The capital of Malaysia has come a long way from being a sleepy little Chinese mining village. Now a buzzing metropolis with the best in glitzy shopping, vibrant nightlife, world class restaurants and a fantastic skyline, Kuala Lumpur is prominent on the tourist map.
The city is divided into many districts, given its sheer size. The Golden Triangle, to the north east of the city, is where the tourists congregate and is the glitzy centre with malls, posh hotels and restaurants. Bangsar and Midvalley house popular clubs and some good malls, while Brickfields is KL’s Little India. KL is a shopper’s paradise, with malls around every bend. For the culturally inclined and the spiritual, there are numerous temples and museums depicting much of Malaysia’s history and culture. Sample some superb Asian fare and enjoy soaking in the vibrant spirit of the locals, as Malaysia is, truly Asia.
Singapore has earned itself the reputation of being a tourist hot spot of sorts, and justifiably so. The city’s skyline is postcard perfect, with towering skyscrapers disappearing into the clouds. Whether it is the public transport or traffic management, everything works in clockwork fashion—a welcome surprise for most Indians.
The metropolis offers a variety of sights and experiences for all types of travelers. History junkies would enjoy the city’s many museums, while nature lovers would love the Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari.
The city abounds in good dining choices. Singaporeans take their shopping very seriously, and even the most hardcore shopper will be delighted by the shopping options. A burgeoning art scene and cultural hubs such as Chinatown complete the Singapore package.
Places to Visit
Petronas Towers: The twin jewels of KL, the iconic Petronas Towers, loom over the city centre, defining its skyline. The 88-storey chrome and steel towers are the headquarters of Malaysia’s oil and gas company – Petronas – as well as many other corporations. The Dewan Filharmonik Petronas concert hall – Southeast Asia’s leading venue for classical music – is situated between the two towers. The Sky Bridge tour is an amazing attraction offering a spectacular view from the top of this building.
Menara KL Tower: This 421m high tower stands atop the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, and is the fifth tallest structure in the world. The viewing deck is higher than the Petronas Tower’s Skybridge, there’s a revolving restaurant at the top. The view from the top is spectacular, especially at night, when the city is all lit up.
Batu Caves: A limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones, Batu Caves are considered to be one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions. There is a 100-year old temple with statues of Hindu Gods in the caves, and 400 million year old limestone formations are found in the caves as well.
Thean Hou Temple: This six-tiered Chinese temple sits atop Robson Heights in Kuala Lumpur, and is dedicated to the Goddess Tian Hou. Featuring imposing pillars, ornate carvings and murals on the walls, this is one of the oldest temples in Southeast Asia.
Guandi Temple: Built in 1186, this temple is dedicated to Kwan Ti, the legendary Chinese God of War. Coils if incense, paper, clothes and money are burnt in the main hall, to bring good fortune.
Lake Gardens Park: Sculpted parks and dense tropical jungles emerge from the urban landscape as you enter the Lake Gardens Park near Chinatown. Created as a retreat in the colonial era to escape the busy city, the park covers a huge area and is planted with native trees and plants. A huge children’s playground sits in the center and a sprawling lake.
Taman Tasik Titiwangsa: Offering a stunning view of the city skyline is the recreational park surrounding Lake Titiwangsa. There are lovely walking paths, as well as boat rides on the lake. Also in the park are tennis and squash courts and a mini F1 racing track. A great way to spend time with the kids.
The Merlion: With the head of a lion and the body of a fish, The Merlion is the mascot of Singapore. It represents Singapore’s humble origins as a fishing village named Temasek. The statue stands today at The Merlion Park, on the mouth of the Singapore River. It provides a wonderful photo opportunity to visitors—A souvenir picture to put up on their refrigerators at home!
Sentosa Island: Sentosa, a resort island just a stone’s throw away from the Singapore is one of the most popular tourist destinations not just in the country but in the world! Over 5 million tourists visit the island every year. A picturesque cable car ride to the island is just the perfect start to your Sentosa adventure! Its top attractions include ‘Underwater World’, ‘Dolphin Lagoon’, ‘Images of Singapore’ and ‘Song of the Sea’.
Dolphin Lagoon is a delightful sight as it gives you a unique opportunity to watch pink dolphins at play. Underwater World is a massive oceanarium and it is a fantastic experience to see such a diverse variety of colourful marine animals. There are over 2500 sea creatures found here, including sharks, dugongs, turtles etc.
‘Images of Singapore’ is a vibrant presentation of the country’s rich heritage and The Songs of the Sea is the ultimate water show, replete with pyrotechnics, water jets, lasers, bursts of flame all used artistically in a captivating dance-drama. You can also enhance your experience by opting for The Sentosa Cineblast Simulation ride, a thrilling experience!
Universal Studios: A must visit if you’re in Singapore is Universal Studios; a futuristic theme park, the first of its kind in Asia. Widely acclaimed, the park has enthralled millions of visitors since it opened in 2010. With 7 unique zones themed on different Hollywood blockbusters spread over an area of 50 acres, the park offers an altogether new experience and transports you to another world with its remarkable lifelike quality.
Step into the world of movies and more, enjoy roller coasters and water rides, live shows and musicals, and inventive restaurants and cafes. The world of Hollywood laid bare at your feet, you can explore its glamorous Boulevard and march down the “Walk of Fame” apart from visiting the sets of some of its most epic hits. Watch the fun and join in the antics of King Julien and all the other groovy characters of Madagascar who’ll show you how to party in style. And well if you’ve always wondered what the future’s going to look like, Sci-fi City will have you gaping at its space age technologies, life would never have looked so good!
Singapore Flyer: Located at Marina Promenade, this giant Ferris wheel is believed to be the tallest in the world. The Singapore Flyer will give you a bird’s eye view of the sparkling city of Singapore, the Indonesian islands of Batam/ Bintan, and the Malaysian City of Johor Bahru. Visibility is about 45 kilometers. Hop on for a high of a very different sort!
The Night Safari: Welcome to the world’s first nocturnal zoo! Home to over 1000 animals, including endangered species, the safari is a unique experience for those who love nature. Come face to face with a tiger or an Indian rhinoceros; catch a cultural performance such as a tribal dance—it’s all happening here!
Museums: History buffs will enjoy exploring Singapore’s many museums. The National Museum of Singapore is home to a vast array of artifacts related to the history of Singapore. The Singapore Art Museum celebrates the city’s burgeoning modern art scene. The Peranankan Museum is dedicated to the Peranakan culture, while the Asian Civilisations Museum specialises in pan-Asian cultural heritage. The Singapore Philatelic Museum is a must visit for stamp collectors. These museums are within walking distance of each other, around the City Hall area.
Marina Bay Sands and its casino: A majestic new addition to the Singaporean skyline, this ship-like structure is a must visit because it is home to Singapore’s largest casino! Try your hands at the slot machines, give your best shot at poker, or simply stand and watch the action.
Chinatown: Take a stroll amidst Chinatown’s colorful shop houses to get a feel of the original Singapore, long before the island suddenly exploded with high-rises. Chinatown is a traveler’s dream—tacky yet traditional, with unbelievable prices. Several of the establishments have been around for decades, and are local heritage brands so to speak. Pop in for an authentic Chinese meal or stock up on herbal medicines. Liven up your home with Chinese New Year decorations (to be bought at a steal once the New Year passes) or simply stand aside and watch the action around!
Arab Street: An interesting cultural bubble within a sleek metropolis, Arab Street is home to the best Middle Eastern food options, as well as dozens of dimply-light hookah parlors. Quaint boutiques line its streets. Drop in at the Mysterious Café for a tarot card reading.
Tibetan Temple: The Thekchen Choling Temple, located at Beatty Lane, is Singapore’s only traditional Tibetan Buddhist temple. It is an outstanding example of how culture and religion have melded with the cosmopolitan cityscape. The temple is interesting, with numerous sacred relics and devotional objects on display. Offer prayers of the incense sticks, admire the minute wall carvings, and be drawn in by the chanting. Visitors of all faiths are welcome.