From Halal Food & Travel
Kuala Lumpur, called KL by locals, is Malaysia's federal capital and largest city at 6.5 million (city-proper population of 1.8 million). Kuala Lumpur is a cultural melting pot with some of the world's cheapest 5-star hotels, impressive shopping districts, food from all parts of the world, and natural wonders within day-trip distance.
Kuala Lumpur Districts
Kuala Lumpur is a sprawling city with residential suburbs that seem to go on forever. The city proper is a 243 km2 (94 sq mi) Federal Territory managed by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and comprising eight divisions which are further split into 42 local areas, mainly for administrative purposes. The following districts have been conceptualised for visitors to Kuala Lumpur.
|Golden Triangle (Bukit Bintang, Pudu)|
Kuala Lumpur's equivalent of a Central Business District (CBD) located to the north-east of the Old City Centre. The area is brimming to the seams with shopping malls, bars and five-star hotels, along with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
|Old City Centre (Chinatown)|
This is the traditional core of Kuala Lumpur where you’ll find the former colonial administrative centre, with the Merdeka Square, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Selangor Club. This district also includes Kuala Lumpur’s old Chinese commercial centre which everyone refers to now as Chinatown. In 2024 the highest skyscraper in Malaysia (PNB 118) will be located in this part of the city.
|Botanical Garden |
The National Museum, the National Mosque, Botanical Garden, Bird and Butterfly Parks, Orchid & Hibiscus Gardens, Islamic Arts Museum and National Planetarium are located here. A short walk north of the garden is the National Monument.
|South of City Centre (Brickfields, Bangsar, Bukit Persekutuan, Mid Valley, Seputeh)|
Brickfields is Kuala Lumpur’s Little India filled with saree shops and banana leaf rice restaurants. Kuala Lumpur’s main railway station, KL Sentral, is located here. Bangsar is a popular restaurant and pub district while Mid Valley, with its Megamall, is one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations. Seputeh is home of the Thean Hou temple.
|North of City Centre (Kampung Baru, Titiwangsa, Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit)|
Located to the north-west of the Golden Triangle and an extension of the Old City Centre. Home to modern shopping malls, traditional street markets and good accommodation options. Kampung Baru, the last Malay village of Kuala Lumpur, is a food paradise of street stalls and restaurants in traditional kampung setting.
|Western suburbs (Bukit Damansara, Desa Sri Hartamas, Bukit Tunku, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Taman Bukit Maluri)|
Largely suburban, these districts to the west of the city house some interesting pockets of restaurants and drinking areas. Bukit Kiara - a secondary rainforest - is the most popular hiking and mountain biking spot of KL. This district also merges into the northern part of Petaling Jaya (PJ).
|Eastern suburbs (Ampang, Desa Pandan, Taman Maluri, Cheras, Salak Selatan)|
Located east of the city, Ampang is home to Kuala Lumpur’s Little Korea and most foreign embassies and high commissions. Cheras is a suburb with many Chinese residents here.
|Northern suburbs (Sentul, Batu, Setapak, Wangsa Maju, Desa Melawati and many others)|
This huge area to the north of the city is home to several natural wonders attractions, such as the Batu Caves, the National Zoo and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
|Southern suburbs (Taman Desa, Kuchai Lama, Sungai Besi, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Alam Damai, Bukit Jalil, Sri Petaling and many others)|
This district may not interest travellers much, although Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium and National Sports Complex Bukit Jalil are located here.
Beyond the Kuala Lumpur city proper are the adjacent satellite cities of Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Port Klang, Ampang, Puchong, Selayang/Rawang, Kajang and Sepang, all in the state of Selangor, which enclaves Kuala Lumpur. Within the same conurbation, also surrounded by Selangor, is the federal territory of Putrajaya, which is Malaysia's de facto administrative and judiciary capital. These cities all merge such that it can be hard to know where Kuala Lumpur ends and Selangor begins. The culmination of these cities is a huge metropolis known as Greater Kuala Lumpur or more commonly, Klang Valley.
Kuala Lumpur Halal Explorer
The evening before, crowds gathered at the Selangor Club Padang (Green). As the clock on the State Secretariat Building (today's Sultan Abdul Samad Building) struck midnight, the crowd, led by the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, shouted "Merdeka" seven times. The Union Flag was lowered and the flag of the new country was raised to the strains of the national anthem, Negaraku. The Selangor Club Padang is today's Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). The official handing over of power occurred later, during the day, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium).
Malaysia was created on 16 September 1963, when Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya in a larger federation.
As in most of Malaysia’s cities and towns, Malaysian Chinese form a majority of the population, at 55%, in Kuala Lumpur. Malays (who form the majority of Malaysia's population, overall) and Malaysian Indians are also present in large numbers in the city, and there are substantial numbers of more recent immigrants and workers from South and Southeast Asia, Eurasians, and expatriates from GCC countries and the Middle East. The result is a mix of cultures that meld together to make Kuala Lumpur a modern and diverse capital.
Kuala Lumpur is said to be locked in an unofficial rivalry with nearby city-state Singapore. The ethnic Chinese-dominated Singapore was separated from the indigenous Malay-majority Federation due primarily to irreconcilable ideological differences. Singapore strove to become a viable independent state and spurred rapid development, which the Malaysians sought to keep up with by investing in Kuala Lumpur. If Singapore has a first class airport, so does KL. When Singapore got an efficient urban transport system, so did KL. As Singapore becomes clean and green, so does KL. Everywhere you go, there are swats and strips of manicured public lawns and refreshing jungle-like parks - just like Singapore. If Singapore has an aquatic park and a bird park, so does KL. Same thing with an orchid park and butterfly park. If Singapore renovates and paints its colonial shop houses with tutti frutti colours, so does KL. If Singapore builds theme parks, so does KL. And if Singapore aims to be a shopping mecca with a plethora of shopping malls and all sorts of gimmicks, so does KL. What Singapore has, KL matches, often on an even grander scale. So if you've been to Singapore, you will have seen it all in KL, a bit of déjà vu, or vice versa.
Both cities' locations on the geographically, economically and politically important Bangkok-Jakarta corridor have favoured their growth. The two cities are built from the same cultural ingredients, though in different proportions: Chinese culture is more dominant in Singapore.
History of Kuala Lumpur
Founded in 1857 under British rule as a tin mining outpost, Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go and lacks the rich history of Georgetown or Malacca. Due to the success of tin mining, Kuala Lumpur began to flourish but had problems with gang fighting in the late 1800s. Following this, Kuala Lumpur faced further misfortune after much of the city burnt down in a large fire as most buildings were built from wood and thatch. As a result buildings in Kuala Lumpur were required to be built with brick and tile. After these rough early years, Kuala Lumpur began to prosper and was made capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896.
During World War II, Kuala Lumpur and the Federated Malay States were occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. During this time the economy was virtually halted. Soon after the British regained power it was declared that the Federated Malay States were to become the Malayan Union and work toward independence began. In 1952, Kuala Lumpur was one of the first cities in the Union to hold elections. Malaya's independence was declared in 1957 in front of huge crowds at what was later named Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), and Kuala Lumpur continued as the new nation's capital.
In 1972, Kuala Lumpur was given city status and by 1974 became a Federal Territory of Malaysia in its own right, hence losing the title as capital city of Selangor. The economic boom of the 1990s brought Kuala Lumpur the standard trappings of a modern city, but it was severely hit by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which stalled the Malaysian economy and led to the abandonment or delay of many construction projects. Today, Kuala Lumpur has become a modern city, bristling with skyscrapers and with a modern transportation system, and is one of the world's major centres for Islamic banking. Despite this, Kuala Lumpur has still kept some of its historical charm.
How is the Climate in Kuala Lumpur
As Kuala Lumpur is only 3 degrees north of the Equator, you can expect tropical weather all year round. Shielded by the Titiwangsa Mountains to the east and Sumatra to the west, temperatures are relatively cooler than other cities within Peninsular Malaysia. Expect sunny days with temperatures above 30°C (86°F) and slightly cooler evenings, particularly when afternoon showers occur and humidity is high. Rainfall can be sporadic and quite torrential at times, but usually does not last very long. During the wet season, around October to March, the northeast monsoon brings heavy rainfall that can occasionally flood some areas of Kuala Lumpur. The months around June and July could be classed as the dry season, but even then it can frequently rain.
Occasionally, due to forest fires from Sumatra around May to October, haze can blanket the city and surrounding regions, and it is best to remain indoors if you suffer from asthma.
As the weather can be hot and humid during the day, try to dress lightly if you expect to be outside and, while it may seem obvious, don't forget to remain hydrated. Also keep in mind that mosques and some temples have strict dress codes, although many do supply gowns to cover you if you are inadequately dressed. If you do find it too hot to be outside, consider going to a shopping mall to relax and work that credit card in air conditioned comfort.
Local Language in Kuala Lumpur
As befitting the nation's capital, Malay is universally spoken and understood by locals in Kuala Lumpur.
However, as Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur is also home to Malaysians of many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and this is often reflected in the number of languages that are used by locals in daily life. The lingua franca of the Chinese community is Cantonese, and most of the ethnic Chinese can speak Cantonese regardless of their native dialect, with a significant number also able to speak Mandarin. Kuala Lumpur is also home to many Indians, most of whom are native speakers of Tamil.
English is also widely spoken, and English-speaking tourists should generally not have a problem getting around.
Travel as a Muslim to Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia's transportation systems function well, by regional standards. Planes, trains, buses, and taxis are linked in a system conceived and constructed by, if not an order-loving Teuton, at least a dedicated amateur. The planners' aims are an ultra-modern, chic, European-style system that are a far cry from the city's humble barrio beginnings. The reality is a sound B+ with still a long way to go before hitting the top. A bewildering jumble of initials and acronyms assault any first time journey planner in KL, and it will take at least a day to decipher the scheme of things.
Buy a Flight ticket to and from Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is served by two airports: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) (IATA Code: KUL) and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (Subang Airport, IATA Code: SZB). KLIA is used by almost all airlines that fly to Kuala Lumpur whilst Subang Airport is limited to airlines with turboprop aircraft.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
- Main Travel Guide: Kuala Lumpur International Airport
The primary airport serving Kuala Lumpur, 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur in the Sepang district of Selangor. The airport opened in 1998 and superseded Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, which is now only used for charter and commercial turboprop flights. Over 50 airlines call at KLIA. The airport has two terminals, with Malaysia Airlines and other mainline carriers at the "main" KLIA, and Air Asia and other low-cost carriers using KLIA2. They are connected to each other (3 minutes) and the city (28-33 min) by the KLIA Ekspres train.
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport
More commonly referred to as Subang Airport, was the city's main airport until KLIA opened, and is designated for turboprop aircraft. The airport is much closer to the city centre and less crowded than KLIA, which can make it a convenient entry point for those flying from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand or other parts of Malaysia. The airport is 25 km from the city centre and the convenient way to get there is by taxi. An alternative is to take Rapid KL bus U81 (destination: Subang Suria/Mah Sing) from Terminal Jalan Sultan Mohammad next to Pasar Seni LRT station, which goes past the airport. The fare is RM3 one way and takes approximately 40 min in clear traffic. It can take nearly 1hr 30min during peak rush hour. The airport is served by the following airlines:
- Berjaya Air is a domestic and regional airline, which focuses on resort and island destinations. It flies between Subang Airport and Langkawi, Pangkor Island, Penang, Redang Island, Tioman Island and internationally to Hua Hin, Thailand.
- Firefly is a Malaysia Airlines subsidiary that began operating from Subang in late 2007 and operates as a regional turboprop airline. Within Malaysia the airline flies between Subang and Alor Setar, Johor Bahru, Kerteh, Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Langkawi and Penang. Additionally, Firefly also operates international flights within the region between Subang and Indonesia - Batam, Medan, Pekanbaru; Thailand - Hat Yai, Koh Samui; and Singapore.
- Malindo Air is the latest airline to enter the Malaysian commercial aviation market and is a subsidiary of Indonesia's Lion Air. The airline flies between Subang and Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu and Penang, with plans to expand further.
Travel on a Bus in Kuala Lumpur
Buses are a cheap, comfortable and popular transport option for Malaysians, with services reaching virtually all corners of Peninsular Malaysia and also to Thailand and Singapore. So it is no wonder that Kuala Lumpur has several bus stations (stesen bas or hentian) to handle long distance bus services. Despite the complexity of the network there is some pattern to the madness, with buses departing from particular stations depending on the region they travel to or from. To top that off, some buses may arrive at other locations including Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Bangsar LRT Station, Corus Hotel and the Malaysian Tourist Centre (MTC). Always confirm with the bus company where your bus will depart so that you do not miss your bus. In some cases you may need to exchange your ticket for a boarding pass, so try to arrive at the bus terminal 10–15 minutes before the departure time, although bus companies suggest 30 minutes.
- Pudu Sentral - formerly Hentian Puduraya | The most central bus station in Kuala Lumpur, serving northbound buses. Pudu got a major facelift and air-conditioning in 2011, and could now stand in for an airport. However, ticketing and information is still not centralized, so finding the next bus to your destination still requires a lot of walking around. Tickets to services departing from other stations are also available. Taxis are on the prowl around the station and can be pushy and may not use the meter. Always negotiate a price beforehand if you want a taxi or the alternative is to head to the nearby LRT station.
- Terminal Bersepadu Selatan - TBS - This gigantic and ultra-modern terminal serves southbound destinations, including Malacca, Johor Bharu and Singapore. Despite its less than central location it is extremely well connected by public transport and taxis. Three train services, KTM Komuter, Sri Petaling LRT and KLIA Transit call at this bus station, making it easy to reach from Kuala Lumpur and KLIA.
- Hentian Duta - Duta Bus Terminal | A small bus station serving express northbound services. There are no direct public transport services to this station. The nearest bus stop is 500 m north-west of the station close to Federal Territory Mosque. The busses there serve KL Sentral. It is more convenient to hail a taxi though.
- Pekeliling Bus Terminal | This terminal handles some bus services to the East Coast, including Taman Negara and Local bus services.
Travel by train to Kuala Lumpur
The government owned Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railway or KTM) operates intercity (antarabandar) diesel rail services throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Trains arriving in Kuala Lumpur call at KL Sentral GPS 3.13428,101.68642 =KL Sentral.jpg, the modern transportation hub in Brickfields, just south of the city centre, and operate as far flung as Singapore, Hat Yai in Thailand and Kota Bharu in Peninsular Malaysia's north-east. Train services are reasonably priced, and operate as both day and overnight trains with various class options available. Day trains include reclining and non-reclining seating options only, while overnight trains have two-berth private compartments and open plan bunk-bed berths with curtains (similar to Thai trains) for privacy. Seating options are also available for overnight trains.
The Electric Train Service (ETS), a subsidiary of KTM, is a daytime express train service that operates between Padang Besar, Perlis and Kuala Lumpur. ETS trains call at Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, the old main station, in addition to KL Sentral. The old Kuala Lumpur Station is served by KTM Komuter trains and nearby the Pasar Seni LRT Station on the Kelana Jaya line. If you need to connect to any other rail lines it would be recommended continuing on to KL Sentral. Taxi services are available at both stations, but you will find more at KL Sentral and can purchase a taxi coupon when there so that drivers cannot overcharge. See the Get Around section for more information.
Tickets for KTM and ETS trains can be purchased at the KTM Intercity ticket office on level two of KL Sentral or other stations which trains call at. up to two months in advance, but remember to print out the e-ticket.
Belmond runs its luxury excursion train Eastern & Oriental Express two to three times per month between Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The price of a ticket matches the on-board extravaganza, starting at US$3,000 and Halal food can be requested.
Most important roads in Peninsular Malaysia lead to/from Kuala Lumpur. The city lies about midway along the North-South Expressway (Motorway) (NSE; route numbers E1 and E2) which runs from the Malaysia-Thailand border at Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru in the south, on the Malaysian side of the Causeway to Singapore. The main expressway exits for Kuala Lumpur on the NSE are Jalan Duta (from the north) and Sungai Besi (from the south). The Karak Highway (E8), which later turns into the East Coast Expressway, links Kuala Lumpur with the East Coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
For those who do not want to pay toll, Kuala Lumpur is on Federal Route One (the "Trunk Road") which, like the NSE, runs through all West Coast states of Peninsular Malaysia from Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah to Johor Bahru.
Those travelling along the West Coast Road (Federal Route Five) should leave the road at Klang and get to Kuala Lumpur via the Federal Highway.
Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is not by the sea, so it is not possible to get in directly by boat. The nearby Port Klang, about 40 km west of Kuala Lumpur, serves as the main port for this region. Ferries operate international services from Sumatra, Indonesia and a domestic service to Pulau Ketam. Cruise ships also call at Port Klang, usually on the way to other destinations in Asia, allowing for a day trip to Kuala Lumpur. For more information refer to the Port Klang article.
How to get around in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur's ambitious public transport system is sufficiently developed to be fairly efficient and convenient, but much room for improvement lies in its integration. The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralysing traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In the rush hours, consider combining various methods of transport.
Travelers with disabilities
Like many cities in SE Asia, KL presents a great challenge for travelers with mobility impairments. Sidewalks are often in disrepair, curbs are high, and curb cuts are often missing or inadequate. Wheelchair users will frequently find their path of travel obstructed by poorly designed or narrow sidewalks, parked cars, motorcycles, fences, stairs, trees, etc., and will rarely be able to travel more than 50 meters without having to backtrack or divert to the road. In many areas of the city, it is virtually impossible to travel without an assistant. Crossing the road or having to wheel on the road (in case the sidewalk is obstructed) can be very dangerous, as many drivers do not expect, nor yield to, wheelchair users. You will occasionally find accessibility features like ramps or elevators obstructed or unserviceable. A notable exception are the KLCC and Bukit Bintang areas, where shopping malls and pedestrian areas are built to modern accessibility standards. Public buildings, hotels and malls provide an adequate supply of handicap bathrooms. Much of the rail system is inaccessible, most notably the monorail (which is being fitted with stair lifts). Some buses are equipped with ramps, but they are assigned haphazardly and do not run on a fixed schedule. Many locals will not be used to seeing travelers in wheelchairs, but will generally be helpful.
What to see in Kuala Lumpur
When people think of Kuala Lumpur the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Petronas Towers, which is in the Golden Triangle. Whilst they most certainly are an architectural delight (particularly at night), there is much more to be discovered in Kuala Lumpur. Competing with the Petronas Towers is KL Tower (Menara KL), which looks oddly similar to other famous skyscrapers. The real joy of Kuala Lumpur lies in wandering randomly, seeing, shopping and eating your way through it.
Being part of a former British colony, many colonial buildings are scattered throughout, with many lending themes from British and North African architecture. The grandest colonial buildings lie in the city centre including the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, the charming Masjid Jamek at the confluence on the Klang River and the former offices of the Colonial Secretariat (now the Sultan Abdul Samad Building) on Merdeka Square. To top it off on Merdeka Square's west side, you will find the Royal Selangor Club, looking like a rejected transplant straight from Stratford-upon-Avon.
The National Mosque, Masjid Negara, (1965) celebrates the bold ambitions of the newly independent Malaysia. The National Monument in the pretty Lake Gardens is inspired by the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Also in the lake gardens is Carcosa Seri Negara, the former residence of the British High Commissioner, which now houses an upmarket hotel and colonial-style tea rooms.
Within the city centre is also the fascinating narrow streets of Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur's traditional commercial district, with its many Chinese shops and places to eat.
Nature and wildlife in Kuala Lumpur
While Kuala Lumpur is more of a concrete jungle compared to other parts of the country, it is still easy enough to delve into nature. The Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia FRIM is a great escape from the busy life of Kuala Lumpur for RM5.30. The hikes are easy and you can go up a canopy walkway for RM10.60 to get a good view of KL on a clear day. There is a nice tea house in the FRIM compound where you can sample various types of local teas and snacks. Get there early as it is more likely to rain later in the day. You can get to FRIM via KTM Komuter. Stop at Kepong or Kepong Sentral and grab a short taxi ride.
For something more centrally located try the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, located at the base of Menara KL. The forest provides for an easy trek that you can enjoy on your own; but the many specimens are likely more appreciated through guided tours which are free and can be arranged from KL Tower. The massive Lake Gardens, located in the western part of the Old City Centre is another great option and you could literally spend a whole day venturing around the park. Within Lake Gardens are many attractions and various parks including the KL Bird Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden, Deer Park, Mouse Deer Park and a butterfly park. An indoor alternative is the Aquaria KLCC, in the Golden Triangle near the KL Convention Centre. The aquarium contains some 5,000 varieties of tropical fish.
Top Muslim Travel Tips for Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is well known for its wide range of shopping and eating options, which are adequately covered in the Eat and Buy sections of this Travel Guide and listings within the district articles. Skyscraper Gazing is the obvious option, with glass and steel abound and excellent views available from the Petronas Towers or the KL Tower (Menara KL) viewing decks, both located in the Golden Triangle.
Arts & Culture
Like much of Kuala Lumpur, there is an interesting mix of arts and culture to experience, ranging from traditional Malay to Islamic to modern. Several good theatres and performance halls have emerged as part of Malaysia's drive to encourage greater cultural expression. These include the National Theatre (Istana Budaya) and the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in the northern part of the city, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (Dewan Filharmonik) in the Twin Towers, and the Actors Studio at Lot 10. Leading museums in the Old City Centre are the National Museum, which covers the region's history, and the well-regarded Islamic Arts Museum, which houses a small but captivating collection.
Pampering and spas can be found in several five-star hotels and independent centres in the Golden Triangle. There's also nail parlours and beauty salons, which are generally good value, there's also high-end ones offering similar services for a premium. Reflexology and foot massage places are everywhere, especially in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle and in Chinatown.
For those who are willing to be a bit more adventurous, try hunting down a fish foot spa and relax whilst fish nibble away at your feet. However do be careful which one you go to as some are of low standard and you may get an infection or even a blood borne disease. Try a fish spa in a tourist area as these tend to be better maintained.
Urban sports such as golfing, cycling, running, jogging and horse riding are common in Kuala lumpur. If you’re into rock climbing, the Batu Caves in the Northern suburbs is popular. However given Malaysia's stunning terrain, you’re better off heading to other places for anything more strenuous or challenging.
You can also watch the local football match at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras. Kuala Lumpur FA is a football team based in Kuala Lumpur and plays in the top division of football in Malaysia, the Malaysia Super League. Match schedule and fixture can be seen at the KLFA website.
Volunteering is not often the first thing you may considering doing when in Kuala Lumpur, however there are various projects to give your time and help out the community. Regardless of spending one day or even a week or more volunteering for a cause, you will probably find something that you are interested in. Below are some volunteering options available within Kuala Lumpur.
- Nur Salam - Chow Kids - Volunteer with the street kids of Chow Kit (KL) to "help improve the quality of life for the children of Chow Kit whose parents are usually former and current drug addicts & sex workers in Kuala Lumpur". Chow Kids offers training for volunteers who wish to spend any amount of time interacting and helping these deserving children.
- SPCA Selangor - SPCA Selangor is an animal welfare organisation dedicated to protecting defenseless animals and to alleviate their suffering. Volunteer to help out at the animal shelter, SPCA's marketing and communication department or SPCA's outreach events.
- Zoo Negara - Love animals? Volunteer at the National Zoo - Zoo Negara outside the city. Simply fill out the Volunteer Form on the website and show up for a shift at the zoo in a variety of areas.
Muslim Friendly Shopping in Kuala Lumpur
Being the retail and fashion hub of Malaysia it is no surprise that shopping is one of Kuala Lumpur’s greatest pleasures. From the local pasar pagi (day market) and pasar malam (night market) to top end shopping malls and everything in between, you will be sure to find something to suit you budget and style. Many shopping options also exist beyond the city proper in the adjacent satellite cities of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya. For more information on shopping in these areas please refer to the buy section of these articles.
Suria KLCC is one of Malaysia's premier shopping destinations due to its location beneath the Petronas Twin Towers. Kuala Lumpur's premier shopping district, the Bukit Bintang area in the Golden Triangle, resembles Tokyo's Ginza, New York's Fifth Avenue and Singapore's Orchard Road and has the highest concentration of shopping outlets in Kuala Lumpur, which cater to varying budgets. Bukit Bintang, which is part of the Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle, spans over 3 roads, namely Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Sultan Ismail. It houses various cafes, alfresco (open air) dining outlets and shopping complexes such as Berjaya Plaza, Berjaya Times Square, Bukit Bintang Plaza, Imbi Plaza, Kuala Lumpur Plaza, Lot 10, Low Yat Plaza, Pavilion KL, Starhill Plaza and Sungei Wang Plaza. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur houses a wide range of international retail brands in an ultra-modern complex. Fans of electronic gadgets would delight in the multitude of choices at Low Yat Plaza, whilst shoppers hunting for the latest in affordable Asian style should definitely check out Berjaya Times Square and Bukit Bintang / Sungei Wang Plaza. It is also the location of the largest single department store in Malaysia, SOGO Kuala Lumpur which is located at a landmark site on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, one of the best known shopping streets for locals in Kuala Lumpur.
Several popular malls lie outside the Golden Triangle. The Bangsar and Midvalley areas are home to some of the best shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, namely the MidValley Megamall and the adjacent upmarket The Gardens, the more cozy Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Centre in Bangsar. Nearby Subang Jaya is home to Sunway Pyramid Megamall, known throughout Malaysia for its Egyptian-themed architecture.
Despite the onslaught of malls, Kuala Lumpur still offers some Asian tradition with traditional shopping streets and markets. The best area for such shopping is Chinatown in the City Centre. This district is also the best place to hunt for souvenirs, especially in Central Market, a former produce market which has been converted into an art and craft market. It is also known as Pasar Seni in Malay.
The Little India near Jalan Masjid India offers various fabric for use. Most of the fabrics are imported from countries like Indonesia, India and China while some are locally produced. Indonesian traditional batik and songket are traditional fabric commonly found in Central Market. For greater satisfaction choose the hand made ones. You may be interested to buy ready made baju kurung or baju kebaya (the traditional Malay blouse). For peace of mind, buy from the bigger stores. Some Thai handicrafts are also sold here, alongside handmade Malaysian wooden souvenirs.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia has kick-started the mega sale event for all shopping in Malaysia. The mega sale event is held thrice in a year—in March, May and December—where all shopping malls are encouraged to participate to boost Kuala Lumpur as a leading shopping destination.
Halal Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian food is amazing, making Kuala Lumpur an excellent place to eat as it hosts cuisine from all around the country and beyond. Most restaurants close by 10PM, but in the city centre there's always a few 24hr kedai mamak (curry houses) or fast food places if you get stuck.
Delicious food can be very affordable too: just head to the ubiquitous roadside stalls or kedai kopi (literally coffee shop, but these are all about the food). These shops operate like a food court with many stalls selling a variety of food. Some coffee shops have tables and chairs by the roadside. Chinatown (especially Jalan Sultan, Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Petaling) in the city centre and Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle have some of the greatest concentrations of coffee shops and stalls. They mostly open only at night.
One famous collection of streetside Mamak stalls is at Jalan Doraisamy near the Heritage Row in (Chow Kit). Along with full-blown curries, these places also serve roti canai (generally RM1 each), a filling snack that is almost half chapati, half pancake but certainly wholly delicious. It is served with dhal and curry sauce.
Shopping malls' food courts provide affordable Malaysian Halal food in more hygienic conditions, although the prices will be a little higher.
The Golden Triangle, Bangsar and Midvalley, Heritage Row and some areas in Damansara and Hartamas are the usual places for people looking to dine out with a bit of flair.
Ethnic generalizations: Malay food can be found in the Jalan Masjid India and Kampung Baru district. Chinatown is the best place for Chinese (especially Cantonese) food, although all kinds of Chinese cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, can be found all over Kuala Lumpur. Head to Lebuh Ampang in the city centre and Brickfields for Indian food. Bangsar has many high-end restaurants offering Western food. If you are dying for Korean food, head to Ampang Jaya. A lot of Arab and Middle Eastern restaurants have mushroomed in Bukit Bintang, Cyberjaya and Damai.
Muslim Friendly Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
Budget accommodation can be found everywhere; dormitory beds can cost as little as RM25 per night. Find the affordable ones online if cost is an issue. Increasingly, newer & better ones are opening in the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Chow Kit and Jalan Ipoh areas, the so-called growth areas in the city centre. If you are willing to take the 10-minute LRT to the main attractions, then hotels can be found for as little as RM49 per night with free Wi-Fi.
Mid-range hotels are comparatively poor value in Kuala Lumpur, and it is worth it to spend a little extra (or look a little harder) for a true luxury hotel on the cheap. Kuala Lumpur is similar in price to Bangkok for 5-star luxury hotels, with rooms available for as little as RM400 or even less. Prices vary seasonally.
Stay safe as a Muslim in Kuala Lumpur
Crime is not rampant in Kuala Lumpur. The perception of crime is high, but the Malaysian police have managed to reduce crime significantly in and around urban Kuala Lumpur. Reports of violent crime against foreigners are uncommon but instances of pick pocketing and bag snatching have risen.
Kuala Lumpur is generally very safe for Muslim travellers (it is locals who are often the targets of crime), but be wary of over-friendly locals trying to con you. Police presence, particularly around tourist areas and at night has increased.
Walking in the city is usually fine but, as anywhere, caution must be exercised, especially if alone. Indeed, your greatest danger whilst walking will be sidewalks that end abruptly in massive holes, or impassable 6-lane roads that you must cross. Snatch thieves can be rather ruthless: women have been knocked unconscious by bag snatchers on motorbikes. If this happens to you, let go of the bag rather than be dragged several metres and risk injury. Hold your bag away from the street side and try not to appear flashy if possible. Be wary in alleyways or parking grounds that appear dark and deserted, as petty thieves with knives or firearms might mug you.
During the rains, pavements and streets become small rivers and crossing a street can be an adventure. Pavements become as slippery as ice so wear proper footwear.
Be careful of a poker scam that involves friendly locals. They normally target lone tourists in popular tourist places. It starts with a friendly approach and an invitation to their home to chat and learn about your country. Then comes poker, accumulated losses and the loss of your cash and jewellery. Such scams can also happen through couchsurfing.
The bogus cop scam is usually run by Middle-Easterners. You will be stopped by "plain-clothed police officers" on the pretext of checking your travel documents. You will be brought to a secluded area in the process and made to hand over your wallet. Should you be stopped, you have the right to insist that you be taken to the nearest police station before saying/showing anything.
Malaysian law requires that visitors carry their passport at all times, and both police and "RELA" (civil volunteers) carry out spot checks for illegal immigrants.
Cope with Kuala Lumpur
Tap water in Kuala Lumpur is heavily chlorinated and thus safe, but unfortunately the pipes that carry it may not be. Most locals boil or filter it before use; alternatively, bottled water is affordable and ubiquitous. There is no malaria in the city, but dengue fever can be a problem at times, so take precautions against mosquitoes. Between May and October, Kuala Lumpur is occasionally shrouded in dense haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo, which can be a health concern for asthmatics and pretty unpleasant for everybody. However, the haze comes and goes, and varies greatly from year to year.
Where to go next after Kuala Lumpur
Day or weekend trips
- Genting Highlands - 40 min by road on the East Coast Highway, has cooler weather, theme parks for the kids and a casino for the adults. Easily accessible by buses from KL Sentral.
- Fraser's Hill - a bit further than Genting. Beautiful nature and fresh climate. Great for hikes and cycling tours.
- Ipoh - Around 90 minutes by train, Ipoh is well known for its food and colonial buildings. Relax in the local hot springs, hunt down the famous Rafflesia flower, shop in the local night markets or even try out white water rafting. Venture out from the main city area to one of several caves and cave temples.
- Kuala Selangor - 1 hr north-west of Kuala Lumpur, is notable for its fireflies that flash in unison, and seafood restaurants.
- Klang - Royal capital of Selangor state with a few interesting old buildings and restaurants.
- Malacca - if you have more days to spend in Malaysia, a must-visit is the historical town of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Steeped with history of its Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial period, you will find this town to be rich in culture and history.
- Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) - at the mouth of the River Klang and its Chinese fishing villages make for an interesting day trip. Take the train to Port Klang (RM5, 1hr 30min) then the boat to the island (RM7, 45 min).
- Putrajaya - Malaysia's megalomanic new federal administrative centre is 30 km to the south (20 min by KLIA Transit train).
- Cameron Highlands - About 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands offers cooler weather and lovely highland landscapes. You will be able to visit tea plantations, vegetable farms, strawberry farms and nurseries, as well as soak in the colonial history of this plateau. Colonial cottages and bungalows as well as modern hotels, resorts and luxurious hilltop retreats can be found here. Bird-watching, jungle trekking and other outdoor activities are also available.
- Langkawi - Officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah. About an hour from KL by plane, Langkawi is a popular tourist resort destination that has tax-free status and plenty of sun, sand & surf. Scuba diving, snorkelling, Kayaking and jungle trekking are just some of the many activities to do in Langkawi.
- Penang - Penang Island is also a must-visit destination well known as the 'food paradise' of Malaysia. The state capital, Georgetown, is protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich Chinese culture, century-old clan houses, majestic temples and historical colonial monuments. Penang is a very popular destination for Malaysians and going there during the local holidays could be hectic.
- Sumatra - One of the many islands of Indonesia, the primary attraction of Sumatra is nature. The island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and named The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra. Filled with jungles, volcanoes and lakes there is lots to see and do for the adventurous traveller. Reach Sumatra by boat from Port Klang, near KL, or by plane.
- Taman Negara - The largest National Park on Peninsular Malaysia with plenty of activities for those wanting to connect with nature include bird watching, cave exploring, Jungle trekking and night safaris. For something to eat try out one of the floating restaurants and relax while time goes by after a long day in the park.
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