There are some fabulous buildings in Kuala Lumpur, here are just a few that shouldn't be missed
by dkm1981 on June 21, 2011
In its own website (www.timessquarekl.com) this phenomeal shopping centre describes itself thus:Acknowledged as Malaysia’s largest building ever built in a single phase with a gross built-up area of 7.5 million square feet, Berjaya Times Square is an international landmark offering unparallel shopping, luxury accommodation, business, fine food and beverage, and abundant entertainment to the estimated 2.5 million visitors each month.It's not lying either, Times Square in the Golden Triangle area of Kuala Lumpur is something else! It has fourteen floors, three of which are taken up by Malaysia's second largest indoor theme park, complete with white knuckle rides a plenty.Made up of two huge towers linked by a rather large entrance hall, the shopping centre is a giant in a city that is adorned with huge shopping areas. It is relatively new and features over a thousand shops as well as the theme park, a bowling alley, a cinemaplex and an extensive food hall. It could be described as a shoppers dream or your other half's nightmare!We went primarily to enjoy some air conditioning to escape the high temperatures outside and were only going to have a quick wander around as there is so much to see in KL and we didn't want to miss out on all the wonderful buildings, but it turns out that the Times Square centre is a tourist attraction in itself and we were soon lost in the maze of shops inside.Although it does take up fourteen floors, we found that some of the higher floors didn't have many shops on them, if any at all. The first floor is devoted to high street favourites, with some familiar names (such as Nike, Swarovski and Zara) as well as many Malaysian high street equivalents. There big open areas are filled with little stalls offering cheap clothing and jewellery as well as souvenirs and the like.As you go up the floors (either by lift or escalator) the shops become more specialist with lots of model shops, art shops and children's clothing shops. There are also some restaurants and health clinics higher up to.Without a doubt the main attraction is the theme park which is rather large and has plenty of rides considering it is inside a shopping centre. It is about £10 to enter, which is quite steep I suppose, but then you do get unlimited rides once you are inside. I didn't go in, but my husband decided he wanted to be able to say he had been on rollercoaster in a shopping centre so paid the £10 and went on one ride. He certainly did have white knuckles by the time he'd finished because he said he'd opened his eyes just as he went down the huge drop right by the massive windows that looked directly out onto the street ten floors below! I enjoyed myself taking photos of his daftness!So, I would definitely recommend a visit, whether shopping, eating or high thrills is your thing, you are guaranteed to find it at Times Square!
The Chan See Shu Yuen Temple is Chinatown's largest temple and is exactly the ornate kind of building you would expect from a Chinese Temple. Located right at the Southern most point of Petaling Street (the main thoroughfare of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur) and is very easy to get to. If you are visiting Chinatown and getting there via the monorail, you will walk past the temple as it is on your right hand side as you head up towards Petaling Street. It also backs onto the Merdeka Stadium.The first thing that we noticed when we approached the temple was the ornate work involved in the iron gate outside. Beyond that you can see the fantastic roof, which is ornately carved with scenes from Chinese mythology and major events - it is expertly done and definitely worth a photograph. The temple is free to enter and is not overly big so won't take long to explore. It was built in 1906 and is based around a large courtyard that is apparently typical of this type of building. The building has two uses - it is both a place of worship and a community centre - which explains the combination of intricate carved art and noticeboards on the walls! There were also a number of glass book cabinets that were filled with cats having a snooze which amused us!The central altar is a fabulous work of art that is reflective of the roof and the rest of the building and, as with many buildings in Kuala Lumpur, there are photograph opportunities a plenty. There are lots of carved mythical creatures in battle with men and it is exactly what you'd expect.You should definitely pay a visit if you are in the area, because it is free, interesting and it doesn't take long to explore.
by dkm1981 on June 1, 2011
The Petronas Towers are without doubt the most famous of Kuala Lumpur’s attractions and buildings and any trip to the city should include a visit to them. During your visit to the towers, you can choose to visit just the sky bridge – a glass encased walkway that connects the two towers at the 41nd floor – or you can pay extra to go up to the 86th floor, where the views across Kuala are absolutely phenomenal. Both levels are pretty high though and neither is for the feint hearted.There are only a set number of people allowed to ascend the towers each day and the only way to get tickets is to queue up in the morning of the day you want to visit. It is as you would expect a very popular attraction and so tickets go quickly. The ticket desk is located in the basement of the left tower, below the massive shopping centre, and opens at 8am each day. We began queuing at around 7.45am and were nowhere near the front of the queue. When we finally did reach the front around an hour and half later, we were given tickets for next available visit at 4.15pm. Considering that the sky bridge closes at 7pm and you need a good hour in the building, we were only just able to get tickets at all. It is a bit frustrating having to get up extra early to get in line and spending the best part of your morning in a queue, but that is the way it is unfortunately and it is worth it. After we got over the initial surprise that our entry time was going to be so late, we were actually pleased because it meant we had the most part of the day to go off and explore the city before coming back. I think it would have been much more annoying to get an entry time in the middle of the day because there wouldn’t have been time to do anything else. Having said that, you get issued tickets for the next available slot and it is just luck of the draw as to when that might be – you can’t choose.The times are allocated every 20 minutes, but you do get much longer in the towers, the times are given to ensure that there aren’t too many people in there at any one time. It’s actually great because there is plenty of room and you don’t feel rushed or that there are too many people around for you to be able to really enjoy the experience.Your ticket advises you to return to the towers at least 15 minutes before your allocate time. Once you get there, there is an exhibition area that will keep you entertained until your time arrives. I’d actually recommend getting there a good amount of time before because there are some interesting exhibits that you’ll probably want to look at. There’s a model of the towers that demonstrates the effect that lightning has on them. It’s quite impressive and is a working model that shows the towers being hit and what happens. There’s also a funky little thing where you stand under an archway and it calculates your height then tells you how many of you stood on top of each other it would take to reach the top. There are also lots of nice displays that tell the story of the creation of the towers.Once your allotted time arrives, you are given a visitors pass and are directed through a security check a bit like the ones you get at airports. If you have a bag, it will be taken off you and put in the cloakroom, so it might be worth considering not taking one if you don’t want to be parted from it. You go into a little theatre where there is a presentation. I thought this was going to be about the towers, but it’s actually about Petronas and how wonderful the company is and how much good stuff they do for the city and the world! To be honest, by the time it had finished I felt like I had been brainwashed and that is probably the intention. It’s not very subtle to say the least. It doesn’t last very long though, so not too bad.Next you go into the lifts up to the sky bridge. There is a definite sense of anticipation about the journey because it’s taken so long to get to this point. To demonstrate how far you are going the side of the lift is covered in little LED lights noting each floor and it’s quite exciting watching them whizz by as you ascend the building at what can only be described as dizzying speeds.The sky bridge is actually a lot bigger than it looks from the ground (probably because it is so far away from the ground!) and it offers fabulous views of the surrounding areas. You can walk the whole way across and there are a couple of glass ‘modules’ that jot out so you almost feel like you are floating. I have an issue with being able to see underneath me, so I didn’t particularly enjoy the fact that you could almost do that from the sky bridge. It’s hard to imagine that you will be going up to almost twice this height next, when you consider just how high you are from this viewpoint.Once you’ve had a good 15 minutes to have a look around (you are called by the colour of your pass) you move on to the next bit which is not one, but two lifts to the 86th floor. The building tapers in towards the top, so the first lift can’t take you all the way up. It’s unnerving to feel your ears popping halfway up this lift as well. When you get to the final destination, the room is not overly huge and you can immediately see all the way around you to pure nothingness. The windows around the room are floor to ceiling so there is no escaping the fact that you are up amongst the clouds. It was a weird feeling being up there because I was flabbergasted by the height of the sky bridge and this just took my breath away. There are some seriously tall buildings in Kuala Lumpur but even the tallest of them is way down below you. I swear I could feel the building swaying as well. Something else that I loved was the fact that you could see the top of the other tower and you could work out exactly where you were and how far from the top you were by looking at that one. It actually looked quite menacing as well.Up in this room, they’ve seen fit to but some more exhibits. I thought this was a bit of an odd decision as the attraction should surely be the windows – but hey ho, who am I to decide. There was a model of the towers which was a bit pointless. There was also a display of the tallest towers of the world, which I thought would have been better placed down stairs in the first exhibition. The two things that I did quite like were the telescopes around the edge of the room – they were free to use and good for spotting random things in the distance – and the model of the city, which showed where the other points of interest were so you could look for them out of the window. You get about twenty minutes up here, which I thought was enough time to admire the views and have a look around.There are various package prices for visiting the towers, depending on what you want to do. To visit the sky bridge alone is 10RM (Malaysian Ringits) which is about £2.50 working on the exchange rate we got of 4RM to the pound. To go to the 86th floor as well is 40RM (£10). I would strongly recommend paying the extra and going all the way, because it is so worth it. They also do packages where you get a deluxe three course meal and these start at around 200RM per person for lunch and 350 for dinner. There’s also a gift shop in the basement that sells the usual paraphernalia should you wish to get a souvenir of your trip and it’s not particularly expensive. So, it is safe to say that I would highly recommend visiting the Petronas Twin Towers if you are in Kuala Lumpur, despite the attempts at brainwashing visitors, although you definitely have to plan your visit well in advance to make sure that you get the most out of it and that you don’t miss your chance to look down on the world from above!
by dkm1981 on June 17, 2011
If it wasn’t for the colossal Petronas Towers, the KL Tower would be the star of Kuala Lumpur’s skyscraper show. As it is, it does play second fiddle to the world’s tallest twin towers, but a trip to the city should still include a visit, not least because you get a fabulous view of the rest of the skyline and some great photos of the Petronas Towers thrown in.Known in Malay as the Menara Kuala Lumpur, the KL Tower is 421 metre high telecommunications tower in the heart of the city that offers a selection of activities alongside the views. The KL Tower actually looks down on the Petronas Towers because it is built on the top of a hill, which is quite something. Its height makes it the second tallest free standing tower in the world after Toronto’s CN Tower.You can see the tower from pretty much anywhere in the city and there is a monorail station quite near to it so you can work out the general direction quite easily. The entrance to the park that the tower sits in is not quite so easy to find and we had to ask a couple of super friendly locals for directions because the signs are surprisingly sparse and the maps don’t seem to indicate the entrance.Once you have found the entrance, you are met with a reasonably steep climb along the winding road up to the base of the tower which is not exactly pleasant in the suffocating Malaysian heat, but there are a couple of sets of staircases on the way to cut parts out.This climb is rewarded with a car park that leads onto the tower itself. The whole thing is pretty dated and naff looking really, especially when you compare it to the state of the art, modern buildings that surround it on all sides. But you have to remember the splendid views it offers when you are stuck behind a group of tourists who’ve just got off the latest coach, or noticing the rather obscure smells coming from the odd little animal park or wandering past the ridiculous collection of shops selling all manner of random tat – that is very much the kind of place this is. I can only assume that when they lost their crown as the highest viewpoint in KL, the operators realised that they had to come up with something else to attract the tourists and this was their solution.On entering, you buy a ticket to go up the tower. You have to buy a package and there are a couple of options to choose from incorporating some of the random available activities. The first includes a pony ride and a wander through the Malaysian Cultural Village (which is completely artificial and from the outside looks like a not very well made TV set) and the second includes the F1 simulator ride and a visit to the animal zone. We opted for the second one because me and horses don’t get on and the F1 simulator sounded quite fun.The F1 simulator is tenuously titled to say the least. It was fun, but it basically involved sitting in a wooden box shaped like an F1 car with a computer monitor and steering wheel in front of you! The animal zone held a selection of reptiles, birds, snakes and a couple of monkeys. There was a two headed turtle which was quite obscure and you could pose with a snake if you so wished. I didn’t particularly enjoy the animal zone because the animals didn’t look overly well cared for and it was generally a little depressing. We made a fairly hasty retreat in favour of going up the tower.The guides who welcome you are very friendly and explain the main points about the tower, although the talk quite quickly and it is sometimes quite hard to catch what they are saying. They take you up the lift to the observation deck where you have the option of taking an audio tour. We picked one of the packs up, but quickly decided to just wander around ourselves. The views are exceptional and definitely make the trip here worthwhile. There are free to use telescopes around the whole deck as well as huge great cards that show you exactly what you are looking at through the windows. There is no limit to how much time you can spend on the observation deck and they keep a track of the number of people up there so it doesn’t get too crowded.Overall, I would recommend a trip to the KL Tower if only for the views. The entry price (about £5 per person including all the extras) is not too steep. If I went again, I probably wouldn’t participate in all the side activities even though they are included in the price. The whole thing is extremely tacky and not particularly well maintained or presented, but it does make for a fairly amusing and cheap afternoon and it’s the only place in the world where you can look down on the Petronas Towers!
Merdaka Square is a huge grassy area in the Colonial Core of Kuala Lumpur that is surrounded by buildings and other features that will make you feel like you have been transported back to olde worlde England. It is absolutely a must visit are and offered us a welcome break from the sore feet that we had from three days of walking around the city.The square is located on the western side of the city and is easily accessible from the monorail station just around the corner behind the huge and ornate national mosque. Approaching the square on a bright sunny day is fabulous and the splendour of the area is laid out in front of you beyond fountains and sculptures. The square is enclosed by the old Selangor Cricket club buildings which were built by AC Norman in the 1890s. The style is very British mock tudor, with black and white fronted buildings with red roofs. We spent a very pleasurable afternoon wandering around the grassy area imagining Tarquins and Sebastians playing a good game of cricket before retiring for drinks in the club bar. The main focal point of the square is the giant flag pole at the end which, standing at 100m tall, is the tallest flag pole in the world and is adorned with an appropriately massive Malaysian flag which makes for a good photograph opportunity. Standing under the flag, you get a good view back over the city with both the Petronas Towers and the KL Telecommunications Tower in the background.The square is a popular stop on organised tours, but it is only a brief stop for photographs, so it is definitely worth making your own way there to enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the sun. There are plenty of places to sit - we found the benches behind the water fountains particularly refreshing in the baking heat. It is also a popular place for picnicking.The square is also the location for the Independence Day celebrations, when it becomes awash with people partying. With it being one of the few large open areas in the city, it also plays host to many large gatherings including impromptu concerts so it is worth visiting to find out what is going on.In a city full of tall buildings and busy roads, Merdaka Square is a welcome retreat that offers a much more peaceful experience and I would absolutely recommend a visit.
The Central Market is a fabulous and authentic little market located in Kuala Lumpur. Located at the top of Chinatown and not far from Merdaka Square and the central rail station, it is unbelievably easy to get to. You can use a bus, it is five minutes walk from the nearest train and monorail station and there is a taxi rank right outside so there is no excuse not to visit!It is an under cover market that is based in a former wet market that was built in 1928 and in an art deco style. It was renovated in the 1980s with the intention of making it Kuala Lumpur's equivalent to Fishermans Wharf in San Fransisco or Covent Garden in London and I have to say it has been pretty successful. The building is filled with stalls showcasing all manner of handicrafts and arts and is a wonderful place to get some really good and authentic souvenirs. Our favourite stall was the fish therapy shop which is filled with tanks of little fish that eat the dead skin on your feet or hands, depending on which option you go for. This is a craze that has swept across the UK of late, but it originated in these parts and the price and number of fish in the tanks is much better. We paid just £3 for ten minutes of foot 'massage' and although it took me half of the time to pluck up the courage to put my feet in the tank, I definitely felt the benefit of doing and would highly recommend it.The other stalls offer lots of wooden crafts and hand made embroidered goods and very reasonable prices as well as the usual tourist items such as fridge magnets, mugs and stationary. It's also a good place to get some really nice postcards for just a few pennies each.There is a second floor to the building that has cafes and food stalls on so it is a great place to go around lunch time. Even if you have eaten, the amazing smells coming from the area will make you hungry all over again!There are always lots of events taking place at the Central Market. We were there during Chinese New Year and the whole area was adorned with Chinese lanterns and giant rabbits (it is the year of the rabbit this year) whih made it look very festive. They do have a good website - www.centralmarket.com.my - which gives details of all the events taking place at the market as well as details of how to get there.I would absolutely recommend a visit to the Central Market if you are in Kuala Lumpur as it is full of delighful shops and is alive with the hustle and bustle that you'd expect from a market in the Far East.
From the outside the Sri Mahamariaman Temple is amazing to look at because it is made from gold, precious stones and Spanish and Italian tiles. This is just part of it though because the intricate detail with which these items have been combined make it a masterpiece that cannot be missed.We decided to visit the temple because we had read in our guide book about how it came to be and we were intrigued. The temple was founded originally in 1873 by Tamils from Southern India who had arrived in Malaysia as contract workers employed to work in the rubber plantations and on the railways. It was funded by a wealthy caste and rebuilt in its current location recently in 1985. Since it had such a good write up and was supposed to be so ornate, we thought it would be located by itself in a grand location, but we were mistaken. We actually found it quite difficult to find and actually walked past it once without realising what it was because it is tucked away and set back from the road. Located on a side street not far from the main stretch of Chinatown, it is not very well sign posted, so it is worth using a good map.As it is tucked away between two pretty non-descript buildings, it is not easy to get a good photo of it, but that doesn't stop hundreds of tourists from gathering outside to give it a go. You can go into the temple and it is free to enter, but you must remember that it is a very sacred place of worship and you should be appropriately attired with your shoulders and knees covered. You must also take off your shoes to go in. There is a small hut at the side where you can leave your shoes in exchange for a small fee, but we decided to do what the locals do and leave our shoes outside on the street. There are hundreds of pairs of shoes here and the chances of them being stolen are very remote - ours were still there when we returned ten minutes later.Inside the temple is again very ornate and absolutely full of people praying, with the men on one side and the women and children on the other. We were free to wander round at leisure, but we did feel a little uncomfortable as many of the worshippers were staring at us. We didn't stay very long. There is much intricate artwork adorning the walls inside the temple, which we were interested to note had no roof. The main item of interest inside is a silver chariot which is taken in procession each year to the Batu Caves (just outside the city) during the Thaipusam festival, which apparently attracts thousands of people.I would recommend a visit to the temple if you are interested in this kind of thing. Even if you aren't it is worth a visit just to see the truly splendid front.
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