Filed under: city tours, culture, sight seeing
As soon as I stepped off the plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (map) I felt as though I had arrived at a space-age Wonderland. The city sky-line rises out of the misty green landscape, pierced by the spires of the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest towers in the world, and the single minaret of the Menara telecommunications tower.
Kuala Lumpur (map) is truly a wonder! From the futuristic sleek, space-age high-rises to the ornate Colonial buildings it is an architect’s dream and offers the visitor old-world charm, a fascinating history, unique cuisine and a melding of various cultures.
My hotel, the luxurious Mandarin Oriental (map) was right next door to the famous Petronas Towers (map)owned by the Petronas Petroleum company. These towering edifices, designed in Islamic architectural style as an eight point star, are built of steel and glass and stand 452 meters high, each connected to the other by a sky-bridge mid-way up.
Sandwiched between the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the Petrona Towers is the extravagant Suria KLCC (map) a shopping centre that is home to every known designer — the real goods, not copies! Alongside the Gucci and Versace are well-known brands such as Bata Shoes and The Gap. I spent a half day there browsing and sampling the variety of excellent restaurants.
Later I visited the Menara (map) a 450 metre tall telecommunications tower which ranks fifth in the world along with the CN Tower in Toronto. A shuttle-bus took me up the hill to the entrance. From the observation deck of the tower I was treated to sweeping panoramic views of the city.
Take A City Tour
You need more than a few days to take in all the sights in this remarkable city. I took a city tour to get a taste of the exotic fares offered in KL’s sensory feast.
The first stop on the city tour passes by the origins of the city. At the murky intersection of the Klan and the Gombak Rivers, the birthplace of Kl is the quaint Masjid Jamek Mosque (map) styled after the Mogul mosques of North India. All around it are the first of the Moorish-style colonial buildings built in the mid 1800s including the law courts. This is the Official Quarter where the British administrators built their offices matches. Overlooking the square is the Selangor Club (map), built in 1890, a charming mock-Tudor building where once KL’s society held court.
Across a wide swath of green lawn, surrounded by a high black iron fence, is the Istana Negara (map), the official residence of His Majesty the King of Malaysia. In front of the gold crested gates the imposing horse guards perform a changing of the guards ritual reminiscent of the horse-guards in London.
The Lake Gardens Park (map) is where the original settlement started. This huge park sprawls over 200 acres and is home to the world’s largest covered bird aviary, a walk-in free flight area for about 3,000 birds comprising 200 species and a butterfly sanctuary where you can watch more than 6,000 butterflies of various species flutter around the tropical rainforest. There are also Orchid and Hibiscus Gardens which pay tribute to the bunga raya, Malaysia’s national flower.
At the Royal Selangor pewter factory (map) the workers demonstrate how pewter is made and at the Cultural Craft Museum we are shown how jewelers make gold rings by a wax molding. The National Museum (map) has galleries displaying the eclectic Malaysian cultural history. The National Mosque (map), an architectural wonder designed with a blue umbrella roof, accommodates 5,000 people. Nearby is the Islamic Arts Museum (map) with its intricately designed mosaic entrance. On display are a variety of artifacts including ceramics, glassware, porcelain, scrolls and bronzes.
That evening, as I sat by the roof-top swimming pool at the Mandarin Oriental, I suddenly heard the captivating, mystical sound of a Muezzin’s call to prayer wafting over the rooftops. My visit to this beautiful city was brief, but unforgettable. Kuala Lumpur truly is a wonder.
If you go:
To learn more about Malaysia: Malaysian Tourism
City tours: Kuala Lumpur City Tours
For K.L. hotels and travel information: Hotels and Tour Guide
Photo credit: W. Ruth Kozak
AKuala Lumpur International Airport, SelangorKuala Lumpur International Airport, Selangor, MalaysiaView Details and Book
BKuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala LumpurKuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
CMandarin Oriental, Kuala LumpurKuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur, 50088, myView Details and Book
DPetronas Twin TowersKuala Lumpur, Selangor, MalaysiaView Details and Book
ESuria KLCC Sdn Bhd, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory ofSuria KLCC Sdn Bhd, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory ofView Details and Book
FMenara Kuala LumpurJalan Punchak, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
GMasjid Jamek mosqueKuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
HRoyal Selangor Club1, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, MalaysiaView Details and Book
IIstana Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala LumpurIstana Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
JLake Gardens ParkJalan Kebun Bunga, Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, WP Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
KRoyal Selangor Visitor CentreRoyal Selangor Visitor Centre 4 Jalan Usahawan 6, 53300 Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
LNational Museum, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala LumpurNational Museum, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
MMasjid Negara, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala LumpurMasjid Negara, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaView Details and Book
NIslamic Arts Museum MalaysiaJalan Lembah Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, MalaysiaView Details and Book