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The always exciting, sprawling Malaysian capital is brimming with energy, life, and culture, and cruises to Kuala Lumpur offer you a chance to enjoy the atmosphere. This is a great starting point for urban exploration, world-class dining, and plenty of nearby attractions to explore while in port during your Southeast Asia cruise. The city blends Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures, the ultra-modern skyscrapers interspersed with mosques, palaces and temples, as well as leafy parks.
Head to the Petronas Towers, among the world’s tallest buildings and the perfect place to take in panoramic views of the city. Learn about the fascinating layers of Buddist history and culture at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, which still functions as a place of worship for the local Tamil people. Or head to one of the many hawker centers to sample spicy Malaysian street food at its freshest and best. Discover the best of Malaysia’s thrilling capital on a luxury cruise to Kuala Lumpur.
It’s impossible to miss the sheer magnitude and majesty of the Petronas Towers as you head into Kuala Lumpur. These massive twin towers rise to nearly 1,500 feet, making them just taller than Chicago’s Sears Tower, and a globally recognizable icon of Malaysia. Shop at the luxurious KLCC Shopping center at the towers’ base, then ride an express elevator up the observatory deck and lounge on the 86th floor of Tower 2 for spectacular panoramic city views. For an unusual experience, if you have a head for heights, cross from tower to tower on floors 41 and 42 via the Sky Bridge, the highest of its kind in the world.
Located inside a jagged limestone hill cloaked in a rainforest and accessed by 272 brightly colored stairs, the Batu Caves are an impressive sight. Climb the rainbow-colored stairs, guarded at the base by a towering golden statue of Sri Muruga, a Hindu deity, into the caves to uncover a series of millennia-old rock formations, intricate passages, smaller temples, and chambers dripping with stalactites. You may see bats flitting around, and wild macaques scampering up and down the steps.
The Thean Hou Temple is an ornate, six-tiered Chinese temple located just south of Chinatown near the center of Kuala Lumpur. The temple was built to represent the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and features elegant red-pillared pagodas with sweeping curved roofs made with intricate tiling. The architectural beauty and attention to detail make it a popular destination for travelers, and it still functions as a holy place of worship for many Buddhists, particularly the Chinese. If you visit during the fall season, you may be lucky enough to catch the famous Moon Festival event held here, or in winter, the colorful Lunar New Year celebrations.
Kuala Lumpur’s National Museum showcases the intricate, layered mix of Malaysia’s history, art, architecture, religion, and culture. The museum itself was built to represent the style and architecture of iconic Malay royal palaces, with lavish mosaics that greet you at the entrance, and intricate tiling throughout the museum’s floors. Learn about Malaysia’s former Hindu-Buddist kingdoms, Islamic sultanates, the prehistoric ages, and more through exquisite exhibits and artifact displays. The National Museum is conveniently located near the Perdana Botanical Garden, Butterfly Park, and National Mosque of Malaysia.
Malaysia has deep roots in royal history, many of which are still present today through the Malay culture and sense of national pride. At the lavish, gold-domed Istana Negara, or National Palace, you can get a first-hand look at what royal life in Kuala Lumpur used to be like, and learn about the monarchs who once ruled there. Since the royal family moved in 2011, this grand mansion has been open to the public as a museum, with a chance to explore the throne room, living quarters and bedrooms used by the royals.
Kuala Lumpur’s main marketplace, the art deco Pasar Seni, is home to hundreds of boutiques, souvenir stalls, outdoor eateries, and a performance stage. This is a cultural heritage site that represents nearly 100 years of Kuala Lumpur’s vibrant commerce and growth. The Pasar Sani is located just a quick walk from Chinatown and the historic Petaling Street in the city center, and is the place to come for clothing, jewelry and fabrics.
No trip to Malaysia would be complete without sampling some of the diverse, regional cuisines, and Kuala Lumpur does a fabulous job of providing access to all of it. You’ll find dishes from all over the region available here. Snack on street food, from a delicious roti canai to chicken satay with peanut sauce. Sit down in a cozy restaurant and relax with a bowl of creamy, coconut-flavored masak lemak made with shrimp, ginger, turmeric, chili, and garlic. Cool off with a pink-hued Bandung, an iced beverage made with milk and rose syrup.
Multicultural Kuala Lumpur is a fairly new city in a relatively new country, birthed from ancient civilizations and centuries of regional and European conquest. The city was founded by Chinese tin miners in 1857 and became the capital of the Federated Malay States in 1895, and has retained that title as the capital of Malaysia to this day. There are many Chinese, European, and Middle Eastern influences that can be seen throughout Kuala Lumpur’s culture and architecture currently. It is a city of blended traditions and represents the seat of Malaysia’s government and commerce.
The Kuala Lumpur port facilities are based in Port Klang, just under an hour’s drive from the center of the city. Port Klang has a dedicated cruise terminal that is modern, air-conditioned, has free WiFi, and a currency exchange office. There aren’t many sites to see around Port Klang, although transportation into Kuala Lumpur is available from the terminal and is abundant. All cruises to Kuala Lumpur disembark at Port Klang.
Transportation in Kuala Lumpur offers plenty of options as it is a sophisticated capital city. You can ride the light rail, monorail, or city buses from place to place throughout the city with ease, and maps and fare info are available online, or via a number of smartphone apps. You can also travel easily by taxi or private coach, but be prepared for heavy traffic in many areas, and ask your driver if they have A/C before agreeing to a ride. Many of Kuala Lumpur’s attractions are fairly spread out, so walking may not be an option if you’re trying to see a lot in one day.
You’ll have many shopping options right at your fingertips on cruises to Kuala Lumpur. For authentic artisan and market shopping, head to the Pasar Seni market to find local art, food items, and hand-made souvenirs. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience visit the Pavilion Shopping Mall, where high fashion and luxury brands vie for your attention. For a quick bite of some fresh fruits and vegetables, or for some spices to take home with you, follow the locals to Chow Kit Market.
The local currency in Kuala Lumpur is the Malaysian ringgit. There are ATMs all over the city as well as many international banks where you can withdraw cash when you need it. Kuala Lumpur is very modern, and therefore credit/debit card friendly, however, be mindful when making small purchases, and expect to pay cash for street food or with other street vendors. If you are buying souvenirs in a market, expect some polite haggling. Tipping is not customary or expected with most purchases, although it is polite to leave a small tip for good restaurant service, as well as with tour guides and hotel staff.