Anyone travelling through Southeast Asia will inevitably find himself or herself in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian capital is a transport hub. Airlines in the region all fly here. If you’re landing into Southeast Asia via Singapore, then it is likely that you will pass through “KL”, too, on your way to the beautiful islands of Southern Thailand and the rest of mainland Southeast Asia.
The question is: “Can you get the best of Kuala Lumpur in one day?”
Having visited the city a number of times now, I like to think so. Here’s how you can experience Kuala Lumpur in just one day.
In the morning, you can head to the old city centre, the historic core of Kuala Lumpur.
In the old city centre, the focal point is the Merdeka Square. This vast patch of green is where in 31 August 1957, the flag of the Federation of Malaysia was first raised. The event gave birth to a new country, which had been occupied by the British for the longest time.
The Indian inspired Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Make sure to walk around the square, too. Here you will see beautiful heritage buildings built in Indian-Mughal style: the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
A couple of blocks from Merdeka Square is Chinatown. This is a shopping and eating destination, so best ready your wallets for some damage. The main shopping areas are Petaling Street for bargain clothes and accessories, and Pasar Seni for souvenirs and traditional arts and crafts.
The tall heritage structures of KL’s Chinatown
Once you’ve done your shopping, settle in one of the local eateries here to have lunch. The best part is that you get to choose between Malay, Chinese and Indian. The three ethnic groups make up the population of Malaysia today.
In the afternoon, you can take the commuter train to the Batu Caves in the northern suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. Situated inside a limestone hill, the Batu Caves are a cave system which has been turned into a Hindu shrine by the Indians of Malaysia. It is one of the most visited Hindu temples outside India.
Lord Murugan greets you as you enter the Batu Caves.
The towering statue of Lord Murugan will greet you as you enter the complex. From here, you need to climb up a long set of stairs to get inside the cave system. Don’t worry. It’s worth it. If you’re lucky, you might catch devotees doing a puja, a Hindu prayer ritual.
One of the most visited Hindu temples outside India: the Batu Caves
As the evening approaches, make your way back to the city centre, not the old city centre, but KL City Centre, the bright and glitzy central business district. Surprise, surprise! This is also a shopping and eating district.
More than shopping and eating, however, this is where an icon of Malaysia is located. Rising almost 1,500 feet, the Petronas Towers are the highest twin towers in the world. It’s recommended to see these structures at night when they and the fountains at its base are all beautifully lit up.
The twin structures that is the No. 01 icon of Malaysia
For dinner, head to nearby Bukit Bintang shopping district and search for Kuala Lumpur’s eat street: Jalan Alor. This street has eateries and food stalls on both sides. Along the street itself are tables and chairs, one of the best places to have dinner on any given night in KL.
KL City Centre’s eat street: Jalan Alor
Here, you can wind down with some noodles, meat skewers and fresh seafood knowing that you just got the best of Kuala Lumpur in a little as one day.