Global business hub
Founded in 1857 by a group of Chinese miners in search of tin, Kuala Lumpur — named after the Malay for “muddy confluence” — has expanded to become Malaysia’s financial and business centre. KL is home to the country’s stock exchange, the Bursa Malaysia, and is an international hub for Islamic finance.
The world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Towers, dominate Kuala Lumpur’s futuristic cityscape.
But there’s a colonial heart beneath the skyscrapers. The British administration designed old KL in a hotchpotch of styles, including neoclassical, neo-Gothic and mock-Tudor. Merdeka Square, where Malaysian independence was declared in 1957, was originally a cricket pitch.
Kuala Lumpur represents the best of Malaysian cuisine — whether roti canai (flatbread) from a street stall shaded by banyan leaves, or hokkien mee (noodles in soy sauce gravy) served by a traditional kopitiam (coffee shop). Fine-dining restaurants such as Mosaic at the Mandarin Oriental hotel give classical Chinese-Malay dishes such as satay, gado-gado and rendang padang a gourmet twist.
Kuala Lumpur is dotted with numerous green oases teeming with tropical flora and fauna, so you don’t have to leave the city to spot a silvered leaf monkey. The KL Forest Eco Park offers nine hectares of virgin rainforest in the heart of the city, and ostriches, flamingos and peacocks parade around the KL Bird Park.
The legacy of Kuala Lumpur hosting the 1998 Commonwealth Games is world-class sporting facilities at the National Sports Complex at Bukit Jalil.
Football is one of the city’s most popular sports: the home team, Kuala Lumpur FA, plays in the second-tier Malaysia Premier League.
Photographs: Jasniulak/Dreamstime; Bjørn Christian Tørrissen; SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images/iStockphoto; Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg; Surangaw/Dreamstime