Specialist Rebecca suggests how to spend 48 hours in Malaysia's capital city.
An ultra-modern capital with one foot in the past, 'KL's' shiny skyscrapers loom over the old city, home to local enclaves, ancient temples and traditional Malay architecture.
Enjoy breakfast at your boutique hotel. Villa Samadhi is set in quiet surroundings on the fringes of central Kuala Lumpur — a perfect base for exploring.
Start your day early with a short taxi ride to the ‘village within a city’ that is Kampung Baru. This Malay enclave has managed to fend off the attentions of local developers, who have transformed the surrounding area, and its low-rise buildings are a pleasing contrast to the many skyscrapers that now overlook them. Here you’ll find examples of Malay architecture and hawker stalls offering some of the best local delicacies.
Head over to the iconic 452m (1,483 ft) high Petronas Towers — once the world's tallest buildings. Climb to the observation deck (to avoid the queue, purchase tickets in advance), where you can look out and trace your steps from earlier in the morning.
Avoid the intense afternoon heat by seeking refuge in one of the nearby shopping precincts, such as KLCC or Pavilion. If you’re not ready to stock up on souvenirs or luxury items, then the vast food courts, for which they are known, make a great spot for lunch.
Kuala Lumpur is easy to navigate. It doesn’t take long to get your bearings or master the efficient public transport system, but it often costs the same to take a taxi. Drive to attractive Merdeka Square (where Malaysian independence was once declared) to wander its restored colonial buildings.
Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of different cultures and the varied street food on offer reflects this. Sample some of Malaysia’s rich noodle dishes or spicy chicken wings with the help of a local food guide. During the tour you’ll walk through narrow lanes and pathways, stopping by heritage sites en route, including the Jamek Mosque, Central Market and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple.
Round off the day enjoying a sundowner at the Traders Hotel Skybar. This popular nightspot, complete with ‘in-bar’ pool, has some of the best views of the Petronas Towers, which you can take in while sipping a signature cocktail. Seats by the window are only available if you arrive early, though.
After breakfast, journey over to the Brickfields area and Little India to experience a different side to the city. With the smell of spices in the air, you can navigate through narrow markets and shops filled with silks and fabrics. Pass by colonial remnants, revered temples and intriguing churches. If your feet get tired, stop for a reflexology massage — popular in this part of town. It’s also a good area to grab an early lunch.
Not too far from Brickfields is the city’s Perdana Botanical Gardens and KL Bird Park, which makes for a relaxing place to spend the afternoon. Many different types of birds, including hornbills, flamingoes and ostriches, call this vast area home and stalk its free-to-roam aviaries in huge numbers.
After a day spent exploring, take a load off your feet and return to Villa Samadhi to relax by the pool for a few hours, resting up and taking advantage of the serene setting.
Head to KL Tower to watch the sunset over the city skyline. After, enjoy dinner in one of the city's many restaurants — I can recommend Thirty8 at the Grand Hyatt.