First Time in Kuala Lumpur
My first thought when we landed in Kuala Lumpur was about the haze. Forest fires were raging in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, and as a result, neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore were affected. Sometime last week, flights to and from Langkawi, an archipelago on Malaysia’s west coast, were grounded due to poor visibility. Lucky for us, Kuala Lumpur wasn’t as badly affected. As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry. We still had a great time city hopping, although we did minimize time spent outdoors as a precaution.
JW Marriot Hotel
We stayed at JW Marriot, located at Bukit Bingtang, Kuala Lumpur’s shopping and entertainment district. If you’re looking for a place to stay that not only has a great location but also superb amenities, I recommend this hotel. Marriot has clean, spacious rooms; friendly staff; well-maintained facilities; great spa treatments; and, most important for parents like us, on-call babysitters! Amen to that! We had someone look after our little one every evening for at least two hours while we went out for a quiet dinner. (Dear Dania, if you ever read this, know that we are forever grateful.) We won’t hesitate to go back if we ever visit KL again.
JW Marriot is connected to Starhill Gallery, a luxurious mall for upscale shoppers who roll high. Here, you find the big names in the fashion industry, and of course, the big buyers who let their credit cards do the talking. I couldn’t afford a Louis Vuitton bag, but at least I had an expensive cappuccino and macarons and a great haircut at Number 76 before stepping out for dinner. The cappuccino was…errrr, not so good, but the macarons were tasty.
Pavillion Shopping Mall
Just across the hotel is the seven-storey Pavillion Shopping Mall, which houses 450 retail stores under its roof! I enjoyed walking in and out of boutiques keeping up with the latest trends and must-haves. I mean, who doesn’t love a little inspo? If fashion’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry, everything else you can possibly imagine is in this mall—even a cinema if you want to catch a movie. And when hunger strikes, head over to level 6 where you will find a variety of eateries.
We had a scrumptious Lebanese meal at Al-amar. And let me tell you, I’ve never enjoyed so much hummus in my life! We went there three times in a row, ordering the same thing. They probably thought we were a weird family. With everything they had to offer all we wanted was the damn hummus and pita bread—which were so worth every visit!
La Boca Latino Bar
Another place worth trying in the Pavillion is La Boca Latino, located at Connection on Level 3 still. The atmosphere is vibrant and their tacos are to die for. They also serve delicious cocktails, so go ahead and order a glass of pisco sour and enjoy Latino beats as you wait for your meal.
Of course, a trip to Kuala Lumpur won’t be complete without a tour of what the city has to offer. For our first time in Malaysia, we visited the following sights and attractions:
The Aquaria at KLCC
For those travelling with kids, this is one place not to be missed. Our two-year-old was super excited throughout our visit here. The best part was going through the tunnel watching different species of fish including sharks swimming above us. On a beautiful sunny day one can also take a stroll at the KLCC park and enjoy the greenery. There is a pool area, a waterfall, and a big playground for kids. Remember to bring swimwear and sunblock before you go.
We drove seven miles north of Kuala Lumpur to see Batu Caves, a sacred site for Hindus in Malaysia, which consist of three main caves and a number of smaller ones. The caves are made of limestone that is believed to be around 400 million years old. The adventure is climbing 272 steps which will lead you to the religious and magnificent Batu Caves. Be wary of monkeys, though. They can be cheeky so try to keep your distance and your belongings close to you. Also remember to come in comfortable shoes.
Dataran Merdeka | Kuala Lumpur City Gallery | Textile Museum | Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Dataran Merdeka, which means “Independence Square”, is at the core of Malaysia’s history. This is where the Malayan flag was hoisted to signify the country’s independence from the British rule in 1957. In front of the square is an eye-catching Moorish design building, Sultan Abdul Samad, which was impossible to not notice as it stands out. Designed by British architect A.C Norman and completed in 1897 during the time of the British administration in Malaysia, it was used to house several government departments. Today, this historical building houses the Supreme and High Courts.
The railway station is another Moorish architectural design structure. Built in 1910, this regal and fairytale like building is beautiful fusion of eastern and western design. It used to be Kuala Lumpur’s main railway hub until 2001 when KL Sentral took over as the city’s main intercity railway station. If you are a photography enthusiast, this part of Kuala Lumpur is well-worth a visit.
We opted to hire a private driver/guide for the five days we were in KL, and we were happy with our decision. He was so helpful and honest. He was always on time and most important, patient with us. He also took time to explain everything we asked in detail. Plus he came in handy whenever we wanted to take family photos. We highly recommend him. His name is Thomas Raj. If you wish to use his services, drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This was our first trip to Malaysia but definitely not the last one. We still want to visit places like Kuala Lumpur Bird Park and The Old City of Malacca, and relax on the beaches of Langkawi. But for now, I hope this post gives anyone planning to visit KL a step in the right direction.