Kuala Lumpur is a Mecca for those who love a bit of retail therapy, with fabulous shopping malls and bustling markets around the city. But amazingly, it also has a forest reserve right in its center, as well as lush gardens and plenty of galleries and museums.
Sadly, visitors to Malaysia are often tempted to make straight for the coral islands, or to head off on an adventure in one of the national parks without stopping off in Kuala Lumpur first, which is a shame really because this vibrant Asian city is well worth visiting, even if all you have is just a day or two, as it boasts a hop-on hop-off bus tour which makes it easy to explore it in a short time … how much there is to see.
First of all, there's the historical side to the city to explore …
On the Hop-on, Hop-off route is an intriguing restored wooden house, called the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman . For an insight into the culture and history of Malaysia there's also the National Museum , which is just inside the Perdana Lake Gardens . And to see Kuala Lumpur's oldest and richest Hindu temple, visitors can stop off at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple for a brief look around. In a strange mix of cultures, the temple is in Chinatown, and yet decorated with both Italian and Spanish tiles. As a final contrast, head for one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country, St Mary's Cathedral . It started out as a wooden structure in 1894, but has developed into a quintessential English church with stained glass windows.
Then there's the fantastic culture to soak up …
Do not miss the National Palace, or Istana Negara . It's the King of Malaysia's old palace, built in 1928 and set in a beautiful location overlooking the Klang River.
Just down the road from here visitors can stop off at the Parliament of Malaysia .
Also along the Hop-on, Hop-off bus route is the Palace of Culture , for those who are looking to see an opera, theater or music production. It's right next door to the National Art Gallery , which is home to more than 2,500 art treasures.
For a bit of quiet time, there are plenty of options in Kuala Lumpur …
Lake Titiwangsa has a tranquil park, for example, where visitors can hire a boat or play with the remote controlled cars. Lake Gardens, established in 1888, is at the heart of the city and is well worth a visit. It is, in fact, made up of a number of different parks and gardens, with fountains, pergolas and streams to explore. Even better, Deer Park, Butterfly Park and Bird Park are all nearby, as is the unique Asian Sculpture Garden. This last attraction has a range of prize-winning sculptures made from marble, wood, iron and bamboo. Further along the bus route is the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, which is the largest walk-in free flight aviary in the world.
But of course, one of the main draws to this vibrant city is the range of shopping .
There's the Kuala Lumpur City Center – a six-floor shopping complex at the bottom of the Petronas Twin Towers . One of the most popular shopping streets, though, is Jala Tuanku Abdul Rahman . There is a night market here every Saturday from 5pm. There's also another night market at Petaling Street in the Chinatown district.
Travelers who are experiencing to experience a range of cultures could also go to Little India , in the beautifully restored area of Brickfields , or the Arab Quarter around Ain Arabia .
Another popular stop is the covered Central Market, which is great for traditional souvenirs, handicrafts and batik prints.