1 - Petronas Twin Towers
The most famous structure in Kuala Lumpur, this pair of 88-storey skyscrapers took almost the entire 1990s to build, from conceptualisation to grand opening. You may start your tour with a walk on the 750-tonne Skybridge, the world’s highest double-decked bridge located at level 41, 170 metres above street level. Then ascend to level 86 at 360 metres above the ground and enter into the Observation Deck where cutting edge displays and vibrant multimedia exhibits unfold the story of this mega project whose 150-metre-deep foundation took 13,200 cubic metres of concrete and 54 hours to fill. You may have already visited this landmark before but the facility has been given a facelift in recent years. Open Tue-Sun, 9am-9pm; tickets RM80 (US$24.40) per person. petronastwintowers.com.my
2 - KLCC Park
Adjacent to the Twin Towers is this 50-acre (20-hectare) “city lung” filled with 1,900 indigenous trees and palms that represent 74 species. Water features pepper this verdant area, which also boasts other amenities such as a children’s playground, wading pool, jogging track, footpaths and sculptures. There are also many benches and shaded areas, so if you don’t have a lunch appointment, this may be a good spot to sit down for a light takeaway lunch. A centrepiece here is the Lake Symphony that comprises two water fountains right outside Suria KLCC mall. This facility is programmed with 150 dramatic animations that always attract crowds. suriaklcc.com.my
3 - Malaysia Tourism Centre
North of the Twin Towers, turn left on Jalan Ampang and walk about 15 minutes to reach this facility. This is more than just a place to collect pamphlets and ask questions – a host of services is available, including free internet, currency exchange, ATM and demonstrations of top spinning – a favourite activity among locals. The most interesting aspect, however, is that the main structure is a heritage building.
It was completed in 1935 as the residence of Eu Tong Seng, a wealthy mining and rubber estate tycoon, and it reflects the architectural style of British Malaya. Also here is the Saloma Theatre Restaurant, named after a famous Singaporean-Malaysian actress from the 1950s-70s, which is popular for its nightly tribal and traditional performances (8.30pm-9.30pm nightly, RM90/US$27.50 per head including buffet). Alternatively you can have a quick drink and snack in the courtyard, where the colonial surroundings are juxtaposed with the view of the Twin Towers in the background. saloma.com.my
4 - JP Teres
Malaysian dishes such as roti canai, beef rendang, satay and chicken rice are world famous, as is teh tarik (pulled tea). If you need a caffeine boost in the middle of the day, a cup of this aromatic brew is an ideal pick-me-up, especially with a serving of kaya toast. It is widely available throughout the city, of course, but if you want to enjoy this humble drink in a posh setting with service to match, the newly opened Grand Hyatt is worth considering. The hotel is located to the southwest of the Twin Towers across the park. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas, as well as three 55-inch LED televisions that show sports channels. A teh tarik costs RM8/US$2.4 and kaya RM18/US$5.5. Open daily 9am-11pm. grandhyattkualalumpur.com
5 - Bukit Bintang
If you are into shopping or need to buy gifts, a surefire area to go is Bukit Bintang. A five-minute cab ride from the Twin Towers, the area is anchored at the eponymous jalan (street), between Jalan Raja Chulan and Pudu Road. On another side, there is also Jalan Sultan Ismail, which comes alive at night with many bars and clubs. About 10 minutes’ walk farther on, Changkat Bukit Bintang is flanked by yet more watering holes, many featuring outdoor seating and balconies. For retail therapy the epicentres are Berjaya Times Square, Bukit Bintang Plaza, Imbi Plaza, Fahrenheit 88, Starhill Gallery and Pavilion KL.
6 - Chow Kit
Four stops away from Bukit Bintang on the Monorail is Chow Kit, a sub-district named after tin miner and municipal councillor Loke Chow Kit. If you like Indonesian food this is where you will get your fix. Superb soto ayam (Indonesian chicken soup garnished with caramelised onion and served with bean sprouts and rice) is available here, and it costs less than you would pay for a McDonald’s burger. Bazaar Baru Chow Kit is the largest wet market in the city and night market Bundle Chow Kit is also worth a visit if you like bargains.
7 - Petaling Street
To the southwest of KLCC, about 10 minutes by taxi from Chow Kit is another ethnic district: Chinatown. This is a centre of action, with shops selling everything under the sun. Pirated goods are as common as water – sometimes the counterfeits are blatant, otherwise, you can expect to see “Tammy Hilfiger”, “Peter Smith” and maybe “Prado”. Haggling is a must. If you are into bak kut teh (herbal pork soup served with rice) this is the destination. Many old shophouses have been preserved – and some were just basically left alone. While the overall feel is a little run down, it’s easy to appreciate the authentic flavour of the area.