An introduction to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's capital city as well as the most populated urban area in the nation. Not only is it a bustling center of commerce and activity but Kuala Lumpur is also home to a range of world class attractions. KL (as it is fondly and popularly known) is an expanding metropolitan region thriving in terms of its population, but also in terms of its economy. In addition, the city is home to the main palace (Istana Negara) of the Malaysian King.
The ultra-stylish interior is befitting of the best view (and rooms) in town: the bar, dining and recreation flight of MalaysiaExplorer.net's Kuala Lumpur accommodation top-pick: Traders Hotel (pictured)
|Find out about the award|
Location & History
Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs are located in the Klang valley and are geographically located at the centre of Selangor state. KL was under the rule of Selangor until its appointment as a federal territory in 1974 wherein it came directly under the federal government of Malaysia. Being a part of Klang valley, KL is bordered by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east and the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the west. The region also has a tropical rainforest climate.
Kuala Lumpur's origins can be traced back to the lucrative tin mining industry when in the year 1850 Chinese labourers were instructed by the local chief to step up production. Places like Ampang on the Klang River soon became the focal point for the burgeoning trade. The city on the banks of the Sungai Gombak River was called “Pengkalan Lumpur” literally translating to 'bundle of mud', which came to be known as the muddy confluence, Kuala Lumpur.
This muddy confluence however showed rapid development and is today the seat of the parliament of Malaysia. Additionally, it was the seat of the federal government until it was relocated to Putrajaya for want of space. KL being on the west coast of Malaysia also enjoys wider flat lands as opposed to its counterparts on the east coast, adding to its rapid development and urbanisation.
Kuala Lumpur truly does offer a different experience altogether to other parts of Malaysia. While the city still heralds its age-old traditions – it is sophisticated and ultra modern buildings that dominate its landscape. It is the only city in Malaysia where one can see traditional Hawker stalls and pre-war shop houses competing equally alongside skyscrapers and mega shopping malls.
The ‘KLites’ (the native population or the residents of KL) are a diverse group of people and represent a mix of different ethnic groups and races. This gives the city the distinction of being the only truly global city in Malaysia.
Over recent years, Kuala Lumpur has developed into a flourishing metropolis with its many architectural achievements like the world-renowned Petronas Towers – (the second tallest buildings in the world). Standing tall in the middle of the city, the towers are a major tourist attraction.
Things to see & do: Tours
The best way to see Kuala Lumpur is usually to sign up for a city tour. The city has many tours designed to fit tourist’s specifications. The adventurous at heart can have a bird’s eye view of expansive KL and its surroundings from their self manned aircraft part of the A-One-Day-Pilot tour. This and many other adventure sports tours like paragliding, windsurfing, light aircraft flying etc can be booked from within the city from the comfort of your hotel room itself if you please. Double click the map below to zoom in on Kuala Lumpur, and double right-click to zoom out!
For those who would rather experience KL by foot there is the walk-about tour, although limited to the city area.
After a day of adrenalin pumping adventure in the skies it is time to experience the tranquil and culturally rich sights that the city has to offer.
The elephant sanctuary at Kuala Gandah (a one and a half hour drive into nearby Pahang) is the baby of the Malaysian Wildlife Society. Kuala Gandah is a conservation program dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Asian elephants.
A visit to the sanctuary gives an insight into the lives of these magnificent mammals, which have roamed the earth for many millions of years. Once in the sanctuary you can spend the day taking elephant rides, feeding and even bathing with the elephants in the nearby river all under the watchful eyes of professional elephant trainers. Standing side by side with an elephant is a truly mind boggling experience. Elephants are famed for their intelligence and are renound as the largest land animals on earth!
Getting around & Transport
The central location of KL and its authoritarian position in the nation makes travel in and out of the city very simple. While staying within the luxurious confines of the city tourists can get around by car or take buses / cabs. Some travelers also sign up for tours to visit neighbouring places like the magnificent Batu caves or trek into the jungles to mingle with the aboriginal Orang Asli and get insights into their lifestyles. Flights into Kuala Lumpur come from all corners of the world, and there are usually good deals to be found.
A cultural tour from KL can cover these, along with the vibrant Petaling Street or China town with its bustling market place and seafood restaurants. This street is a shop till you drop paradise for bargain hunters. From the hustle and bustle, you can also try entering into the grandeur of the Maha Mariamman Temple to experience the splendour of an Indian wedding. Tourists can finish the KL experience by watching a Malay cultural performance while feasting on some local delicacies.
Search the widest range of accommodation options and resorts in Kuala Lumpur with MalaysiaExplorer.net's booking partner - also find verified guest reviews™ and image galleries.
Complete your trip with our travel essentials checklist: Tours, Flights and Car Rental
- Tailor all aspects of your holiday or visit to Kuala Lumpur with comprehensive tour and package choices.
- Read our top tips on car rental to ensure you choose a suitable vehicle at a good price.
- Our guide to Malaysia flights is packed with advice and pointers on finding the best routes and super deals.