Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – City on the Rise

Asia | Malaysia | RTW #1: A Globetrotter is Born
Petaling Market Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

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Arrival into Kuala Lumpur International Airport couldn’t be easier. The airport is modern and sparkling clean and there is a hi-speed train that connects you to the KL-Central Station in only 28 minutes for about $9 US. My hotel was right across the street from the Central Station where all of the city’s metro links converge. The metro was a real steal at about 30 cents a ride and ridiculously easy to navigate. It’s so nice to be back in a modern city!

The Hilton Kuala Lumpur was one of the great deals of this trip. The room itself was beautiful at only $75 US per night, but even better, upon check-in I was upgraded to an Executive Level room with access to the Executive Lounge on the top floor. The Lounge has a full buffet breakfast every morning, an evening Malay cuisine buffet (which was fantastic), free drinks, and live entertainment every evening…all gratis. Not to mention it has free wi-fi which has become the perk of all perks on this trip. But my favorite thing about this hotel was the complimentary laundry service, up to 4 pieces per day. (This may not sound exciting to you but if you could see my suitcase right now, you would understand.) I took full advantage of the laundry service both days of my stay and am happy to report that my suitcase is back in good standing, “aromatically” speaking, that is.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
My very modern room at the Hilton KL

So, for my one full day in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia I decided to take in the city’s architectural sights followed by an afternoon of the #1 tourist activity here – shopping. Kuala Lumpur, also known as the “Garden City of Lights”, is the capital city of Malaysia. It’s a rapidly-evolving, modern city with a goal of catapulting Malaysia to “fully industrialized nation” status by the year 2020. There are two fixtures of the KL skyline that are hard to miss.

The first, the Petronas Twin Towers. The famous towers, until recently the world’s tallest buildings, are set in an enormous artistically designed tropical garden with fountains, ponds, jogging trails and a children’s playground. The towers house Malaysia’s premier shopping complex, a state-of-the-art concert hall, offices, an art gallery and numerous restaurants – all collectively known as KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center). Since opening in 1997, the Petronas Towers have become the defining symbol of Kuala Lumpur and the country’s economic and industrial growth.

Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Petronas Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The second fixture in the Kuala Lumpur skyline is the KL Tower. The KL Tower is the tallest single standing concrete structure in the world. Aside from housing an observation platform, restaurants and souvenir stores, the tower serves as a telecommunications and broadcast facility for the city.

After a morning of walking around the city, through the parks and taking about 50 pictures of the Petronas Towers (they are so impressive, it’s hard to stop – though equally hard to get a good picture with all of them in it) I headed into the KLCC Shopping Center. I spent some quality time there and actually did buy a few things before catching an adventurous wave and taking the train down to Chinatown to the well-known Petaling Market.

The market was loud, colorful and aromatic with smells from the many street vendors wafting through the stands. There was one area of food stands where several of the vendors had live chickens loitering about. I can only imagine what an outbreak of the bird flu would do to this area, needless to say I didn’t linger. Not a good time to be hanging out amongst live fowl (really, is there ever a good time?).

Petaling Market Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Chinatown’s Petaling Market

I tested my haggling skills with the street vendors and eventually bought a couple of very reasonably priced souvenirs. I then tried one more mall a little south of the hotel at the Concierge’s suggestion and again found the city’s metro system easy to navigate and an outstanding bargain.  Not finding anything else I needed and tired of lugging my previous purchases around, I headed back to the hotel to freshen up and visit the lounge for a glass of wine, some excellent Malay cuisine, live music and some quality time with my laptop.

After some great food and even better wine, I retired back to my room to enjoy a hot bath, American Idol (on the Star channel which has lots of American shows in Asia – good for those who might be a little homesick!) and a good night’s sleep before catching the train back to the airport for my quick flight to Singapore.