The Heart of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is an indescribably unique environment: a cultural melting pot, an experience of nature, and center of the Malaysian economy. It is indeed a link between past and present, with a vision which attempts to include everyone for the future.

A thriving and eclectic mixture of industry and services, tourist hotspots, and cultural activities, Kuala Lumpur, affectionately called KL, offers a wide array of options for residents, business travelers and tourists. The city gained its independence from Great Britain in 1957 and is now home to over 8 million inhabitants. A first snapshot of Kuala Lumpur is breathtaking, with the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower dominanting the view. These modern buildings are immediate symbols of the sheer power of the Malaysian economy, traditionally focused on manufactured goods such as oil and timber, but now shifting to technological products and financial services such as Islamic banking. Indeed, the most important Malaysian and international brands and companies are all located in this capital city. Businessmen and businesswomen flock to Kuala Lumpur to attend large-scale events hosted by the KL Convention Center and Putra World Trade Center. Attending to the needs of incoming business travelers is not a problem, with a variety of upscale hotels and modes of transportation available.

Balanced with the modern age, Kuala Lumpur remains true to its traditions through the religion and culture of its citizens. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and Muslim influences can be found throughout the city by the sound of the Imam’s call to prayer and the mosques. But the telling feature of KL is again its variety, with Chinese Buddhists and Indian Hindus composing large parts of the population. Chinese and Indians celebrate their heritage through displays of festivals and food. The main festivals paint the entire city with colors: Malaysian National Day has fireworks and parades, Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by Chinese with moon cakes and paper lanterns, Hari Raya celebrates the end of Ramadan fasting by Muslims, and the Deepaveli Festival of Lights has Hindus lighting candles in their temples and lanternamalesehomes. Whether as a new resident or as a passing traveller, it is a must to witness these cultural and religious events.

The cultural diversity of Kuala Lumpur is reflected in the delightful variety of leisure activities. Great food can be served by both famous restaurant chefs and local ‘hawker vendors’ at street markets. While the city offers an incredibile number of choices for Chinese, Indian, and Japanese food, the traditional Malay cuisine is the specialty that must be tasted. The main hotspots for eating are the Golden Triangle and Jelan Petaling in Chinatown. Shoppers literally find paradise in Kuala Lumpur with an overwhelming number of options. The most famous places to go are Berjaya Times Square with 10 floors, Suria KLCC located at the bottom of the Petronas Twin Towers, and the Starhill Gallery with 7 differently-themed floors. While these house more familiar brand names, one should also go to the Central Market for hand-made products, Chow Kit Market for the largest number of food, and the Craft Complex for arts and crafts. One of the most famous KL spectacles is the Sepang Formula 1 Grand Prix.

KL is nicknamed ‘The Garden City of Malaysia’ for a reason. Amidst the towering skyscrapers and architectural masterpieces, the natural world is alive and blooming. While most cities attempt to recreate nature with artificial parks, Kuala Lumpur has instead been built around the nature. Internally, the landscape is overflowing with the Lake Gardens Park, home to the KL Bird Park, Orchid Garden, and Butterfly Park; the KLCC Park, spread out next to the Petronas Twin Towers; and the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, one of the oldest forests in Malaysia. Right outside the city outskirts is where true jungles reign, where a short trip can lead to the magnificent Batu Caves, which is home to ancient Hindu temples, or to the Kuala Selangor Firefly Park, where one can become surrounded by glowing balls of light.


Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Summer 2010