Kuala Lumpur, Interesting Mix of Asian Cultures and Modern Architecture

kuala lumpur petronas towers

I’ve heard a lot about Kuala Lumpur (KL) but never thought I would ever go. It’s so close to Singapore that it would have been a shame not to include it in our travel plans. We stayed a full week in KL but I feel a long weekend would have been enough. We only visited the capital, we were attracted by its modernity and the famous Twin Towers. I don’t think it represents the rest of Malaysia very well though. To me, there are 3 main attractions not to miss in KL.

1. Petronas Towers

The most iconic attraction is obviously the Petronas Twin Towers. Every article you’ll find online about the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur would mention them. They used to be the tallest building in the world with its 452 metres high but since 2010, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds this title at 829 metres. The Petronas Towers can still claim the title of the world’s tallest twin structures though… This impressive building has 88 floors on each tower, linked together by a double-decker sky bridge on their 41st & 42nd floors.

Yes, it would be a miss to go to KL and not do this attraction (except if you have vertigo) but I wouldn’t say it was the highlight of our week. We queued for a long time and then had a very limited time at the top, everything was a bit too commercial for my liking and at the end they look better from outside than inside. It’s a fun experience to walk on the suspended bridge though, enough to give you a thrill! View of the other tower from the bridge (41st floor):

from suspended bridge on petronas towers

2. Batu Caves

No lift there, this time we had to climb these 272 colourful steps to access the Batu Caves. That was what I was looking forward to the most and it didn’t disappoint. As far as I remember, it doesn’t require too high a level of fitness. You can take your time when climbing, but looking down can make you lose your balance… Also you can’t always hold the handrail because of the mass of tourists going against you. Monkeys can be quite intimidating too! They’re not afraid of you and can be a bit aggressive (especially if you have food). The temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus, this is why you’ll only find vegetarian food around it.

batu caves entrance colourful steps

3. KL Bird Park

In such a tropical climate, you can imagine how beautiful the KL Bird Park is. I would recommend this place to all animal lovers, even if you’re not especially into birds. This massive park is the largest free-flight walk-in aviary in the world. It impressed me a lot because of all the freedom these birds can enjoy. You will find gorgeous peacocks on your path who will serenade you and try to seduce you with their beautiful colours.

peacocks at kl bird park

Bonus: Malaysian food is amazing

To me, the reason number 1 to visit Malaysia would be the food… Asian markets are amazing, but that’s at Jalan Alor that you will find the best and cheapest food in the city. My favourite meal over there? Roti Canai (see picture below). This flat bread is the best I’ve ever had, their technique is difficult to imitate. It’s served with various spicy sauces, it’s super tasty and you eat it with your fingers… No cutlery needed, obviously (don’t ruin it).

roti canai malaysian food

Other random facts about Kuala Lumpur

  • The capital can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. You can go there on a budget or you can choose to live the high life, the city offers many possibilities.
  • It’s quite difficult to walk when there is no pedestrian access, sometimes you have no choice but to take a taxi. That’s why there are so many of them everywhere (not exactly eco-friendly…).
  • The mobile app you need in Malaysia is called Grab, it’s useful to book a taxi or to get food delivered (either option is incredibly cheap).
  • Skyscrapers are rising everywhere, it’s a dynamic city under development. Our air bnb was on the 32nd floor and it felt like it was the minimum level to be at, compared to the average height in the surrounding area.
  • Shopping centres are very expensive, to a point I have no idea how locals can afford it, compared to the cost of living. The most famous ones are Pavilion and Suria KLCC. If you like Japanese products, you will find an awesome area in Pavilion called Tokyo Street where you can find all sorts of things from Japan (food, accessories, activities etc). Definitely worth a visit.
  • The difference of temperature between inside and out can be really big. It’s very warm and humid outside, and the AC is very cold inside big shopping centres so take a jumper with you just in case, even if you already feel too hot wearing just a t-shirt outside.
  • If you want a nice view from high up, I suggest going to the Menara KL Tower instead of the Petronas Towers. At least you will have them in the view (which is actually better than being inside them) and there is a nice revolving restaurant serving local food.

To conclude, Kuala Lumpur is a very interesting city but maybe not on its own. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been there and what you liked the most!

Big Girl x

Singapore, Beautiful & Modern City Where East Meets West

singapore by night

I’m going to spend the next 2 weeks coming back to our big adventure (pre-covid) as I haven’t had the time to write about it yet! Singapore was our obvious first stop for many reasons: Changi airport is ranked number 1 in the world, we had to see the tallest indoor waterfall, and most flights from Europe to Asia stop there anyway. Not to mention the movie Crazy Rich Asians made us want to go there even more!

changi airport indoor waterfall

Also, this is a great place to visit when you’re a bit jetlagged. It gets very warm during the day so sightseeing at night is actually the best thing you can do… Especially if you’re coming from a country where you’re not used to the heat and humidity. We slowly got used to the temperature during the night, the city itself was looking even better in the dark.

Most popular icons

Everyone would know the most popular icons of Singapore. Among them are the Merlion (statue of a mermaid with a lion head) and of course Marina Bay Sands (Singapore’s most iconic hotel for the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool). The hotel displays illuminations every night at 8pm and 9.30pm (plus 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights). I didn’t know that but caught it by chance… It looked amazing!

singapore merlion and marina sand hotel by night

Gardens by the Bay

If I had to pick only one place in Singapore to absolutely not miss, it would be the Gardens by the Bay… Surely you’ve seen the movie Avatar? It’s like you’re not on Earth anymore. There is something magical about this garden that makes you forget about everything else. It’s very romantic too so it’s probably one of the best locations in the world to propose (according to me).

They display illuminations with music (the Gardens by the Bay light show – Garden Rhapsody) every night at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. It’s free so you just have to show up. The best place to see the show is under the Supertrees. You can even lie down on the floor to take it all in (as many people do).

gardens by the bay supertrees in singapore

Singapore Flyer

And if you want to see the city from above, you have the Singapore Flyer. This big wheel has spacious and very stable capsules (they don’t swing with the wind)! The view you get from it is simply breath-taking. I’m so proud of the picture below, it takes me back just by looking at it. For those interested in Formula 1, you can also see the track from up there. Singapore has hosted the first ever F1 night race in 2008.

singapore view from the flyer at night

Botanic Gardens

Towards the end of our week, we were starting to adjust a bit more to the climate – or at least we thought we were. So we decided to get up early to visit the Botanic Gardens, the only tropical garden honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I think it’s worth mentioning it was way too hot and humid for us there, even early in the morning! It’s not a place you should visit at night though, unlike the previous ones I’ve just talked about. So don’t forget your sweat towels and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.

singapore botanic gardens

Restaurants & Hawker Centres

Now there is something in Asia that I’ll forever miss in the UK… The food! You can find incredibly good value for money in food markets, but a restaurant will be quite expensive as it’s where most tourists and rich businessmen would go. If you want good and cheap food, hawker centres are open until very late – sometimes even all night. But if you want a good view/location as well as good food, then you might need to spend more and pick a restaurant. The one we went to along the Singapore River was really nice, Clarke Quay is where you will find a lot of them on the waterfront.

singapore food at clarke quay

“The” Singapore Sling is at the Raffles Hotel

Last but not least, you can’t really say you’ve been to Singapore if you haven’t had the famous Singapore Sling. This cocktail is made with gin, cherry liqueur and pineapple juice – Yummy. Sipping a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel is the ultimate experience, we queued more than an hour… It’s very popular but so worth it! You’ll also get peanuts in abundance, for free. You just throw shells on the floor, littering is encouraged as a tradition at the Long Bar (don’t do it outside though!).

singapore sling at the raffles hotel long bar

Other random facts about Singapore

In short, we had an amazing week in Singapore, we only wish we stayed longer. There is enough there to do to keep you busy, this post only talks about our best moments! Below some additional random facts and personal opinions about Singapore:

  • The temperature is very uniform throughout the year, from 23-25°C to 30-32°C. It’s also quite close to the equator so days last only 12 hours.
  • Sentosa Island is worth visiting if you like theme parks or if you’re curious about history, there is a cool war museum there. You need to take a cable car or a monorail to access the island.
  • Singapore Zoo is full of gorgeous creatures – their rainforest show is a must-see, it actually made me cry. It was very emotional when they educated us about how important it was to save the planet.
  • You can go on a boat ride inside the shopping mall at Marina Bay Sands.
  • Durian is forbidden in the MRT (underground system) because it smells too bad – I’ve never tried this fruit myself but I heard it tastes great though!
  • Sugarcane juice is delicious and very healthy, they make it fresh from sugarcane sticks in front of you in various markets.
  • Singapore is known for its strict rules but they seem to work as I’ve never seen such spotless public spaces before (apart maybe from Japan)… It’s also very safe.
  • You can still feel the British colonial influence with the music they play in shops and the fact that everyone speaks English. Also, street names sound like London and they drive on the left.

Have you ever been to Singapore? What were your highlights? If not, I hope I convinced you to visit when you have a chance… It’s definitely a place I want to go back as soon as travel restrictions are lifted!

Big Girl x