This whistle-stop tour of Kuala Lumpur’s highlights can easily be done in one day or can be stretched over two or three days if you want to spend more time at some of the attractions. Make sure you are wearing modest clothing or carrying a sarong if you want to visit the places of worship.
Start the trip by taking the LRT (light rail transit) to KLCC. You will emerge from the station into a shopping mall opposite the Petronas Towers (main picture). From 1998 to 2004, these towers were the largest in the world, and they are still the biggest twin skyscrapers. The best place to admire and take pictures of the 452 metre towers is from the surrounding park, which has some interesting water features. For scenic views of the city take the elevator to the 86th floor where there is an observation deck or cross the sky bridge on the 41st floor (admission fees apply). http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my
This area of the city is home to the aquarium and KL Tower, which also has an observation deck. There are some nice restaurants around the central fountains and a reasonably priced food court within the shopping centre.
Take the LRT to Masjid Jamek and follow the signs to Dataran Merdaka (Independence Square) where the city celebrated independence from the British on 31 August 1957. The occasion was marked by the lowering of the Union Jack on the 100m flag pole, which now flies the Malaysian flag. The square is used for national events and celebrations. The surrounding buildings, which include the impressive Sultan Abdul Samad building, date back to the 19th century and are an interesting blend of colonial and Malaysian styles of architecture.
From here it is just a short walk to Masjid Negara (National Mosque), a huge modern complex that can house 8,000 worshippers. It has an unusual star-shaped dome and beautiful landscaped gardens. Visitors need to wear modest clothing if they wish to visit inside the mosque (admission is free). Robes and headscarves are provided for women. http://www.masjidnegara.gov.my
Opposite the mosque is the Islamic Arts Museum, the largest showcase of Islamic art in south-east Asia. Spend a few hours wandering around the exhibitions at this fascinating museum. There are several themed galleries and the building itself is interesting to walk around and admire with beautiful domed ceilings. We enjoyed a temporary exhibition about Islamic book binding while we were there. Admission fee applies. http://www.iamm.org.my
Take the LRT now to Pasar Seni station to explore Chinatown. On your way pause to enjoy the Rage Against the Machine street art by the celebrated Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, whose work can also be found in New York, Penang, Dubai and Singapore.
The colourful Sri Mahamariamman Temple can be found on Jalan Tun H S Lee. It is the city’s oldest Hindu temple, founded in 1873. The elaborately decorated entrance can be viewed from the outside. If you want to enter the temple, you need to take off your shoes and wear modest clothing, which can be hired for a small fee from the booth outside.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Petaling Street market and pick up a few bargains before heading to the far end of the street for some delicious street food. The market is open from 10am until late and is housed under a glass roof, so you don’t need to worry about the weather.
If nothing takes your eye, save yourself for Central Market, where there are some lovely boutique shops and a good food court on the second floor. The art deco building used to be the town’s wholesale produce market but was renovated in 1986. You will find some more unusual and higher quality souvenirs here than on Petaling Street market.
Look out for a market stall outside the centre selling Patu Bambu, a delicious dessert comprising rolls of sweet steamed rice mixed with coconut, sugar and Pandan leaves. They’re delicious and gluten-free!