Petronas Towers Skybridge/Menara Tower
The Petronas Towers (www.petronas.com.my – click on “corporate,” then “company background,” then “Twin Towers”) are no longer the world’s tallest buildings, yet they continue to dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline. The observation deck is situated in the skybridge linking the two towers at the 41st floor. Admission is free, but is restricted to 1,300 visitors each day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets are available from a kiosk on the concourse level from 8:30 a.m. on a first-come-first-serve basis. You’ll be allocated a visiting time, and will get to spend 10 minutes on the bridge. Avoid weekends, when the line for tickets can be exceptionally long. An alternative city panorama can be viewed from the 1,380-foot Menara Tower (www.menarakl.com.my), the world’s fourth highest telecommunications tower; open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, $4.
The Batu Caves
A visit to the Batu Caves, eight miles from Kuala Lumpur, during the Hindu festival of Thaipusam (late January/early February) is not for the squeamish. Over the course of three days, 1.2 million pilgrims converge on the cave complex, within which there are several temples. Many of the pilgrims inflict pain on themselves as an act of atonement — this can involve carrying a heavy shrine or, more gruesomely, driving hooks and skewers into their skin. For the rest of the year, visiting the caves merely requires strong legs: to reach the entrance, you must scale a flight of 272 steps. It’s a struggle on a hot day, but the caves themselves are blissfully cool. Getting there from downtown Kuala Lumpur costs about $5 each way by taxi.
Petaling Street is the bustling heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Some of its seedy charm has been lost in a recent modernization scheme (including the construction of a futuristic glass canopy to shelter shoppers from the elements), but it’s still a great place to stroll, day or night — full of exotic sights, sounds and smells. You can find just about anything for sale here, though most of the logo items, from sneakers to Rolex watches, are counterfeit. You’ll also find a wide range of interesting local handicrafts, clothing and edible delicacies. The Chinese food market, just off Petaling, is especially worth experiencing. In the crowded parts of Chinatown, though, be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers.
Lake Gardens is a sprawling, 230-acre green oasis in the heart of the city. It’s a wonderful place to take a walk, amid manicured lawns and tropical vegetation. Among the attractions here are an orchid garden, a hibiscus garden, a deer park (with free-roaming deer imported from Holland), an insect museum, a butterfly park and — perhaps the highlight — the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (www.birdpark.com.my), which boasts the largest covered aviary in the world. If you need to recharge your batteries during your visit to Kuala Lumpur, this is the perfect place.
The Royal Selangor Club
The Royal Selangor’s (www.rscweb.org.my) mock-Tudor clubhouse is affectionately known as “the Spotted Dog” — when the clubhouse opened in 1886, one of the members was in the habit of leaving two Dalmatians tied up outside the entrance, hence the nickname. Now, as then, the club is an important meeting place for Kuala Lumpur’s elite. The terrace overlooking the cricket field is a fine venue for afternoon tea and a good place to make useful contacts. Beyond the playing field stand the picturesque buildings of Merdeka Square, including the impressive Sultan Abdul Samad building, which combines Victorian and Moorish architectural styles. The club has reciprocal arrangements with clubs around the world, though you should also be able to arrange a visit through your hotel’s concier ge.
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