Malaysia’s melting pot comes to life in Kuala Lumpur, where Chinese temples stand side by side with colonial churches, Hindu shrines and Malay mosques. Travel to Kuala Lumpur from Glasgow Airport and discover one of Asia’s most dynamic cities, crowned by the gleaming spires of the Petronas Towers.
Towers and temples
The Petronas Towers are Kuala Lumpur’s most famous landmark, and the view from the walkway that links the towers at the 41st floor is the city’s most famous view. The twin towers mirror the minarets of the futuristic Masjid Negara (National Mosque) and the Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque), a fantasy blend of Indian and Islamic architecture at the northern end of Chinatown. More Indian architecture is on display in the rainbow-coloured Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and the Batu Caves, where a giant statue of the god Murugan guards the entrance to a network of Hindu cave temples.
A fusion of flavours
Nothing shows Malaysia’s cultural fusion better than its fabulous food. Chinese spices dominate in Chinatown and along Jalan Alor, where street vendors specialise in just a single dish, but cook it to perfection. In Kampung Baru, Malay kitchens serve up spicy combinations of chilli, lemongrass and lime leaves, while tandoori chicken and roti canai (flatbread with curry sauce) are the snacks of choice in Little India. For Kuala Lumpur’s best fast food, seek out the mamak (Indian Muslim) canteens beside the city’s famous Central Market.
Like Singapore and Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur is a city with one eye on the future. Gleaming skyscrapers dominate downtown, and the city’s shimmering shopping malls sell everything from Gucci pumps and iPads to fresh jungle orchids. At the base of the Petronas Towers, the Suria KLCC mall is top for international brands, while exclusive fashions meet fine dining at the sleek Starhill Gallery (181 Jalan Bukit Bintang). For the best bargains, time your travel to coincide with the annual mega sales in January and July-August.