Malaysia Sightseeing

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Established in the mid-1800s, Kuala Lumpur is the youngest Southeast Asian capital. It's also one of the wealthiest and most appealing, a bustling blend of charming colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers. Home to the "Multimedia Super Corridor," this city is highly regarded as the most pro high-tech business center in Asia. One of the newest airports in Asia, the modern KLIA offers daily direct flights from all over the world, making it easy to do business here. The million-plus residents of KL are mostly Malays, Chinese and Indians. The ethnic mix is evident in the various dialects, unique cuisines and diverse cultural offerings. Attractions are equally varied. Check out Merdeka Square, the colonial center and site of Malaysian independence (1957); Chinatown, showcasing kitschy outdoor markets; the nearby Batu Caves, a shrine to Hindu deities; and the Golden Triangle, a busy commercial and shopping district; and the Petronas Towers, until recently the world's tallest buildings.

Central Market
The original Central Market, built in 1936, used to be a wet market, but the place is now a cultural center (air-conditioned!) for local artists and craftspeople selling antiques, crafts, and curios. It is a fantastic place for buying Malaysian and Asian crafts and souvenirs, with two floors of shops to choose from. The Central Market also stages evening performances (7:45pm on weekends) of Malay martial arts, Indian classical dance, or Chinese orchestra. Call the number below for performance information.

Islamic Arts Museum
The seat of Islamic learning in Kuala Lumpur, the center has displays of Islamic texts, artifacts, porcelain, and weaponry in local and visiting exhibits.

Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens
Built around an artificial lake, the 91.6-hectare (229-acre) park has plenty of space for jogging and rowing, and has a playground for the kids. It's the most popular park in Kuala Lumpur. Inside the Lake Gardens find the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (Jalan Perdana; tel. 03/2273-5423; adults RM28/$7.35, children RM20/$5.25; daily 9am-7pm) nestled in beautifully landscaped gardens, with over 3,000 birds within a huge newly-built walk-in aviary.

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
Built in 1910, the KL Railway Station is a beautiful example of Moorish architecture.

Malaysia Tourist Centre
At MTC you'll find an exhibit hall, tourist information services for Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, and other travel-planning services. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays there are cultural shows at 3pm, featuring Malaysian dance and music. Shows are RM5 ($1.30) for adults, free for children.

Menara Kuala Lumpur
Standing 421m (1,389 ft.) tall, this concrete structure is the third tallest tower in the world, and the views from the top reach to the far corners of the city and beyond. At the top, the glass windows are fashioned after the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran.

Merdeka Square
Surrounded by colonial architecture with an exotic local flair, the square was once the site of British social and sporting events. These days, Malaysia holds its spectacular Independence Day celebrations on the field, which is home to the world's tallest flagpole, standing at 100m (330 ft.).

National Art Gallery
The building that now houses the National Art Gallery was built as the Majestic Hotel in 1932 and has been restored to display contemporary works by Malaysian artists. There are also international exhibits.

National Museum
Located at Lake Gardens, the museum has more than 1,000 items of historic, cultural, and traditional significance, including art, weapons, musical instruments, and costumes.

National Planetarium
The National Planetarium has a Space Hall with touch-screen interactive computers and hands-on experiments, a Viewing Gallery with binoculars for a panoramic view of the city, and an Ancient Observatory Park with models of Chinese and Indian astronomy systems. The Space Theatre has two different outer-space shows at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm for an extra charge of RM3 (80¢) for adults and RM2 (55¢) for children.

Petaling Street
This is the center of KL's Chinatown district. By day, stroll past hawker stalls, dim sum shops, wet markets, and all sorts of shops, from pawn shops to coffin makers. At night, a crazy bazaar (which is terribly crowded) pops up -- look for designer knockoffs, fake watches, and pirate VCDs (Video CDs) here.

Petronas Twin Towers
Standing at an awesome 451.9m (1,482 ft.) above street level, with 88 stories, the towers are the tallest buildings in the world. From the outside, the structures are designed with the kind of geometric patterns common to Islamic architecture, and on levels 41 and 42 the two towers are linked by a bridge. Visitors are permitted on the viewing deck on the bridge from 10am to 8pm every day except Mondays and public holidays, otherwise the building is accessible only if you are conducting business inside.

Sri Mahamariaman Temple
With a recent face-lift (Hindu temples must renovate every 12 years), this bright temple livens the gray street scene around it. It's a beautiful temple tucked away in a narrow street in KL's Chinatown area, which was built by Thambusamy Pillai, a pillar of old KL's Indian community.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building
In 1897 this exotic building was designed by Regent Alfred John Bidwell, a colonial architect responsible for many of the buildings in Singapore. He chose a style called "Muhammadan" or "neo-Saracenic," which combines Indian Muslim architecture with Gothic and other Western elements. Built to house government administrative offices, today it is the home of Malaysia's Supreme Court and High Court.

National Mosque
Built in a modern design, the most distinguishing features of the mosque are its 73m (243-ft.) minaret and the umbrella-shaped roof, which is said to symbolize a newly independent Malaysia's aspirations for the future. Could be true, as the place was built in 1965, the year Singapore split from Malaysia.

Golf
People from all over Asia flock to Malaysia for its golf courses, many of which are excellent standard courses designed by pros.

Side Trips

Taman Negara National Park
Malaysia's most famous national park, Taman Negara, covers 434,300 hectares (1,085,750 acres) of primary rainforest estimated to be as old as 130 million years and encompasses within its borders Gunung Tahan, peninsular Malaysia's highest peak at 2,187m (7,175 ft.) above sea level.

Prepare to see lush vegetation and rare orchids, some 250 bird species, and maybe, if you're lucky, some barking deer, tapir, elephants, tigers, leopards, and rhinos. As for primates, there are long-tailed macaques, leaf monkeys, gibbons, and more. Malaysia has taken the preservation of this forest seriously since the early part of the century, so Taman Negara showcases efforts to keep this land in as pristine a state as possible while still allowing humans to appreciate the splendor.

Mutiara Taman Negara Resort
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, well established in the business of hosting visitors to the park, is the best accommodation in terms of comfort. It organizes trips for 3 days and 2 nights or for 4 days and 3 nights, as well as an a la carte deal where you pay for lodging and activities separately. Accommodations come in many styles: a bungalow suite for families; chalet and chalet suite, both good for couples; standard guesthouse rooms in a motel-style longhouse; and dormitory hostels for budget travelers.

Genting Highlands
The "City of Entertainment," as Genting is known locally, serves as Malaysia's answer to Las Vegas, complete with bright lights (that can be seen from Kuala Lumpur) and gambling. And although most people come here for the casino, there's a wide range of other activities, although most of them seem to serve the purpose of entertaining the kids while you bet their college funds at the roulette wheel. Honestly, I'll bet there's a more exciting place to gamble closer to where you live -- this place holds little appeal for anyone but locals. Still, if you itch to place a bet . . .

Cameron Highlands
Located in the hills, this colonial-era resort town has a cool climate, which makes it the perfect place for weekend getaways by Malaysians and Singaporeans who are sick of the heat. If you've been in the region awhile, you might also appreciate the respite.
The climate is also very conducive to agriculture. After the area's discovery by British surveyor William Cameron in 1885, the major crop here became tea, which is still grown today. The area's lovely gardens supply cities throughout the region with vegetables, flowers, and fruit year-round. Among the favorites here are the strawberries, which can be eaten fresh or transformed into yummy desserts in the local restaurants. At the many commercial flower nurseries you can see chrysanthemums, fuchsias, and roses growing on the terraces. Rose gardens are prominent here.

Batu Caves
This is one of the holiest Hindu shrines in Malaysia and a popular tourist attraction. The Caves are popular not only for being the southern-most limestone outcrop in the Northern Hemisphere, but the labyrinth that makes up the Batu Caves also supports a variety of exotic wildlife. There is a 272-step concrete staircase leading to the temple cave. The main cave holds a shrine of Lord Subramaniam, a Hindu deity. A cave gallery is located at the foot of the caves featuring clay figurines and wall paintings depicting scenes and figures from Hindu mythology.

To view and book sightseeing tours please visit our partners website. Click here to visit them now.