Things to do

Travel to (not through) Kuala Lumpur

Other than Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is a little bit off the beaten track. Approximately 70 million people pass through KL’s airport every year but typically, it’s used by foreigners as a stopover rather than an end destination. An absence of a promoted party scene, like there is in Thailand and Vietnam, might put the younger backpacker off. But otherwise, I’m not too sure why it’s less desirable to tourists.

The minute I stepped off of the bus into KL I felt the warmth of the friendly faces that wanted to help a hot, flustered tired mess of a backpacker. I was making my way to check into Reggae Mansion – one of the more expensive hostels, but certainly one of the most beautiful I’ve stayed in. It had been recommended by a couple of people I met along my travels. Picture an 1800s French- British mansion hybrid, grand, yet minimalist decor, but with tropical palm trees and the most comfortable beds ever. You’ll pay £10 a night, but you’ll get dinner in the restaurant downstairs included. The views from the rooftop bar are also pretty rad and if you’re looking for a boogie, Reggae mansion is the place to get down.

My second day was spent booking flights / trying to get a connection. The one downside to Reggae Mansion (everything else is 10/10) is the patchy WI-FI. Scrap that. Not patchy – completely non-existent. You can’t really get a connection anywhere in the big, beautiful space, other than the bar upstairs, which I think is strategic, but also really annoying when you want to book flights / research what to do in the area and you can’t do so within the comfort of your bed – or even in the same building. It’s that huge, you’re technically leaving the building when you go to the bar area.

On my second night I made friends with a bunch of German guys. They told me they were heading to see the sunset at a rooftop bar in the CBD and asked me to join them. I’m glad I said yes, because this was one of the most memorable nights of my whole trip. At HELI bar – which is quite literally a pop up bar on top of a helipad – we drank cocktails as we watched the sun set across the KL and Petronas towers. Do this. It’s so worth the $16 (approx.) cocktail. We then topped off the night with a party back at Reggae mansion. Shapes were thrown. Shit got real. And it’s a night I won’t forget as we danced to the backdrop of the Petronas towers sparkling like in the distance.

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On my third day in KL, myself and two other girls from the hostel walked a minor stretch for some local cuisine. I’m not entirely sure what this was and I really wish now that I had asked, but regardless it was DE-LISH. And cost the equivalent of £2. In KL, and Malaysia generally, you won’t be short of delicious street-food style cuisine. Heavy Chinese and Indian influences play a role in the mouth-watering food served up across Malaysia. Lucky for me because I LOVE Indian flavours.

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Post-lunch, we headed for views at one of the hotels’ infinity pools. I’d heard of the idea of sneaking up to one of the fancy hotel pools on a blog from a few years back. Talk to others about it, however, and they’ll warn you that it’s not possible without having booked a room. Whilst we hadn’t booked a room, we knew of someone that had and cheekily bagged ourselves a swim with one hell of a view. Turns out it’s only £30 for a room in this joint anyway. So if you’re flashpacking, maybe stretching to one night in a hotel with an infinity pool will eliminate any sneaking around!

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Later that night we checked out the China Town market. A lot of stalls were empty due to police presence and illegitimate vendors. Everything from shoes, make-up and gadgets are on offer in this bustling tourist trap. Fun nonetheless.

If I was to tell you to do three things in KL, they would be:

  • See the petronas towers at night – from the viewpoint at HELI bar
  • Try local eats – especially the smaller, more authentic restaurants
  • Swim in an infinity pool

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