I have been to Kuala Lumpur, or KL as most travelers call it, three times now. It was my starting point for travelling Malaysia and my transport hub for getting to other countries here in South East Asia. And it has struck me with mixed feelings. To be honest, I don’t really like the city and I’ve been to other cities which were wy more fascinating and captivating to me. But a lot of travelers do love it and I was wondering what makes me not like it and what others find great about one of Asia’s biggest metropolises. Here are 5 reasons why one should go and see KL and 5 reasons why you shouldn’t bother:
5 reasons why you need to go at least once:
- Kuala Lumpur is just one Asia’s biggest, busiest and liveliest metropolises. It’s a melting pot of different cultures and religions which is unique in Asia.
- You have to see the Petronas Towers at least once and take a proper picture of them.
- The street food in KL is amazing and cheap. Whether it is Chinese, Indian or traditional Nonya cuisine, KL is a great place to eat your way through Asia.
- If you want to go shopping, KL is the place to be. Electronics at Low Yat Plaza, the latest and most expensive fashion at Pavilion or just strolling through one of the many malls, you will find everything to
- KL is a great place to arrange visas for other South East Asian countries. Embassies are very cooperative and processing times are short. In combination with its function as a regional transport hub, KL makes for a great base for exploring South East Asia.
5 reasons to not even bother:
- Kuala Lumpur is definitely not the real Asia. Very much developed, the city is just overloaded with flashy shopping malls, electronic outdoor advertisements and high rise buildings. It has a certain flair but it is definitely way less authentic than other Asian cities. It feels rather sterile.
- The city has not too much too offer. Besides the Petronas Towers and a China Town that is „more fake than anything else“ (quote from a Malay local), the city is not really rich in attractions.
- KLs general state of mind seems to revolve mostly and foremost around consummation and hedonism. A very much Western phenomenon, but the city takes it to another level.
- Being a prime destination for tourists from Arabia, you will see a lot of fully covered women trotting after their husbands who are on the contrary dressed like every other Westerner. Also something that one probably didn’t have in mind when thinking of South East Asian exoticism.
- The climate in KL is terrible which makes exploring by foot a sweaty and exhausting challenge.
Last thoughts …
Personally Kuala Lumpur just didn’t float my boat. I didn’t like the atmosphere and I was less motivated to explore the city, something that is rather unusual for me. But it was more of an abstract feeling and a very personal and subjective one. Other Asian metropolises were way more captivating for me. But, the best thing is probably to go and see the city at least once to make up your own mind. And afterwards please let me know what you thought of it, maybe I can add another point to the list above.