I recently had the opportunity to go to Kuala Lumpur, guess why?! Yes, visa matters! And I have to say that I have been positively surprised about this capital so cosmopolite! The city is a great example of ethnic and cultural diversity where Malays, Indians, Chinese and others (about 1.8 million people in 2012) live together and influence KL. Let’s know more about this stunning city!
Founded only in 1857 as a tin mining outpost, Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go and lacks the rich history of George Town or Malacca. After rough early years marked by gang fighting, Kuala Lumpur started to prosper and was made capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896 but from 1942 to 1945 the city was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. Malaysia, a former British colony, declared its independance in 1957 in front of huge crowds at what was later named Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium). Kuala Lumpur continued as the new nation’s capital. The economic boom of the 1990s brought KL the standard trappings of a modern city, bristling with skyscrapers and modern transportation systems. Like most of Malaysia’s towns and cities, the Chinese, traditionally involved in trade and mining, forms the majority of the population with about 55% of Kuala Lumpur’s population of Malaysian Chinese descent. This the Malays, though the majority in the country, populate the rural areas as they were an agrarian society. Indians were either estate workers or traders too, and populated the towns and rural areas equally. However, mass immigration of all races to KL, Malaysia’s primary city has made the racial composition of the city more or less balanced.
From Wikitravel Kuala Lumpur & Wikipedia
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur
Our arrival in Kuala Lumpur has been pretty smooth! We flew from Bangkok with Air Asia (only 2 hours) to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at the KLCC Terminal. No need to fill in any paper before immigration as we didn’t require any visa as French citizens.
We then took a taxi because the KLCC terminal is not really well linked to the city center, that’s why we thought it would be the most convenient way to reach it! At the airport, after immigration and luggages claim, you will see a couple of counters for taxi. There, you simply ask for your destination and mention how many luggages you have and people are travelling. EASY! You well get then a coupon that needs to be presented to the taxi driver.
Therefore, if you are landing at the KLIA terminals, you will be able to take the Express Rail Link that will directly drop you in 30 min right in the center of Kuala Lumpur for only RM35 per person.
Kuala Lumpur can be reached as well by rail, sea and road!
What to do and see in Kuala Lumpur?
To be honest, I have only spent 24 hours there so I may not be the right person to recommand any places to visit! Therefore you should definitely head up to these places regarding to the www.kuala-lumpur.ws website:
- Petronas Towers (AMAZING! Go there by night at 9pm to see water shows in front of it)
- Menara KL Tower
- Chinatown (Petaling Street & Central Market)
- The Batu Caves (outside from the city)
- Little India
- Chow Kit Wet Market
- Thean Hou temple (one of the oldest temples in Southeast Asia)
As a personal experience, I would recommand anyone who doesn’t have much time to spend in the city to take a Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour. This is super touristic, I admit it but it gives you a great overview of the city, its main attraction points and its beautiful architecture in only 2 hours and for RM38.
What to eat in Kuala Lumpur?
- Nasi Lemak can be called the “National Dish”. It is made out steamed rice with coconut milk to give it a rich fragrance, and served with fried anchovies, peanuts, sliced cucumber, hard boiled eggs and a spicy chilli paste known as sambal.
- Banana leaf rice is an Indian-influenced dish. It consists of white rice served on banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables, curry meat or fish and papadum.
- Roti Canai is a flat bread coming as well from India.
- Satay consists of marinated meat cooked on a charcoal grill.
- Char kway teow: At first sight, this dish seems to me similar to Pad Thai! Flat rice noodles, prawns, bean sprouts… I felt like in Thailand! But actually it is a common dish to Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia made with noodles stir-fried in dark soy sauce, chilli, a small quantity of belachan, whole prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts and chopped Chinese chives.
- And so much more by visiting the quite good Wikipedia page on Malaysian food.
Some more information
- Visa requirements: Many nationalities do not need a visa to enter Malaysia (as a French I didn’t) but refer directly to your country information center.
- Currency: Ringgit Malaysian (RM)
- Time difference: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT so one hour more compare to Thailand.
- Spoken language: Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, although most people speak english, which is SO practical compare to Bangkok! The different ethnic groups do speak their owns languages and dialects. for example, Mandarin and Cantonese are widely spoken by the Chinese, while the majority of Indians speak Tamil.
- Religion: Islam is the official religion of the country, although other religions such as Buddhis, Hinduism and Christianity are practiced.
- For more information, visit the official website of Tourism in Malaysia: www.tourism.gov.my