Hit these six sights when you’re on a tight time frame
Beautiful butterflies and sleek skyline bars are the order of the day in Malaysia’s vibrant capital
1 Perdana Botanical Garden
Perfect for shaking off the cobwebs after a slew of morning meetings, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest public park (1888) offers the opportunity to lose yourself amongst tropical flora and fauna. Wander the Hibiscus Garden and Herbarium, passing the central enclosure where a herd of deer roam freely. From there, it’s a short walk through Perdana’s lush gardens to the Bird Park, a public aviary containing more than 3,000 birds, with peaceful coffee breaks available on the Hornbill Café’s veranda.
Alternatively, head over to the famous Butterfly Park, a tranquil spot where vividly coloured insects live in harmony with Japanese koi and freshwater turtles within a lush landscaped plantation. klbotanicalgarden.gov. my; klbirdpark.com (open 9am-6pm daily; admission RM67/US$16); klbutterf lypark.com (open 9am6pm daily; admission RM24/US$5.8)
2 Masjid Negara, National Mosque of Malaysia
Leaving the Botanical Garden, continue along Jalan Lembah until you come to the Masjid Negara, on your left. Opened in 1965 and since restored in contemporary style, this imposing building has capacity for around 15,000 worshippers. Known for its green-and-blue tiled roof and 73-metre-tall minaret, the country’s national mosque is also notable for its 18-point star-shaped dome, representing all 13 of Malaysia’s states plus the five pillars of Islam. Its sizeable prayer hall is adorned with intricate tiled mosaics, as well as colourful stained-glass windows and elaborate chandeliers. The mosque welcomes non-Muslims outside of prayer times, and robes and headscarves are available to borrow. masjidnegara.gov.my
3 Central Market and Sin Sze Si Ya Temple
Crossing Jalan Kinabalu and the Klang River, ten minutes’ walk brings you to the art-deco Central Market, a recognised heritage site. Built in 1928, this former wet market was reinvented as a hub for artisans and craftsmen in the 1980s, and today is a major independent shopping hub. Offering traditional souvenirs such as batik and decorative carvings, alongside original Malaysian artworks and handmade jewellery, there’s something here for every taste and budget. The market’s first floor is the ideal spot to sample Malay snacks, including the delicious putu bambu, made from rice flour, pandan and coconut, steamed in a hollowed-out bamboo stem. A short distance farther along Lebuh Pudu is the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple. Built in 1864, this is the oldest Taoist temple in KL. centralmarket.com.my
4 Aquaria KLCC and Petronas Twin Towers
A 15-minute taxi ride via Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan P Ramlee brings you to the Golden Triangle, the beating heart of KL. Here you’ll find Aquaria KLCC, one of Southeast Asia’s largest aquariums, with more than 5,000 aquatic creatures from giant sea turtles and sand tiger sharks to pot-bellied seahorses and Asian small-clawed otters. Taking you through various fascinating underwater habitats, the highlight is a 90-metre glass tunnel with a moving central walkway, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by marine life on all sides. Check the website in advance to schedule your visit in time for one of the aquarium’s interactive feeding sessions.
A short walk away you can snap some stunning cityscape photos from the 452-metre-tall Petronas Twin Towers – the city’s most iconic landmark. Bypass the queues by purchasing advance tickets online for the building’s famous Skybridge or Observation Deck. aquariaklcc.
com (open 10am-8pm daily; RM65/ US$15.7); petronastwintowers.
com.my (open 9am-9pm Tue-Sun, closed Mondays and 1-2.30pm on Fridays; RM80/US$19).
5 Heli Lounge Bar
Grab a cab for the ten-minute drive along Jalan Ampang to Heli Lounge Bar, where you can sink back some well-earned sundowners accompanied by seriously impressive views. The clue to this place’s USP is in its name; whilst the venue features a slick aviation-themed bar on the 34th floor, it’s the 37th floor where the real action is – a working helipad that turns into KL’s coolest rooftop lounge at night, complete with extraordinary 360-degree city vistas. Sunsets here are every bit as breathtaking as you’d imagine, even more so with a cocktail in hand. The helipad opens at 6pm; facebook.com/heliloungebar
A 15-minute walk (or five-minute taxi ride) will bring you to Bijan on Jalan Ceylon. This award-winning restaurant serves up traditional Malaysian cuisine sprinkled with perfectly judged contemporary touches, all in a charmingly rustic setting – think batikprint wall hangings, wooden furniture and a breezy outdoor terrace should you fancy dining under the stars. Must-orders include opor rusuk, a meltin-the-mouth slow-cooked beef rib curry; pucuk paku goreng tahi minyak, aromatic wild fern stir-fried with chilli, caramelised coconut and prawns; and a deliciously decadent durian chocolate cake. Given Bijan’s reasonable prices, there’s no excuse not to order up a feast for your last KL pitstop. Open 4.3011pm daily; bijanrestaurant.com