Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is diverse, multihued, multifaceted, and of course, welcoming. Whether you are artistically-inclined, or a history buff, the city always offers something exciting for everyone, as it is indeed the city for all. Read on to find out about the best places that can enrich your Kuala Lumpur experience.
FOR HISTORY BUFFS & CULTURE VULTURES
Kwai Chai Hong
To those who understand Cantonese, the name kwai chai, which literally means ‘little devil’ in English or toyol in Malay, sounds so peculiar when it refers to this colourful, Instagrammable laneway tucked between Lorong Panggung and Petaling Street. But as you dig deeper, you will discover that the alley possesses much darker past, known for as a haven for drunkards, drug addicts, gamblers and gangsters. Some, however, believed that the name referred to naughty children who liked to prank people there. Nevertheless, those stories are now in the past.
Today, after receiving a successful face lift by five passionate locals from Bai Chuan Management, the alley sports a spanking new image. The company restored 10 quaint Guangdong Xiguan-style storehouses along the street to their former glory, and added six impressive murals to the walls. Interestingly, these murals, which depict eminent characters of the Chinese community back in the 1960s, also come with interactive QR codes that allow visitors to listen to conversations or music made by these characters. Of course, the entire place has beautiful atmosphere for taking selfies, but we reckon what makes this place even more special are its original elements that are still preserved to this day, such as Kuala Lumpur’s oldest lamp post, standing at its original position since around 1903. The laneway is open to the public for free every day, but closes at 6 p.m.
Royal Malaysia Police Museum
This hidden gem sits quietly at Jalan Perdana, which used to be an archive for police trainees’ references. Then, the place was revamped and transformed into a museum boasting interesting exhibits about the history and the work of the police force in Malaysia. Gallery A navigates visitors through a time tunnel as they are introduced to the history of the formation of the police force in Malaysia, from the early days of the Melaka Sultanate until today. Gallery B, the more exciting section, are for those who are into mysteries, as they get to have a closer look at confiscated weapons and evidences from historic cases in the past. The following Gallery C studies catastrophic periods or events in Malaysian history and incorporates in-depth explanation about the role of police during those periods, including during the time of Communist insurgency.
The museum opens every day except Mondays, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and closes between 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Fridays. The admission is free.
Malaysia Tourism Centre
Located within a walking distance to the golden triangle of the city, the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) is a one-stop-centre for all travellers in need of services or information before they explore the rest of Malaysia. It is housed in a colonial building that used to belong to a wealthy mining and rubber estate tycoon, Eu Tong Seng, and includes facilities like information counter, money changer, tourist police counter, travel agencies and ticketing counter, including two specialty shops selling Malaysian-made crafts: Karyaneka and Harriston Chocolate Boutique. This is also where travellers can embark on the Hop On Hop Off bus to explore the best attractions the city could offer. Those who have time to kill can follow the free cultural dance show happening every day from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the mini auditorium.
As you step into Colle Eastern Hotel – a fictional setting, complete with impressive props and even more impressive actors – you are bound to experience a nightmarish haunted house adventure like no other. Players are invited to take on character roles within a story line and interact with fellow cast members while dealing with the paranormal events happening all around. Think of it as a spine-chilling mix of theatre performance, role play and storytelling. The best part? No two endings are the same as it highly depends on how you play it out. The theme or episode in Hauntu Malaysia changes every few months, so be sure to visit repeatedly to experience them all. Each session accommodates a maximum of 10 players, costing MYR58 per person.
FOR CREATIVE SOULS
Helmed by two dynamic and lovable duo, Adrihana and Emmalyn, this home-grown brand celebrates the identity of Malaysia in the forms of striking colours and bold designs uniquely placed onto silkscreen items, ranging from accessories to household products. Expect to see many local elements like delicacies, animals and vintage objects being featured, carefully selected to evoke nostalgic memories of each Malaysian. The items also make an ideal souvenir for friends who live abroad. We love the gorgeous pouches and bags from Bingka KL that make endearing fashion statement, while the lovely tea towels definitely brighten up any dull kitchen. Bingka KL also collaborated with giant Japanese retailer, Uniqlo, by creating a unique collection depicting local delicacies. Interested buyers may purchase the products online, or via their retail partners such as APOM, Ilham Gallery and Naiise.
CrazePop by Nur
Delicious bites and creative designs make a drooling combination, and that is what CrazePop offers. Founded in 2011 by the passionate Nurliza Mohd Jonis, affectionately known as Nur, CrazePop is known for their delicate and oh-so-cute cake pops, cake balls and cakesicles suitable for any occasion. She begins the process by crumbling the cake and mixing them with ‘binder’ (chocolate ganache), then shaping them into desired forms, before covering them with a layer of chocolate compound and let them set until firm. The decoration phase is the most exciting part, but also the most tedious – she dips the cake pops into candy coating for gorgeous colours and draws beautiful elements onto them to fit any particular theme. No doubt, the whole process is lengthy, yet it is therapeutic in a way.
Nur holds classes regularly for those who want to learn all her tricks by charging MYR280 per student. Alternatively, CrazePop’s sweet concoction can be ordered between MYR8 to MYR20 per piece, depending on the complexity of the design.
FOR ALWAYS-HUNGRY FOODIES
RasaDesa KL, Bukit Damansara
Celebrated for its authentic Malay culinary offerings, this restaurant has been collecting fans all over Klang Valley, including popular celebrities and political leaders in the nation. Yet, the prices remain affordable. The menu is not extensive, but still features many crowd favourites. Classic staples such as itik salai masak lemak cili api (smoked duck in coconut gravy), asam pedas ikan pari (stingray in asam curry) and Temerloh’s patin masak tempoyak (freshwater silver catfish with fermented durian gravy) will never fail to warm your tummy, but be sure to leave some space for the sweet treats like sago gula Melaka or tapai ice cream. The service is also fast and welcoming. RasaDesa KL opens every day except Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., but closes between 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Big Baba Nyonya Cuisine, Taman Desa
This nostalgic restaurant promises rich Peranakan flavours with simple yet scrumptious dishes. The menu is extensively curated for a full-fledge meal, cooked according to family recipes that have been perfected over the years. Feast on delicious chicken pongteh (fermented bean paste chicken stew) and Itik Tim (savoury duck broth) if you have weak tolerance for spiciness; but for punchier flavours, indulge in the restaurant’s udang masak lemak nenas (prawns with coconut and pineapple gravy) that celebrate the unique use of spices. To conclude, wash it down with a refreshing bowl of cendol. The restaurant opens only on weekdays, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., but closes between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Kenny Hills Bakers, Ampang
This famous cafe and bakery has long cemented its position as the go-to place for careful selections of artisanal bread, decadent pastries and gourmet dishes. They take pride in using only the best and freshest ingredients for their crafts such as the stone-milled organic flour for that fluffy, flavourful bread. Though their brick-oven pizzas are proven to be crowd favourites, be sure to arouse your palate by opting for this bakery’s non-alcohol tiramisu or the ondeh-ondeh cake, both so delicate and moist, leaving you weeping in happiness after each bite. The cafe is divided into multiple dining areas, so it doesn’t feel too crowded even during peak hours. Kenny Hills Bakers in Ampang opens every day from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Starbucks Drive-Thru Ampang
With an inviting in-store ambience and easy access to expertly brewed coffees, there’s no wonder why Starbucks becomes a successful household name. And the outlet in Ampang offers just that. Busy city dwellers can get their coffee fix easily via drive-thru, while its store is an open and contemporary space that proves popular among locals for casual meetings or studying. The coffee served here are handcrafted by well-trained baristas or Coffee Masters, paired harmoniously with the snacks offered on the menu. The service here is also spot on.
This list was made in conjunction with the familiarisation trip by Gaya Travel Magazine and Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau.
This article is included in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 14.4. Read other contents HERE.