Malaysia’s cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur, is a great spot for breaking up a long haul flight between the hemispheres. Having already stopped in Singapore on our way to Australia, we decided on a three night stopover in Kuala Lumpur on our way to the UK. We were pretty tired but still managed to do some exploring in the busy city.
One of the biggest benefits of stopping in Asia is the low cost of shopping. Weather it’s bartering for bargains in a local market or finding discounted branded goods in shopping malls, Kuala Lumpur has it all. Central market is a great place to shop for inexpensive presents and has some cheap food too. We visited the fancy Petronas mall and were happy to find all our favourite brands form the UK and Australia at much lower prices. We managed to pick up some converse for around half the price they would be in the UK. The Petronas towers are the most famous land mark in the city and symbolic of the modern image it presents to the world.
Merdeka Square is steeped in colonial history and a great place to hang out. On one side of the square British style buildings look out across a lush green lawn that once was a cricket pitch. Across the square are fine examples of mogul architecture which serve as a reminder of the mixed culture in the melting pot that is Kuala Lumpur. Malay, Chinese and Indians all call Kuala Lumpur home and the rich cultures can been seen in everything from the architecture to the varied cuisine.
Petaling Street is the centre of China town and has plenty of stalls and restaurants selling the usual knock off luggage and mobile phones. The restaurants in the area seemed overpriced and very touristy to us so we decided to keep looking. We wandered a little further and found a small shop front restaurant serving basic yet delicious chicken and rice to the locals.
Kuala Lumpur has a large transport network and it is easy to get around using the trains. We took a train to the Masjid Jamek, one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur. Visitors are allowed inside the grounds of the mosque to look around. Although to respect the religion ladies must cover up before entering. We laughed when we were handed giant purple cloaks to wear, in the heat of the day they made us rather hot and sweaty and we didn’t stay in the mosque too long. We also visited the more modern National Mosque which stuck out like a sore thumb beside other more traditional buildings in the area.
The best part of Kuala Lumpur is, without a doubt, the food. The mixed culture of the city has led to a rich culinary experience which we were more than happy to sample. Our favourite spot was Jalan Alor street food market. By night this little back street is transformed to an open air feast selling every pan-Asian treat imaginable. We enjoyed amazing noodle dishes as well as Chinese and Indian style delicacies, all served outside in the bustling street. Having been in Australia for the last year, we couldn’t believe how cheap everything was and we filled our plates accordingly!