Malaysia’s obvious love affair with modern architecture is the first impression that will seep inexorably into your consciousness upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Thoroughly and strikingly modern, the airport’s universally praised architecture is a pre-cognitive vision of the country’s capital.


Imbedded within the glittering skyline of the city, however, several layers of old-world charm soon begin to emerge beneath the tall shadows, a complex cultural diversity and history, quickly revealing to its visitors the colourful appeal of Malaysia.

At the heart of KL’s structural composition are the harmonious blending of oriental and occidental styles, most evident in the colonial buildings, belonging to Britain’s days of empire, of which there are some splendid examples, the finest of which are the wonderful Victorian Railway Station and the impressive Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the latter also lit-up at night.

For an insight into Malaysia's history, a visit to the Muzium Sejarah Nasional (National History Museum) and Malaysia Tourist Centre, will get you started, and for an in depth feel of the living culture a wander around the Central Market, the Islamic Arts Museum and lantern-adorned Chinatown, should delight the cultural senses.  

Shoppers with a taste for the modern will be lured by the shopping plazas, restaurants and nightlife of Bukit Bintang to the east of the city centre, whilst those in search of something more ethnically authentic will find the Kompleks Budaya Kraf craft cultural centre a stimulating blend of contemporary and traditional wares. A great view over the city is provided by visiting the 'Skybridge' of the captital's most prominent feature, the Petronas Twin Towers.

Another impressive view over the city is fascilitated by a visit to the glass-bottomed viewing platform of the KL Tower.

The city’s most prominent religious buildings are the traditional style of the Masid Jamek Mosque and the modernist National Mosque, Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple, Chan See Shu Yuen Chinese clan house and temple, and the neo-gothic St. Mary's cathedral, all a testament to the prevailing cultural harmony.

Taman Tasik Perdana, KL’s largest Park, east of the central area, offers a rest from the thrumming city, with gardens and a lake for boating, the Planetarium, Bird and Butterfly Park, Orchid Garden and Deer Park.  


Sights of interest awaiting those willing to make the short journey beyond the city include the Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine housed among the stalactites of its cavernous vault, and the colossal Masid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque.

The area surrounding Kuala Lumpur also has several parks, including Kuala Selangor Nature Park, host to over 160 bird species, Taman Templer Park, Hutan Lipu Kancing Forest Reserve and the excellent Forest Research Institute and Museum.

A stunning local trek overlooks the city at Bukit Tabur, and is a series of undulating hills, known as the dragon's backbone trail.

The Zoo Negara dan Akuuarium (National Zoo and Aquarium) provides an introduction to Malaysia’s wildlife.

For those interested in local craftsmanship, a visit to the traditional mask carvers (Mah Meri Orang Asli) of Pulau Carey for traditional woodcarving or the famous Royal Selangor Pewter Complex, the world’s premier manufacturer of pewter will provide an opportunity to observe these revered crafts in action.  

Just north of Kuala Lumpur the Genting Highlands Resort, sometimes referred to as the ‘Las Vegas’ of Malaysia, is home to several theme parks, entertainment shows, and one of the world’s largest casinos, offering gambling in both Western and Oriental games.

Further beyond the city is Fraser’s hill, which offers a similar ambience to the Cameron Highlands, and its ‘English’ gardens, with good walking trails and nine-hole golf course.