Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city, is known for its stellar skyline and melting pot of culture. When you first arrive in the city, you'll be greeted by skyscrapers such as the Petronas Twin Towers (made of two glass-steel towers with a sky bridge and an observation deck), Warisan Merdeka Tower and other iconic landmarks such as Batu Caves and Dataran Merdeka.
Over the years, the city has undergone various transformations; dingy streets are cleaned up and lit with new bars and cafes, and heritage buildings are preserved. But everywhere on the streets, the smiles and warmth of the locals never fail to wither, despite the many economic and political challenges the country has faced.
Whether you're popping into the city for a business meeting or savouring the delicious local cuisines, there are many activities for you to check out in Kuala Lumpur.
Day 1, Saturday
There are many central hotels in Kuala Lumpur, and these are some of my favourite stays: Else Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur, Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur and the Ruma Hotel and Residences.
If you are travelling with kids in tow, keep them busy at the Aquaria KLCC, a beautiful giant aquarium that houses more than 5,000 sea and land species to discover. Then pop them into Kidzania Kuala Lumpur, where they can learn and discover different occupations (costumes provided!)
Solo or couple travellers can check out the Petronas Twin Towers for a day of shopping and eating at the KLCC Shopping Mall, and observe the view of the city from the Observation Deck.
With a private car transfer, zip off to Chinatown to have lunch at Lai Foong Lala Noodles, or Mingle Cafe, if you're thinking of trying their salted egg spaghetti with chicken chop dish. Other worthy cafes to drop by are: Kenny Hills Ampang, Lisette's Cafe in Bangsar, Three Years Old Cafe, and Kafe Kleptokrat (which comes with a pool view).
There are several art galleries in town, and I like to check out the National Art Gallery for its extensive collection of art and sculptures at the new contemporary gallery called Ur-Mu. The street art at Jalan Balai Polis is also worth a visit.
For dinner, South Indian and Sri Lankan fine dining restaurant Nadodi KL, on the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, is a special place to be; it's the first fine dining restaurant established in 2017 to serve a degustation menu (and with the Michelin Guide coming to Kuala Lumpur, we think Nadodi deserves a star or two). My husband and I tried the nine-course Magnolia Menu (RM690++ / SGD 213++) with pairing cocktails and were blown away by the tantalising spread of dishes that awakened our taste buds. The two dishes that I couldn't stop raving about that night were the Squid Game (comprising of a juicy grilled Hotaru Ika combined with a touch of tangy spices served on Red Rice Bisi Bele Bath that melted in my mouth. It was followed by Codsome, a dish that marries Japanese Black Cod with Nadodi Rasam X Dashi, a visually-beautiful presentation that I can only describe as a little magical lake.
Via Nadodi's menu, I discovered the many beneficial uses of moringa and even traditional cooking techniques passed down through generations. Fermentation can be experienced via the steamed fermented savoury rice cakes that pay homage to the South Indian breakfast staple, Idly or Sanna. In ‘Cut The Crab’, it acts as a bed for tempered crab meat and spiced sea crab curry. Nadodi also adopted the traditional cultural practice of Low Waste — kitchen leftovers make their way into creative and experimental cocktails. An example is the Rasam, where the second press of the tomato-laced rasam broth is combined with vodka and distilled into a savoury tipple. It's a place worth visiting over and over, as the menu goes on rotation every three months. I'm definitely coming back to try their festive menu soon!
If you're still up for drinks, head over to my favourite place – PS150 bar housed in a pre-war shop lot. Order the Pandan Flip (RM38; pandan-infused dark rum). I recommend Reka Bar, Bar Roca KL, Skullduggery, and Junglebird KL.
Day 2, Sunday
After a stroll at Lake Gardens KL, freshen up and head to Lai Po Heen at The Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, for a delicious spread of dim sum.
If you're tired from all that walking, head to Mandara Spa at Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. It's a beautiful modern wellness retreat spa in the city that offers rejuvenating Balinese or local traditional massage treatments.
Catching a late flight home? Then maximise your time with a handy tufting experience and bring home your creation or craft a pewter dish at the School of Hard Knocks workshop at Royal Selangor Visitor Centre.
Looking for this famous Instagrammable bookstore in Kuala Lumpur? Head on to REX KL, a former cineplex refurbished to house a handful of restaurants, bars and Bookxcess.
Craving for local food? Bookmark these locations now: Damansara Uptown Hokkien Mee; Restoran Nasi Padang Kampung Baru; Penang Prawn Noodle; nasi lemak at Village Park Restaurant; or if you're up for western fusion, head to Raw Kitchen Hall at Else Kuala Lumpur, Cafe-Bistrot David; Bref by Chef Darren Chin; Fuego Troika Sky Dining; and Tono Izakaya.
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