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Previous page, top: colourful arches in

Little India; SkyBar on level 33 of the

Traders Hotel serves up free cocktails

on ladies night and a spectacular view

of the landmark Petronas Towers. This

page, from top: Sri Mahamariamman

in Chinatown is Kuala Lumpur’s

oldest Hindu temple; street food is

everywhere and plentiful; Petaling

Street Night Market is full of bargains

– and fabulous fakes



| BNE May/June 2017

contemporary takes on Chinese-Malaysian classics, in the city’s

rapidly gentrifying Chinatown. Sri Mahamariamman (Jalan Tun H S

Lee, Chinatown), KL’s oldest Hindu temple, and the colourful Taoist

Guan Di Temple are an easy stroll, with stops in between at local

boutiques. From here, it’s a nice walk to Coffee Amo (First floor,

54 Jalan Sultan, Chinatown), where cappuccinos and lattes come

complete with 3D coffee art (and more Instagram snaps).

The Petaling Street Night Market doesn’t really get going until

later, so there’s time to take a taxi back to Bukit Bintang for some

bargain hunting, followed by lunch. Nagasari (Jalan Nagasari) is a

great little Mamak – Malaysian-Indian – eatery serving classics such

as sardine roti or nasi lemak, arguably Malaysia’s national dish, and

traditional curries. Around the corner Jersey Jack Gelato (49 Jalan

Berangan) has gloriously tropical ice-cream.

There’s upscale shopping in Bukit Bintang as well, but the great

tech bargains are at Low Yat Plaza (7 Jalan Bintang), a six-storey

electronics mall that’s the largest in Malaysia. High street brands are

super-cheap at the Lot 10 shopping mall (50 Jalan Bukit Bintang,

Bukit Bintang), particularly for smaller-sized girls, and the Lot 10

Hutong food court is an amazing spot to try some of Malaysia’s

favourite street-food vendors all in one place.

I avoid the touristy Central Market but the Petaling Street Night

Market (Petaling Street, Chinatown) is in full flow by early evening

where fabulous fakes, particularly sunglasses, draw cabin crew from

around the world. There are bags and watches too and you shouldn’t

need to haggle much to get a bargain.

Again, there are snacks aplenty here. The tangy fish-noodle soup

served at the grungy No 1 Assam Laksa inside the market is another

Malaysian classic, while Kim Lian Kee’s Hokkien Chinese noodles

(56 Jalan Petaling) are famous and the beers are cold – a great spot to

watch the world go by.

For me, a highlight of KL is its street food, but this thoroughly

modern city has its sophisticated side too and we end the break

as we started, on a high note, admiring the skyline views from

Coppersmith (Level 23, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC), a slick,

contemporary craft cocktail bar and just above it there are four

restaurants to choose from at Troika Sky Dining, where the likes of

David Beckham have been spotted.

most spectacular sight. The golden statues and brilliant temples at this

limestone complex are magnificent in scale and worthy of more Instagram

snaps before heading back to base to get ready for the night ahead.

In the central Ampang district we find more upscale Indian Chettinad

cooking at Betel Leaf (77 Leboh Ampang, Ampang) where we feast on

quail and crab before hitting one of Asia’s very best bars. At the well-hidden

speakeasy Omakase & Appreciate (Ampang Bangunan Ming Annexe,

Jalan Ampang, Ampang) the door says “no entry” in five languages! As well

as their own creations they serve up favourites such as the Jungle Bird, a

tropical cocktail created in KL in the 1970s.

It’s easy to spend the night in this little place but the strip of buzzing bars

and clubs that line hectic, friendly Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang offers a

change of pace. For night owls the Teochew Chinese restaurants at the top

of Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah serve until 4 or 5am; Fong Wah Teochew

Porridge (61 Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah, Pudu) is one that dishes up

delicious roast duck and razor clams into the wee hours.


Today’s the day to explore Kuala Lumpur’s Chinese side, starting with

breakfast at Chocha Foodstore (156 Jalan Petaling), which serves



While public transport isn’t bad, KL’s red

taxis are cheap and reliable – check the driver will use the

meter before you get in. Uber has great coverage, as does

its South East Asian rival, Grab.


Airbnb and clones such as

Roomorama have good coverage in Kuala Lumpur and are

generally great value compared to multiple hotel rooms

when you’re travelling with a gang. Look for locations in

the centre of town rather than Petaling Jaya; Bukit Bintang

is central and popular.


Don’t get saddled with killer

roaming charges. You can pick up a MyMaxis SIM for just

10 MYR ($3). And data comes cheap too, you can buy

600MB of data for a week at 10 MYR ($3), or 2GB for a

month at 30 MYR ($9).

Malindo Air flies daily between Brisbane and

Kuala Lumpur via Denpasar (Bali). For service

details see