After years as a Southeast Asian runner-up, Kuala Lumpur (KL) is on a winning streak. More fun and easier to negotiate than Bangkok, grittier than Singapore and more eclectic than Hanoi,
the buzz about KL is as palpable as its intoxicating aromas of sizzling satay, stinky durian, sweet incense and petrol fumes.
It’s curious that a city where you still have to watch your step for pavement cracks and pot-holes can also feel cutting edge, but cast your eyes to the skyline and around the streets and you’ll see what we mean. In just 150 years, KL has gone from a tin prospector’s hovel in the jungle to a thoroughly modern metropolis, home of the shiny Petronas Towers
, a design classic and until recently the world’s tallest building. In the rush for the new, much of the old has been (and is being) demolished. Still, some impressive colonial-era buildings remain and the city’s most atmospheric and colourful quarters are Chinatown, Little India and Kampung Baru
, the heartlands of KL’s Chinese, Indian and Malay communities.
It’s this multicultural character
that makes KL such a fascinating place – one moment you could be burning joss sticks at a Chinese temple, the next shedding shoes to enter a mosque or Hindu shrine. Hedonists will also be happy: you can eat and shop like a king in KL
and the nightlife is cranking.
For all its activity and urban landscapes KL also has its tranquil moments. This is a city where you can chill out in lush parks or escape to the countryside in the surrounding state of Selangor.
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