The name of Malaysia’s capital and largest city translates to “muddy confluence”, though the city today is instead a confluence of old and new cultures, of Buddhism and Islam, and of many global languages. From the spectacular urban spires of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas twin towers to huge shopping centers like Bukit Bintang, this city has a variety of attractions for almost every taste. For those staying awhile, there are some must-see day trips to consider. Here is a look at some of the top day trips from Kuala Lumpur:
The Genting Highlands, another hilltop resort, is a theme park city that is accessible by skyway cable car. Sitting atop lush forested hilltops, guests will be surprised to see a large collection of theme hotels and resorts similar to the strip in Las Vegas. One of the five hotels, the First World Hotel, holds the record for being the largest in the world (and also one of the ugliest according to some). Under construction to be opened in 2016 is Twentieth Century Fox World, a theme park that will be similar to the Universal Studios Franchise. It is the home base for many Asian reality shows, concerts, and a large and vibrant nightlife, and a must-see for those who love this sort of venue.
As of 2012, almost all of the governmental ministries of Malaysia reside in Putrajaya. This planned city is the administrative center of the country, though Kuala Lumpur remains its capital city. It is the place to go to visit embassy buildings, see the government in action, and to discover spectacular architecture. From the ornate splendor of Putra Mosque and Istana Melawati to the lush expanse of the Putrajaya Botanical Gardens, this city offers a culturally rich experience for the thousands of civil servants living here, as well as the visitors who come to discover Putrajaya for themselves.
Bukit Fraser is a hill resort, located on the Titiwangsa Ridge in Malaysia. It includes seven peaks and a forest that is considered to be one of the most pristine in Southeast Asia. This ancient forest bedecked with hanging moss is well known for its diverse bird population, and many birders travel here and stay in the half dozen hotels in the area. Golfers also find great courses here, in areas that were once cleared to create a small tin mining region. This is a very popular spot with native Malay and Singaporeans, many of whom simply love to walk the many trails in the region and enjoy the cool climate.
This cape town is about an hour’s travel from Kuala Lumpur. It has been a busy port town since colonial times, when it served as an export site for charcoal and tin ore. More recently, it has added a pair of refineries, and maintains its importance in the shipping trade. Despite this, the beaches here are white, warm and pristine, and it contains a large number of resort hotels that developed during the economic boom of the nineties. Today, the rooms are still new but somewhat underutilized, and can be a great discount for families and other visitors taking an extra few days at the beach. If cities are preferred, the city of half a million boasts a number of great restaurants and cultural events that are easy to find and enjoy.
Another popular day trip from Kuala Lumpur, the Kuala Selangor Nature Park serves as one of the best examples of a preserved estuarine wetland in all of Asia. Home to the endangered milky stork, the park has, when funds allowed, promoted breeding programs and preserved the home for important species like the stork, herons, silver leaf monkeys and macaques. The main reason why people go here however is to marvel at the fireflies along the banks of the Selangor River. There is nothing like cruising on a boat along the river in the night to capture the beauty of this wondrous sight.
The Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is located within the confines of the Krau Game Preserve. It is known for rescuing problem elephants who are unfit for the typical use of farming or pack animals, and relocating them to safe habitats that allow them freedom without concern of clashes with rural farmers. The center also serves as an educational center, where they allow guests to watch elephants being bathed and fed, explore informational videos, and get a chance to donate to the program keeping the small population of Asian elephants protected even when they don’t play well with others. It is roughly a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Just 13 km (8 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur a towering limestone outcrop is home to these impressive caves. In the 19th century a small Hindu shrine was built in the largest cave, later known as Temple Cave. An enormous golden statue of Lord Murugan, to whom the caves are dedicated, stands at the foot of a flight of 272 steps leading up to Temple Cave. At the top of the stairs, visitors will find three huge limestone caves plus smaller ones filled with Hindu art and statues Visitors may want to bring peanuts or bananas for the monkeys that will greet them upon arrival.
Melaka (or Malacca) is an old city that was one the capital of a powerful Malay kingdom before the colonial era, as well as a city under subsequent Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Many buildings here have a beautiful combination of colonial architecture and vibrant Asian color. Large, white pillared manses with red and purple roofs sit above golden gardens. The crumbling remains of A Famosa, the Portuguese fort founded by Afonso de Albequerque, sits among the modern city skyscrapers of Melaka town while the Dutch district features some of the oldest Dutch architecture in the East. Of special note here is the large spires of the Church of St Francis Xavier, which are expansive and easy to see on the skyline.