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Kuala Lumpur

The Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur is the largest city in Malaysia and the capital of the federation. Within Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is almost always fondly abbreviated to KL. The executive branch has shifted to a new administrative capital called Putrajaya.

Kuala Lumpur is one of the three Federal Territories, and is physically located within the state of Selangor, on the west coast roughly halfway up in West Malaysia.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Statistics
3 Transportation
4 Tourist Information
5 Hotels
6 Shopping Malls


Kuala Lumpur was founded in 1857 at the confluence of the Gombak and Kelang rivers. In Malay, the name means "muddy confluence".

It was made capital of Selangor in 1880, and in 1896 it became the capital of the British-protected Federated Malay States.

During World War II Japanese forces captured Kuala Lumpur on January 11, 1942 and briefly occupied the city.

After independence in 1957, Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the Federation of Malaya and continued to be the capital of the renamed Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

In 1974 Kuala Lumpur ceded from Selangor and the city became a Federal Territory (Wilayah Persekutuan).

Kuala Lumpur has advanced by leaps and bounds ever since the Asian Economic Boom of the early 1990s (when Malaysia was averaging 10% economic growth). Skyscrapers have shot up and Kuala Lumpur, formerly a languid colonial outpost, has become one of the most lively, advanced and vibrant cities in South East Asia. Unfortunately the infrastructure has barely been able to keep up with this rapid growth, although a new rapid transit system was built in the 1990s. Traffic jams are a scourge commuters endure daily, despite the numerous 6-lane highways constructed all over the city (including two elevated highways). Bus services are notoriously irregular and inadequate and water quality has suffered severely.

Most of central KL has grown without any central planning whatsoever, so the streets in the older parts of town are extremely narrow, winding and congested. The architecture in this section is a unique colonial type, a hybrid of European and Chinese forms.

The stretch of road facing Dataran Merdeka (Freedom Square) is perhaps the most famous road in Kuala Lumpur. The Federal Court building with its signature copper domes and 'Moorish' architecture stands here, as does one of the tallest flagpoles in the world, which stands in the Dataran Merdeka itself. The Dayabumi building is visible, being down the road. This area used to be the focal point of Malaysia's Hari Merdeka (Freedom Day) parade, which was televised all over Malaysia. Last year however, the parade was moved to the Boulevard in Putrajaya, in keeping with Putrajaya's status as the new capital of Malaysia. Interestingly, the white Police Headquarters located atop Bukit Aman faces the Dataran.

The rest of the city has mostly developed in the standard way, with the standard skyscraper format. Aware of this, architects have been urged to incorporate traditional design elements into their work. Notable examples of this fusion are the Dayabumi building, Kuala Lumpur's first skyscraper, the Tabung Haji Building and Menara Telekom, both designed by local architect Hijjas Kasturi, and, of course, the Petronas Twin Towers.

Since the construction of Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur no longer remains the administrative capital. Parliament still sits in Kuala Lumpur, however, and it is very much the commercial capital.


The Malaysia Masjid Negara

(As of 2000)



The city is served by Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is accessible via the KLIA Ekspres train service.

Taxicabs are a reliable and fairly cheap method of transport for the newcomer to the city. However, traffic jams are fairly common with KL. Alternatives are the three light rail systems: Putra LRT, Star LRT and the monorail.

A new transit hub has been built in the Brickfields area named KL Sentral. It serves the KTM Komuter commuter train system, the Putra Line of the LRT and the Monorail. Intercity rail journeys have their terminus here.

Those wishing to take buses to elsewhere in Malaysia should note that there are several bus stations, depending on which part of peninsular Malaysia you wish to travel to. Most express buses now terminate at the new Imbi bus terminal at Pasar Rakyat, which opened in January 2004.

Tourist Information

Batu Caves

Some of the most popular tourist locations in Kuala Lumpur are:

Kuala Lumpur is one of the cheapest places to travel to, offering great value for money. Accommodation is extremely cheap and is of excellent quality; 5 star hotels have rooms going for US$40-100. Food is extremely cheap if one frequents the local outlets (hawker stalls, roadside places and the like) and is extremely delicious. There are upmarket restaurants all over central Kuala Lumpur and in the more affluent suburbs, offering fare ranging from cutting edge avant-garde fusion, to representatives of just about any culture imaginable. Japanese food has gained immense popularity. Alcohol, however, is very expensive in Kuala Lumpur, due to Malaysia being a Muslim country (Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Due to the fact that Malaysia is multicultural, though, people not professing the Islamic faith are free to consume alcohol) and the bars are not a big part of the social scene, although they are extremely popular with the affluent and expatriates.

Kuala Lumpur has a vibrant nightlife, concentrated in three places; the first being the City Centre, the second being the posh district of Bangsar (near the Mid Valley Megamall) and the third being the up and coming swanky district of Seri Hartamas/Mont Kiara.

There is an enclave in the city centre where there exists a traditional Malay village (Kampong Baru, a stop on the Putra line LRT), where traditional Malay culture is very much alive.

Posh residential districts include Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Seri Hartamas/Mont Kiara, Bangsar, Tropicana, Ampang and Kenny Hill.


All these hotels are very near to the KLCC (KL City Center) Hotels in the Bukit Bintang shopping area include: Other notable hotels are:

The Palace of the Golden Horses (******, by far Malaysia's most expensive hotel) Sheraton Imperial (*****, near Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, one of Kuala Lumpur's oldest shopping streets) Legend (****, Jalan Syed Putra, near the Putra World Trade Centre and UMNO Headquarters) Putra Pan Pacific (***, Opposite the Legend)

Shopping Malls

Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Bukit Bintang are both shopping streets with many shops and malls. Recently, Jalan Bukit Bintang has undergone massive redevelopment, making it more pedestrian friendly and redecorating the sidewalks.