A November 2003 trip
to Kuala Lumpur by Kez
Quote: Kuala Lumpur was never on my travel "wish list," but as we had the chance to stop over on the way to Langkawi Island, we took the opportunity to stay for a few days and we shopped until we could shop no more. The range and choice is amazing, so we were not disappointed. Apparently the prices and range are better than for example Singapore and after our effort I can believe it.
We came away planning to visit again one day in the future as this time we really didn't have the time to see the historic or cultural side of the city.
It has been hauled into the 21st century with the ever-present and imposing Petronas Towers as a constant reminder.
The main sights in the city are:
1. The Petronas Towers and the KLCC shopping mall. Definitely worth a visit to go up to the tower, although the shopping centre carries name brands and could be anywhere in the world.
2. Chinatown & Petaling Street -- great to soak up the street atmosphere and to purchase your fake DVD’s, wallets, handbags, t-shirts and Rolex watches.
3. Shopping -- the golden triangle. This is where the main tourist hotels are located so there is a shopping centre after the shopping arcade with shops of all types vying for your business and offering anything your consumerist heart could desire.
4. Menara Tower -- worth a visit for another great outlook on the city. Unfortunately, we planned to visit but ran out of time.
In fact, the amount of different shopping plazas in the city is mind-blowing and all offer greatly reduced prices compared to outside Asia. We were lucky enough to visit at the end of the month-long festival of fasting, "Ramadan," and one of the biggest sales of the year. Genuine brands such as Polo, etc. were all reduced by up to 60-70%.
Our shopping spree included plenty of latest release DVD discs, a Playstation 2 console chipped to play games from any where in the world and the 20 or so games, 4 pairs of shoes (for me, of course), beautifully tailored suits, skirts and jackets, wallets, handbags and many pieces made out of traditional Songket weaving.
If that wasn't enough, we couldn't pass up a large carving of the King chatting to his Queen, weighing 9 kilos!
We had to bring home one souvenir.
I couldn't help myself with all those shops beckoning. We left home with 15 kilos of luggage between us and returned with 50. No wonder the weight of our luggage increased so much!
Walking is easy but not that pleasant as this is a busy, bustling city.
Be aware that the airport is a long way out of the city.
You have two options: taxi or train. The train is cheapest if you are alone. If there are two of you, a taxi is cheaper. There are counters in the airport where you are meant to purchase your taxi ticket, as all the taxis are heavily monitored and can only work from a certain place i.e. city taxis can't go to the airport. If you book a taxi at the airport, he must come back empty and vice-versa.
However, they do break the rules, so if you can hitch up with another couple of travelers and you go outside of the terminal and cross the road you will get a taxi about 30% cheaper, as these guys prefer not to go back empty. Coming from the city it is harder. You will probably have to pay the set price as they don't seem to like to take the risk of getting caught going to the airport.
The rooms are adequate and comfortable, but in need of a revamp. On our first stay, we arrived very late at night and they were not holding our reservation. OK, that happens and they were very helpful and upgraded us to a suite with a fantastic view of the Petronas Towers. On our return visit, the room was really shabby, complete with leaking taps, but for us for one night, it didn't really matter as we were leaving at 5am the next morning.
A full Asian and Western breakfast buffet is included in the room rate. Keep in mind that there is an oversupply of middle to top end accommodation in KL and they discount readily, so don't be shy to ask for a reduction in the rate. We paid 150 ringgit with breakfast, which I thought was pretty cheap. One word of caution stay away from their bar; it is exorbitantly priced.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 23, 2004
The Royale Bintang
17-21 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Catering mainly to tourists, this restaurant wasn't cheap by local standards, but we found the service, food, and atmosphere worth the price. On offer were all the standard Thai offerings, including red and green curries, but being a Muslim country, there was no pork, of course. Servings were smallish, but very good. Although it was still Asian with rice, etc. it made a great change to eating the standard Malaysian dishes.
The restaurant is set on two levels; when we were there, the top section was closed, but as the weather was so balmy, everyone was happy to eat outside anyway.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 10, 2004
Bangkok Jam Thai Restaurant and Bar
GL-10 BB Park, Plaza Low Yat,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
603 2142 3449
Restaurant | "Pizzeria Bella Italia & Best Friend Massage "
What a great concept! You go in and order your pizza, local noodles, beer, wine, or whatever you fancy in the restaurant at the front. While sitting relaxing enjoying your meal at the back of the restaurant is a glass wall – yes, a glass wall! This is where the patrons of the Best Friend Foot Massage are reclining and having their foot therapy done.
When you have finished your dining experience -- and the food is OK without being gastronomic -- you can then wander into one of the comfortable reclining blue chairs and wait until your favourite masseuse is free to begin to reinvigorate those trusty old feet that have been carrying you around all day while shopping.
My partner on both our visits had a tough and wiry old lady. She had him writhing half in ecstasy and the other in agony. But he still went back for more. Afterwards, welcome to cloud nine. This was a highlight for us on this trip!
There are many of these massage and health centres in KL and they have their requisite annoying touts on the footpaths, but don't dismiss them they give a really great massage and are cheap. It's bliss for 25 ringgit per half hour. We picked this particular one because they were busy with all local trade and didn't hassle you as you walked by. Treat yourself!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 10, 2004
Pizzeria Bella Italia
73 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Attraction | "The Petronas Twin Towers"
As these towers seem to be nearly always in your sight, you couldn't come to KL and not go up to the viewing platform.
The towers themselves are so modern and dominating they appear almost surreal against the skyline. Amazingly, the exteriors of the towers are made entirely of stainless steel and glass; this is very unusual and very expensive.
Although these are among the tallest buildings in the world, the high-speed elevator only whisks you up to the 42nd floor. The view is still great, but if you were hoping to make it to the top you will be disappointed.
On the bright side, entry is free. You collect your ticket from the ticket counter where it is stamped with the time of your ascent. You go off and shop for about 25 - 30 minutes and then come back and wait for your turn. It is all very efficient.
If you have your credit card, the KLCC centre is at the base and offers some of the most exclusive shopping in the city.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 23, 2004
Petronas Twin Towers
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Kuala Lumpur 50088
60 3 382 8000
Attraction | "Sangei Wang Plaza"
It was geared towards the locals and had whole aisles jammed to the rafters of various electronic must-haves such as Playstation consoles and games, cameras, accessories and the very latest mobile phones at about 40% less than we would pay at home.
My partner bought a Playstation 2 already chipped so that it can play games from anywhere in the world including the new DVD 10's.
Because it was filled with locals, it had lots of atmosphere, was really busy with a great buzz and of course, you were expected to bargain!
We seemed to end up here on most of our shopping expeditions.
They have a website: www.sungeiwang.com
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 27, 2004
Sungei Wang Plaza
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 50250
+60 3 2148 6109
Attraction | "Chinatown and Petaling Street"
Copyright pirating is rife in Asia and every now and then the police have to make it look they are making an effort to stamp it out. They concentrate on one area of the city at a time. When we were there it was Chinatown so there was not a DVD in sight, but ask around and you will be taken to a storage area where they are all kept. You may think that you are about to be mugged or robbed as it seems you need to climb up a rickety flight of stairs to the third floor to get there. You normally receive buy 10 get one free and they are less than 8-10 ringitt each. If that particular store doesn’t have what you want, just try the next one.
This is also the place to come and buy your expensive looking but fake Rolex watches.
The shopkeepers are very obliging and will show you a genuine catalogue to prove that it is just like the real thing. Don't be fooled into falling for their first really low price, as this is to get your attention. If you refuse to budge on price and take this offer, you will receive a cheaper, nasty version.
You are expected to bargain. The good copies are heavy and made of metal and don't require batteries. Buy two and you will get a super bargain.
My partner received such a good price that when we were taking a taxi one night, we started talking to the Chinese driver who had the same watch. He had paid more for his watch two years ago. He was devastated. All he could say was "We Chinese, very, very good businessmen." We had to tip him, poor fellow.
Petaling Street Chinatown
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 50000
+60 3 2693 6661 (Kua
It is so authentic that I thought that I had been transported back to Cuba.
When we visited, it was a predominantly local crowd with young professionals kicking back after work.p>
There was heavy, beautiful carved timber all along the back wall of the bar and Cuban music playing in the background, so it was atmospheric and intimate. Built on two levels, it also offered a cozy lounge upstairs.
A full list of tapas is offered. We tried the lamb meatballs, chicken wings and squid rings. These three dishes were enough to fill us up for dinner.
They seemed to have a promotion on nearly every night. When we were there it was a Thursday, which along with Tuesday nights was "Senoritas" night, so all my wine was complimentary and it was very drinkable too!
My partner's wine was 14 ringgit a glass so it was reasonable anyway.
Other nights they offered 1 for 1 Mojito's and so on.
The staff was really friendly and obviously very proud of their bar as it was a first for KL. When they found out that we had been to Cuba they were really excited and wanted to know if they had the right atmosphere and feel for their bar. After some reassurance, they were very happy.
After all that shopping, it is a nice place to relax and rest those tired feet.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 27, 2004
33 Changkat Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Broadbeach Waters, Australia