Are you already deep into planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur? Or are you maybe just hunting for your next awesome holiday destination? Maybe you’re curious about this melting pot of influences and cultures? Whatever your reason, here are the things you just have to know about the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur
When should I visit Kuala Lumpur?
There’s actually no bad time to visit Malaysia’s capital city. However, if you’d like to combine it with a greater exploration of the whole country, aim to avoid the monsoon season [October to January in the east and March/April in the West] as the rains will make certain areas a no-go zone to travel too. Within Kuala Lumpur itself, however, it will simply make for a slightly more rainy trip. May to July is the driest season, although the city is never truly ‘dry’ and temperatures will remain steamy and pleasant year around- think ‘bring a sweater’ winters and you’ll pack fine! You’ll usually see sunny clear skies through to the late afternoon, with rainfall in the evenings. Dress in light layers that you can easily adjust for maximum comfort as the humidity can get high.
What local customs should I consider in KL?
It’s important to realise that Malaysia is a seriously multicultural city- you’ll see it everywhere from her food to her architecture. Currently, the largest ethnic groups within the city are native Malays, Indians and Chinese. This means that customs can vary quite dramatically depending on the native culture of the person you’re interacting with. Stay mindful that you’re visiting someone else’s home, and show a little respect, and you’ll be well on the way towards making friends in Kuala Lumpur. The people are so happy, helpful and kind natured that it’s difficult to offend them as long as you’re being polite unless you are in a particularly rural area, but everyone appreciates a little cultural regard from visitors to the city.
Perhaps one of the most important local cultural nuances you need to know is that public displays of affection like kissing and hugging are seen as tacky. So is walking while eating, so avoid this typical tourist faux pas. It’s also considered polite to avoid political discussions as you travel through the country. Keep it light and fun instead. You’ll notice most tasks are undertaken with the right hand, as the largely muslim base of the country considers the left hand dirty and taboo. If you want to earn extra credit, avoid pointing at objects [it’s considered very rude] and don’t cross your legs in front of your elders- or walk over someone’s crossed legs in the street. This isn’t New York, so there’s no need to rush!
A slightly more moderate style of dress then you may be used to is called for if you’d like to travel like a local in Malaysia, especially if you want to do some sightseeing in the fantastic temples of the area. Ladies, think longer skirts and T-shirts [and pack a large scarf in your bag as extra artillery], while men should also avoid ‘short’ shorts and wife beaters. You’ll notice the native people are pretty conservative on the beaches, and while ‘tourist’ beach getup is ok in more tourist-centred areas, it will draw attention off the beaten track.
Guys,if you’re travelling to Malaysia on business, note that it’s impolite to greet female coworkers with a handshake unless they offer their hand first. Most native Malays will actually greet you with a salem rather than a handshake, anyway, so why not make your co-workers day and adopt this greeting instead?
What Malaysian Laws do I need to know for travel to Kuala Lumpur?
Of course, no matter where you travel you are subject to local law, and Kuala Lumpur is no different. Do realise that, as a predominantly muslim nation, Malaysia has stricter indecency laws then some western nations. Don’t worry- no one is going to throw you in gaol over nothing, but do be a little respectful if donning the Malaysian flag in any way or wearing skimpy beachwear off of beaches, and dress respectfully if entering a religious building. The drug laws are also very strict, so keep a careful eye on your baggage at all times while travelling to avoid incidents.
On a lighter note, ‘singing to the annoyance of others’ is actually a local law in Kuala Lumpur, as is being a nuisance to your neighbour in general [‘on the book’ offences include making their ice house melt and shooting their horse]. So basically keep it friendly and you’re ready to go!
What’s the best way to get to Kuala Lumpur?
Kuala Lumpur has a solid public transport network within the city, and there are many ways to breach the 55km gap between the two international airports- think express train, shuttle bus and transit train as well as taxi and even limo services, so you’re set no matter your budget. It’s normal for most people to fly into Kuala Lumpur for any travel to Malaysia as it’s by far the simplest route and the airport is modern and efficient.
What’s to see and do in KL?
The question really should be what isn’t there to do? This bustling city has it all. From achingly beautiful mosques and hindu/buddhist temples for you to explore, to staggering contemporary art and a unique architecture blended from the fusion of eastern and western cultures, Kuala Lumpur is a unique city you simply have to experience. The must-see sights of Kuala Lumpur are simply too many to list here, although the Petronas Towers deserve a spot on any KL itinerary- be sure to drop by Canopy Lounge and say hi while you’re there! In fact, start your exploration of the city in the city centre. It’s a sight to be seen, and some of the best food in Malaysia can be found here- no trip would be complete without some culinary exploration of the area’s rich food history, after all.
Travel to Kuala Lumpur is safe, fun and exciting, and it’s the perfect spot for someone who wishes to experience all the eclectic beauty of Malaysia’s melting pot for themselves. The Canopy Lounge team hope to see you in our home city soon!