Kuala Lumpur is a modern and mighty city. Its skyline is dominated by the sleek, smooth, glittery glass of skyscrapers. The city is home to the tallest twin towers in the world as well as glass-and-steel buildings adorned with Islamic motifs. And below the towering might of all these buildings simmers a city full of culture, color and charisma.
The ancient city of Kuala Lumpur can still be found in the modernization. The streets buzz with the energy of hawkers serving up authentic local dishes from street carts and you can find peace in one of the city’s many ancient houses of worship. But the landscape of Kuala Lumpur is continually changing with gentrification and the movement of different ethnic populations.
This can make it difficult to find a suitable neighborhood during your visit. But the city has great travel infrastructure which makes all of its attractions accessible no matter where you stay in Kuala Lumpur. Just make sure your hotel is in your most comfortable area.
KL’s top neighborhoods
1 Bukit Bintang
4 Chow Kit
5 Mid Valley
Bukit Bintang is the heart of Kaula Lumpur’s shopping district. The neighborhood is well known for its night markets, cafes, restaurants, bars, boutique stores and shopping centers. The district begins with Bukit Bintang Road and ends at Pudu Road in the heart of Kaula Lumpur’s Golden Triangle.
This expensive neighborhood is filled with luxury hotels and trendy nightclubs. Simply put — it’s the place to see and be seen. And no visit to Bukit Bintang is complete without a stop at the fashionable Pavilion KL shopping mall where you’ll find upscale stores like Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace.
Take a stroll down the highly developed stretch of Bukit Bintang Road to experience the Bintang Walk. You’ll ogle at upscale storefronts showing off the latest in fashion. And when the sun sets, you’ll have your choice of opulent clubs, indulgent live music venues and impressive rooftop bars where you can drink in Kuala Lumpur’s modern skyline along with your cocktail.
You can find the iconic Petronas Twin Towers right in the heart of the KLCC neighborhood in downtown Kuala Lumpur. This high-end area is known for its upscale fashion shops, jaw-dropping views and luxury hotels. It is also home to the irresistibly green Kuala Lumpur City Center Park.
The Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world. Stroll through the shops and restaurants at the base of this modern marvel before heading up to the observation deck. The deck sits atop 88 stories and allows you to see the entire city and beyond.
The Kuala Lumpur City Center Park is a modern marvel. With lit walkways and singing fountains, it is the perfect place for a stroll at any time of the day. And after your trip up the towers and through the park, you can sample some of the city’s best food in one of the neighborhood’s many high-end restaurants. No trip to Malaysia’s biggest city is complete without a stop in KLCC.
Chinatown is a great place to get the local flavor of Kuala Lumpur. This safe neighborhood revolves around the heavily touristed Petaling Street where you’ll find local shops, street food vendors and open-air markets. You’ll also find plenty of recognizable, international hotels. Chinatown is essentially a more affordable version of Bukit Bintang in an older part of Kuala Lumpur.
This district buzzes with energy at every hour of the day. Petaling Street attracts locals and tourists for its delicious street food and incredible shopping deals. The local shops offer up goods at incredibly reasonable prices while Chinatown’s famous open-air market serves up some of the city’s best food items. Don’t miss out on the salted roast duck served out of the back of a modified motorcycle.
You won’t find many proper shops in Chinatown. Petaling Street is home to scores of temporary mom-and-pop stalls where you can negotiate prices on locally made goods.
Chow Kit comes alive during the day as it boasts the city’s largest wet market. The Bazaar Baru Chow Kit wet market sells meat and produce while a dry market sells home goods and electronics. The market has a strong Indonesian influence as the neighborhood has a large Indonesian population.
You’ll bump into some of the city’s most famous chefs as they peruse the wet market for fresh ingredients in the morning. The laid-back market is full of local treats at low prices. Bazaar Baru Chow Kit is a great place to spend a morning sampling many different local foods.
You can also visit Southeast Asia’s largest Sikh Temple in the Chow Kit neighborhood. The beautiful Tatt Khalsa Diwan Gurdwara Sikh Temple is home to more than 75,000 worshippers and is open to visitors. It’s especially beautiful during a Sikh wedding. Contact the temple for the best dates and times for a visit.
Mid Valley is a development in southwestern Kuala Lumpur that consists of two shopping malls and three hotels. The Gardens and Mid Valley Mega Mall offer shoppers unparalleled experiences while the Cititel Mid Valley, The Boulevard Hotel Kuala Lumpur and the Gardens Hotels and Residences cater to business travelers.
The main attraction of Mid Valley is indisputably the Mid Valley Mega Mall. The mall covers a mindboggling 4.5 million square feet. In fact, the mall is so big that the entire development is often referred to as Mid Valley City.
Mid Valley is usually overflowing with foreigners as it is home to a massive convention center which keeps the development’s three business hotels full. But you’ll also find plenty of locals drawn to the mall for the wide variety of shops and restaurants. While Mid Valley keeps you isolated from Malaysia’s local culture, you will be able to sample plenty of different foods inside the massive shopping center.
Brickfields is perhaps the most unique Kuala Lumpur neighborhood. Often referred to as Little India, this vibrant district features a wide street filled with Indian shops and restaurants.
There are a variety of attractions in the Brickfields neighborhood. Daily tours are available at the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple where you’ll be able to visit the shrine’s halls, pagoda and Bodhi tree. The Hundred Quarters features beautiful heritage houses built back in the 1920’s that are under constant threat of redevelopment. The 1904-built Vivekananda Ashram boasts ornate, colorful architecture that makes it the perfect spot for pictures. Or you can soak your pores with local herbs inside the small sauna at the abandoned Sen Hong Tokong temple.
Brickfields is a divine location filled to the brim with religious buildings of all types. Be sure to visit as soon as possible as this neighborhood is experiencing rapid gentrification that threatens its uniqueness.
Pudu is next to Kuala Lumpur’s famous Bukit Bintang district and is home to city’s largest wet market. The abundance of fresh meat and produce at the market has attracted some of the city’s best street food vendors to this local neighborhood.
You’ll find interesting local dishes along Pudu’s Wai Sek Kai. Under the buzz of streetlights, you can sample dishes like Tai Bu Mee, pork intestine porridge, ridiculously crispy fried chicken, fried radish cakes and Hakka noodles.
While there are more well-known neighborhoods for street food in Kuala Lumpur, Pudu’s Wai Sek Kai is like something out of a food documentary. And the price is right. For the cost of a plate of grilled fish at a higher-end neighborhood, you can slurp down ten bowls of local fare in Pudu. The abundance of choice, the open air and the local flare make Pudu a must-visit for any adventurous foodie.