A-Z of Capital Cities: Kuala Lumpur

Just 30km south of Kuala Lumpur sits the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus at Semenyih. As a result of this, the capital of Malaysia is an obvious and popular tourist destination for those on exchange or participating in University of Nottingham summer schools. For good reason too: Kuala Lumpur is home to prestigious landmarks, beautiful heritage sights and incredible culture.

Malaysia was previously occupied by the British Government, and was only granted independence in 1957. Since then Kuala Lumpur has evolved into one of the most lively, advanced and vibrant cities in South East Asia. Economic development has led to new shopping centres, residential developments and skyscrapers so that today Malaysia is both a popular business and tourist destination.

One must-see is the Petronas Twin Towers, which at a majestic height of 451.9 metres is one of the tallest buildings in the world. If you feel brave enough, this iconic building provides the exhilarating opportunity to stand on the sky bridge connecting the two towers. It is advised to visit at night in order to watch the daily fountain light show, which is especially spectacular from this great height.


Kuala Lumpur is religiously diverse and has many beautiful temples, shrines and mosques. Some of these shrines can be found inside the Batu Caves, which sit within a limestone hill and are comprised of three large caves and several smaller ones. The shrines found inside are prominent in the celebration of Hindu festivals, so paramount in fact that they are said to be the most popular outside of India. Incredibly, the limestone surrounding the caves is over 400 million years old. Other than shrines, the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave house numerous Hindu statues and paintings. A stunning gold statue of Murugan, the Hindu god of war, sits in front of the caves. It is the perfect opportunity to experience the religious culture of Malaysia.


Another popular attraction is the Islamic Arts Museum, a grand open plan museum that offers tourists the opportunity to see the development of Islamic history through impressive artefacts and models. Currently the museum houses over 7000 objects. Even if you are not interested in religion, the collection of art (with detailed descriptions in English) is remarkable.

A visit to Kuala Lumpur is not complete without visiting the extensive shopping malls located in the city centre. However, for a more authentic experience the Central Market is worth a visit. It is known as the centre for Malaysian culture, heritage and arts and crafts, and regularly hosts free entertainment such as traditional dance. Here is an excellent opportunity to buy cheap souvenirs in one of the kiosks that sit in numerous rows, or to try local delicacies such as Malay cakes, dim sum and fresh tropical fruit juices.

If you’re interested in trying out Malaysian nightlife, check out the Heli Lounge Bar, located on an actual helipad in the Menara KH building. Here you will get a chance to watch the sunset with a stunning 360 degrees view of the city, whilst drinking cocktails and listening to a live band.

Kuala Lumpur: a unique chance to see the fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures in an environment where it is possible to see both traditional sites juxtaposed against the emerging modern attractions.

Priya Thakrar

Images courtesy of Trey Ratcliff, Francisco González and David Davies via Flickr

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