With an abundance of food, culture and entertainment options, the Malaysian capital is perfect for a quick weekend getaway
Nothing says “Malaysia” quite like a quintessential kopitiam (coffee shop) meal. Enjoy a hearty breakfast at Tang City Food Court (Jln Hang Lekir, Kuala Lumpur City Center) in the heart of Chinatown, which offers local favorites like char kway teow (fried rice noodles), wonton mee (egg noodles with dumplings) and roti bakar (toast bread) served with soft-boiled eggs.
Check out Aquaria KLCC (Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Center), one of the largest aquariums in the world. Ride a travelator through the marine sanctuary, which is home to over 150 species of marine life, including tiger sharks and seahorses.
Once you’re done ogling at sea creatures, go upstairs to Suria KLCC for a spot of shopping. The mall houses popular designer brands such as Chanel and Dior, as well as high-street labels like Zara and Topshop.
You’ll surely be hungry after all that walking around. Head to Sri Nirwana Maju (43 Jln Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru) for a traditional banana-leaf rice meal – essentially parboiled rice and side dishes like mutton vindaloo, curry fish and fried squid, all served atop a banana leaf. There’s a perpetual queue at the restaurant, but your meal will be well worth the wait.
For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, take a five-minute cab ride to DR.Inc (8 Jln Kemuja; facebook.com/drincbangsar), a stylish, design-centric café. Sip on a classic cup of joe, or try newfangled caffeine variants like the Fat Americano (espresso with Coke) or the Presso Bomb (a shot of espresso in an ice cream soda).
There’s something for everyone at Central Market (Jln Hang Kasturi), a sprawling emporium filled with boutiques, handicraft stalls, gift shops and more. Besides stocking up on souvenirs, you can also get your fortune told, try your hand at batik classes, enjoy a massage and listen to live music performances.
For dinner with a view, head to Fuego (Level 23A, Tower A, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC), a snazzy South American restaurant set against the backdrop of KL’s dramatic skyline. Be sure to try one of its signature guacamole dishes, and wash it all down with a punchy mojito or two. It’s the perfect setting for romantic dates and group hangouts alike.
That gorgeous vista during dinner was really only a teaser. For even more awe-inspiring views, get up close to some of the city’s most iconic buildings. Snap pictures in front of the Menara KL and Petronas Towers (Jln P Ramlee), which are illuminated beautifully at night, making for spectacular photo ops.
Travel back in time to 1920s Malaysia at PS150 (G/F, 150 Jln Petaling), a vintage-themed speakeasy located in Chinatown. Once upon a time this was a brothel; now it’s a hidden bar serving up unique cocktails imbued with bold South-East Asian flavors such as Chinese rice wine, pandan and calamansi.
Enjoy another classic Malaysian breakfast of nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) at Nasi Lemak Tanglin (Stall 6, Kompleks Makan Tanglin, Jln Cenderasari). Take your pick from side dishes like chicken rendang, begedil (fried potato patties), squid curry and more.
While away a couple of hours admiring works from both local and foreign artists at Galeri Petronas (Level 3, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Center; galeripetronas.com.my). The art pieces here run the gamut from paintings to multimedia installations, and offer intriguing insights into Malaysian culture.
You’ll find some of the city’s most popular food stalls under one roof at Lot 10 Hutong Food Court (Lot 10 Hutong, 50 Jln Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang). Sink your teeth into local favorites like chicken rice, Hokkien mee, fish head bee hoon (vermicelli), pan mee (Hakka-style noodles) and more.
For a dose of culture, take a guided walk around a traditional Malay village. Sign up for Jalan-Jalan @ Kampong Bharu (visitkl.com.my), a 2.5-hour tour that will take you through the city’s oldest residential estate. You’ll get to visit traditional houses, markets, galleries and places of worship. Remember to register in advance, as slots are limited.
Dining in the Dark KL (50A Changkat Bukit Bintang; dininginthedarkkl.com) is an experience not to be missed. As the restaurant’s name suggests, you’ll be dining in a room that’s completely devoid of light; this will heighten your other senses, enabling you to experience the tastes and textures of your food like never before.
Supper is a must-have when in KL. Head to Jalan Alor (Bukit Bintang), the city’s most famous food street, for affordable and tasty fare – there’s grilled chicken wings from Wong Ah Wah, char siew (barbecued pork) from Meng Kee and fishball noodles from Chua Brothers, just to name a few.
Unwind with a tipple or two while listening to jazz performances and poetry readings at No Black Tie (17 Jln Mesui, off Jln Nagasari; noblacktie.com.my), a popular jazz bar. The laid-back atmosphere and excellent music here make for the perfect ending to the perfect weekend.