half's drive from Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Gandah is a must for animal lovers, but with a full schedule of daily events that includes feeding, cleaning and playing with the elephants, it's a trip well worth considering for all visitors to KL.

    Malacca
    Just two hours south of Kuala Lumpur, Malacca gives visitors an insight into Malaysia's Portuguese past.  While the British colonial era takes centre stage among attractions in the capital, this quiet, historical city is frozen in the other side of the country's heritage. With forts, churches and some amazingly well preserved architecture, there is plenty to keep strollers entertained, while Malacca's famed street food and shopping on Jonker Street will satisfy all but the most stubborn of stomachs.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    Where can you get the best view of Kuala Lumpur?

    Many tourist destinations claim to give visitors the perfect view of Kuala Lumpur, but to truly see the best of the city, you have to venture further than the hotspots. While attractions like the KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers certainly offer awe-inspiring views from the centre of the city out, there are better places to take in the diversity of KL.

    To get a real appreciation for the jungle landscape that flanks the northern and eastern sides of the city, head to the hiking and biking trails of Bukit Kiara. They’re a bit out of the way and require a certain sense of adventure (and fitness) but make it to the summit’s lookout point and you’re greeted by a 180-degree view that encompasses Batu Caves to the north, the world’s longest quartz ridge at Klang Gates to the east and the sail-like Telekom Tower to the south. The only downside? Bukit Kiara is under constant threat from construction, so this secret vantage point’s days are numbered.

    For a slightly more established look across the city, head to Ampang’s Lookout Point  – almost due east of the Bukit Kiara spot. Here, a well-used road snakes over the city’s surrounding hills and down to a town called Hulu Langat. Make an early morning stop at the peak and watch the city wake up before heading down the other side to some excellent waterfall picnic sites.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What are the best outdoor activities in Kuala Lumpur?

    Despite the heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur, outdoor activities are not hard to find. From city centre golf and country clubs to jungle trekking and bungee jumping, visitors can be spoilt for choice. The best activities depend entirely on your appetite for adventure.

    Adventure level: Moderate
    Get back to nature at the foot of one of Kuala Lumpur’s most familiar landmarks: the KL Tower. Surrounding this, the world’s seventh tallest telecommunications tower, is a feature few global cities can boast: an area of true virgin rainforest. While the tigers that once roamed this part of the country are of course long gone, many fascinating species of flora and fauna still remain and still offer the sort of photo opportunities you’d never expect to find in the middle of a growing capital city. Though the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve is currently closed for maintenance, it will reopen in September.

    Adventure level: Intermediate
    Join a hash. The global phenomenon of hashing started right here in Kuala Lumpur, and clubs still run (and drink) weekly and monthly all across the city. Find a run time and date (most clubs are now online: try the Mother Hash for the original hash group, the KL Hash House Harriettes, the KL Full Moon Hash, or the KL Junior Hash House Harriers for children), turn up, follow the paper trail and soak in the post-run drinks and banter.

    Adventure level: Extreme
    Join Air Venture Sports Aviation for a lesson on how to fly a paramotor. Start off with a tandem flight where you’ll learn the basics of flying before progressing to the optional training course that will take you from the ground to the skies in five days. It’s a commitment, but one that has a reward few people will ever experience: looking down on KL’s surrounding Klang Valley with nothing but air beneath your feet, an 80cc motor strapped to your back and a parachute above your head.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    Where can you get the best view of Kuala Lumpur?

    Many tourist destinations claim to give visitors the perfect view of Kuala Lumpur, but to truly see the best of the city, you have to venture further than the hotspots. While attractions like the KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers certainly offer awe-inspiring views from the centre of the city out, there are better places to take in the diversity of KL.

    To get a real appreciation for the jungle landscape that flanks the northern and eastern sides of the city, head to the hiking and biking trails of Bukit Kiara. They’re a bit out of the way and require a certain sense of adventure (and fitness) but make it to the summit’s lookout point and you’re greeted by a 180-degree view that encompasses Batu Caves to the north, the world’s longest quartz ridge at Klang Gates to the east and the sail-like Telekom Tower to the south. The only downside? Bukit Kiara is under constant threat from construction, so this secret vantage point’s days are numbered.

    For a slightly more established look across the city, head to Ampang’s Lookout Point  – almost due east of the Bukit Kiara spot. Here, a well-used road snakes over the city’s surrounding hills and down to a town called Hulu Langat. Make an early morning stop at the peak and watch the city wake up before heading down the other side to some excellent waterfall picnic sites.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What are the best historic hotels in Kuala Lumpur?

    Historic hotels are not all that common in Kuala Lumpur. Older buildings tend to be renovated as the country continues its drive to becoming a developed nation. That said, two establishments still offer a piece of colonial Malaya in the city – even if they have also faced reworking since their glory days.

    For the ultimate in days-gone-by opulence, try Carcosa Seri Negara. Originally the residence of the British High Commissioner in Malaya (Malaya became Malaysia after independence in 1957), this mansion and gardens is now home to a grand five-star hotel. While the outside of the building remains the same, the inside has seen moderate renovations to bring the hotel into the twenty-first century. That said, when sipping tea in The Drawing Room or relaxing into one of the suites’ four-poster beds, it’s easy to forget you’ve left the early 1900s.

    If you’re looking for a more modern take on the historic experience, the new-but-old Majestic Hotel is ideal. Located next to Kuala Lumpur’s iconic railway station (purportedly built by the British to withstand up to six feet of snow) and sharing a similar design to its neighbour, this 1930s heritage building has recently been restored from the ground up. Like Carcosa, the hotel’s façade has remained entirely untouched but luxury hotel chain YTL has spruced up the interior to make this a truly classic hotel once again.
  • On June 23, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What is the best new restaurant in Kuala Lumpur?

    Troika Sky Dining recently opened on the rooftop of the Norman Foster-designed The Troika, a three-pronged residences right next to the Petronas Twin Towers. It’s the brainchild of Eddie Chew and Chris Bauer, the men behind the phenomenal French restaurant Frangipani, and it’s actually three outlets in one. Strato is a casual Italian-style bistro, specialising in authentic Italian dishes and wines. Overlooking the Towers is Claret, a beautiful wine bar with an impeccable wine list. And the third counterpart is Cantaloupe, possibly Kuala Lumpur’s most exciting restaurant – fine dining in the true sense of the word, with a constantly evolving menu using local and imported produce, with the prices to match.
  • On June 23, 2013
    Emma Johnston answered the question: Emma Johnston

    What is the weather like right now in Kuala Lumpur?

    June is a tricky month in Kuala Lumpur. At this very moment (late June) we’re undergoing our yearly dose of smoke from Sumatra – illegal forest logging in the Indonesian island leads to huge swathes of smoke drifting across Singapore and Malaysia. It means perpetual grey skies and haze in the air, poor visibility and near-dangerous levels of pollution. But from experience (the haze happens every year) this will only last for another week, and generally Kuala Lumpur is as you’d expect from a city near the Equator – sunny, humid, and inclined to unpredictable thunderstorms. Even if it does suddenly tip down with rain, you know that the sun will be out in another hour.
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