Your experience holidaying in Kuala Lumpur will vary depending on where you are in the world. If it is your first Asia holiday you will be dazzled with a mix of the things that people associate with Asia (cheap food and drinks, street markets, etc.) coupled with the modern tall skyscraper and shopping mall side (think Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore).
For people living in Singapore, it feels like Singapore, but not quite there yet. I don’t mean to say that in an offensive way, but it felt eerily similar to Singapore but without the same level of order, cleanliness and rules.
Despite that, it was a really enjoyable weekend trip, albeit a little tiring.
The main tourist market in Kuala Lumpur. Hop off on Pasar Seni station and its a 5 minute walk away. The market sells your usual fake handbags, sneakers, and clothing. There are a ton of these stores so do your best to haggle. I find it useful to do the walk away and let them continue to shout prices at you until you hear something you are comfortable with.
Fake stuff aside, expect to see your usual tourist wares like tote bags, luggages, and objects that remind you that you visited Malaysia. There is also some streets filled with food options inside, though we didn’t really get a chance to eat any because we were at the…
Central Market, Katsuri Walk
A more tamer market which unlike Petaling Street is less fake designer goods, and more creative / independent designer stuff. Though it still has way too many shops selling KL/Malaysia magnets, bookmarks, tote bags, and shot glasses, there are some pretty cool things to be had as well. We picked up some bracelets where you get to pick the charms to be hooked on (picture below), and a stall selling wooden Samsung/iPhone
Of course KL is known for its vast Shopping Centres. Theres too many to choose from but these are the ones we visited.
Suria KLCC has the advantage of having great views of the Petronas Towers. We didnt actually go up the tower because you need to pickup tickets real early as they sell out fast. Also, i’m of the opinion that i want to see the actual towering structure, rather than lookout from itself. The shopping centre itself, has basically every brand you would expect to see, and then some (think Uniqlo, H&M, Zara, etc.). Suria also has a Books Kinokuniya. Books are way cheaper here than in Singapore or Australia so stock up on what you need here!
We also dropped into the Pavilion Mall in Jalan Bukit Bintang. That street has probably the highest concentration of malls in KL (i think i read that somewhere, but cant verify…). A cool part of the mall is that on the top level there is a Tokyo Street, which is basically a collection of all stores Japanese. Expect toys, japanese snacks, a Daiso, and more! Worth a look.
Lot 10 Hutong
If you want to experience the best of the KL hawker centres without having to venture out to all parts of the city, then Hutong 10 is your answer. Long story short, a billionare in KL wanted to maintain the herritage of hawker centres for future generations that prefer air conditioned malls over outdoor steaming hot eateries. He convinced a bunch of famous hawkers in KL to open up a stall in a shopping centre he bought.
Come here for the char kway teo, carrot cake and cantonese style bbq pork and roast duck! Things are cheap so try a bit of everything.
Timeout Cafe, Kuala Lumpur
Personal preference here.. I like to read Timeout wherever i am to see what is happening in the City. As a monthly reader of the issue in Singapore (Free at Raffles MRT each month), and a subscriber in Sydney, I couldn’t help but go to the actual Cafe in Kuala Lumpur, just outside the Bukit Bintang train station. They serve western style coffee and cakes, but also, have back editions of Japan Timeout magazine for you to take. I left with about 10 mags from the cafe!