One of Southeast Asia's fastest growing global cities, Kuala Lumpur is a dynamic place no less than any of its counterparts anywhere on the globe. Home to a diverse population and multiple parallel cultures, the Malaysian capital has become known in the world for much more than just the Twin Petrona Towers. The city's vast shopping districts, local cuisine, and cultural enclaves have all begun to attract ever increasing crowds from all parts of the world. But with big cities comes the big struggle of choosing what area or neighborhood of the larger city to pick for the best possible stay. But keep that worry aside as we are here to help!
Multiple means of transportation including a well maintained network of monorail and the efficient Mass Rapid Transit make travel easy and hassle free. And what is also does is make every part of the city easy to access and just widens the scope of your choice, in terms of staying options. You can start looking beyond just the central business districts and downtown locations and explore the city under-explored parts like never before, if that's your calling! Keeping all of that in mind, we have listed some of the best and most unique parts of the city that might make you want to start planning your vacation already. So without further ado, here is our list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Kuala Lumpur!
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
In the heart of Kuala Lumpur is the famed city centre. Often abbreviated as KLCC, the neighborhood is home to some of the best known landmarks of not just the city, but all of Malaysia including the Twin Petrona Towers and Suria KLCC shopping centre. The skyline is mostly made up of similar high rise buildings and skyscrapers, all of which are business centres and major entertainment venues that offer shopping options ranging from budget buys to high end retail stores of some of the best known brands in the world. And while this goes without saying, the list of restaurants and cafes in the district is endless.
But there is a whole different side of KLCC, one that is more artsy and quaint. The neighborhood is known for its pedestrian walks and plazas with their musical foundations that make for great meeting points. And the area also has many art galleries and science museums that will have you hooked. And the perfect place to get away from the bustling neighborhood is the KLCC Park, an enormous green space in the middle of the city centre that offers jogging tracks, picnic spots and a picturesque bridge and lake setting to refresh you at the end of a long day.
KLCC is pricier than most other parts of the city and is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Kuala Lumpur. The area is easily accessible through all means of transport and is perfect for shorter stays in the city.
Centred around another central landmarks of the city, the Bintang Avenue is Kuala Lumpur's shopping district of Bukit Bintang. And that's saying a lot for a city known to be home to three of the world's ten largest shopping malls. The Starhill Gallery and Berjaya Times Square anchor the area as two of the biggest and most frequently visited of these malls and while the former caters to the audience of more luxurious brands, the likes of Berjaya Times Square have something for everyone (attracting an ever increasing number of younger crowds with many new international brands popping up). Countless hours can be spent window shopping, or exploring the grab-and-go food stalls, or experiencing the fine dining at offer at the venues.
The neighborhood comes alive during night time, attracting diverse crowds to its clubs and bars. Traffic tends to remain high through most of the day and you can always count on walking into one of the new and innovative venues with a wide range of cuisines and drinks (including Hutong, a heritage food village of sorts and the Changkat Bukit Bintang district with high end restaurants), live music and various other entertainment options. Bukit Bintang also has one of Asia's largest theme parks, artsy handicraft markets, an eco park and plenty other options to make sure that there's never a dull moment.
Bukit Bintang is centrally located and thus easily serviceable by almost all modes of transportation, including the monorail and Mass Rapid Transit at eponymous stations. Staying options are in plenty and offer a nice range both in terms of facilities and budget range.
Centred around the thoroughfare of Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. The ethnic enclave, much like its counterparts, is known as the go to place for Asian and Chinese cuisine and you can find as many options as you would like for satisfying your hunger pangs. The best options to try are often the street vendors who have grab and go bites that will keep you coming back for more. And once you're well fed, you can move on to a little sightseeing. The neighborhood, being a cultural centre for the residing communities houses iconic temples and even a mosque, all of which are at a short walking distance from each other.
Also the covered market place that is the Petaling Street itself, has a lot to offer travellers looking for something a little different from the general glitzy shopping experience of some of the more central business venues. Cheap counterfeit products of top clothing brands, accessories and footwear, souvenir of all kinds, and local handicrafts from Chinese and other South Asian stores all owned by local families make up the offbeat appeal of the neighborhood. Just stroll through the streets looking for things that might attract your attention, but do not forget to bargain a little before you settle on the things that you want to take home for yourself.
The Pasar Seni station of the Mass Rapid Transit and the Maharajalela station on the monorail are the best and easiest option to access Chinatown and neighboring areas through public transport. While you're in the area, finding a budget hotel should not be too much trouble either.
Talking of cultural enclaves, Little India in the Brickfields neighborhood is one that definitely warrants a mention. More on that a little later, but first up is the central part of the district, the Sentral Station. As a hub for Kuala Lumpur's intercity network, the neighborhood has developed quite a vibe. A lot of cafes and bistro and casual diners and trattorias dominate the eating options, and are a great choice for a quick stop. You can always visit for a drink at one of the many bars and cocktail lounges during late hours as the busy neighborhood is as lively during the night as it is during business hours.
Onto Little India, which is home to some of the best Buddhist and Hindu temples of Kuala Lumpur then. The streets are lined with vendors selling ornamental flowers, street food, and Indian restaurants. What's the most appealing part about the eating options here is sheer variety of food ranging from the best South Indian rice dishes, biryanis, and many fusion desserts and appetizers. Take your pick from the long list of options as a single visit will simply not be enough to do justice to the neighborhood. The streets are bustling with activities throughout the day and there isn't really a good or bad time to visit Brickfields.
The centrally located transit station makes to and fro transportation to Brickfields the easiest among all of Kuala Lumpur's neighborhoods. And much like Chinatown, visitors can easily find affordable staying options to choose from.
Just West of Brickfields is the affluent neighborhood of Bangsar, with a dominant Malay population. So unlike the more metropolitan areas of Kuala Lumpur, this part of the city is more distinctly Malaysian. The neighborhood has many local restaurants that offer native cuisine alongside other establishments serving a lot of Indian food as well. The neighborhood grew rapidly in the 1980s and subsequently attracted a large variety of people including families and young hipsters crowds in the years that followed.
The neighborhood has become known for its alternative vibe. Owing to its numerous urban art galleries and museums, boutiques and local designer stores, Bangsar has cemented its status as Kuala Lumpur's hip neighborhood. Aside from the art galleries and exhibition halls, you can find graffiti and music performers during casual walks on the streets. All these smaller elements add to the eclectic mix of Bangsar and the best way to explore the neighborhood is on foot. While you're doing that, there is a very good chance that you might come across one of the smaller but innovative cafes that have a more quirky vibe than that of the traditional eateries in other parts of the city.
While no monorail or Mass Rapid Transit stations connect Bangsar with downtown Kuala Lumpur, the neighborhood is still easily accessible through the road network. As many other parts of the city, the neighborhood also has a wide range of staying options ranging from homestays and affordable hotels to the more luxurious stays.
The northernmost neighborhood on the list is the sub district of Chow Kit. Known eponymously to the major marketplace of the area, it is one of the more traditional parts of the city. Chow Kit has maintained its city space, which is devoid of high rise buildings and the more modern structures that have taken over other parts of the fast developing Kuala Lumpur. Sunday markets and smaller residential areas and a well knot social fabric give Chow Kit a more village within a city vibe and makes it a perfect place for a weekend getaway away from the city's bustling crowds.
The neighborhood borrows its name from the wet market, which has been the venue for the sale of (besides its main produce of meat) other groceries and clothing apparel for years now. Chow Kit also has a number of cafes and bars to keep you interested all day. Live music is a major drawing point for some of these venues, but they also attract customers based off of their unusual setting in older and more traditional buildings. Chow Kit has a reputation for being difficult as the vendors in the neighborhood are not always the most courteous. Also, it is home to the city's unofficial red light district, but the parts of there are a few parts of the area (which were discussed earlier) that are worth exploring.
The Chow Kit monorail station connect the neighborhood to most other parts of the city. Also, you'll find some of the best budget options in terms of hotels and homestays in all of Kuala Lumpur here.
That's our list then, traveller! We hope that it helps you plan your ideal stay in the diverse and eclectic Garden City of Lights in the heart of Malaysia!