Video: Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur will undoubtedly appeal to those who find it difficult to decide on their preferences between the modern dynamics of the metropolis and the difficult history of the ancient city. The Malaysians themselves often call their capital simply KL (Kei El).
The area of Kuala Lumpur with its suburbs is 243 km², the city itself is 94 km². It has a very high population density (almost 7000 people per km²), the total number of inhabitants at the time of the last census in 2014 was almost 1.7 million in the city itself and 7 million including the suburbs. Kuala Lumpurians are an extremely motley people: Malays make up 44% of its representatives, Chinese – 43%, Indians – 11%, other ethnic groups – 2%.
It is noteworthy that the Malaysians preferred to separate the concepts of “capital” and “administrative center”. Since 2005, the country’s leadership has moved from Kuala Lumpur to the city of Putrajaya, specially built for this purpose. Removal of the administrative functions from the current capital made it possible to pay more attention to the development of the local economy, in particular the tourism business.
Rain in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is located near the western coast of the Malacca Peninsula at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers, fully fitting into the equatorial climate zone. Tourists should be prepared for heavy rainfall at any time of the year. The rains in the capital of Malaysia are common, but they are warm here, so you won’t have to freeze. Maximum precipitation occurs in March and the period from October to January, minimum – in June and July. Fluctuations of the average annual and daily average temperatures are insignificant: the average temperature is 27.5 ° C, the maximum is 38.5 ° C (January, from May to August), the minimum is about 18 ° C (March, October, November).
The name of the city of Kuala Lumpur is translated as “muddy confluence” or “dirty mouth”. But this is not at all because the ecology is bad here, as it might seem at first glance. The fact is that the silt at the bottom of the Gombak River is rich in tin compounds, which is why it has a dirty gray color. Currents, colliding at the confluence of rivers, raise it into the water column, so it becomes muddy and “dirty”.
Petronas Towers – one of the main symbols of the city
It was tin that was the reason for the founding of Kuala Lumpur. In the second half of the 18th century, members of the ruling family of the Selangor principality, which was a British colony, sent 87 Chinese mercenary miners in search of ore in the jungle along the Gombak River bed. As you might guess, they did find her, sacrificing the lives of 69 members of the search team who died from malaria. The massive spread of mosquitoes carrying infection in the swampy area in no way stopped the greedy rulers of Selangor. In 1857, a workers’ settlement was founded on this site, consisting mainly of all the same Chinese workers.
As is often the case in history where money is found, conflicts are inevitable. Young Kuala Lumpur was no exception – on the basis of disputes over the ownership of lucrative tin mines in 1867, a real civil war broke out between the Malay leaders with the support of Chinese miners. It was possible to end the Selangor War only in 1873, after the intervention of the British army. The conflict resulted in the almost complete burning of Kuala Lumpur, which at the time was a working-class settlement of huts and shacks with wooden walls and leaf roofs.
To rebuild the city and ensure law and order, British patrons appointed a Chinese Captain. A significant contribution to the development of the city was made by the third Captain – Yap Ah Loy, who not only restored Kuala Lumpur after the war, but also brought it to prosperity. For example, his merit consisted in the massive attraction of Malay farmers, who settled in the vicinity of the mining village and provided a kind of “food autonomy” for the workers. Kuala Lumpur’s explosive growth as an industrial and commercial city saw it become the capital of Selangor in 1880.
Prosperity did not last long – in 1881, Kuala Lumpur was badly damaged by fire. For Captain Yap, such a nuisance served as a reason for even more rapid development: the city was rebuilt again, but instead of impractical wooden shacks, stone houses were erected. The first school and a homeless shelter appeared in the city during the same period. In order to complete the reconstruction as soon as possible, Indian workers were actively involved in the construction, who later settled in Kuala Lumpur, establishing a vast diaspora.
Kuala Lumpur in the 1960sKuala Lumpur at the end of the 20th century
During World War II, the city, like the whole of Malacca, was captured by Japan and was under its influence for 44 months. The Japanese actively sowed discord between the representatives of the multi-ethnic population of the peninsula, supporting the indigenous Malays and in every possible way infringing upon the numerous diasporas: Chinese, Indian, and English. This fact, combined with the decline in the authority of the British patrons in the post-war period, led to massive popular unrest. In 1948, attacks by communist-minded insurgents began on civilians. The English protectorate was never able to completely take the situation under control, even by introducing martial law on the territory of the colony. This period went down in history under the name “Malay Emergency Situation”.
On August 31, 1957, the long-awaited independence of Malaysia and its final withdrawal from the influence of Britain were proclaimed. Kuala Lumpur became the capital of the newly formed state.
Kuala Lumpur landmarks
Spire of Petronas Tower
There is an opinion that the Malaysian capital is not able to please tourists with an abundance of interesting sights. The only exceptions are the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers, and to get there, you need to make an appointment several days in advance. You can often hear that Kuala Lumpur is a transit tourism destination, where there is no need to stay for more than 2-3 days. If the purpose of the trip is to relax on sandy beaches under the hot sun of the tropics, it may be so, because the sea coast is quite far from the city and there is nowhere especially to swim here. But if the traveler is interested in the history and culture of local residents, then staying in Kuala Lumpur is still worth it.
Petronas Towers and the glass bridge between them
Of course, you need to start your acquaintance with the city from the Petronas skyscrapers. At the time of the completion of construction in 1998, these were the tallest buildings in the world – 88 floors, 420 meters – but in the conditions of the modern race of architects and engineers, they are no longer such, leaving only the title of the tallest twin towers. This attraction is located in the heart of the city, in the KL CC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) area and welcomes tourists from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 to 21.00. The most famous architectural element of the skyscrapers is a glass bridge at a height of 170 m, which is an observation deck. From here you can enjoy breathtaking views of Kuala Lumpur, especially beautiful at sunset. There is also an art gallery, where visitors to the towers can get acquainted with the past and modern national art.
Sultan Abdul-Samad’s palace
Not far from the Twin Towers, on Independence Square (Merdeka), there is another famous landmark of Kuala Lumpur – the Palace of Sultan Abdul Samad. Erected at the end of the 19th century, the palace is an interweaving of two seemingly incompatible architectural trends. The austere Victorian style, which is a reflection of the period of English colonization, is closely intertwined with the artsy and patterned Moorish inherent in the indigenous population. The palace seems to have descended from the pages of the fairy tale about Aladdin, and it seems that a beautiful princess is about to emerge from it. In fact, today the Ministry of Culture of Malaysia is located in it, so, unfortunately, it will not be possible to get inside.
Another fantastically beautiful building is the Jamek Mosque, located right at the confluence of rivers. It can be recognized from a distance by its white and red walls and silvery domes. Tourists are not allowed inside, but you can walk through the territory of the unique Moorish complex of the temple, fully enjoying the shade of palm trees, creating an island of harmony in the center of a bustling metropolis.
Jamek MosqueEthan Negara’s palace
The residence of the Malaysian Sultan, Ethan Negara Palace, also attracts travelers with its luxury. Every morning, a crowd of tourists gathers outside the palace to watch the changing of the guard ceremony, reminiscent of the country’s English colonial past. Visitors are not allowed inside, but you can enjoy the green of the lawns and the coolness of the fountains near the palace for free.
Due to the significant cultural and religious differences among the population, in Kuala Lumpur you can also find the oldest Hindu temple Sri Mahamariamman and the Taoist religious complex Sina Sze Si Ya, located in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. The Hindu shrine can be recognized by the many colorful statues of deities that have filled all the walls of the temple. Visiting Sri Mahamariamman is free and possible any day from 6 am to 9 pm, but it is important not to forget to take off your shoes at the entrance. The Sina Sze Xi Ya Chinese temple was built by Yap Ah Loi to protect the city from sin and misfortune, as the sign at the entrance to the Taoist shrine says.
Shri Mahamariamman templeSina Sze Xi Ya Temple
National Museum of Malaysian History
When visiting the sights of Chinatown, one should not miss the opportunity to look at the market located next to the Sina Sze Xi Ya Temple. Traditionally, for Chinatown, here you can find many interesting souvenirs and, of course, bargain.
Kuala Lumpur Planetarium
There is a large selection of exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur, without visiting which it is impossible to form a complete picture of the city and the culture of its inhabitants. The National History Museum of Malaysia, located on Merdeka Square, presents a detailed description of the history of not only the city, but the entire country, from ancient times to the last events of the 20th century. The National Planetarium is located nearby, where you can listen to a fascinating excursion about the conquest of space by mankind, see the original layout of the International Space Station, watch films about the mysterious extraterrestrial world and even look at the stars from a real telescope. Fans of numismatics will be interested in visiting the National Bank’s money museum in Kuala Lumpur. The exposition of Islamic art will acquaint visitors with the peculiarities of the Muslim religion, architecture, national dress, rituals, adornments, manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, etc. Also, guests will not be disappointed by the Museum of the Royal Malaysian Police with an impressive collection of weapons, an exhibition of national textiles, next to which you can buy high-quality and inexpensive clothes, as well as a jade museum, which ladies will surely like, because it houses one of the largest expositions of jewelry from this material.
Panorama of Kuala Lumpur
Another local attraction that can captivate tourists for the whole day is the National Science Center of Kuala Lumpur, located on a hill in the Bukit Kiara district. On a vast territory covering almost 8 hectares, there are 9 exhibitions designed to popularize science, as well as a mini-aquarium with an underwater tunnel for visitors, a dinosaur park, a small water park and other entertainment for the whole family.
National Science Center Kuala LumpurKlc park
The authorities pay a lot of attention to greening the city and preserving the species diversity of flora and fauna. Directly opposite the Petronas twins, Central Park is laid out, where you can find 66 species of palm trees. There are also many flower beds, fountains, walkways. For those who look after their health, rubberized treadmills are provided in Kuala Lumpur Central Park. In the western part of the park, there is a play area for children with an outdoor pool.
The most famous place of unity with nature in Kuala Lumpur is the National Lake Park (Taman Tasik Perdana). It is a place where you can relax body and soul, an oasis of pristine tropics and virgin jungle. Walking along the shady alleys, you can stumble upon a garden of unsurpassed orchids and hibiscus, a mesmerizing butterfly park in which more than 6,000 of these beautiful creatures live, or miniature hoofed cansils (mouse deer), the world’s smallest representatives of this genus. The lake complex also includes a bird park – perhaps the only source of noise here – more than 2,000 birds are constantly singing their songs.
Where to eat
In Kuala Lumpur, there are a sufficient number of both expensive fashionable restaurants and budget street cafes where you can eat absolutely safely. National Malaysian cuisine is extremely varied, with a Chinese-Indian flavor. The main dishes are rice and noodles with hot sauces, seafood is often found. Due to significant differences in culture and habitat between Malaysians and others, tourists often do not like the national cuisine. In order to avoid such a problem, it is appropriate to include food in the price of accommodation: European cuisine is served in the hotels.
Kuala Lumpur transport
The city has such a well-developed transport infrastructure that many tourists may find it confusing. You can get around Kuala Lumpur by taxi, which is relatively inexpensive here and equipped with meters, which reduces the risk of being cheated. The network of city buses is quite extensive, but public railway transport deserves special attention, represented by:
- monorail – runs only in the center of Kuala Lumpur, making it especially convenient for exploring the main attractions;
- two lines of the city metro – it is overhead here, so you shouldn’t be surprised and worried that there was a mistake;
- two lines of commuter trains – a convenient option for visiting the outskirts or suburbs of the capital.
By Bus Hop-On-Hop-Of
Also in Kuala Lumpur there are special double-decker tourist buses called “Hop-On-Hop-Of”, the route of which covers 40 attractions of the city. They run from 8.00 to 20.30 seven days a week. The cost of a ticket for a day is 38 ringgit, for 2 days – 65, children under 5 years old have the right to free travel. The idea of ”Hop-On-Hop-Of” is that having bought a ticket once, the traveler can get off at any stop, get acquainted with the attraction, after returning, take another bus of the same type with the existing ticket and go further.
Where to stay
Chinatown Kuala Lumpur
The choice of accommodation is traditionally wide, but in Kuala Lumpur there is one feature that is not very pleasing to tourists. It is difficult to find high-quality hotels here at average prices: for a moderate price, guests will most likely be offered service below the expected level. However, four and five star hotels in Kuala Lumpur are relatively inexpensive. A 5-star room can be rented for $ 130-150 per day. We recommend that you take care of choosing a room in advance, especially since it is enough to use the proven Booking.com service . The most affordable accommodation is in the Central District (RL CC) and Chinatown.
Day and evening markets are still popular with Malaysians for their cheap products and excellent local food. It is here that you can fully experience the local flavor and atmosphere. One of the cheapest day markets is in Chow Kit at the corner of Jalan Raja Alang and Jalan Hadji Hussein. Southeast of Chow Kit lies Kampung Baru, an evening market that caters to more traditional tastes. The Sunday Market (Pasar Minggu) opens on Saturday evenings and trades until early Sunday morning.
Due to the fact that the main religion of Kuala Lumpurians is Islam, a prudent tourist should follow some rules. Despite the heat, men should not take off their tank top or wear short shorts. The appearance of women among Muslim peoples requires a minimum amount of exposed body parts. It is not customary in the city to drink alcoholic beverages right on the street.
It is worth paying attention to the presence of pink cars in public transport (electric trains, metro). They are designed specifically for Muslim women, so a gaping male tourist who enters there runs the risk of getting into an extremely unpleasant situation.
The risk of contracting tropical diseases in Kuala Lumpur is minimal; standard health insurance is sufficient to visit the city. If the trip includes a trip to the wild jungle of the surrounding rivers, it is better to get vaccinated against malaria first.
Muslim women in burqaColonial buildings coexist with modern nboscrapers
How to get there
Due to the great remoteness of Kuala Lumpur, travelers get here by air
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located 50 km from the city, the most convenient way to go from there is by taxi. Private chauffeur services are cheaper here than cars provided by the airport. On average, the transfer price will be about 75-120 Malaysian ringgit. You can also leave the airport for the city by suburban train, which runs every 30 minutes (cost 35 ringgit, travel time – 28-35 minutes).