48 hours in Kuala Lumpur

How To Spend 48 Hours In Kuala Lumpur

Have 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur? You’re in luck. An enticing blend of Indian, Malay and Chinese, Malaysia’s mish-mash of a capital packs historic sights, soaring towers, vibrant neighbourhoods and buzzing nightlife into its humid city limits without breaking sweat.

Think: uncovering colonial history, papping cloud-bursting skyscrapers, and shopping at teeming markets during the day; devouring sizzling street food and sipping cocktails in swanky bars after dark.

Here’s How to Spend 48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur:

Day One:

Drop Your Jaw at the Petronas Towers

Once you’ve dropped your bags off at the super-handy Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre, seek out the nearby KLCC Bukit Bintang Pedestrian Walkway and follow it for a kilometre to the epic, 452m-high Petronas Towers. As well as being impressive, the tallest twin towers on the planet are actually rather beautiful when you see them close-up.

Book in advance and you’ll get to admire the jaw-droppping views from the double-decker Skybridge that connects both towers’ 41st and 42nd floors. Best not eat beforehand though: the turbo-lift travels at a stomach-churning 5-6 metres per second!

Absorb the City’s History

Used as a cricket pitch during the days of British colonial rule, Merdeka Square is a huge open space surrounded by heritage buildings in the heart of KL. The exquisite Sultan Abdul Samad Building – where the Malaysian Declaration of Independence was signed in 1957 – is the true highlight, looking for all the world like it’s just been plucked from the pages of an Arabian fairytale.

When you’ve papped that to death, make the short walk over to Masjid Jamek, the city’s oldest mosque. Visitors are welcome, but perhaps ease up on the selfies for a while…

Eat, Drink and be Merry in Bukit Bintang

When evening time rolls around and your stomach starts to growl, head over to Bukit Bintang and stroll along the al fresco dining mecca that is Jalan Alor. Take your pick from the array of (very) casual yet mostly good places offering Malay, Thai and Chinese fare, then kick back and soak up the vibes.

The mobile buskers – some of whom run Noel Gallagher pretty close – are particularly entertaining. Swing by nearby Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL’s most happening nightlife area, to round off your day with a few sundowners.

Day Two:

Explore the Awesome Batu Caves

An early start and an easy 25-minute train ride will ensure you arrive at the fabled Batu Caves with plenty of time to explore its colourful, Tamil-style temples. An enormous 42m-tall golden statue of the Hindu god Lord Muruga stands guard at the entrance. The look on his face says: “You do know you’ll need to climb 272 steps to reach the main temple, right?”

Don’t be deterred though, the chief temple is, like the massive cave it sits within, absolutely awesome. One word of warning: it’s best not to bring food with you as the resident macaque monkeys are renowned for their light-fingered raids on visitors’ backpacks. Refuel at one of the fab Indian restaurants by the entrance if hunger pangs hit.

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur

Go Shopping!

Back in town and it’s time to pick up a few souvenirs and/or knick-knacks. Give the generic chain stores of the shiny Western-style malls a swerve and get on down to the Art-Deco inspired Central Market on Jalan Hang Kasturi. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in this long-established and popular indoor market then chances are it hasn’t been invented yet.

Check out the Malaysian batik prints if you’re keen to pick up something truly authentic. Those with a penchant for Far Eastern goods may find it handy to make the five-minute stroll over to KL Chinatown. Here, the Petaling Street Market does a fine job of relieving generous tourists of their heavy Ringgits. Be prepared to haggle!

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur

Toast Your Trip from a Swanky Rooftop Bar

Why not finish your flying visit off with a memorable nighttime view from one of the city’s snazzy rooftop bars? As well as delivering the goods as far as tip-top vistas go, popular venues like Sky Bar, Troika Sky Dining and Heli Lounge Bar also serve up some rip-roaring cocktail menus. Live music and DJs provide the soundtrack when the party vibe starts to simmer.

beautiful tapas restaurant and bar

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Bo Heamyan
Bo Heamyan

Bo Heamyan is a British travel writer, reporter and author. When not plotting adventurous overseas japes or motoring away on off-grid road trips, Bo enjoys re-reading Walden, worshipping Nietzsche and highlighting the dangers of conformity to his six-year-old daughter.

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