Kuala Lumpur – Where old world charm meets modern chaos

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Kuala Lumpur literally means ‘Muddy Confluence’ and is named so as it lies at the convergence of two rivers- Gombak and Klang. The Malaysian capital is also the country’s largest city – which covers about 243 square kilometres with a population of approximately 7.25 million.

Given the city’s rocky history due to constant flooding, epidemics, civil wars for the tin mines and jungle conditions, it is amazing that Kuala Lumpur has undergone such a rapid social and economic renaissance in a short period of time. It now has a glittering skyline with the tallest twin buildings in the world – the Petronas Twin Towers – dominating it.

Kuala Lumpur, officially recognised as a city in 1972, upped its sporting quotient and infrastructure as it played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

Best time to visit – Since Kuala Lumpur has a tropical rainforest climate, it tends to be warm and sunny almost throughout the year. Temperatures range between 30-34°C and enjoys heavy rainfall during October to March. So plan your travel accordingly.

Best places to stay – According to Euromonitor International’s Top City Destination Ranking in 2010, Kuala Lumpur is the sixth most visited city in the world. Hence it is home to an abundance of hotels and travel accommodations. There are many luxury as well as budget hotels available in the city. In case you want to minimise your city travel, you have various options for centrally located hotels.

In case you prefer to stay near public transport and are looking for more cheap accommodation, Chinatown or the Chow Kit area should be your choice. Chinatown is home to a lot of backpackers’ hostels/ inns, bargain shopping places and local food. In Chow Kit, you can enjoy local authentic food and wholesale shopping.

Other popular areas for stay are KL Sentral and Bangsar areas. They boast of several mid-range to luxury hotels like Le Meridien, Ascott Sentral, Hilton, Capri, The Nomad Residences and Orion Design Hotel.

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Best places to visit – Needless to say, but the top tourist attraction of the city is the Petronas Towers. This iconic structure is situated right at the heart of the city and impossible to miss. They are 452 metres tall and are an architectural delight. They are joined at the 41st and 42nd floors by a sky bridge.

If you are looking for bargain shopping and local food, do visit Chinatown. Apart from the local shopping options, Chinatown is also immersed in Oriental culture and rich heritage.

Another famous tourist attraction is the Batu Caves. These caves are almost four centuries old and situated on a limestone hill. This also attracts thousands of Hindu devotees during Thaipusam.

Although the whole city is full of touristy places, some more recommendations would be Menara KL Tower, Sunway Lagoon theme park and the Central Market.

Best places to eat – Other than the obvious Chinatown and Chow Kit areas, the city offers a plethora of dining options, fine dining as well local street food. The KLCC area is teeming with luxury restaurants like Troika Sky Dining, Marini’s on 57 and Thirty8 KL. In case you are overwhelmed with the options in Chinatown, here are a few of my suggestions – Restoran Kim Lian Kee, Restoran Platinum, Old China Cafe and Hung Kee.

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