For Chris 30th, we spent 2 amazing weeks in Malaysia. Malaysia is so unique and a wonderful country to explore. With 3 main ethnicities- Malay, Chinese and Indian and a mix of religions (Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu), the sights, places of worship, districts and cuisines are so diverse and really is an incredible country to explore. We spent time in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi island and Georgetown, Penang. Each place had a different vibe and atmosphere and I loved that. It felt like 3 holidays in one!
Throughout the city, there is an abundance of mosques, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist temples. The juxtaposition of the modern glass skyscrapers against the traditional wooden Malay wooden houses shows Malaysia’s cultural and economic diversity.
We flew into Kular Lumpur, spent 5 days before getting an internal flight to Langwaki. We spent 4 days amazing here before catching a ferry to Penang and spending another 4 days there. We then got another internal flight back to Kuala Lumpur and spent one more evening here before flying back to Gatwick. You can read my other blog posts on Langkawi (Part 2) and Georgetown, Penang (Part 3).
We stayed in The Robertson Residences by Stayshare Homes in the Bukit Bitang district. It was a lovely modern apartment and the apartment block had a gym and a really big outdoor infinity pool, which we used a few times (even in the rain)! The views were fantastic. You could even see the tips of the Petronas Twin Towers. The kitchen actually proved quite useful as we had breakfast in the apartment a few times. After a day of exploring, it was really appreciated coming back to a proper apartment where we could chill in a separate living area and have that extra space.
Despite the 35°C weather, there were short sudden bursts of intense downpours, we’d be absolutely soaked through to our underwear but when it stopped, we’d be dry again in half an hour. Being in shorts and sandals but wearing a rain jacket was pretty bizarre! I highly recommend taking a lightweight raincoat/jacket for these wet spells, particularly if travelling during the monsoon season.
As well as restaurants and cafes on every street, there are hawker stalls EVERYWHERE. This is a country who just love to eat! Although we couldn’t eat much from the hawker stalls, I really did find it fascinating walking around and absorbing everything in. There are plenty of food markets around too. For a full breakdown of what we ate, you can read my Vegan in Kuala Lumpur food post.
We did A LOT of walking but also used the monorail and metro systems.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building & Dataran Merdeka Square– Old government offices and the Independence Square
Menara KL Tower– TV tower with viewing decks.
Rumah Penghulu Abuseman- An old restored traditional Malay House
Petronas Twin Towers– Twin skyscrapers
Kampung Buru- A district of traditional Malay wooden stilt houses within the city centre. Quite strange seeing glass skyscrapers in the background. Hawker stalls around.
Temples & Mosques
Masjid Jamek- One of the oldest Mosques in Kuala Lumpur
Batu Caves- A series of Hindu caves and cave temples set within a limestone hill. It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. The shrine hosts the world’s tallest statue of Murgan (42.7 m/ 140 ft). To get to the main temple, you need to climb the 272 colourful steps. Walking up, you can’t miss the long-tailed macaques. With tourists feeding them, they certainly are not shy and can be a little cheeky climbing over people and taking food from people. We spent half a good few hours here but could have stayed longer. If you were to spend a full day here, there are pure vegetarian cafes and shops in the grounds and a stage for performances. Be aware that in one of the caves there is a Reptile Cave where reptiles are kept in glass cages. To get to Batu Caves, you will need to use the metro, but it is very easy to get a train from the City Centre. Other than the glass caged reptiles, I highly recommend visiting Batu Caves!
Sin Sze Si Ya Temple- The oldest Taoist temple in KL
Shri Mariamman Temple- The oldest Hindu temple in KL. It’s so beautiful and the experience was made even more special for us as we visited during a downpour, so we sat within the main temple hall whilst 2 people played some instruments.
Thean Hou Temple- A six-tiered temple of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. The grounds and tiers were really beautiful and I highly recommend visiting this temple. In fact, there were coaches and minibuses in the car park!
Guan Di Temple- A Taoist temple
Shree Veera Hanuman Temple- A Hindu temple
Sam Kow Tong Temple- A Chinese temple of ‘Three Teachings’
Buddhist Maha Vihara- A Buddhist Sri Lankan temple
Dharma Realm Monastery- A Buddhist temple dedicated to Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy/Compassion) with a vegan food court (customers are not charged and are only asked to wash up after themselves)
Museums & Galleries
Art House Gallery Museum of Ethnic Arts– For me, this was a real highlight of our time in KL. This small gallery holds a vast collection of Ethnic art, with a particular focus on pieces from Borneo. The owner was so friendly and was really happy to talk to me and answer my questions on the pieces. Entry was free, but I would have happily paid an entrance fee.
National Museum– The national museum to learn about Malaysia’s history, economics, politics and arts
Muzium Ethnologi Dunia Melaya- The gallery focuses on socio-cultural aspects of the Malay community in Malaysia with traditional art, fashion, jewellery, games and weaponry artefacts
Orang Asli Museum– A small museum on the Orang Asli community (the indigenous people ad the oldest inhabitants of Peninsular Malaysia)
Marks & Hawker Stalls
Central Market– Definitely a place for tourists to shop, but worth just wondering around
Chow Kit Market- Clothing, food & hawker stalls
Time Square- ‘Modern’ & electronic shops
Petaling Street Market- Clothing, food & hawker stalls
Jalan Alor- Night hawker market- really not vegan-friendly but we loved walking through all the stalls and smelling all of the foods!
Perdana Botanical Gardens– Really lovely grounds to walk around. 100% advise applying mosquito repellent!
KL Eco Forest**- A city rain forest with several nature trails & a forest canopy walkway
KLCC Park– Park in the city centre next to the Petronas Twin Towers
Highlights- Batu Caves, Art House Gallery Museum of Ethnic Arts, Shri Mariamman Temple, Theon Hou Temple, Orang Asli Museum, Dharma Realm Monastery
**It’s worth noting that whilst we were in Kuala Lumpur, it was Eid (the end of Ramadam) and so there were a couple of places we went to but found to be shut, such as KL Eco Forest a couple of government-run museums and the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex, as they were closed for the public holiday. We would have also liked to have visited inside the National Mosque- although it was open to the public, we didn’t feel quite visiting during such an important religious festival.