In fact, Malaysia’s capital, located to the country’s west, is considered by many to be Asia’s greenest capital, with landscaped gardens and palm trees to be found throughout its neighbourhoods. It is also home to some attractions that build on this green reputation, such as the Bird Park – the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary where you can encounter more than 3,000 birds of around 200 species such as the endemic hornbill.
However, its appeal extends beyond its unexpected green credentials to the city’s vibrant arts scene with numerous art galleries reeling visitors in and a dynamic theatrical community.
You can also explore the city’s history among its museums or take a heritage walk or cycle ride through some of its most aged streets with a knowledgeable guide. Many of the walks are offered for free by the government.
When the sun goes down, explore its pulsating night markets where you can sample its varied cuisine which draws on its blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian heritage. Or you can check out its glamorous bar scene with many of the best places to down a few cold ones located among the city’s swanky hotels.
Places to Visit in Kuala Lumpur
- Little India Brickfields
- Bukit Bintang
- KLCC park
- Merdeka Square
Unique Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
- Admire the view from the heady heights of the Petronas Twin Towers
- Follow the heritage trail around Merdeka Square
- Encounter 3,000 feathered friends at the KL Bird Park
- Discover the cave temples of the Batu Caves, just 13km north of the city
- Take a foodie journey through Chinatown
A Young Capital City
The youngest of southeast Asia’s capital cities, Kuala Lumpur was founded in the 19th century. Back then, the area now occupied by the city was a settlement located at the joining point of the Klang and Gombak rivers giving rise to its name which literally means “muddy capital”. The area, cleared from dense jungle, housed workers in the fledgling tin industry.
The subsequent development of that settlement, which many attribute to Chinese community leader Yap Ah Loy, saw it become an important commercial and mining centre. However, others call Raja Abdullah of the Selangor Royal Family the founder of Kuala Lumpur, as it was he who established the mining industry in the area in 1857.
Either way, the city rapidly evolved from a cluster of wooden residences to a city of stone buildings, a switch that was catalysed by a major fire in 1881. In fact, it had only been in existence for a few decades before the British proclaimed it capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896.
Although a part of the state of Selangor, it separated in 1971 to form Malaysia’s capital under the Federal Government.
Getting Around Kuala Lumpur
Beware Kuala Lumpur traffic – like many other Asian cities, the Malaysian capital is renowned for gridlocked streets. So, while there is an extensive transport network, you’ll want to steer clear of taxis and buses during the early morning and late evening rush hours.
An alternative is KL’s growing rail network which is designed to complement the existing light rail, monorail and train services to significantly reduce the traffic problem.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Kuala Lumpur
Hot and humid throughout the year, Kuala Lumpur has a distinctly tropical climate with temperatures that range between 22C and 32C.
Did you know…?
Kuala Lumpur was occupied by Japan from January 1942 until August 1945, when Japanese forces surrendered to the British following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Did you ALSO know…?
Kuala Lumpur is one of the host cities for the Formula One World Championship. The A1 Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Grand Prix are held in the Sepang International Circuit in Selanger.
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