Kuala Lumpur (known to most as KL) is Malaysia’s modern and eclectic capital. Sometimes smoggy but always lively its temples redolent with the smoke of countless sticks of incense while markets suffer under the sickly sweet stench of the ever-present durian fruit (don't try it without a sink nearby, as you'll want to wash off the stinking remnants before getting on with your day).
You can really feel the contrasts around the towering twin Petronas Towers, where the pavements occasionally disintegrate under your feet, yet the most modern of skyscrapers dominates your panorama. Head for the top - or the vertigo-inducing bridge between the two – for a view over the entire city and an unmissable photo op. The slight movement on a windy day can be a little unnerving, but that's all part of the fun...
Next to the stunningly modern, though, you’ll find plenty of the colorful, traditional and ancient, too. Sit and soak up the sounds of thousands of birds in one of Asia’s largest bird parks; check out the revolving restaurant in Kuala Lumpur’s ‘other’ landmark, KL Tower; head out of the city to climb the seemingly endless steps up to the Hindu pilgrimage site - Batu Cave; or check out the range of museums that incorporate everything from textiles to Islamic arts..
The religious side of Kuala Lumpur is increasingly fascinating. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity all have their place here, and exploring the contrasts by strolling through town from temple to temple is a quick-fire course in the cultural outlooks of different world beliefs. Once you've got your cultural education, you can dive into the districts that spawned such variety: Little India, China Town, reams of colonial architecture and the more traditional Malay areas.
When you’re done with all the deep, insightful stuff, indulge in your own personal hedonism and make the most of Kuala Lumpur’s fantastic shopping scene, and snap up anything from tribal products made in the heart of the jungle to bargain duty free alcohol and perfumes. Kuala Lumpur’s fast losing its ‘gateway to paradise tag, instead becoming part of Asia's ever-enticing and vibrant selection of must-see city stop offs.
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