Gateways to South East Asia I: Kuala Lumpur 

It’s a typical scenario. You are making arrangements to reach your dreamed travel destination in South East Asia: Bali, the Andaman Coast, the Perhentian islands, the Philippines….As recommended by your travel guide, you figure out that you might want to spend a couple of days in your city of arrival before catching ongoing transportation. You know – deal with jet lag and so on. 

Well – guess what. Turns out that these stopovers, far from a necessary drag, can turn out to be memorable highlights of your trip.

This series of posts reviews four such cities for that specific purpose. I’ll try to offer some practical insights, while keeping with the B-Side spirit. 

1.- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Convenient for: Penang, Perhentian islands, Borneo, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java), even Southern Thailand.

Strong: manageable size, good transport, affordable accommodation, great food, easy communication in English, rooftop bars, shopping malls (believe or not). 

Not so strong: it’s very hot. Not as many sights as the other towns.  I found the historic area disappointing. 

Top tips: go to heli bar for sunset views. Catch the lights show in KLCC. Enjoy the food and people watching on Jalan Alor street in the evening. Oh and, Putrajaya. Now that’s a suburb!

Where to stay: Personally, I found the Bukit Bintang area to be best in terms of transport, dining and nightlife. There’s lots of great value accommodation and your pick of shopping malls to cool off if the heat gets at you (trust me, it will).

Moments: Dinner on Jalan Alor Street, my first of many in Asia. Sunset from heli bar. Enjoying Low-carb food (finally!) in a shopping mall. Getting a 19 MYR ride through Grab with a very professional female driver when the overweight male taxi drivers wouldn’t stop their socializing for less than 35 MYR. Walking into a  beauty salon in Bukit Bintang because my girlfriend needed to remove nail polish, and then discovering shady massage facilities en route to the restroom.

Overall: A great introduction to South East Asia. 

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A tourist trap or not, I love Jalan Alor.
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Enjoying our inexpensive hotel!
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Puttrajaya – what a pleasant surprise!
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KL’s historic centre. Not much to it, really.

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A happy traveler in heli rooftop bar

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