Our First Christmas Away as a Full Time Traveling Family
It was our very first time in Kuala Lumpur (KL), but what a time we had. What made it even more special for us was the fact that we celebrated Christmas and New Year here. We had specifically decided that we wanted to be in a big city with lots of Christmas feel to it as there hasn’t been much of that throughout December in the areas we traveled in in Thailand and Malaysia. KL had it all, though, and we were in for a very different Christmas than we have ever had before.
After celebrating Christmas with a wonderful dinner with live Christmas Concert we went back to our hotel, the centrally located Maya Hotel, in KL City Centre (KLCC), which was the first area we stayed in. It was a 4 min. walk to the Petronas Twin Towers (tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004). In and by the Twin Towers you find so many things to see and do, shop and eat your way through, which was what we did.
Go by e-scooter
We walked around the city every day, we did, however, make use of the Beam electrical scooters, that you find all over KLCC and Bukit Bintang. They are super handy, and a fun way to get around. Especially our boys used them a lot. It did ease all the walking in the humid heat quite a bit. Even though you have an online map to locate the scooters, it became like a scavenger hunt for the boys to find them everywhere we went. Only thing, don't ride them in parks or you'll have an escort out, like here in the photo.
Petrona Twin Towers
Naturally, you can go to the top of the Petrona Towers and watch the view of KL, if you are into views. We didn’t go up, as we felt we have seen so many city views, and as it was cloudy most days in KL while we were in town. There is also the Skybridge to walk on, halfway up connecting the two towers, which can be visited.
We did explore the park behind the towers on several occasions. You can stroll around the park, have a picnic in the shade of the many trees like the locals, or you can go for a run on the special jogging path around the park, which is lit up at night. For the kids there is a huge playground that will keep them busy for hours, mind you, it’s in the sun. Right next to it is a water splashing area for mainly kids to play around and cool down (bring swimsuit and bring a towel). Something to keep in mind is that you are not allowed to use the e-scooters in the park, which we learned the hard way.
Suria KLCC Mall
In Suria KLCC you find everything your heart desires from mid-range to high end stores, but what’s more, are the activities you can throw yourself at here, like eating, going to the movies, visit the Aquarium and the Petrosains Discovery Centre, an awesome hands on science experience for young and old, and this is also where you find the home of Petronas Philharmonic Hall. We also ended up spending quite some hours in the Lego store’s play/building area, at least the boys did, while I got some window shopping done.
Water Fountain Show
Right outside the mall by the KLCC Park, you have the water fountain that puts on a light/water/music show every night at from 20-22, starting with intervals and lasting 10-15 minutes. I’m a sucker for these kinds of things, but the boys and Martin were mostly happy to just sit down for a bit while watching the show.
On New Year’s Eve we found the restaurant with the very best view of the KLCC Park, which meant we had front row view to the Midnight Fireworks up high. Fuego at Troika SKY Dining – there are 3 restaurants to choose from, and you can sit inside or outside. We all four had a magical night there with wonderful food and ditto view of the fireworks. It is worth coming up here for just a drink or to have a great meal while enjoying the view.
Bukit Bintang Area
The second area we got to know and explore was Bukit Bintang, where we, once again, stayed at a super central location at the Ramada Suites by Wyndham. From here, we could walk everywhere in the area. Again, there are lots of shopping malls if that’s what you are into or need some (window) shopping. We had done lots of that already in KL, so we skipped the malls in Bukit Bintang. There is lots of street art to be discovered in this area as well, lot's of really cool ways to make use of city space and facades.
Eat Your Way Through the Streets
The first place we went to, was the Jalan Food and Night Market, where there were 5 foods we absolutely needed to try according to the locals: BBQ Chicken Wings, Satays, Oyster omelet, Char Kway Teow (rice noodles in a slightly spicy sauce) and finally fresh Coconut Ice Cream. We did find, eat and enjoy them all, with the exception of the Oyster Omelet, as our bellies were completely full, so we saved that one for another time.
Have Your Feet Worked
On you to or from way from the Jalan Food Market, why not stop at one of the many massage shops. They are laying on each side of the road, side by side, fighting to get you into their massage chair. We got convinced halfway down the road, and enjoyed our feet getting worked through after lots of walking around the city. Oh, how I’m going to miss all these good and cheap foot massages when we leave SE Asia for now. Even one of the boys have come to the love a gentle foot massage.
Rainforest Walk Through the Tree Tops
It’s hard to believe that KL has some of the oldest rainforest in Malaysia right in the city center. We were really looking forward to this experience at the Forest ECO Park. We walked up the hill to the Menara KL Tower. There is a free shuttle at the bottom of the hill, but we were up for a good hike up the mountain. It’s not really necessary to get to the top of the hill to get on to the Canopy Walk, as you can actually enter the Forest ECO Park from another place, the Forestry Information Center down at the bottom of the hill, and walk towards the entrance at the top. As this was our exit point from the Canopy Walk, it was a bit late we realized this. But it was one of the cooles experiences we had in KL.
An overview of the KL by bus
We also decided to get a ride around KL on the Hop On/Off bus. It’s really such a great way to get an impression of the city and see where things are. Now, we did it towards the end, but ideally, I’d do it as one of the first things, which is what we usually do when we visit big cities. We mostly stayed on the bus for the whole ride, but as the ticket is valid for 24 hours from you first get on the bus, we did one route the first day staying on the bus all the way around KL. The next day we did the other route around the city. The only stop we did was at the Merdeca Square with one of the tallest flagpoles in the world. The highlights here are the impressive buildings like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building that surround the square (a big lawn with the flagpole) and all the buildings are rather impressive. We also visited the KL City Gallery, which also has a KL Visitor Center, but we enjoyed the little exhibition about KL’s history and a cool interactive movie about modern KL – worth to pay the money to see and learn a bit more. There is also lots of Instagram-able KL set-ups, which a very popular with all the visitors it seems.
Our First Mosque Visit
We continued by foot to the Jalek Mosque. On the way we had to cross the River of Life Bridge, with a mist installation on the riverbanks, creating the most beautiful views of the river. Highly recommend this place. We just couldn’t leave the bridge, as it’s so fascination with the mist coming out from the banks of the river. On to the Mosque, we went in to have a look. I was given a sort of robe with a hut, as I obviously wasn’t properly dressed. It was a very beautiful, mostly open-air mosque with soft marble floor, and it was so interesting, as none of us had actually ever been inside a mosque before.
Lost in the Caves
The last highlight not to miss in KL is a trip out to the Batu Caves 13 km. outside the KLCC. This is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. With the huge 42 m tall gold painted Murugan statue (a Hindu deity) and the very colorful steps up to the cave itself, it’s quite the welcome. There is a dress code: no shoulders or knees to be shown, but they do have sarongs to lend you, if not properly dressed. Climbing the hill of limestone, you enter an enormous cave with several shrines to walk around and enjoy. Make sure to walk all the way to the back of the cave, where a huge opening up to the sky presents itself. It’s quite something, and though I have been in many (read: many, many, many) caves travelling with my parents from a young age, I have never experienced such a huge open space in a cave before.
As you can read, KL has so much to offer, see and do. Just make sure to stay somewhat central, as many places can be within walking distance, and you are right at the sights a few minutes after leaving you “KL home”. There are also lots of cafés, street food, restaurants with all kinds of food in this buzzling city, so there is no way you’ll go hungry or get bored in Kuala Lumpur.