During my near three week stint in Bali, I figured I should hop over to another country to make the most of my 24 hours of travel EACH WAY. Cheap flights continue to guide my travels, which led me to Kuala Lumpur. If you plan early, you can get a return flight from Denpasar (Bali) to Kuala Lumpur for $84 on Air Asia, a very popular low cost, NO FRILLS airline in the region.
The original plan was to travel to Brunei and Kuala Lumpur, but an hour and a half layover coupled with the humongous monstrosity that is Kuala Lumpur airport led to a missed connection and more time in KL. That led to us spending 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur. One lesson learned, if you are changing flights in KL and you are switching from Air Asia to another airline or vice vera, you need a MINIMUM of two hours.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the Aloft at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station. I chose the hotel because of the beautiful rooftop pool and because of our hectic attempt to catch our flight and our failure to do so, we really needed to rest (read: lay by the pool and get tipsy). The rooms are standard Aloft rooms which means they are modern, super comfortable and feature Bliss Spa bath products.
What to Eat
Malaysia has three major ethnic groups: Chinese, Indian and Malay. That means Malaysia has a wide variety of delicious food to choose from, truly a foodies playground. We decided that we wanted to eat a variety of these cuisines during our stay. You should do the same!
Raj’s Banana Leaf (Indian)
The Indian Malay people trace their ancestral roots to South India, so the Indian food in KL and from the same region. A very popular cuisine comes on banana leaves. We went to Raj’s Banana Leaf and were pleasantly surprised. The restaurant was filled with locals and we had to lean on people at the next table and the waiters to make sure that we order the right food. I still am not sure what we ordered beyond chicken for me and vegetarian for my friend. First rice was added to the leaf then a number of other small portions of tempura vegetables, curry sauce with chicken and vegetables respectively, cucumbers, papadums, chutney, daal and cabbage. The meal was simple, delicious and filling, and the best part is if you want more, they will come around and bring you more. Be sure to wash down your meal with a mango lassi which is perfect to offset that slight tingle on your tongue from all of the spices. My meal, including the lassi was 14 Malaysian Ringgit or 3.95 USD.
The 39 Restaurant (Malay)
On our last day in Malaysia, we made sure to get an authentic Malay meal and we found it at the 39 Restaurant. With beautiful views high above the city, on the 39th floor, and mouthwatering authentic cuisine, the 39 Restaurant hit all the right notes. I had grilled prawns while my friend had the grilled grouper. The prawns were served with a side of rice, vegetables and Malay spices. The flavors are a mix of sweet and spicy. Both meals were delightful, but if you are sensitive to spicy foods like I am, stay away from the grouper!
What to See
The heat in Kuala Lumpur is best dealt with while laying next to a rooftop pool and soaking up the suns rays while looking out over the city. If you are up for adventure and a bit of exercise, definitely head over to the Batu Caves. Built in 1891, the caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. With a Hindu population of around six percent this is a holy site for many Malaysians.
Upon entry you are met by a statue of Murugan – the deity which the which the cave is dedicated to. The 140-foot high statue is breathtakingly beautiful and sits in front of the 272 concrete stairs that need to be climbed to enter the caves. The coolness of the cavernous space is a welcome relief from Kuala Lumpur’s heat. On our descent we were met by the many aggressive monkeys that we had been warned about. I saw a male monkey snatch an apple from his child’s hand. #savage When visiting the caves, be sure not to have any food in your hand or bag because they will find it.
Skybar is the perfect location to relax and take in one of the best views in KL. Overlooking the Petronas Towers, known as the Twin Towers of KL, the view in the evening coupled with the swanky digs make it the perfect bar to wrap up your time in Kuala Lumpur.
Is Kuala Lumpur on your list? Do you have any recommendations?