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With steel and glass skyscrapers dominating the skyline, mega shopping malls and six-lane motorways, Kuala Lumpur is like stepping into the future. That said, the Malaysian capital isn’t all sleek and modern; it also has decorative Mughal-style mosques and bustling traditional night markets.
Like a glittering beacon of light in the night-time skyline, the ultra-modern, 451-metre-tall Petronas twin towers are not to be missed. At the base sits the Suria KLCC shopping mall, a haven for label lovers that features an art gallery, a cinema, a concert hall and an aquarium. Once you have exhausted its opportunities, scale the towers themselves in the stomach-flipping lift for some of the most spectacular views of the city. If those dizzying heights aren’t enough for you then visit Menara Kuala Lumpur instead, which stands in the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve. Its viewing deck is 100 metres higher than the one in the Petronas. To escape the heat, head for the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, where you will find thrills aplenty on its water slides and 360-degree revolving pirate ship.
Step back to Kuala Lumpur’s ancient past in the labyrinth of streets that comprise Chinatown. This district pulses all night long with bright lights, thronging shoppers and delicious smelling street food. The open-air restaurants of Jalan Alor are a great place to try Chinese seafood. Alternatively, soak up Kuala Lumpur’s culture at the ancient Batu Caves. Carved into a 400-million-year-old limestone hill, they are regarded as one of ‘Malaysia’s national treasures’ and are located about 10 kilometres from the city centre. Don’t miss the Art Gallery Cave and the Museum Cave there.
Despite its urban sprawl, there are plenty of green spaces in Kuala Lumpur. If you are searching for a green oasis, your first port of call should be the lush Lake Gardens, officially known as the Perdana Botanical Gardens, which have been drawing the crowds since 1888. There are guided walks, a waterfall and a fishpond, plus a wonderful collection of rare fruit trees and an amphitheatre. You can also visit Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, which have boats for hire and an equestrian track.
Kuala Lumpur is sprawling and busy, but its transport is all geared up for easy navigation. Upon arrival, step aboard the KLIA Ekspres, a train service that will speed you to the city from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in just 30 minutes. There is also the KL Light Rail Transit, the KL monorail and the brilliant KL city bus, which will take you to all the city’s hotspots, completely free of charge.