Travel tips and advice for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The nine things you should do


KL's most impressive heritage buildings congregate around Merdeka Square, once the colonial heart of the city. The Moghul-style mosque, Masjid Jamek, combines with several Moorish-style efforts. These include the Sultan Abdul Samad building with its copper domes and clock tower. Come at night and the latter is lit up, somewhat less traditionally, with multi-coloured, changing LEDs.


The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is an architectural star in its own right, incorporating courtyards, domes and traditional elements of Islamic design. These are complemented by the collection of silks, calligraphy and ceramics from around the Islamic world, although the architecture section – with dozens of painstakingly recreated scale models of mosques – is the highlight. See


At the end of the KTM Komuter train line, the Batu Caves are a popular Hindu pilgrimage site. Now, you can go just to see the relatively cool caves, but a visit is really about the people-watching and blaze of colour. Clamber sweatily up the 272 steps towards the caves, and there's a 42-metre-tall gold statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu god. You'll probably have accompaniment from opportunistic snack-nabbing monkeys on the way.


Between 1998 and 2004, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world. They're still the tallest twin towers, at 451.9 metres high, and unlike many tall buildings that are all about the height, Cesar Pelli's masterpiece is genuinely, gracefully beautiful. There's an observation deck, but the best views of the towers themselves come from the KLCC Park beneath. See


If it's views of the city you're after, then the lines of sight from the Menara KL are a better bet – at least partly because it's an ugly old communications tower and you can see the Petronas Towers from the 300-metre-high Skydeck. Get there with a wander through Taman Eko Rimba, a piece of protected rainforest with bamboo and banana plants in the middle of the city. See


KL is not exactly short of shopping malls, but for something with a more distinctive local edge, the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex has plenty on offer. Designed to be a showcase of Malaysian crafts, it provides a fine array of souvenir fodder, with borderline garish batik clothing, woodwork and weaving among the goodies to tempt the wallet open. See


Malay cuisine is often overshadowed by that of its south-east Asian neighbours, but when it's good, it's superb. Bijan is an excellent, affordable introduction, using high-quality ingredients such as imported Aussie beef and operating a zero MSG policy. The ayam kampung limau purut – free-range chicken in a spicy gravy of chilies, turmeric, kaffir lime and coconut milk – is a winner. See


Sure, there are more sophisticated cocktail bars than the Heli Lounge, the website-averse bar on the 34th floor of the Menara KH tower on Jalan Sultan Ismael. But the 30 appletinis are decent enough, and you're really here for the gimmicks. Indoors, that means a bar decorated with random chunks of aircraft. Outdoors, that means drinking on the rooftop helipad with 360-degree views of the city.


Moodily lit and opened last year, the RuMa makes subtle nods to the city's mining past with gold flecks in the superb pool and drill-esque spiral staircases. There's a hugely welcome anti-pettiness drive, too – minibars are complimentary and there's a 24-hour check in/ check out policy. Basically, your room's guaranteed to be available from whenever you check in to whenever you check out. Doubles cost from 678 ringgit, including breakfast. See



Kuala Lumpur taxis are pretty cheap, but drivers are notorious for refusing to put on the meter. It's worth downloading the Uber-esque Grab app to avoid tedious rows about how much the fare should be.


David Whitley was a guest of the RuMa.