Here’s a guide on the top spots to hit for a weekend getaway
It goes without saying that one weekend in the Malaysian capital is far from enough. With a sprawling area, centuries of multi-cultural history, amazing day-trips and a rapidly changing urban landscape, Kuala Lumpur has to be visited over and over again to really be understood and appreciated.
Nevertheless, if a weekend is all you have, you’d be well-advised to touch on some of KL’s key facets: its mixed architecture, its relationship with Islam, its colonial history, its exciting café and restaurant scene, its urban green spaces and its access to easy day-trips.
Here’s how to do it.
Sample single-origin coffee at Bean Brothers
KL’s third-wave coffee scene is vibrant, to say the least, and Bean Brothers is doing it right. Check them out at The LINC KL, a cosy café filled with greenery, or the Petaling Jaya outlet, which features a factory-like façade — both of which are industrial-chic affairs with high ceilings, exposed beams, and hanging light bulbs. With carefully curated single-origin beans for pour-over brews, as well as signature blends that are great as espresso-based drinks, Bean Brothers is a great place to enjoy quality coffee. Kitchen by Bean Brothers offers an array of foods as well, whether you’re looking for an afternoon bite or a hearty breakfast. Go for the Spicy Piccata Crab if you’re hankering for a touch of spice, or go classic with the roti john-inspired Roti Bro for a brunch-sized meal. The two branches also have very different food menus, each with its own take on fusion cuisine, so that’s twice as many dishes to explore.
Check out the stunning heritage architecture
You’ll no doubt want to swing by the capital’s most stunning skyscrapers, such as KL Tower – the seventh-tallest freestanding tower in the world – and César Pelli’s 375m Petronas Twin Towers. But don’t forget to soak up the older heritage architecture, too. Take a quick walk around the colonial-era Merdeka Square to snap photos of the Tudor-style Royal Selangor Club, where VIPs rub shoulders, the former State Secretariat or Sultan Abdul Samad Building and St Mary’s, one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country. Instagrammers will love the old-time Chinatown vibe among the laneways of Kwai Chai Hong, and a short drive out to Putrajaya will get you to the beautiful pink-domed Putra Mosque and the sleek Iron Mosque over Putrajaya Lake.
kwaichaihong.com; masjidtuankumizan.gov.my; masjidputra.gov.my
Sample contemporary Malaysian flavours at De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan
De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan, a Kuala Lumpur restaurant led by the country’s most famous culinary export, is a must-visit. Located in The LINC KL, a trendy retail centre on Jalan Tun Razak, chef Wan’s concept is all about customisation, and the menu is designed as such. Choose from a selection of fish straight from the tank before deciding whether you want it deep-fried, steamed in garlic lime or barbecued. The rest of the mains are made to share, while the desserts – ranging from pumpkin cooked in coconut cream to lemongrass custard – celebrate what Malaysian cuisine is best known for: diversity.
dewan.space; +60 10 207 0383
Soak in some culture at the museums
The Malaysian capital is of course packed with some of the country’s most comprehensive and exciting museums, and there’s only so much you can cover in a weekend. Our top recommendations would be the stunning Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. The sun-drench building itself is jaw-dropping, with intricate domes, ceilings and towers, and the collection covers ceramics, textiles, metalwork and lots more from around the Islamic world. For something more breezy and touristy, the KL City Gallery at Merdeka Square is housed in a pretty 1889 building with Moorish touches that used to house the government printing office. Now it’s home to old photographs, miniature replicas and dioramas depicting the history of the city. There’s also a café on-site for a quick refuel. Due to the current climate, do check to see if it’s open before heading over.
Take a nature break in the middle of the city
The last remaining patch of tropical rain forest within the capital, the KL Forest Eco Park spans some 11,000m2 and has several walking trails under half a kilometre, making it perfect for families with kids. Make time for the 200m Canopy Walk, which combines views of the forest with the skyline. If you pair it with a trip to the KL Tower observation deck, your ticket also gets you a tour of the park. For something a bit more landscaped, check out the Perdana Botanical Garden is over a century old and houses over a dozen features. Have some me-time at the fish pond by the heliconia garden, or stop for a cup of tea and a snack at the hibiscus garden.
Do a scenic stay at Grand Ion Delemen Hotel in Genting Highlands
The picturesque and action-packed hill station of Genting Highlands is an easy and popular excursion from the city. Perched at 1,830m above sea level and recognised as the highest-altitude hotel in the Malaysia Book of Records, Grand Ion Delemen Hotel is an idyllic getaway here, where you can indulge in once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as immersive dining that blends art with gastronomy, as well as outdoor adventure activities such as rock climbing, ziplining and nature walks. A two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the 500-room hotel also has a sky garden and a ballroom with a capacity of 800 that can be used to host weddings and corporate events. While you’re there, savour Hugo’s In the Sky, a fusion fine-dining restaurant overlooking the lush landscape, or hop over to the garden-themed Fairy Tales for some dessert and afternoon tea. The hotel is also just a skip away from major shopping malls such as SkyAvenue, First World Plaza and Genting Highlands Premium Outlets.
iondelemenhotels.com; email@example.com; +603 6433 2200
With thanks to our partners Bean Brothers, De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan and Grand Ion Delemen Hotel