Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

March 09, 2018
24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do




24 HOURS IN KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - 
WHAT & WHERE TO SEE, EAT, & DO


They said it couldn’t be done. That nobody could hit the ground running, straight off an overnight flight from Sydney to Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, and visit all the stops on my itinerary in less than a day; what with the infamous tropical humidity, heat, and the city’s notorious traffic to contend with. Well clearly they underestimate my determination to show a good friend (who finally took up my offer to visit me in Malaysia, since, like, forever) a much needed change of scenery and a whistle stop tour of the city I grew up in, as well as the prowess of my legendary travel planning. I’m not nicknamed YipAdvisor for nothing. Should you also find yourself in Kuala Lumpur for just a day, fret not - Luxy and I have done the footwork for you. Here is my itinerary for 24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; with the added bonuses of what else we would have done had we not had other social engagements (Chinese New Year reunion dinner, I’m looking at you) as well as more Kuala Lumpur guides from other travel bloggers.


#YIPADVISOR

ALL PHOTOS OF ME BY LUX LIFE BLOG, AS IT SHOULD BE. GOOD TIMES!
EXTRA PHOTO CREDITS: 61423242526



24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do



10:00 AM
- SEE -
BATU CAVES


“Can we go to Batu Caves?” Luxy asked. Girl, you’ve done your research! Although not strictly in Kuala Lumpur, the pilgrimage to Gombak (a 20 minute drive) to visit BATU CAVES is a must. The sight of Lord Murugan, gleaming in gold and standing 140 foot high - indeed, this is the world’s largest likeness of the Hindu god - against the limestone hill is jaw-dropping enough, but what truly takes the breath away is the walk up 272 steps to reach the inside of the caves. 

It’s not an easy climb - especially if you’re as extra as us and dressed like it’s fashion week while everyone else is sensibly attired in shorts, tees, and sneakers - but the destination is truly worth it. Inside, Hindu shrines, temples, and statues loom from the sepulchral walls of the temple complex. The piece de resistance is Cathedral Cave: an antechamber with a very ornate temple that opens up to the heavens, surrounded by soaring walls covered in tropical vegetation from where the resident macaque monkeys hoot and jeer at you. Thankfully, the ferocious monkeys are now kept at bay by regular flash guns, so visitors can now enjoy BATU CAVES without fear of assault.


24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do




12:00 PM
- EAT & DRINK -
CHOCHA FOOD STORE


For a lunch spot with an introduction to the “old school made cool” aspect of the city, I couldn’t choose a better eatery than CHOCHA FOOD STORE. This impossibly photogenic restaurant,famous for its rustic interiors, perfectly captures Kuala Lumpur’s recent fascination with gastronomical destinations hidden within the city’s old buildings, as both a reaction to “shiny new skyscraper fatigue” and a nostalgia for Malaysian comfort food. 

Seated in CHOCHA FOOD STORE’s famous sun-drenched courtyard (above), we plumped for chilli squid, rojak (a Malaysian version of fruit salad), roast duck served with barley (rather than the typical rice), and a coconut-ty twist on creme brulee. Just four of their many delicious offerings of classic pan-Asian food with innovative updates that have made this place such a favourite with the cool-chasing, social-media savvy foodies of Kuala Lumpur.


24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do







1:00 PM
- EAT & DRINK -
MERCHANT’S LANE


Even if Chocha Food Store hadn’t run out of their famous teas (it being the eve of the long Chinese New Year weekend) I would’ve still insisted on dropping in for drinks at MERCHANT'S LANE. Only a few doors down, and likewise hidden within a discreet door and a small flight of stairs, MERCHANT'S LANE is a cozy little gem of a cafe decked out in jewel tones in a mix of colonial and pre-war style. There’s always a wait for tables during lunchtime, but do as we did and skip the queue for drinks (and a slice of their signature cake, if you have the room) in the outdoor sitting area.



24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do



24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
2:00 PM
- SEE -
SIN SZE SI YA TEMPLE


Although neither of us are Taoist, a visit to SIN SZE SI YA TEMPLE - the oldest Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur - seemed fitting on the eve of Chinese New Year. Built in 1864 by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, the temple is dedicated to patron deities Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya who Yap Ah Loy believed played significant roles in his ascension to Kapitan status during the 19th century. Other hopefuls have sinced followed suit:  Chinese students flock to the temple to pray for good luck before exams, worshippers crawl under a table in front of statues of deities to help lessen mortal burdens then circle the temple’s main altar three times to bring good fortune, and some devotees come to have their fortunes told.

As for us, Luxy and I just enjoyed the tranquility of this place of worship in the middle of bustling Chinatown. More than just shelter from the sweltering sun, there is an incredible calm and spirituality within SIN SZE SI YA TEMPLE. For me, it’s the scent and sight of the smoke from the joss sticks, bathed in beams of sunlight strategically angled on the altar from slanted skylights; as it swirls hypnotically upward like hopes, dreams, and wishes making their way to the ears in Heaven. 
24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do




24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
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24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
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3:00 PM
- SEE -
SRI MAHAMARIAMMAN TEMPLE


A short walk away from Sin Sze Si Ya temple is another religious building that is the oldest of its kind. Built in 1873, SRI MAHAMARIAMMAN TEMPLE was founded by Tamil immigrants who arrived in Malaya as contract labourers, and dedicated to Mariamman, the Hindu deity and  protector of Tamils who travel to foreign lands. 

We stepped into the temple through the entrance of 'Raja Gopuram' tower (a 75 foot, multi-coloured monument decorated with over 200 Hindu idols like a divine rainbow cake) said to be the threshold between the material and spiritual world - and indeed, found ourselves in a different plane than the scorchingly hot city outside. The floor of the main hallway was cool underfoot (shoes are to be left outside the temple), the air pulsed pleasantly with the scent of flowers, camphor, and incense; and the setting was restful and quiet under the watchful eyes of many Hindu deities.


24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
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24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do
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4:00PM
- SEE -
DATARAN MERDEKA 


I had to take Luxy back to the beginning, where independent Malaysia was born. This was where our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, shouted “Merdeka!” as the British standard was lowered andraised, in its place, the Jalur Gemilang (Stripes of Glory) of the Malaysian flag. 

It certainly helps that DATARAN MERDEKA (Independence Square) was surrounded by landmarks. To the right of the square, Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and its famous “I ♥ KL” photo op (above, right). Behind, the mock-Tudor building of Royal Selangor Club. And finally, directly opposite and framed by the Kuala Lumpur Tower and Petronas Twin Towers, is the Moghul-style Sultan Abdul Samad Building (above, left) - which in its time has housed *takes a deep breath* the offices of the British colonial administration, the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia; the Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Malaysia, the Court of Appeals and the High Court of Malaya; and today, part of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

TIP: THE BEST TIME TO VISIT DATARAN MERDEKA IS DURING KL CAR FREE MORNING, ON THE FIRST AND THIRD SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH. 

24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do


5:00PM
- SEE -
PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS


Having seen the birthplace of independent Malaysia, we came full circle with a visit to the symbol of the country’s progress toward modernity - the PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS. Although the futuristic towers are no longer the world’s tallest buildings, it is no less iconic; making for an impressive sight as it rises above the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Gardens. We followed the signs to the bridge - the best spot for photos with the Twin Towers - before ducking into the concourse level of Suria KLCC (the luxury mall that forms the base of the PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS) for an ice-cold drink of watermelon lychee at Juiceworks.




24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do


Shoulda, woulda, coulda - the places Luxy and I didn’t go to, but you should if you have the time... 

7:00PM
- SEE -
SKY BOX AT KL TOWER

For a knee-trembling vista, the Sky Box at KL TOWER is the one. The observation deck - really just a square glass box sticking out of the KL TOWER - dangles 300 metres over the city, its glass floor and walls giving visitors an uninterrupted, unobscured view of Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas Twin Towers.


24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where to See, Eat, & Do


8:00PM
- EAT & DRINK -
JALAN ALOR


Street eats is quintessential to Malaysian food culture, and you literally dine on the street: seated at collapsible plastic tables and plastic chairs as vehicles squeeze past you. 
JALAN ALOR is arguably Kuala Lumpur’s most famous food street, with hundreds of hungry locals and tourists flocking there from evening till late. With dozens of hawker stalls to choose from offering everything from seafood to Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisine, its impossible to go hungry at JALAN ALOR even if you’ve just left a nightclub: one of my favourite memories was someone ducking out of my house party at 2am, only to return an hour later with 150 chicken wings from the famous Wong Ah Wah stall. 
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10:00PM
- EAT & DRINK -
PAHIT

Tucked away in the bustle of the city in a quiet row of 1920s houses, PAHIT (the Malay word for bitter) is the latest specialist bar to open in KL - the hottest new destination for all things gin, from the classic G&Ts to cocktails for those with a sweet tooth. The latter, such as your truly, would enjoy the fruit-infused G&Ts such as lychee and ginger flower version or the Pineapple Smash, and even the house specialty, Gin Pahit No. 2 - the PAHIT take on the classic cocktail Pink Gin - is infused with a hint of sweetness to make it more palatable for local taste buds.

12:00AM
- EAT & DRINK -
PS150

If by now you can still stand, walk, or talk; you must absolutely make it to PS150 for a nightcap. I consider PS150 to be the bar that truly sparked the speakeasy trend in Kuala Lumpur. Housed in a former brothel (salacious!) and hidden within what looks like an old-fashioned toy shop, PS150 leads into a warren of rooms best described as a Wong Kar Wai fantasy. The cocktails, crafted by well-known Malaysian mixologist Angel Ng,are stellar - my favourites are the Pandan Flip (pandan-infused dark rum, coconut, bitters, egg yolk) and Lychee No. 3 (London dry gin, lychee, ginger flower, lime).



24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur - What & Where toif See, Eat, & Do



Thus concludes my introduction to Kuala Lumpur - all condensed within a hot, humid day. Visitors, I highly recommend beating the heat by using a taxi app like Uber or Grab. Or, you know, you could just book a trip with Posh, Broke, & Bored for Bespoke Travel Tours that Money Can’t Buy...
Read all of my Malaysia Travel Stories, here.

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