To all locals and any visitors who stay longer than a weekend, Kuala Lumpur is simply KL – snappy, to-the-point, and belying its storied past. Landlocked and resolutely urban, the city has always had a scrappy, entrepreneurial spirit. In the 1800s, that meant a gathering of prospecting miners and traders that evolved into a prosperous town; today that means decades-old noodle stalls sharing space with artisanal tea houses and theatrical speakeasies.
As with any capital city that has lived through generations of change, there are many versions of KL that coexist happily side-by-side. Colonial buildings and mega shopping malls sit alongside each other; steel skyscrapers jostle for space next to open-air markets; stilted kampung houses provide a much-needed visual break to the city’s gridlock traffic. And alongside the old, there’s always something new, whether that’s a midnight pop-up food court or a helipad party or an art show in an abandoned cinema.