Last Updated: June 8, 2017
Can I confess something? Taking a plane from the Singapore Changi Airport to Kuala Lumpur sometimes takes a shorter time than the time spent for me to travel from my house to National University of Singapore. Precisely because of this sheer convenience, many Singaporeans love travelling over to Kuala Lumpur over the long weekend. Despite locals travelling to Kuala Lumpur pretty frequently, I was surprised when I heard that many did not know the various attractions (other than shopping) that Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia had to offer.
If you have felt the damage done to your wallet through spending frivolously the past few months or are simply sick of shopping, you’ll find this list of immense help. I traveled over the long weekendto Kuala Lumpur with guidance under the Malaysia Tourism Board (Thank you, Ms Putrie!) and flew via Malaysia Airlines. I felt extremely well taken care of and safe during the entire duration of the flights – both to and from Kuala Lumpur.
Here, I present the 10 incredible things to do in Kuala Lumpur – all of which do not involve aimless walking around ginormous malls.
The best Nasi Lemak I’ve ever eaten in my life is at Restaurant Rebung by Dato Chef Ismail. I am not joking. Driven by his passion for preserving traditional Malay food, Dato Chef Ismail, Malaysia Tourism Ministry’s food ambassador, set up his own restaurant featuring authentic Malay cuisine.
If you ever happen to bump into Dato Chef Ismail at his extremely homely restaurant, you’ll find a humorous, charming and exceedingly down to earth man. His personality shines through in his choice of decor for his restaurant, with various fittings – plates, curtains, closets and even pots which are commonly featured in Malay homes.
A buffet dinner at Restaurant Rebung will set you back by RM50, which is rather reasonable considering the status of Dato Chef Ismail, the welcoming ambiance at the restaurant and the absolutely excellent authentic Malay food served. Due to the plethora of different dishes offered, I did not manage to enjoy every single dish offered – which just so happens to justify my future trips to Kuala Lumpur!
Have you ever given serious thought about what it truly means to lose your sight? For many people inflicted with eye diseases or were born without vision, even walking around can be dangerous. Dialogue In The Dark, a Social Enterprise licensed by the Dialogue Social Enterprise Germany, aims to promote a deeper understanding on the various everyday-life struggles which the visually impaired face.
The adage “You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it” rung loud and clear in my mind the moment I stepped into total darkness with nothing but a cane in my hands. Thankfully, there was a guide who used her voice to direct us on where to go in the pitch-black conditions. It was honestly difficult to navigate around – even with the help of a guide. I think it struck me then; how absolutely terrifying it must be for a visually impaired person to get around in the bustling city with no guidance at all.
Dialogue In The Dark is also available in Singapore, right at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. If you can, do go for both versions because various countries inject their own flavor into the sessions. For example, in KL’s Dialogue In The Dark, you’ll be brought to Malaysia’s own experiences like Sarawak and even Mount Kinabalu all simulated within the room with sounds and textures without visuals.
Don’t be surprised if you get a little emotional when your guide asks you “So, how does it feel to be able to see again?” at the end of the tour – because she doesn’t know. All guides are visually impaired, which made it even more meaningful.
If you’re short on time and yet still want to have a taste of all the glorious Malaysian street food favourites which KL has to offer, head down over to Lot 10 Hutong. Even though the quality of the food may not match up to the famous, authentic food stalls where they are sourced from, Lot 10 Hutong more than makes up for that shortcoming through curating all of KL’s famed food in one convenient location – the underground of shopping centre Lot 10.
I was drawn to the glistening, red char siew hanging in front of a particular Noodles Stall and so I made an immediate beeline for it. You should make a trip down specially just to see how alluring the meats were, with oil still slowly trickling down their sides. Just thinking about it is making me salivate. The char siew had the golden ratio of lean meat to fats, with fats taking up a quarter of every slice of salivation-inducing char siew. When you chow down on the meat, you will find that it is juicy and bursting with flavours but it will not strike you as too jelat (overwhelming).
I could not quite place my finger on what the black sauce comprised of but it went really well with the noodles served. Also, I could tell that the stall had meticulously calculated the right amount of sauce to pour onto the noodles because every strand of noodle was coated with the black sauce without becoming too wet. I was surprised by how ‘Q’ the noodles were and I finished the entire plate within minutes.
There would be staff pushing trolleys around with random knick knacks, such as drinks or dim sum, which I felt enhanced the ambiance of the entire place. If you want to consume your Malaysian street food right in the central of KL without breaking into a sweat, Lot 10 Hutong was made for you.
Sometimes the hectic city life takes its toll on you; too many deadlines, claustrophobic office cubicles and too little time to even hear yourself think. When was the last time you made contact with Mother Nature? It’s probably been some time ago. The owner of Bamboo Village, Mr Ramadhan, had quit his job to build bamboo village from scratch in the year 2008. The compound was made available only in 2013 to the public for a getaway into nature.
There is nothing much to do in the village but then again, the whole idea of coming to Bamboo Village was to truly slow down to enjoy life. The village transported me into a time where people talked face to face without the constant fumbling and thumbing of their smart phones – a refreshing change, given how much technology and social media has taken a hold on us. At the Bamboo Village, I was happy with just being. I wasn’t concerned with checking in on Facebook or Instagram-ing the place.
There are many animals present on within the compound, cats, chicks and chickens were spotted during our visit to the village. It was truly a relaxing place to be at and I think it’s highly likely that I would be going back personally myself for a stay over at the Bamboo Village. If you’re interested, you can book for a room through Agoda.
MUD, Malaysia’s longest running musical, had me wide-eyed and enraptured throughout the hour-long show by the brilliant and energetic actors on stage. And I’m not a musical type of person. MUD aims to educate the public on the founding of KL – how Kuala Lumpur managed to build itself into the metropolis it is today after having survived the Great Fire and the Great Flood of Kuala Lumpur, both of which unfortunately happened within the year of 1881.
Even though one could argue that the musical was highly stylized, I think the aim of the musical was still accomplished. I think it’s still highly impressive how much they had managed to fit into the storyline despite the show having a run time of only an hour. Also, MUD manages to capture audiences’ attention through making the musical an interactive one. Buy your tickets now to find out just how the crew involves you in the show!
Located a mere 15 minutes away from the city center, Crackhouse Comedy Club is Malaysia’s very first comedy club. Due to the adult-nature of some of the jokes, the attraction is open only to those who are aged 18 and above. Crackhouse Comedy Club’s shows are well-received by locals and tourists alike – they constantly receive positive feedback on their website and even on TripAdvisor.
In case you get hungry or thirsty while having a real good laugh, the club also offers small bites alongside booze. Other than the occasional references to Malay culture and language, nearly all shows conducted at the Crackhouse Comedy Club are in English. No language barrier to prevent you from getting the jokes here.
If you’ve always been the type to camp at Macdonalds’ to secure all three solid meals from a global fast-food chain when you find yourself in a foreign land, I’m pretty sure Big Mac’s gets boring after the third day. While it’s familiar and safe, it’s definitely not fun to stick to eating food which you can easily obtain from your home-country. When in Kuala Lumpur, you should be more adventurous and have a go at some of the most raved-about local food which have the natives going crazy over them.
Avoid all the tourist-laden food attractions by signing yourself up for an organised food tour with Food Tour Malaysia. Operated by a group of passionate authentic Malaysia food lovers, Food Tour Malaysia coordinates and carries out excursions to local food fare in Kuala Lumpur. You’ll get insider information on all the popular food of the Malaysians – no more getting ripped off from stall vendors who prey on unsuspecting tourists!
Sometimes, when I think about how the only form of trekking I will get in Singapore is on Bukit Timah Hill, I get a little sad. The city life in Singapore is amazing and great but sometimes, we all need a little breather from our fast-paced lives. Which is why if you happen to find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, you should sign yourself up for a trekking adventure with Open Sky Unlimited. You’ll get to traverse rugged mountain ridges, witness hidden waterfalls and even cross jungles.
As Mark Twain had so aptly said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” If I find myself back in KL again, I’ll be sure to heed Mark Twain’s advice and sign myself up for an adventure of a lifetime.
A visit to the aquarium is an activity which is suited to all age groups, which means that it is perfect for a family outing. Visitors can expect to get all up-close with some of the aquarium’s most exotic exhibits, such as the Sea Cucumber, Box Crab, Horseshoe Crab and even a Bamboo Shark.
The main draw of the aquarium, to me, would be its transparent underwater tunnel which spans over 90 metres long. It will feel as though you are right within the waters with the fascinating marine life: Sand Tiger Sharks, Giant Stingrays, Green Turtles and so many more. Admission tickets are also affordably priced too; it costs RM53 for adults, RM42 for children aged 3 – 12 years old and RM32 for senior citizens above the age of 60.
Have you ever felt disappointed by the fact that you’re not starring in a block-buster movie? If you haven’t, great for you. But for all the other who have harboured dreams of being the lead character of an action-packed movie, you can have a little taste of what that feels like when you try to escape from one of Breakout’s carefully crafted games. You will get to choose 2 to 7 fellow co-stars – your friends, families or significant others, to partake in the games with you.
Of course, the more people you have with you, the more affordable your trip away from reality will cost.
Related Guide: Best Cafes in Kuala Lumpur