By George Mirabelli-Montan
Travelling friend at Travel Nation
Posts (31) See Georges profile
Situated on the Malaysian peninsula to the south of Thailand and just a few hours’ north of Singapore, Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur (‘KL’) is a common stopover destination in South East Asia. As you’d expect from a city with a colonial history and a modern outlook, there’s much to explore. But if time is tight and you only have one day to see the sights - here are our suggestions for the best way to spend one day in Kuala Lumpur.
Make an early start and head to one of the city’s bustling wet markets. These are fresh food markets - the term ‘wet’ refers to the extensive use of water, whether it’s to wash the floors, clean fruit or keep seafood fresh.
One of the best for breakfast is the Imbi Market, a stone’s throw from the shopping district of Bukit Bintang in central KL. Here you’ll find all sorts of delicious offerings including the ever popular kaya toast, a mixture of eggs, sugar and coconut milk, flavoured with pandan, all toasted on fresh bread. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try the pork intestines porridge! To wash it all down, there’s superb Hainanese coffee and refreshing Hainanese tea – a great way to start the day and a real bargain!
While it’s still early, beat the crowds and head to the awe-inspiring Petronas Twin Towers. At 452 metres and 88 storeys, for several years they were the tallest building in the world, until being eclipsed by Taipei 101 in 2004. The observation deck on level 86 offers incredible views over the city, whilst the Sky Bridge that links the 41st and 42nd floors of the two towers also provides a unique, bird’s eye perspective on the city below.
You can buy tickets for the towers in advance or on the day (from 8.30am), but start early as tickets are limited. The Petronas Towers are open Tuesday to Sunday and closed at lunchtime on Fridays.
After gazing across some unforgettable views, it’s time for a spot of culture at the Thean Hou Temple, one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. Located amongst lush gardens atop Robson Heights, this grandiose six-tiered structure offers sweeping views of the city. Built by the city's Hainanese community and is dedicated to the Goddess Tian Hou, it’s a fascinating place to explore, with an impressive main gateway and prayer rooms filled with bright gold statues and ornate altars – best of all, entrance is free.
As breakfast starts to feel like a distant memory, head off to Little India for lunch. This tiny enclave is full of stalls and stands serving up sizzling and spicy street food, from pattis and puris to curries and kebabs. You’ll know you’re close to Little India when you start encountering delicious spicey aromas! Little India is also a great area to shop for traditional Indian goods including saris, spices and Bollywood music, or to just wander around, soaking up the atmosphere.
After lunch, escape the heat of the day and find some shade in the historic Lake Gardens, adjacent to Merdeka Square (which is also well worth a look for its striking colonial architecture). The gardens were built during the late 19th century, to allow pasty colonials to escape the heat and humidity of the city. Today, they still serve the same purpose of providing a serene sanctuary from the urban hustle and bustle, although colonials have been replaced by tourists and locals on their lunch-break. The huge gardens feature beautifully manicured gardens, a butterfly park, orchid garden, deer park, planetarium and the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park.
After heading back to your hotel to get ready for the evening ahead, it’s time for dinner. Kuala Lumpur is teeming with great places to eat, but if you’re looking for somewhere where the views match the food, Atmosphere 360 takes some beating. This revolving restaurant is perched at a dizzying 282 metres above street level, at the top of the KL Tower. Decked out in a futuristic style, it offers an unparalleled vantage point to watch the bright city lights twinkle into life, whilst enjoying a sumptuous Malaysian buffet.
If you have any energy left, the night market in Chinatown is a great place to end your day in Kuala Lumpur. At night, the main thoroughfare Petaling Street is transformed into a bustling night market. Hundreds of stalls burgeon with all manner of goods, from souvenirs and clothes to traditional Chinese medicine. There are also plenty of local bars and cafes if you want to enjoy one last drink and reflect on a perfect day in Kuala Lumpur.
If you’re interested in visiting Kuala Lumpur or would like to know more about Malaysia, we can help! Call us today or request a quote by email.
After finishing her Geography degree, George settled into a digital marketing role and never managed to take a gap year. That didn’t stop her pooling every available week of annual leave to visit the USA, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Australia and Venezuela. She joined Travel Nation in 2011 as Digital Marketing Manager and has since added Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia to her visited spots. When George isn't at work you can find her walking her dog and thinking up new ways to use her Travel Nation travel fund to visit any destination accessible from SFO where her American in-laws are based (Hawaii, anyone?)