Mr M and I were in my hometown PJ/Kuala Lumpur just recently and whilst visiting our family was a straightforward matter, I also had to come up with a plan for Mr M. Being a true blue Malaysian, I could easily spend my days eating cheap delicious food and shopping in large air-conditioned malls. Mr M on the other hand is very outdoorsy so it would be cruel to only subject him to our way of life for a good 9 days.
Here’s the deal. Being Malaysian also meant that I did not ever need to think about being a tourist in my own city so when I was trying to come up with our daily schedule, I was lost! I had to ask around and consult google, also bearing in mind that Mr M had visited some of the more famous attractions in his last visits. We did end up doing a number of fun things though after a bit of agonising on my end. To save you from all the trouble that I had, here’s what I would like to call ‘The KL Travel Guide for Locals’.
#1. Grab a Grab
Grab is the Asian equivalent of Uber and it had saved us so much trouble and money! As some of you may know, the public transport system in Malaysia is still very much lacking so getting from point A – point B without a car is a big hassle. The warm and highly humid weather does not help either. Grab offers cheap door to door ride (so cheap that we actually felt bad for paying so little when traffic was horrendous) and as a result we were able to jump between destinations easily. Simply download the app on your phone and you’re ready to go. We opted for the cash payment option only so make sure you have the right money before you board. Some drivers just do not have any change especially if you’re their first customer!
#2. Revisit your favourite mamak and banana leaf restaurants
Roti canai and teh tarik never get old. Eating at mamak tops our list as getting a similar meal in Sydney would cost an arm and a leg. Please do me a favour and familiarise yourself with all the local teas and coffees beforehand. I looked super silly when the ‘boss’ looked at me blankly as I fumbled to give an order. Banana leaf rice on the other hand is such a Malaysian thing and eating off a fresh banana leaf is actually quite a novelty that you could gram’ and show off to your western counterparts.
#3. Go down the path of nostalgia
For me that meant Lake Titiwangsa! Titiwangsa on a hot and humid day you say? Yes. It was painful but I’m glad we took the time to do it. In fact we strolled there from the National Visual Arts Gallery (which was pretty bare and only ok) and got lost along the way. You could totally bike around the lake if that’s your preferred choice to see the area. The other outdoorsy place that we went to was Bukit Kiara Park. Try and go early in the morning, before things get sticky and uncomfortable. I’ve never had this epiphany before but visit had opened my eyes to how pretty Malaysia’s vegetation is. The lush and wild greens were hard to dismiss. We neither had the time nor energy to head to Lake Gardens this time round so that will have to wait till next time.
We decided to go to FRIM because of their famous canopy walk. Few things to note though, the canopy is going to close for good on 30th of June 2017 boohoo! You would actually need to book at least a day in advance for the walk as it is going to be a guided tour. The walk didn’t simply take 1 hour like we initially thought. You would need to hike through a jungle and some clearings to get to the canopy and return in a similar manner so allow for at least 3 hours of activity. Be sure to bring plenty of water and bug spray. The longer your socks are, the better as there will be leeches as well that are ready for a feed.
#5. ISETAN The Japan Store
Kuala Lumpur is overcrowded with shopping malls but this concept store is truly one of a kind, especially because it’s one of the only 2 in the world. The other concept store is located in NYC. The flow of the store was pleasing and we found everything so fascinating. Things were done to perfection and the quiet Japanese aesthetics were highly enjoyable. Even if shopping is not your cup of tea, The Japan Store would likely to make you beg for more.
#6. Visit all the hipster cafes
Hipster is the word these days. There are tonnes of hipster cafes dotted all over PJ and KL and the most unique one that’s teemed with strong Asian flavours is none other than Merchant’s Lane, right in the heart of KL. Some of the other (non-exhaustive) favourites are One Half, softsrve and Kenny Hills Bakers.
#7. Experience theatre
You heard it right. We went to Panggung Bandaraya to watch Mud KL and it was amazing. Panggung Bandaraya does smell a little musty so if you have a sensitive nose, bring some mints or ginger candies to suck on! Do also check out klpac if you’re on a theatre kick.
#9. Enjoy KL’s skyline
Visit SkyBar for a drink and an obstructive view of KL’s skyline. We were there in the afternoon and although we were boiling hot (and weren’t allowed to swim in the pool), we had a relaxing time sipping on icy-cold drinks and people-watching.
#10. KLCC Park
Once again, you would not likely see a Malaysian voluntarily strolling around the well-manicured park in the insane heat but trust me, the park and it’s surroundings are actually quite pretty. Seeing the iconic twin towers perched so confidently amongst all the other buildings did bring me a sense of pride.
Hope this travel guide has given you a few fun ideas, especially when you have guests and you don’t know what to do besides eating and shopping.
Have a nice day being a tourist! Of course please also feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section.