Kuala Lumpur : Where to Stay When Travelling to this Asian Metropolis
As a resident of Kuala Lumpur, I have always been asked the same question by my foreign friends - Where should we stay in KL during our first visit ?
Chinatown? Bukit Bintang, or somewhere near the breathtaking KLCC Twin Towers?
Okay, here's the deal. I'll tell you a few favourite places where foreign tourists stay while they visit this city. And I will let you know about the differences of these areas. In return, I only ask you to let me know how you feel about KL in this hub.
1. Chinatown -- If Budget is Tight
Firstly, avoid this place if you're travelling with families -- even if budget is tight.
Chinatown is not a place for all -- there's no greeneries or comfortable walking paths here. In fact, the part of KL is almost always crowded and noisy and for many people. And it is also relatively dirty.
But if you're travelling solo, there are so many budget hostels around here. You can get a single room with attached showed for as little USD 30, or a bed in a shared room for USD10. Those staying longer will probably be able to haggle and get some discounts too.
Hawker food are just around the corner, the always crowded Chinatown nightmarket is just within a few steps off your hotel and there are at least 3 nearby train stations around the area (the Central Market, the Masjid Jamek and the Plaza Rakyat). In short, a tour of Kuala Lumpur from here is easy.
Certain attractions like the Dataran Merdeka, Central Market and the Masjid Jamek are all within short stroll too. A block away is the Masjid India block -- the place where you could taste Malay food and see Malay and Indian Muslim culture intermingle with each other.
If you don't mind mingling with the local Chinese and other Asian immigrants (Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Indonesian etc) and street noise is something you are accustomed to back home, try this area.
If you don't like what you see, prepare for a steeper room as I introduce you to ..
Busy, chaotic Chinatown is a preferred place for budget conscious travellers
2. Bukit Bintang
Stay here if you have deep pockets.
Bukit Bintang is known as Kuala Lumpur's shopping paradise -- with a number of modern malls dotting the street, open until 9 o'clock at night, tempting you with all sorts of things -- from Japanese manga comics to watches more expensive than your home.
Certain malls, like the super luxurious Starhill will induce cold sweat, but you could always shop at the saner malls like the Sungei Wang.
Those who love gadgets will find refuge in the LowYat plaza and Berjaya Mall while those who wants to sample hawker foods will love the stalls in Jalan Alor.
Those seeking international standard stay can look for one at the international hotel chains here (like the Ritz Carlton and Westin) but those who want to experience the Asian history and hospitality can opt for the 18 rooms Anggun boutique hotel.
There are a few small hostels and homestays around Bukit Bintang but you need to look around. One place to start is around the back alley of the Berjaya Times Square.
Noise could be a problem here, so try ask for room away from the street.
3. KLCC Twin Towers Area
Stay here if your trip is short.
The reason is simple -- KLCC is Malaysia's icon. If you have visited this part of town but do not have the time to see the twin towers, you'll probably be laughed by your friends. It's like going to Singapore for the first time and not see the Marina Bay or going to Egypt but not seeing the Pyramids.
The area has all you want for a short trip. A modern mall with a huge selection of food, a world class aquarium, an art gallery, a music hall, a huge park for your kids to play in the afternoon and a massive children museum on the 4th floor of the tower for the whole family to enjoy.
In short, this is the place to stay if you do not wish to walk a lot.
Some nearby hotels we recommend is the Mandarin (it is just beside the towers) and the Traders Hotel (owned by Shang-ri-la). But book well in advanced as they are very popular among business travellers.
Those with family can stay at the Ascott Apartment. The only problem is the breakfast area is small. You probably need to do your own cooking or walk outside for better options.