A modern capital with history, a jungle town rose on the back of the tin mining trade in the mid-19th century, attracting settlers from Britain, China, India, and from within Malaysia itself.
Easy to catch fusion of cultures, every street representing a little slice of its colorful past.
The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia belongs on every bucket list. Located in a funky area, a nice example of Islamic architecture, with light flooding the rooms and detailed ceiling domes above the galleries.
Malaysia’s main religion is on display here, though the museum is curated to represent the entire Islamic world, with artifacts from the Middle East as well as China, India, and Southeast Asia.
Lets try the central market, in 1888 they started to sell here meat and fruits. The market is now housed in a bright blue Art Deco hangar, where hawkers appeal to tourists with overpriced souvenirs.
Still, the market is fun to wander around, and there’s always room to haggle. In the “Little India” section, you can find some reasonably priced textiles and clothes, and toward the back of the market is an art gallery that’s worth a visit. Upstairs is a local food court.
The stalls on Chinatown’s Jalan Petaling have everything, but also a lot fake shirts, sunglasses and designer handbags than anything remotely Malay.
However, hidden down a dark alley is a slightly more authentic experience—the wet market on Madras Lane.
Vendors tout fresh vegetables and fish, interesting cuts of local meats, and a slice of Lumpurs past.
It’s also home to some of the city’s best street food, perfect for foodies looking for a local dish.
Again, veer off the busy Petaling Street and wander down the back alleys that still hold onto the Chinatown of years past. Faded shophouses boast colorful blue shutters and flags, while red lanterns adorn the streets and birdcages dangle outside doors. While you’re in the area, visit Old China Cafe, a charming restaurant on Jalan Balai Polis serving Peranakan dishes on antique Chinese furniture.
On the must see list belongs the Sri Mahamariamman Temple
On the edge on Chinatown is this vibrant Hindu temple, originally founded in 1873, providing an important place of worship for early Indian immigrants. The colorful tower is 75 feet high: five tiers covered with 228 sculptures and depictions of Hindu gods, made by artists with strong ties to southern Indian. Entry is free, but check the opening hours before you go; they can be sporadic.
An iconic landmark of the city, the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is more than 100 years old and represents an interesting blend of Eastern and Western design—a good site to see for those that are interested in architecture. British architect Arthur Benison Hubback designed the station and brought it to completion in 1910. He had previously worked in India, so he brought Anglo-Asian designs (white walls and curved arches) with him to make the railway feel similar to stepping into a mosque.
Check in: The Majestic Hotel, a colonial landmark that dates back to 1932. Memories of wild pre-war parties and traditional English dances fill its corridors, and the card room, cigar room, and drawing room all conjure a sense of nostalgia. Today you are treated to luxurious suites with claw-foot bathtubs and 24-hour butler service. Enjoy a breakfast with a selection of French jams and incredible omelets, followed by a dip in the pool overlooking the city skyline.