Why is Malaysia’s Awesome Capital Forgotten in the Western World?

Modern, gigantic skyscrapers gazing down at centuries-old Chinatown. The smell of curry wafting from a family-owned Indian restaurant, colliding with the aroma of Chinese street food grilling up pork,  chicken, and duck. Muslim Malays gathering for their daily prayer at the local Mosque, down the street from a Chinese Buddhist temple lighting incense for their ancient afternoon ritual, across the street from a Hindu temple whose drum sounds vibrate through the streets.

Ladies and gentleman, you’ve just stepped foot into Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. If you’re anything like me, before I moved to Asia I’d probably say “what the heck is a Kuala Lumpur?!” I couldn’t point to it on a map, and I definitely couldn’t tell you anything about it. Well, after visiting, words just won’t do this city justice:

KL is a Melting Pot. And it’s truly beautiful.

A city that most of us on the Western side of the world know little to nothing about, KL might be one of the most culturally interesting and complex cities I’ve ever been to. And one of the cleanest! Malaysia is made up of three predominant cultures: Indian, Chinese and Malay. The influence of these three cultures is noticed in every inch and corner of the city, from its architecture, religions, language (everyone speaks English as the common language between the 3 cultures!) and of course, the food.

Outside of the US, I have yet to visit a country that I could say is truly a melting pot. I’m not talking about a country that has lots of diversity thanks to recent immigrants over the past 50 years, but a country that is defined by its diversity, a country whose culture is the blending of religions, foods, colors and languages. KL, in a strange round-about way, reminded me of home. Every taxi driver spoke a different native language, groups of girls with different ethnic features walked down the street arm in arm, and it was normal to look different. Home sweet NYC KL.

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Visiting KL? Here’s your quick Kuala Lumpur Guide:

Where to go:

  • The Batu Caves, which is pretty much the main tourist attraction in KL for good reason. You can easily get there from the city center by taking the train from the KL Sentral station on the Batu Caves line
  • Sri Mahamariamman Temple, which is the beautiful Hindu Temple featured in the video. Try and get there during one of their ceremonies! They happen three times a day.
  • Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, the Chinese Buddhist Temple also featured in the video.
  • Wander around Chinatown and eat Indian food in Brickfields (aka “Little India”).
  • Note*: Mosques are closed off to the public, which is why I didn’t go in one of the many!

Where to eat and drink:

  • Vishal: extremely authentic and extremely BANGIN’ Indian food. (Stay tuned for next week’s post when I tell you guys all the down and dirty deets)
  • VCR: A great little café to start your day. Great coffee and a delish breakfast menu!
  • Pisco Bar: Great bar to get a drink. Awesome vibes, awesome music, and a very cool local expat crowd.

Where to stay:

  • Mingle Hostel: If you’re the hostel type, I would 110% recommend Mingle Hostel. A chill yet friendly vibe, super funky industrial-chic decor, attached to a great cafe, in the heart of Chinatown and CLEAN! They’ve also got some really cool hostel excursions led by locals!

Did you learn anything new about Malaysia’s capital? Who’s going to put KL on their 2018 bucket list?! 

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