Such a dreaded term is the ‘T’ word to most travellers, especially for those on long-haul flights en route to their final travel destination. But most Transits can’t be helped, with most frequent flyers preferring to make the most of their appointed pit stops.
Kuala Lampur is one such example of the ideal transit city, where in just 24 hours one can catch more than just a gist of a feel of this vibrant capital.
Malaysia has fallen many a time on the lists of many travellers top picks for destination travel, and as a result of the family-friendliness and ‘halal tourism’ the country provides, more recently there’s been an increase in the influx of Middle Eastern tourists.
So if you find yourself ‘lost in transit’ in KL, here’s a list of to do’s to keep you occupied for the duration of your transit:
- Petronas Towers – As obvious and cliché as it may sound, you cannot claim to have visited this capital city without having paid a visit to its iconic pair of steel high rises. Currently labelled the tallest twin-towers in the world, the viewing deck is open to the public most days (except Mondays) for visitor to have this proven for themselves. The view from the top is breathtaking at most, and allows for visitors to catch a glimpse of the city of KL as well as snatches of the lush outskirts Malaysia is famous for.
At the base of the Petronas Towers is Suria KLCC, an up-market shopping complex frequented mostly by transiting tourists (such as yourself) or businessmen taking a rushed browse for something to take back to the family on their return.
- Batu Caves – Just a 20-30 minute drive from the centre of KL is a set of one of Malaysia’s most breathtaking natural structures. The Batu Caves, which doubles as both a tourist attraction but primarily a place of worship for Hindu devotees, is a stunning collection of limestone caves. To get to the caves however, one must climb a steep flight of more than 250 steps, risk having your camera snatched and hair tugged at by a territorial monkey or two, and possibly even grapple with a stray fruit bat. It is unarguably well-worth the trouble though, as after having conquered said mini-battle, the sheer beauty of the structures will sure enough quash any memory of inconvenience.
- Times Square / Sungei Wang / Pavilion – For that spot of retail therapy, there’s always a shopping centre handy at some part of the city. Be it the multi-tiered Times Square with its own indoor roller coaster, or Sungei Wang for some easy access to popular local as well as international retail brands. Alternatively for the more luxe-savvy, there’s always the Pavilion mall to cater to more high-end shopping needs.
- China Town – China Town (or Petaling Street as it’s known to the locals) is every haggler’s dream. This far-eastern street bazaar is the go-to place for anything Chinese. Be it the ‘genuine fake’ Rolex’s pushed on every male passer-by, or the superbly replicated Louis Vuitton signature bag the hawkers are so proud to brandish. Be it knock-offs of club football jerseys, designer luggage and even a DVD collection large to keep you occupied until your next trip, China Town is undeniably an experience in its own. Be sure to pack your bargaining skills with you though, even if for a pungent piece of the notorious Durian fruit.
- Bukit Bintang – A road at the very heart of the city, this street beats more profoundly after sunset. Lined with certified massage parlours, to the hawker offering a cut-rate shoulder rub. From cafes, retail traders and the odd fortune-teller or two, Bukit Bintang is clearly the street of choice for visiting tourists and locals alike.
To make the best of your night out in the town, make it a point to grab dinner at one of the many street (or ‘Mamak’) eateries. Not the posh-est of dining establishments yes, but if you’re looking for the best Nasi Goreng(speciality Malaysian fried rice) the city has to offer, it’s best you keep away from the 5-star hotels. Wash that down with a generous glass of Teh Tarek (heavily sweetened milk tea), and you’ll have had the best meal you can ever have in KL.
Of course Malaysia is a country best travelled over the course of many days, but it’s always important to make the most of whatever time you have in any city – and not just in the case of Kuala Lampur either.
- Shaahima Fahim