Being born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, I often take for granted what this city has to offer. However, during this trip, I discovered that there are more to this city that I call home.
Want to sound like a local Malaysian? Just add the word LAH to your sentences, for example, ‘makanlah’ which means ‘please eat’, have ‘funlah’ means to ‘have fun’.
Thus, Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau and Kuala Lumpur City Council, together with the Gaya Travel Magazine, organised a familiarisation trip called ‘Kuala Lumpur, LAH!’ for members of the media, bloggers and social media influencers to discover the city of Kuala Lumpur like real tourists!
During the four-day trip, the participants were brought to some of the best attractions in Kuala Lumpur such as the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, the fascinating Aquaria KLCC, the whimsical Blue Dancing Fountain located next to the historic Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Royal Selangor Pewter and Cartoon House, including cycling around KL’s hidden-and-yet-to-be-discovered spots and savouring memorable dining experiences.
Be sure to read along the pages to find out Kuala Lumpur’s amazing gems that even jaded travellers might not have experienced yet…
Where to see and experience?
Have you ever wanted to cycle in the heart of Kuala Lumpur? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you should opt for the bicycle tour called ‘Bike with Elena’, which brings you to selected spots that are still undiscovered and hidden. This supposedly four-hour tour brought us to the famous Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), which Elena revealed to us that the place was formerly a vegetable farm. Then we moved on to Kampung Baru, one of the valuable tracts of land in the capital city popular with foodies. Though Kampung Baru is unofficially considered as the vanguard of traditional Malay heritage in the heart of the city, nowadays there are only nine traditional houses left in the area; the participants were brought to see one of them, which is popular as film location since the contrasting PETRONAS Twin Towers can be seen directly from the background of the house. The tour opened the participants’ eyes on the need to conserve such valuable heritage. We then proceeded to Chow Kit Market, which is bustling with people and brimming with various kinds of fruits, spices, fresh vegetables, fish, meat and more. Prices are also cheaper here than the other markets or grocery stores in the city. Though there were nerve-wracking moments when the participants had to cycle through the heaving traffic the guides from Bike with Elena were very helpful and made us feel safe throughout the journey.
I always pass by Royal Selangor on my way to work, but never knew what the place is all about. Little did I know that Royal Selangor is actually one of the world’s leading brand in quality pewter. We toured the site and learnt a great deal about tin-mining and pewter back in the old days when tin was the backbone of Kuala Lumpur. The participants and I also watched the factory workers making quality pewterware and crafts. Then we eventually had the chance to make our own souvenirs from pewter! Fashioning the pewter is apparently hard work. I only managed to produce a bracelet during the given time. Afterwards, we went to do another souvenir at the School of Hard Knocks. Each of us was given a pewter plate, which we needed to carve our name on it and then form it into a bowl. It was indeed a fun hands-on experience at Royal Selangor!
Operating hours: Opens daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Carcosa Seri Negara
This luxurious building used to be Kuala Lumpur’s finest grand hotel back in 1904 commonly used by the highest British representative. During those days serving as a hotel, it was also appointed as a temporary resident for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that was held in Kuala Lumpur. Being designated as one of Malaysia’s heritage building, it is right for the National Heritage Act to protect it. There are many histories regarding Malaysia especially independence related historical events such as the first Malaya (Malaysia’s name before independence) Flag used during the first declaration of Independence, original photographs during the events, original documents and many more. This place is a must place to visit to recap back the hardship for Malaya to get its independence.
River of Life, Blue Pool
One of the newest attractions in Kuala Lumpur is the blue water pool with a dancing fountain accompanied by music and lights up, located where the two rivers, Sungai Gombak and Sungai Klang, meet. The beautification effort of both rivers by Kuala Lumpur City Council, which is currently underway, is called the River of Life project, which intends to clean up the river and turn it into one of Kuala Lumpur’s tourist attractions. The project also intends to educate the city residents on the need to keep the rivers clean and conserve them.
Malaysia Cartoon and Comic House @ Botanical Garden
Normally, when being at the Botanical Garden in Kuala Lumpur, people normally go for their morning or evening jogs, picnics, cycling and other types of recreational activities. But do you know that you could also learn about the evolution of Malaysian-made cartoons at the Botanical Garden too?
As travellers enter the garden, they will be able to notice life-size caricature cut-outs that indicate that travellers are in the right direction to get to Malaysia Cartoon and Comic House, with its walls covered in many Malaysian cartoons and comic prints. Travellers can read the comic strips from the original Malaysian comics like ‘Apo?’, ‘Gila-Gila’, ‘Kampung Boy’ and more. There are also posters of the popular cartoon characters as well. The house is actually the cartoonists’ workplace, whereby travellers get to see them doing their artworks live. Travellers can also draw their own cartoons at a workshop taught by an experienced cartoonist. ON the way out, travellers can purchase merchandises such as T-shirts, woven bags, comics, key chains with cartoon comic characters as souvenirs.
They say that travellers have not been to Kuala Lumpur if they have not gone up the iconic 88-storey PETRONAS Twin Towers, which has a bridge in between connecting both of them. Travellers get the chance to observe Kuala Lumpur from two venues: the said connecting bridge on Level 42, as well as on Level 86 in Tower 2. From this view you can almost see the entire Kuala Lumpur skyline the surrounding landscapes. Being a Malaysian, it is truly heartfelt to realise how developed my beloved city has become over the years.
Operating hours: 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. (closed from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 pm on Fridays)
Last admission: 8.30pm
Visiting Days: Tuesday to Sunday
Entrance Fee: Adult RM85; Child RM35
Ever since the Aquaria KLCC first opened in 2004, I have been meaning to visit this largest aquarium in South East Asia but never got the chance. Thus, I was so excited when the trip brought us all to this attraction. I had the opportunity to pet small bamboo sharks and starfish at the ‘touch pool’. As travellers walk further into the place, you’ll be surrounded by various types of fish and over 150 species of marine life. There’s also a jellyfish and seahorse lab where travellers get to learn about the life cycle and breeding process of these two creatures – only now I knew that it is the male seahorse that gestates the tiny baby seahorses, not the female. Be sure to visit Aquaria when you’re in Kuala Lumpur because it is an experience not to be missed.
Operating hours: Opens daily | 10.00 a.m. till 8.00p.m.
Entrance Fee: Adult RM69; Child RM59
Where to eat?
Later that day we went to a cupcake piping class at a café called Chi Fan KL with Instagram-famous personality Cakeliciousmy, whose real name is Syahir. We learnt a few piping skills from him and piped our cupcakes according to the theme ‘succulent cactus’. Then we got to eat our cupcakes and had tea time at Chi Fan KL, which is a small but aesthetically pleasing establishment run by a loving family in Taman Melawati. The café has Baba Nyonya-inspired décor and the menu ranges from mee calong served with homemade fish balls, to nasi kerabu goreng and a wide selection of desserts comprising traditional cakes and pastries. Since the food is delicious, eating here is comforting and feels like home.
After winning the title as the Malaysian Celebrity Masterchef, Dato’ Fazley Yaakob opened his own bistro called ‘Suka Sucre’ with the concept ‘from Rembau to Paris’ since he hails from Rembau in Negeri Sembilan and polished his culinary skills in Paris. Thus, the menu consists the fusion of dishes from Negeri Sembilan and French. I really enjoyed Rembau traditional dish daging masak lemak cili api (smoked beef cooked in coconut milk laced with turmeric and chillis) and infused with spaghetti, a dish of European influence. Besides mouth-watering dishes and desserts, the participants of ‘Kuala Lumpur, LAH!’ trip was treated to a ‘Sweet Table’ demonstration by none other than Dato’ Fazley Yaakob himself, who skilfully put together an impressive and edible artwork consisting of various desserts on an open table. After he completed the artwork and the participants finished taking photos of it, everybody dug into the artwork with their bare hands and began wolfing it down! It was indeed a fun-filled moment that should be experienced with friends and family.
Tuesday till Thursday – 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Friday till Sunday – 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Eating at a place with live music, lively ambience and good company is always nice and Tapak Urban Street Dining, located just a walking distance from Kuala Lumpur City Centre, serves that up in spades! The spot is where travellers can find a variety of food trucks selling various choices of Western and Asian fare, including arrays of beverages such as mojitos, fruit smoothies and unicorn drink. Travellers will never run out of ideas on what to eat for dinner here, as well as being entertained by live music performances and convivial atmosphere.
When in Kuala Lumpur, tasting the local dishes is a must! The best place to savour a buffet spread of well-loved authentic traditional Malay dishes for lunch and dinner is Rebung Restaurant, owned by the bubbly celebrity chef Dato’ Chef Ismail. Rebung, which means bamboo shoot, is well known for its thick gravy- and curry-based dishes. When dining here, it is advised to eat less rice so that travellers will have enough space to savour the various dishes, which is an experience like no other.
Foodies will be spoilt for choice because the restaurant offers the likes of Penang laksa (thick noodles with sour and spicy gravy), nasi kerabu goreng (fried rice that is bluish in colour cooked with herbs and salad), different types of kerabu (raw mixed salad), popiah (spring roll), air batu campur (shaved ice filled with syrup, condensed milk and myriad of sweet condiments), dodol (sticky sweet toffee-like sugar palm-based confection), among others.
To experience one of Malaysia’s iconic dishes, the fish head curry, make your way to the Coffee House on Level 9 of Sunway Putra Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Though I am not the type who eats fish head and it was my first time trying it, the dish prepared by the hotel is surprisingly delicious and fulfilling! The head of a red snapper is cooked in curry to perfection together with okra, fried tofu, eggplant, tomato and even fish roe – all of the ingredients, including the curry, complements the fish head beautifully. The curry is also thick and creamy with a touch of spiciness but not overwhelming at all, to be eaten with rice, poppadum and sour yoghurt on the side. Based on my experience, this is definitely one of the most interesting dining experiences for anybody who is not yet initiated to eating fish head curry dish.
Where to stay?
The Hilton Garden Inn, strategically located on the north part of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur, was just launched in early 2018. This 265-room hotel offers the view of the iconic PETRONAS Twin Towers and merely a stone’s throw from the iconic Chow Kit Market and Kuala Lumpur City Centre area, where the twin towers are situated. The Chow Kit MRT station is also just a five-minute, offering wider access to all travellers staying at the hotel, which boasts reliable modern facilities, 24-hour Pavilion pantry and breakfast buffet.
Address: 449 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, 50100 Malaysia | +603 2778 8888