After running from beach to beach in Indonesia I was looking for a bit of city time. Luckily flights to Kuala Lumpur weren’t expensive at all and odd I went. Shortly after arriving, I graciously accepted an invitation from the team at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall Office of Tourism to participate in the launch of their new tourism campaign. #I_AMKL and their new ten year tourism master plan. After attending an impressive launch event at Traders Hotel with the mayor and his tourism team, I was ready to experience this city first hand.
The city hall organized an easy to follow, an affordable, itinerary for me to explore everything Kuala Lumpur has to offer. From free flying birds to amazing street food, Kuala Lumpur and the #I_AMKL campaign didn’t disappoint. Here’s my experience and how you can enjoy it as well.
I Love KL Statue and Kuala Lumpur City Gallery (9AM)
Our day began outside the beautiful Kuala Lumpur City Gallery at the iconic, I Heart KL statue. Obligatory photo op of course. The KL City Gallery acts as the tourist center of this burgeoning city. You’ll find everything from free city maps to heritage tours here. Founder Andrew Lee created the first guided Kuala Lumpur Walks & Tours Map. Make sure you head inside and check out the City Model.
COST: Free (City Model cost 5RM)
Heritage Park Tram
Our initial transportation was the Heritage Park Tram. This shuttle service covers the Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park area. This area has several highly recommend tourist attractions including the KL Bird Park, Islamic Arts Museum, National Mosque, and Botanical Gardens.
Employing the “hop on hop off” model, this tram provides tourist with excellent transportation value and freedom. The KL City Gallery is the first stop with the National Museum being the last stop. I’m a big fan of these kinds of open air transportation. It lets you get a better feel for the sights and sounds of a city. And let me be frank here. The Heritage Park area is massive. Unless you’re training for a marathon or enjoy blisters and pouring sweat, get the tram.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (930AM)
Admittedly, I’m not a big animal guy. So when I was told we were going to the World’s Largest Free Flight Walk In Aviary, I was a bit apprehensive. So you’re putting me in a place with thousands of birds just flying around? Some that eat meat? Hmmmmmm. My concerns were quickly put aside as I had a blast here.
Covering almost 21 acres, this enclosed sanctuary is divided into four sections and has over 200 species of bird. All told, about 3000 birds in total. And they are EVERYWHERE. This concept allows birds to not only breed naturally, but gives guest a chance to get very close to these spectacular creatures. I was especially impressed by the feeding time.
So we had to rush over a bit to catch this but made it back just in time. Handlers feed the birds at set times every day. Well these birds are smart. They remember the exact time naturally. As I’m standing in the middle of a path, waiting, I hear the craziest sound. I immediately look up from my camera to see a wall of birds flying right at me. I froze and just pointed my camera at them. Luckily these birds are more used to people than I am to birds because things could have gotten crazy.
This experience is a must try. Once in a lifetime kind of set up. Guest are even able to take pictures with several different breeds. The staff throughout the park is very knowledgeable about their winged charges and take great pride in their protection. This may be a bit overwhelming for the skiddish. The birds do whatever they want and that may include sitting on your head and tapping it like a coconut. Trust me.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is not only highly educational, producing hourly education programs and demonstrations, but fun. You can’t leave this place without smiling. Great family outing. Fun Fact: Bill Clinton came here December 5th 2008. Instant validation!!!!
COST: Adults 48RM Children 38RM. Pictures with the birds was between 10-20RM I believe. Depends on how many bird you want.
SIDENOTE: Peacocks are huge and they run this place. It really is a bit shocking to see these giants in person. Just get out of their way.
Islamic Arts Museum (11AM)
Next stop was the cultural highlight of the tour for me. The Islamic Arts Museum. I love museums and the Islamic Arts Museum is truly one of the world’s best. I have always had a special affection for Islamic Art. I find it stunningly beautiful and well preserved given the war torn history of the middle east region. With over seven thousand artifacts and an extensive library of Islamic books and religious text, you’ll be well served if the Islamic Arts Museum is your introduction to this historic culture.
A subtle aspect of this museum is it’s unique architecture. They’ve managed to design a museum that not only houses Islamic art but is a piece unto itself. Blending modernity and tradition in their approach, architects were able to include five domes into it’s architecture. A tenement of Islamic architecture and a feature which allows the Islamic Arts museum to maintain an open feel, full of beautiful natural light.
Most will be quite impressed by the intricate weapons and jewelry display. And rightfully so. But I recommend everyone take a bit of time to evaluate the Quran’s and Islamic documents on display. These are truly something special. And tell an interesting story of Islam’s impact on the development and current lives of peoples from Southeast Asia. Unlike it’s western counterparts, you don’t see portraits and sculptures everywhere. The items in this museum are functional. Clothing, Weapons, Religious artifacts, utensils. Everything that represents everyday Islam. What this museum is all about.
COST: Adults (12RM) Students/Seniors (6RM) Children (Free under 6)
Petronas Twin Towers and Skywalk (1:15PM)
After a brief lunch, it was time to head to an international icon. The Petronas Twin towers. Until 2004, the world’s tallest buildings, these mammoths still cast a very long shadow for guest. Consisting of the two towers and a SkyBridge, guest are guided through a carefully orchestrated history and presentation of the Petronas towers.
Tours are handled by time slot. Once you arrived you wait for your groups, about 30 people, time slot. You are then guided through by two English speaking historians. Your first stop is the Sky Bridge. Connecting the twin towers, suspended 170 meters above the ground, is still the world’s highest double decked bridge. This is where you’ll get the most clear views of Kuala Lumpur
Next is the Observation Deck on the 86th floor. Beautiful views from here are a given. What I didn’t expect was the cool model and interesting interactive technology they’ve integrated into this area. If possible, go at sunset. It’s going to be very busy but definitely worth it. Kuala Lumpur has some stunning sunsets.
COST: Adults (80RM) Child (30RM). A bit steep in my opinion but you definitely see where the money is going.
MUD the Musical (3PM)
Well this was a surprise. MUD the Musical is a musical for people who don’t like musicals. MUD details the history of Kuala Lumpur from 1880 to today. Following the lives of initial settlers and their families. Spread across four acts, only running a hour, the brisk pace and high energy kept us engaged. Something I can’t say for most musicals I’ve seen.
I was very impressed with the multi cultural cast made up of Malay, Indian, and Chinese performers. Representing a cross section of the current Kuala Lumpur population. These performers are exceptionally talented singers and dancers. Not to mention engaging actors.
Shortly into the show you’ll experience something that you’ll likely not see many other places. Audience members engaged in the performance. MUD doesn’t just break the fourth wall. They’ve burned it to the ground. To our credit, we tried to put the fire out (watch the show and you’ll know what I mean). At one point several of us were invited to dance on stage with the cast and crew during a scene. I was just fun.
In can’t express enough how the short run time makes this an excellent show for tourist. Those with small children will especially appreciate this. You can catch a show and it won’t dig into precious touring time. A fantastic introduction to Kuala Lumpur.
COST: All (60RM) An absolute steal at this price.
Jalan-Jalan @ Kampong Bharu Guided Walk (4:30pm)
In October 2014, The Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Bin Hj Talib, launched this official guided walk for Kampong Bharu. The third in a series of free walking tours funded by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to promote tourism. What makes this area so special is it’s the oldest Malay settlement in the city. In such a multicultural city, it can sometimes be difficult to find traditional Malay history and culture.
Our walk began at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, a former meeting house for prominent Malays in the area. Lasting about 2.5 hours, I was impressed with how much history and culture this small area housed. Not to mention the delicious food. Our guide frequently stopped and purchased small samples of food for us to try. We saw the famous Malay Food Street, traditional Malay homes, Masjid Jamek Kampong Bharu, and the cool evening bazaar to name a few.
The highlight of this tour were the locals. People who live and worked in this area that were as fascinated by us as we were of them. These people became guides themselves as they regularly engaged us in conversation and answered questions of our group. From food ingredients to the cost of a traditional Malay dress.
The quality and expertise of this tour shows the commitment the Kuala Lumpur City Hall has made to promoting tourism in this vibrant city.
COST: Free but totally worth paying for.
Kuala Lumpur proved to be one of the most dynamic cities in Southeast Asia. With a diverse mix of cultures, KL has created something truly special in Asia. Food, Music, and shopping are only a few things guest can look forward to in this progressive metropolis. No trip to this region would be complete without a stop to visit #I_AMKL. For more information go to the official Kuala Lumpur tourism page here. http://www.visitkl.gov.my/visitklv2/#
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