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24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur

Published 30 March 2016

Jayne Gorman

Jayne Gorman

From glossy high-end malls to indoor theme parks and the craziness of Chinatown, with a bit of forward planning you can see the best of Kuala Lumpur during just a 24-hour stopover. Travel blogger Jayne Gorman tells us how…

Petronas Towers

The first thing (or things) you will want to get a closer looks at are the Petronas Towers. Architecturally and visually stunning, no visit to KL is complete without a closer look at these iconic towers.

The Petronas Towers and other city buildings in Kuala Lumpur

Underneath the towers is the high-end KLCC mall. From Gucci and Prada to Topshop, this is a very Western shopping Mall in a captivating Malaysian structure. You will also find many high-end American style eateries overlooking the water features in the park outside.

Merdeka Square

Just a short and cheap ride on the transit rail later and you can find yourself at Merdeka Square. It was here in Merdeka (Independence) Square that the British flag was lowered on August 31st 1957 and the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time. It’s a very symbolic place for the nation and a great place to get an initial feel for the colonial history of Malaysia.


Within walking distance from Merdeka Square is KL’s Chinatown and Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street is its touristy heart. The goods on sale range from Gangnam Style t-shirts to model aeroplanes but Jalan Petaling is more about the architecture and atmosphere than the actual shopping. Side streets are full of stalls selling local food, and with more signs in Chinese than English, this is one part of KL that feels truly Asian.

Locals sitting on stools outside shops in China Town, Kuala Lumpur

Central market

On the outskirts of Chinatown is the Central Market. Central Market (or Souvenir Central as I like to think of it!) is built on the location of a wet market from the 1800’s. The pale blue Central Market is now a home for Malaysian culture, art and crafts. You are more likely to end up purchasing a new print than item of clothing here. Be sure to stop at the food court on the second floor for a spot of lunch – with lots of choice in a relatively calm place, it has also free Wi-Fi and air con!

People walking into blue building with Central Market sign in Kuala Lumpur

Berjaya Times Square Mall

In the afternoon it is time for something a bit different. At Berjaya Times Square Mall you can take part in yet more shopping if you wish – or you could check out the indoor theme park!

The mall has 8 floors of fashion stores selling clothes at market stall prices. A little like Groundhog Day every floor looks the same until you get to level 5 and stumble upon Malaysia’s largest indoor theme park. Despite being there at the weekend there were only a handful of other people in the theme park when we visited, so we paid the £7 entry and whooped and cheered our way around the roller coaster – twice!


For dinner why not check out the stylish yet unpretentious, local’s favourite Bijan. With a pretty and peaceful garden in the middle of the bustling city centre, Bijan serves excellent satay and fine wine in a venue type more often found on Malaysia’s coastline.

Traders Bar

For nighttime drinks in KL it is all about the Skybar at the Traders Hotel. With cushioned window seats that look out over the city and provide enviable views of the Pertonas Towers, it is not hard to see why. There is waiter service, cheesy tunes and lanterns that bob on the surface of the pool and reflect off the glass roof. Beers start from just £4 and the mixed satay appetizer is delicious.

People in the dark Skybar overlooking the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Expert tip

For the window seats at Skybar and a garden table at Bijan make sure you book in advance. The concierge at your hotel should be able to help out.

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