Overview of Kuala Lumpur

A cosmopolitan and modern city situated in one of Asia's most impressive natural valleys, Kuala Lumpur is a great city for travelers.
A cosmopolitan and modern city situated in one of Asia's most impressive natural valleys, Kuala Lumpur is a great city for travelers.

A cosmopolitan and modern city situated in one of Asia's most impressive natural valleys, Kuala Lumpur is a great city for travelers of all nationalities. With a combination of Southeast Asia's top attractions, a unique blend of multiple different cultures, and fantastic infrastructure and support for tourists, Kuala Lumpur is one of the most accessible and traveler-friendly cities in Southeast Asia.

Despite its reputation as a 'big' city, Kuala Lumpur is surprisingly compact and easy to get around, particularly in its inner suburbs. The political and economic center of Malaysia, it has grown into a developed, modern, and vibrant city over the past century. Despite this, it retains much of its olden-day charm, with colonial buildings and beautiful mosques often flanking major street corners.

Kuala Lumpur's central area can be divided into three main areas. The first is known as the 'Golden Triangle'. Located around the Ampang Park LRT station and the world famous Petronas Towers, the Golden Triangle area is Kuala Lumpur's center of high-end nightlife and luxury. Five-star hotels are a common sight, as are swanky lounge bars, high-end restaurants, and other luxurious nightlife.

Most of the city's biggest hotels are located in the Golden Triangle, and many visitors will find the best rooms – often at quite reasonable prices – in this area. Well connected with public transport and packed with attractions of its own, the Golden Triangle is KL's best place to shop for high-end gear, enjoy great food, and visit the attractions of 'New KL' such as the Petronas Twin Towers.

Adjacent to the Golden Triangle is the Bukit Bintang area – a section of the city named after is main roadway. A lengthy commercial stretch that travels all the way from Jalan Pudu and Imbi to the KL suburbs, Bukit Bintang is one of Kuala Lumpur's main commercial roadways and a popular meeting point for visitors to the city.

Around Bukit Bintang, you'll find attractions like the Pavillion Mall shopping center, the Berjaya Times Square shopping and entertainment complex, and a huge range of smaller malls and retail hangouts. Bukit Bintang is also regarded as one of Kuala Lumpur's best places to eat, and the small side streets that branch out from the main road are a fantastic place to enjoy cheap street food.

Finally, the area around Maharajalela, a station on the KL Monorail, is home to Chinatown – one of the most popular places in Kuala Lumpur for visitors. Well known for its cheap street food and even cheaper accommodation, Chinatown – an area that extends from Petaling Street over the nearby few blocks – is Kuala Lumpur's center of backpacking and low-budget adventure.

It's also one of the city's oldest districts, originally the home of the Chinese immigrants that built the city to its current degree of commercial success within Malaysia. The small streets in this area have a selection of great old shophouses and generations-old businesses within their walls, many of which will be of interest to visitors interested in Kuala Lumpur's early commercial history.

Inner city parks offer a great escape from the constant heat and noise of the central city, and are a great place to enjoy Kuala Lumpur's remarkable skyline.
Inner city parks offer a great escape from the constant heat and noise of the central city, and are a great place to enjoy Kuala Lumpur's remarkable skyline.

Kuala Lumpur may have a reputation as a concrete jungle, but it's taken some serious steps in recent years to clean up its act. Inner city parks offer a great escape from the constant heat and noise of the central city, and are a great place to enjoy Kuala Lumpur's remarkable skyline. Take a break outside the Suria KLCC mall, in a large public park with a great view of the Petronas Twin Towers.

Or, for guests that aren't concerned about vertigo, take an elevator up to the towers' observation deck, which offers great panoramic views of the Golden Triangle area. True architectural gurus might also want to check out the view from KL Tower – a large observation tower that, due to its position on a small hill, is actually higher up than the famous Petronas Twin Towers.

Kuala Lumpur's historical center is a little far from the city itself, but the short trip is a small price to pay for history gurus. The area around Merdeka Square is home to many of Kuala Lumpur's old government offices and historical sites, including the first point of Malaysian independence. While it's far from the glitz and glamour of Bukit Bintang, this area offers a unique look at KL's history.

Beyond shopping, enjoying the city, and learning about Malaysia's history, the most popular activity in Kuala Lumpur is undoubtedly eating. Kuala Lumpur residents are passionate about their food and go out of their way to make sure visitors enjoy it. On almost inner city every street corner you'll see large hawker stands – often branded Restoran – offering incredible food at bargain prices.

Once the sun sets and the office workers return home, Kuala Lumpur's downtown area transforms into a brightly lit, exciting place to be. While Kuala Lumpur is less of a nightlife destination than nearby Bangkok and Singapore, it's nonetheless a fun place to spend time at night. Most of the city's best bars and nightclubs are located around Bukit Bintang and the nearby Jalan P Ramlee.

From its blistering heat to its air-cooled shopping malls, its beautiful colonial buildings to its flashy and modern highrises, Kuala Lumpur is a city that blends old and new like few others can. With an excellent transportation system, a great deal to see, and an incredible range of on-the-go restaurants, Kuala Lumpur is a great city for travelers seeking an accessible, fun, and exotic adventure.