Just a hop and a skip away from our sunny shores is yet another perennially sunlit city, the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
There’s little that most Singaporeans do not know about the bustling cityscape, with weekend jaunts to the capital of Malaysia almost a part and parcel of our lives. Be it shopping at their version of Orchard Road – the downtown Bukit Bintang area, or eating up a storm, most of us would think we have the whole of KL mapped out.
On my recent weekend trip to the Malaysian city however, I found out that there is much more to do and discover there than expected, and boy, was I surprised.
Three unexpected places of interest to check out in Kuala Lumpur
1) Visit Japan while in Malaysia
Even not-so-regular visitors to Kuala Lumpur will know that Pavilion is the place to visit if you only have one day to shop. From high-end labels like Celine, Bottega Veneta and Prada to high-street labels like Topshop and Forever 21, there’s something for every shopper.
What not everyone will know however is, that set away from the rest of the mall on a corner of Level 6 stands a little slice of Japan.
Called Tokyo Street, this 40,000 square feet space contains everything Japanese, think dainty gourmet mochi stands and quaint little stores selling innovative Japanese knick-knacks. Visit the usual suspects like Ochado bubble tea, Santouka Ramen and the all-you-can-eat shabu shabu restaurant Suki-Ya if you must, but leave space for those that aren’t available in Singapore.
Head to Mochi Sweets for the best mochi you’ve ever tried; it is said to be one of the premium brands of mochi in Japan. Flavours range from the traditional red bean and green tea, to the more uncommon, like mango yoghurt and caramel macchiato. Long queues are known to form on the weekends; so go early to avoid missing out.
Other noteworthy mentions include Shimino Japanese crepes that are as authentic as they come. Soft, fluffy crepes come neatly wrapped in a tear-as-you-eat paper cone and are available in a range of savoury and sweet fillings.
2) See the city from above the trees
You might think that there is nothing of particular interest to see in Kuala Lumpur besides viewing the city line from the top of the Petronas Twin Towers. Well, that’s where you’re wrong.
Get ready to be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of flora and fauna in a 486-hectare rainforest located right in the city itself by taking a trip to the Forest Research Institute Malaysia or FRIM for short.
A quick 20-minute drive from the city centre will bring you to the protected forest reserve that is open to the public.
Indulge your nature-loving side and trek through the unspoilt natural beauty up towards the treetop canopy walk that will cost you RM20 (SGD9). Be warned though, the 500 metres trek up to the canopy and back down to the picnic area isn’t a walk in the park.
Sturdy walking shoes, a sensible backpack and insect repellent is a must because the tropical rainforests of Malaysia get up to 6 inches of rainfall per month, which makes for a potentially slippery path.
The entire trip will take you approximately two-and-a-half hours to complete, but it is definitely worth it. The canopy walk is located 1000 feet above sea level and is 150 metres long, with five interlinked bridges and three platforms for all your Kodak photo moments. Up there, you’ll be able to take in the whole of KL city, while breathing in the freshest of air.
The canopy walk is open on Tuesdays to Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and operating hours are from 9.30am to 2.30pm. I recommend you visit it early in the morning before it gets too hot or too crowded; the canopy walk only takes up to 250 people a day. Besides, the tranquillity of the morning is too precious to be wasted by lazing in bed.
3) Party 300 feet above ground
Spurn the usual nightlife hangout at Changkat Bukit Bintang – you’ve probably been there a million times – and opt for something a little more chill and set away from the too touristy stretch.
Head to the View Rooftop Bar on the 30th floor of G Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city at night. Perch yourself at the Absolut vodka alfresco bar for specially concocted cocktails or settle into plush white sofas to enjoy the balmy night breeze. Reservations are required on weekends and expect the crowd to comprise mostly of young urbanites looking for a unique hangout location.
The View Rooftop Bar is divided into three distinct sections, the alfresco bar, the Glenlivet Whisky Lounge and the G.H. Mumm Champagne Room, which transforms into an exclusive club with a DJ spinning tunes all night long once the party gets going.
Drinks-wise, go for their signature “can’t-find-it-anywhere-else” concoctions, like the “View” Caipiroska, RM38 (SGD15), which is an intriguing but delectable mixture of Absolut Blue, lime wedges and lemongrass finished off with a hint of Gula Melaka.
Where to Stay
For the utmost in hospitality and for that warm, fuzzy feeling of a vacation hotel-in-the-city, try the newly-opened DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. Located within the prestigious Golden Triangle district, the DoubleTree by Hilton is perfectly positioned, just about eight minutes off the busy Bukit Bintang area and five minutes from Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) and the Petronas Twin Towers.
The DoubleTree by Hilton in Kuala Lumpur has a time-honoured tradition of making customers feel at home, starting from their signature chocolate cookie that is baked fresh daily and given to every guest while still warm and toasty at check-in, to their aptly named CareLine hotline service and to their instantly welcoming sun-lit lobby.
Newly-opened in August 2010, the DoubleTree by Hilton is modern, stylish and relaxing, with over 500 guestrooms spread across 34 storeys, promising guests a stellar view of the city. Read our review of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel here.
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