Kuala Lumpur’s Not that Bad

Singapore’s Southern Ridges
May 26, 2011
Photo from the Road: Coliseum Hotel and Café
May 29, 2011

Kuala Lumpur’s Not that Bad

By Stephen Bugno


Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park at night.

It’s not that great either. But the average traveler can find something interesting in KL to fill at least a couple days, even if it’s just relaxing in a nice hotel (if one has the money) and filling your stomach with delicious food. Do a little searching and in between modern soulless skyscrapers you will find plenty of character.

Petronas Towers


The Petronas Towers at night

A good place to start. Get there at about 8am to line up for the limited tickets they offer for each day. You have to wait for an hour or two but 10 RM ($3.30 US) will get you a ticket for the Skybridge on the 41st floor and the ensuing view below down to KLCC park and beyond. The Petronas Towers are a symbol of pride for Malaysia, and remain to this day the tallest twin towers in the world.

Little India


A Malay vendor sells 'murtabak mini' at the Saturday market in Little India

I walked the Lonely Planet recommended walking tour through Little India. It passes an old Dutch mansion, some fantastic art deco buildings, the Mogul-inspired Sessions and Magistrates Courts, and lots of food and shopping choices. If you visit on Saturday, check out the market that sets up around 3pm. My favorite part of the walk was a stop in the Coliseum Café for a coffee. This place, including the waiter’s uniforms, hasn’t changed a bit from the day it opened in 1921.



art deco central market kuala lumpur

The art deco facade of Kuala Lumpur's Central Market


Chinatown is another area of Kuala Lumpur you don’t want to miss. Although it’s a little touristy, Chinatown is still a great place to try a variety of foods, find architectural remnants, and shop your heart out. Start your walk at Masjid Jamek LRT station and you’ll pass by KL’s original market square with the same name, various art deco buildings, and KL’s oldest Taoist temple, Sze Ya. There’s even a Hindu temple in Chinatown, Sri Mahamariamman.


Mangosteens for sale at a Kuala Lumpur market.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to visit KL, but chances are it will be on the way to or from one of the other destinations you will be visiting in Malaysia. So try not to be jaded and just enjoy a few of the things that Malaysia’s capital city has to offer.


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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Eurasiatic says:

    That’s exactly how I feel about Kuala Lumpur. A nice place to visit but not a destination in itself. I will be there again next year in transit to the Philippines. Did you visit Kampung Baru? I ate some delicious food there.

  2. saya says:

    that not little india. little india only 1 at brickfield, kuala lumpur. what you show us are around jalan tuanku abdul rahman market and bazaar masjid india market.

  3. saya says:

    who say kuala lumpur are bad? damn who say that to my lovely city. :'(

  4. saya says:

    forgot to mention. i am malaysian so take note about what i say about little india. that’s not little india, many foreigner and westerner traveller mistaken it because it’s name got word ‘india’ too. it should be around jalan tuanku abdul rahman market and bazaar masjid india market.

  5. David says:

    I spent 24 hours in kl. I’ve been walking around and I think it might be the worst city I have visited. It’s noisy, dirty, and not very interesting. I am sure parts of Malaysia are nice but I was disappointed by kl.

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