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152: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tips For Travellers

Release Date: 09/01/2014

Gary Bembridge of Tips for Travellers shares observations, tips and advice for visitors to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

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This show covers among other topics:

General Observations

  • Capital and largest city of Malaysia - called just KL by locals.
  • Petronas Towers is the icon and focal point making it memorable.
  • Not a lot of attractions and must see - ones that are are spread over wide area.
  • Big events like Formula 1 has been key to driving tourism.
  • Modern and fast changing.
  • Often Hazy due to pollution locally but also from effects of forest fires in Indonesia known as Sumatra haze lasting 1 to 2 weeks a time.
  • 3 main ethic groups : Malays , Chinese and Indians - religiously diverse but most of population is Islamic (official religion ) but not strict Islamic country.


History
Founded in 1857 when Chinese prospectors sent to find tin in the area - only 17 of the 87 survived past a month due to malaria and other tropical diseases - but lure of tin attracted people. British took control and placed  strong minded and visionary Chinese governor (Kaptain Yap Ah Loy) who ensured development. Occupied by Japanese in WWII with many Chinese tortured / executed and Indians sent to work on Burma railway building (death railroad). Post the war British ruled until independence in 1957.

Best time to go
Pretty much anytime as always constant between 20 and 30C - no rainy season as such but gets lots of rain and flooding.

Getting there
Good come connections by air and cruise ships dock in Port Kelang at Star Cruise terminal about 1,5 hour drive to KL

Getting around

  • Traffic is terrible and very congested - not very predestination friendly either.
  • Taxis (called "teksi") - make sure they use the meters.
  • Rapid transit system (LRT - light rapid transit) is modern, cheap and pretty easy to work out - information in English.
  • Hop-on Hop-off bus tour - takes about 3 hours to get around - more than 22 stops - mixed views on it - go to all main areas.

General tips

  • Mandatory death sentence for drug dealing or possession.
  • Conservative dress.
  • Good English  as is required in schools.
  • Only drink bottled water with seal - not tap water.
  • Haggling in markets and in places like Chinatown is the norm.

Must do things to do and and see

Petronas Twin Tours
When opened was tallest building in world until Taipei 101 took the title away -  limited tickets each day to go up (only about 1000) so book online before you go or get there very early - 41st floor sky bridge then up to 86th floor
Suria KLCC Mall below has over 600 designer stores
KLCC park behind it is park is impressive

KL Tower
Next best alternative if cannot get up Petronas though maybe better as not only see the views but also the towers - viewing from about the same height - within the Bukit Nanos forest within the city

Central Market
Been going since 1888
Can get the rapid transit there from Petronas as just a few stops on red line and about 1,80 ringgits each - very easy

Chinatown
Next to Central market - old fashioned houses, markets etc
Nearby is Sir Mahamariamman Temple - built 1873 - very ornate Hindu temple

Per Dans Botanical Garden area
Bird park, butterfly park and botanical gardens for nature lovers
Gardens has over 3000 species orchids, 5000 species of hibiscus flowers created in 1880s
Butterfly park 6000 butterflies and 1000 species with exotic plants to create right environments

Merdeka Square (aka Independence Square)
Used it be cricket ground in British colonial times - where Independence declared now
surrounded by some key buildings -
100 metre flagpole said to be tallest in world
Sultan Abdul Samad building - houses supreme and high courts
St Mary's cathedral
Royal Selanger Club
Nearby is Masjid Jamek - National Mosque built in 1965 and largest in SE Asia - impressive looking building

Little India - restaurants and shops but not as in Singapore

Shopping
Bukt Bitang area - popular shopping area - highest concentration of malls in the city - especially for computers and electronics.
Golden triangle in KLCC around towers.

Further afield
Batu caves - 9 miles north - limestone caves of varying sizes - Hindu shrine inside largest cave - over 270 steps to get to it - smaller cave has museum about Hindu mythology