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.
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.
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!
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