The city of Kuala Lumpur was established only a few hundred years ago in 1857. At first, the area was a jungle, turned tin mine, turned trading center for tin along the river, which is when merchants began to populate and build a home here. In the 20th century, Kuala Lumpur began to flourish under the occupation of Chinese businessmen. During World War II, Japan occupied the city (and nation) until 1946 when the Japanese Army surrendered to Britain. It wasn’t until more than a decade later in 1957 that the nation gained its independence from British rule.
Over the next 50 years, Kuala Lumpur modernized, building skyscrapers, museums, grand hotels, phenomenal restaurants and cafes, and grandeur shopping malls. However, there are also some amazing gems to check out if you ever do visit Malaysia’s capital.
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman
Many of the older, traditional Malay buildings have been replaced by skyscrapers or destroyed over the years. However, you can still visit one—the oldest house in the nation—right in Kuala Lumpur. Known as Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman, this traditional house was named after its original owner, and located in Kedah (a state in northern Malaysia) before it was moved to the capital.
With the help of a guided tour, you will be able to access its interiors, which feature furniture and decorations from the early 20th century. The guided tour will cover the life and heritage of the Malay people during that period, it’s a perfect way to learn a bit of history without having to go to a full-fledged museum.
KL Forest Eco Park
Did you know that there’s a little rainforest in the middle of the city? Head over to KL Eco Forest Park, featuring trails and a suspended wood and metal bridge that hangs 656 feet from the ground. The park was much larger a century earlier, but due to the construction and expansion of the city, it’s now a small park offering views of the city and the famous Kuala Lumpur Tower. KL Eco Forest Park is open every day and there’s no entrance fee.
Jalan Masjid India
Shopping in Kuala Lumpur is always fun, and with so many options, it’s hard to decide on where to go. If you’re looking for a flea market, we recommend going to Jalan Masjid India, where Indian merchants sell various items such as traditional Indian saris, clothing, gifts, souvenirs, handbags, jewelry, and other nicknacks to take home with you. Plus, there are plenty of food vendors here selling delicious eats. Jalan Masjid India is covered (you won’t have to worry about intense sun or rain) and is open every day from 10am to 9pm.
The Berlin KL
Kuala Lumpur has a fantastic nightlife, and although there are plenty of bars to check out in the evening, we recommend The Berlin KL. The bar has a funky vibe designed in a German style and is located in Chinatown (out of all places!). The Berlin KL offers its customers unique cocktails, liquors and beer, and makes an ideal spot to have a few drinks with the locals, rather than going somewhere overrun with tourists.
No Black Tie
Looking for a bit more evening entertainment? Head over to No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur’s premier jazz club. Musicians perform here almost on a daily basis, and not all are playing jazz—the artists also play classical music, flamenco, show tunes, country and more. If you’re picky about the type of music being played, we recommend checking out the artist list the night before. And, try to get a reservation on the first floor since it can be hard to see the performance from the top floor.
Kuala Lumpur can be a fun city to explore, even if you don’t tend to spend much time in it. Nonetheless, if Malaysia’s capital is one of the destinations on your list, we hope this city guide can help you have an even better experience there.
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