Malaysia’s capital has always been a canvas for the nation’s forward-facing ambition, and the 450-meter-high Petronas Towers stands as its centerpiece. The local shopping also is located around the “Golden Triangle” centered on Bukit Bintang—its modern shopping centers sell high-end fashion brands and late-model electronics. But as forward-looking as its modern sights make it out to be, it’s Kuala Lumpur’s history that makes the city so unique.
The Chinese enclave around Petaling Street; the Dataran Merdeka cluster of colonial-era buildings-turned-museums; the botanical gardens bequeathed by the British; the Kampung Baru Malay settlement; and the Indian enclave of Brickfields—all these make up the beating cultural heart under Kuala Lumpur’s hyper modern facade. To get around Kuala Lumpur, ride its extensive LRT and Monorail system, or take the free GoKL buses that wind through the city center.