“I was starstruck to the beauty of Kuala Lumpur, everything looks organize especially the Petronas Twin Towers. It was so amazing. ”
That’s how I introduced myself in front of the Deputy Secretary General of Ministry Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Datuk Rashidi Bin Hasbullah, friends from media, and people who attended the official launching of ETWD Citrawarna 2016 at Restoren Rebung KL.
Visiting Malaysia has been on my bucket list for a long time, mainly because of its Twin towers. I don’t usually do any research about the places I’m visiting because I wanted the place to surprise me. Kuala Lumpur, which I thought just an ordinary city, turned out to be one of my top and favorite cities I visited so far.
Their streets are clean and green; they have a better train system and a jaw-dropping skyscraper; Their food are delicious; and most importantly, I felt like I’m home with their people. Truly, because of their hospitality. I strongly believe that we all came from one root and race, Malay.
As I walked along the streets and alleys of KL, I witnessed how vibrant and invigorating the city is. It is definitely one of the most dynamic and world class cities you should visit. Despite modernizing the city, it’s still a place full of tradition. Kuala Lumpur behind its tall buildings was able to manage and retain its heritage. It’s a city full of charm, history and a combination of old and modern designs.
Here are some things that you should know when visiting the largest city, the capital of Malaysia, and the Garden City of Lights – The Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.
Break the Ice, learn some local words!
Knowing some basic Bahasa Malaysia will surely put a smile on the face of the Malaysians. All greetings in Malaysia begins with the word Selamat and then followed by the appropriate phase of the day:
- Good Morning: Selamat pagi
- Good Afternoon: Selamat tengah hari
- Good Evening: Selamat Petang
- Good Night: Selamat Malam
Here are other helpful basic words.
- Thank You: Terima Kasih
- Excuse me: Tumpang lalu
- Yes: Yah
- No: Tidak
- Brother: Abang
- Sister: Kakak
- How Much: Berapa Harga
- Can you reduce the price: Boleh kurang?
- 1– Satu
- 2 – Dua
- 3 – Tiga
- 4 – Empat
- 5 – Lima
Act freely but mind your manners!
Predominantly a Muslim country, my first thought when visiting Kuala Lumpur is I need to behave well for there will be a lot of restrictions. Maybe because of the stigma about Muslim countries. Finding out, I’m totally wrong.
I thought you can’t walk freely here, they are too conservative, too strict and I’m afraid I’ll do something unintentionally against them.
But in reality, staying in KL is normal, I feel normal here. At some point, I just felt like as if I’m walking in the streets of Manila. People dress the way they want. They have their choice. Some people wear traditional Muslim dress while some wear shorts and t-shirts.
However, when visiting a mosque, it is advisable to wear conservative clothing. I remember when I visited Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, I need to wear sarong since I’m wearing short and remove my shoes outside the mosque.
Lastly, leave alcohol and pork back to your home country. Most of the restaurants in KL are serving Halal food and don’t insist buying an alcoholic drink to your Muslim friends.
Do it the 5-Star way!
If there’s one thing that I can’t believe it’s real here in Kuala Lumpur is the price of their 5-star hotels. It was way cheaper than what we have here in Manila. We stayed at Hotel Maya KL, a 5-star hotel that’s perfectly located at the heart of the city near malls and Petronas towers. (a detailed review will be published in a separate article) A studio room would only cost you less than 4,000php or 100usd. Don’t you believe me? Check the prices of hotel in KL via Traveloka.
Come dine with me!
When visiting a foreign country, one thing you should never miss is to taste their local food. KL, being a cultural melting pot, offers a wide variety of dining options. Temporarily, let’s forget about pasta, pizza, and burger . And crave for nasi lemak, chicken curry, laksa, mee goreng, nasi goreng, sambal and oh their fried chicken etc. When in Malaysia, do it the Malaysian way!
What I love about the local food is being multifaceted – It has influences from Indian, Chinese and Malay. These culinary traditions from different countries alternately merged yet remained distinct which makes Malaysian cuisine interesting.
And one of the best restaurants to savor an authentic Malaysian food is at Restoran Rebung by Chef Ismail. Owned by Local celebrity Chef Ismail and Malaysia’s first astronaut Dr. Sheik Muszaphar. Restorante Rebung offers a wide and delicious selection of Local Malay Cuisine. Guest have the option to have a buffet or a la carte but I would highly recommend going to a buffet to try everything that they offer.
The restaurant is located at Cascade Parking Bukit Aman, 5-2, Jalan Tanglin, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan.This restaurant is just a short walk from various attractions such as Perdana Botanical Garden, KL Bird Park, Butterfly Park and National Monument.
Forget the cinemas, go to the theater!
One exciting way to learn other history and culture is by watching a theater performance. Performed inside Panggung Bandaraya, one of the oldest architectures in KL, is MUD: Our story of Kuala Lumpur. It’s an hour of a theatrical performance showcasing the past and rich culture of KL.
MUD: Our Story of Kuala Lumpur is a story that shows perseverance, hope, love, friendship, survival, strength and success of the people and the city.
Show starts at 3pm and 8:30pm. The theater is accessible within walking distance northwest of Masjid Jamek LRT Station.
Let’s talk about walking!
Start your morning by visiting KL Bird Park, it is the largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary. This is a very interesting place since most of the birds can move freely with the visitors. As we walk through the aviary, we were greeted by lovely and charming lovebirds. There were different species of parrots, flamingos, peacocks, owls and more. But my favorite is the hundreds of yellow bird stork. Watch out to all running and flying birds coming during feeding time. It’s so fascinating!
KL Bird Park is located at 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480
Another thing I love about Kuala Lumpur are various FREE cultural guided walks. If you are planning to explore the city, walk with the locals who can explain their exciting city. After watching the MUDKL, the next best thing to do is to attend Kuala Lumpur Night Walk and visit 7 Historical and Cultural Sites.
In this tour,some of the places that were featured in the theater show came live. Our walk started from Medan Pasar Square which once the town center of KL and ended at an almost century-old restaurant called Coliseum Cafe and Grill Room. Entering the restaurant felt like traveling back in time. The atmosphere is very different from the modern city of KL.
KL Night Walk meeting point is at Arch Cafe at the old market square, every Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
My favorite guided tour that represents KL as a city of contrast is Jalan-Jalan At Kampong Bharu. In this tour, you will discover where the Malay Culture in Kuala Lumpur begins.
In this part of KL, you will see a Malay community living closely to each other for generations. Standing proudly behind KL’s tall buildings are traditional Malay houses which retained their traditions.
Tour starts at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 4:15 p.m
What’s new in KL?
One of the newest attractions that shake the busy city of Kuala Lumpur most especially for kids and kids at heart is Kuala Lumpur Upside Down House. This fun place is located in KL Tower vicinity. As the name implies, it’s a house built upside down as well as all the furniture inside. Come, bring your family and friends here. Take a lot of photos and make your dream come true of walking inside an inverted house.
An event that you shouldn’t miss next time!
I feel fortunate to closely witness Citrawarna 2016 – It’s the signature event of Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. It’s a colorful street performance, dances, and culture by over 400 performers. A show that was performed in front of the independence square attended by thousands of locals and tourists. This is one of the grandest festivals I witnessed in my entire life. (A detailed review will be published in a separate article)
What made me love Kuala Lumpur more is the way how the city embraced modernity and yet adhere to the traditional customs and religions of its residents. Of course, the food here is a plus. They have a variety of delicious Malaysian cuisines. But above everything else, the hospitality of Malaysians made me feel at home in their country. I can’t wait to go back home!
Note: This is a sponsored FAM Tour by Gaya Travel Magazine. All views, posts, and opinions shared here are my own.