From Petronas Twin Towers to Batu Caves, here are some landmark places you must add to your itinerary when visiting Kuala Lumpur. By Trinetra Paul
Isn’t it fascinating to know that just about 100 years ago, the city of Kuala Lumpur didn’t even exist? Today, one of the richest cities in the world with state-of-the-art infrastructure, Kuala Lumpur has moulded itself to become one of the most incredible sites in South East Asia. Additionally, its growth can be traced through Malaysian history as it is dotted with immense hardships and struggles. From colonial times to date, the development has been manifold and tremendous.
Kuala Lumpur was declared the first city and municipality of Malaysia in 1972. After two years, the adjoining Selangor state became a federal territory. This year, the Malaysian capital celebrates its 50th anniversary of receiving the city status.
It not only serves as the capital of the country in terms of administration and business but is also a bustling hub of major cultural and commercial attractions.
Featuring among the favourite destinations for global travellers, luxury shoppers and those looking for plush retreats while keeping in touch with city life, Kuala Lumpur has something for everyone. That’s not all. With night markets, a vibrant city centre, a bird park, walking trails and several famous tourist attractions, Malaysia’s capital is at the pulse of southeast Asia.
Here are some iconic Kuala Lumpur landmarks you must visit
Petronas Twin Towers
Any list of Kuala Lumpur landmarks to visit will start with this spectacular structure. The Petronas Twin Towers — once the world’s tallest buildings — are now famous as the world’s tallest twin towers at a height of 452 m.
The buildings house some of the biggest luxury brands and offices of top business hubs, including IBM, McKinsey & Co., Accenture and Reuters. Standing tall with 88 storeys, the twin towers are connected by a gorgeous double-decker Skybridge between the 41st and 42nd floors.
Replete with Islamic architectural influence and complete with all things modern and classy, the Petronas Twin Towers house the beautiful Petronas Towers’ Observation Deck on the 86th level, which offers a magnificent view of the city’s skyline.
For those looking for a cultural escape, be sure to experience some of the best operas, theatres and shows that are held at the Petronas concert hall.
The towers are not just for thrill-seekers. Serving as a romantic site as well, couples can spend quality time taking in the view from the Skybridge that offers a vista of the city changing colours as the day goes by.
For all shopaholics, the massive shopping malls, like Ampang Mall, new Ramlee Mall and Park Mall, form the Suria KLCC near the Petronas Twin Towers. Shop till you drop at the luxury brand stores like Armani, Fendi and Gucci.
Menara KL Tower
With an elevation of 421 m, the Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower may not boast any height feats but surely offers a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline. Perched at a height of 276 m, the viewing deck is the highest in Malaysia, 100 m higher than the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge.
Its walls are adorned with Islamic tiles and Arabic scriptures that are reminiscent of the country’s rich Islamic heritage. Its striking structure evokes resemblance with several fairytales and is often called Rapunzel’s tower.
This Kuala Lumpur tower houses the famous revolving restaurant Atmosphere 360, which is one of Malaysia’s most sought-after fine-dining destinations. It offers some classic continental and delicious Malaysian food. Other amenities include an amphitheatre, pools and fast food courts.
A must-include in all Kuala Lumpur landmarks to visit list, Batu Caves is a gateway to the natural abundance and cultural heritage of Kuala Lumpur. Comprising some of the oldest and largest temples, the limestone caves found here date back almost 400 million years.
Just an hour’s drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Batu Caves network is a famous tourist attraction for its limestone formations and lush greenery that draw nature lovers and trekkers.
Its three main caves — Cathedral Cave, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave — house several Hindu shrines and mythological depictions, the most important being the temple dedicated to Lord Murugan.
A long trek and some 270-odd colourful steps will lead you to the cave temples that are full of statues of Hindu deities, paintings and scriptures.
The journey is an experience in itself. Watch the kavadis effortlessly balance massive water storages on their bare backs and carry them to Lord Murugan’s temple.
The ideal time to visit Batu Caves and witness it in all its glory is during the festival of Thaipusam, which is celebrated to worship Lord Murugan. It is generally held at the end of January every year.
You can book a private tour from Kuala Lumpur and enjoy some adventure sports, like rock climbing, visit waterfalls and hot water springs near Batu Caves.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
History buffs and architecture enthusiasts, here’s something for you.
Built in traditional Moorish style, this brick architecture dates back to 1897. It was constructed under the then ruling Sultan of Selangor. Taking after his name, the building stands as a symbol of heritage at Merdeka Square.
The site features a striking porch that goes around the building, a 42-metre-high clock tower, towering arches and a curved portico topped with copper domes.
Once home to the country’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building attracts tourists from around the world. When the place is beautifully lit up at night, it becomes a sight to behold.
National Mosque of Malaysia
The National Mosque of Malaysia was built in 1965 to commemorate the country’s independence. The steel mosque has an impressive façade and showcases the perfect blend of tradition and modernity.
The striking 73-m minaret, a 16-pointed star roof and the brightly lit prayer hall that can accommodate around 15,000 people are the prominent features of this grand mosque. All religious differences melt at its altars as Muslims and non-Muslims alike are welcome here. Visitors can get a glimpse of the colourful decorations in light pale and turquoise hues that highlight the refreshing ambience of this pilgrimage site.
However, visitors must remember to dress in a manner that no parts of arms, legs or head are exposed. You might borrow a robe at the mosque too.
Strolling through shark tanks, staring at glass ceilings and hundreds of fish and other marine life whizzing over your head — no matter how old you are, you will enjoy this indoor aquarium thoroughly. This zen-like space inside the Aquaria at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) offers the experience of being underwater.
Over 150 species of marine animals, a large variety of coral reefs and some pretty deadly animals, like Sand Tiger sharks, Giant Stingrays, Marine turtles and shoals of other fishes, call this massive 464.5-square-metres aquarium their home.
Aquaria also has a rainforest, DNA live tanks and activities such as dive-in with sharks, Waters of Africa, Scream Park, Extreme Park, Amusement Park, Wildlife Park and Coral Discovery Section. See the animals being fed and, if lucky, you can get to do it hands-on.
The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre also has the KLCC park, featuring beautiful sculptures, fountains and a walking trail.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Located on Petaling Street, Sri Mahamariamman is the oldest Hindu temple in the city. Constructed in typical Dravidian architecture, the striking entrance has a massive Raja Gopuram Tower that is symbolic of the god’s divine power and the positivity of the temple.
Visit during the festivals of Diwali or Thaipusam and witness people huddling here to carry milk to the shrine of Lord Murugan in the Batu Caves.
Dining in the clouds
When in Kuala Lumpur, make sure to get a drink at one of the many terrace bars that offer a stunning view of the city’s skyline. The city also offers some of the most exquisite places to satiate your taste buds.
Perched on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotels, The SkyBar offers cabana booths where you can sit back with a gastronomic drink and watch the Twin Towers light up the skyline.
On the other hand, Vertigo, on the 59th floor of The Banyan Tree, has a wrap-around terrace, overlooking the dazzling downtown. The experience of enjoying the delicious dishes while looking at the endlessly spectacular view of the city this venue offers is something worth the visit.
If you are looking for a funky and edgy experience, how about dining atop a helipad? The Heli Lounge Bar is sure to add a new dimension while you sip on your favourite gins and cocktails. A helipad during the day and a happening lounge by night, don’t miss out on its many airplane-related décors, including a Boeing 747 turbine transformed into a DJ booth.
The options to spend your evening are endless and will instantly put you in the right mood to enjoy Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife.
Sipping high tea
After all the city-hopping and visiting the marvellous landmarks around Kuala Lumpur, a relaxing afternoon tea is a good idea. The English afternoon tea has evolved to become quite an important aspect of the culinary delight here. Pastry chefs will greet you with their choicest creations of inventive cakes, delicate macaroons and subtly flavoured scones.
Again, the options are numerous to suit your liking. The Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton offers a wide assortment of around 40 types of tea, along with finger sandwiches and some delectable wagyu beef sliders.
If you want a slightly more glamorous option, The Lounge at Four Seasons is a classic choice. Enjoy some gorgeous truffled egg triangles and Sarawakian pineapple tarts, along with a wide range of teas to choose from.
Adding a more earthy touch to your tea experience, The Orchid Conservatory at The Majestic Hotel offers an exquisite experience in an indoor greenhouse orchid garden. Savour the aromatic tea and petite cakes in the lap of nature.