Christmas in Kuala Lumpur
After 3 months in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, being in Kuala Lumpur didn’t seem like we’d only crossed a border and travelled 10 hours on a coach. The city has a lot more of a western feel to it than its other South East Asian neighbours which we had previously visited. KL felt like the perfect place to have a Christmas away from home in the UK.
With Malaysia being a predominantly Muslim country, we didn’t expect Kuala Lumpur to be the most Christmassy of places. How wrong we were. For example, the mall was like stepping into a shopping centre back home, there was maybe even more decoration than back home, they definitely did not hold back. The whole mall was littered head to toe with all things Christmas.
Before we came travelling, we decided we would treat ourselves for Christmas and book a 4 night stay at Park Royal Serviced Suites at a cost of $80 per night (cheap for how amazing the apartments were), paying for it before we came. What a fantastic decision that was. After months of staying in a few very questionable hostels and guest houses (not all were questionable to be fair, some were very nice), these apartments were absolutely heaven!
Failing treating yourself on Christmas, budget accommodation can be found in this rather expensive (by South East Asian standards) city. After our 4 night stay in Park Royal, we then went back to our budget ways and booked into a guest house in Bukit Bintang for a couple of nights at much cheaper price of 40RM ($10) per night. The budget guest house was a little depressing at first after a few nights in luxury, but we soon got back into the swing of things.
Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur
The Patronas towers are iconic to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia as a whole. The skyscrapers can be seen from everywhere in the city, towering above everything. The Patronas Towers were in fact the tallest buildings in the world between the years 1998 and 2004 and remain the tallest conjoining buildings on the planet (reaching a total height of 451.9m). The major landmarks are a signal of the economic success and ambition in Kuala Lumpur to compete with the global superpowers.
We booked to go up to the 83rd floor of the towers at a cost of 80RM ($20) each. The tickets can be purchased prior to your visit to KL online here. Not surprisingly on a clear day, the views from the 83rd floor of the towers are amazing, with views for miles around the city.
It is at night when the towers arguably look their most spectacular, lighting up from head to toe, further dominating the Kuala Lumpen skyline.
Another popular sight around Kuala Lumpur is Batu Caves. The caves are located just outside KL, in Gombak, Selangor, however, they are easily accessed via public transport. From KL Sentral, you can purchase a ticket from the KTM Commuter counter to Batu Caves station. A return ticket cost us 4RM ($1) and journey took around 25-30 mins each way. The site was free to enter, so all in all it is a cheap day out.
The entrance leading to the limestone caves is the most impressive feature of the Batu Caves in my eyes, mostly due to the 42.7m statue of Murugan (said to have cost 24millionRM ($5.97m), located at the foot of the stairs to the cave entrance. I’d watch out for the monkeys, expect to be hassled from them a lot if you are carrying food. It can be quite enjoyable seeing people panic whenever the monkeys come near them though.
Batu Caves are probably worth the visit, but they were far from being one of my favourite landmarks in Malaysia, never mind South East Asia. I would say though, if they charged to enter the caves, I wouldn’t recommend the visit. Although the actual caves are natural limestone caves, a lot of the site has been covered in concrete, so that it is easier for us tourists to navigate into and around the caves.
Food & Drink In Kuala Lumpur
Drinking In KL
If you’re on a backpackers budget (like we were), I wouldn’t expect none stop partying while you’re in the Malaysian capital. Alcohol is very expensive in this city, for example, we went to one bar where it is cost us 18RM ($4.50) for half a pint of beer. However one tip I would give is to look out for the 2-4-1 or ‘Happy Hour’ (not the same as buy one get one free happy hour back home, it is usually 10-20% off) offers in bars.
Christmas Day Meal
In terms of food and drink, we were on a tight budget, apart from Christmas day that is, when we actually decided to go for a nice meal at a restaurant and treat ourselves, it was Christmas after all! I ended up eating a steak the size of my face, 700g it weighed to be exact. Safe to say this was the biggest steak I’ve ever eaten! Like I said though, this was a one off night of wining and dining at 51 Restaurant and Bar in Bukit Bintang. The restaurant was a nice break, but I was also happy to go back to budget local food.
One of our days in KL was spent in search of the perfect curry. The search led us to take the monorail from KL Sentral to Maijid Jamek, then walking parallel along the river, until we had reached our destination of Little India. We had been told about a cafe in Little India called Restoran Yusoof Dan Zakhir, it was here that I had my best curry of the trip so far! This is saying something as I’d already eaten a few amazing curries. I went for my old favourite – Lamb Massala, costing 5RM ($1.25). If I had to recommend one thing to do in KL, it would be to taste this curry!!
Pavilion Mall Food Court
On the lower floor of the mall there is a huge food court. This isn’t your your usual food court containing McDonald’s and KFC, this one has stalls which sell Asian style street food. We ate here a couple of times, due to how close it was to our hotel and I didn’t have a bad meal. Also the price of the food won’t break the bank, with meals costing around 7-15RM ($1.75-3.70).
Would I Recommend A Visit To Kuala Lumpur
In short, yes! KL is a fantastic city and no trip to Malaysia would be complete without a few nights in the capital. It’s clear to see, that compared to most other South East Asian cities, KL is leaps ahead economically. Due to KL’s economic prowess, the city does have more of a western feel to it than its neighbours. Don’t get me wrong though, KL is by no means like visiting London or New York, it’s a whole new experience altogether. What I can say is KL is definitely one of the most exciting cities I have visited.