CULTURE CLUB • April 2019
Sky-scraping architecture, verdant tea estates and lacquered temples: Malaysia is regularly the number one choice for enlightenment-seeking backpackers and slick city-breakers alike. For those wanting to get in on the action, we’ve asked local concierge Sharezal Abdul Wahid for the lowdown on how to do Malaysia the local way
Being a tropical country, any time of the year is great for visiting Kuala Lumpur. However, if you’re more inclined to the beach (Malaysia’s are some of the best in the world) try to avoid the monsoon season, which runs from November to mid-March.
There is a Malay proverb that means ‘No matter how much nicer life is elsewhere, there is no place like home’. And though there are numerous Malaysian eateries in most major cities around the world, somehow there is always something missing in the dishes prepared overseas, something you can’t quite put your finger on, but that you can only really get back home.
A two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur (known locally as KL) lies Melaka, regarded as the historical state of Malaysia. It began as a port city, a major stopover for the silk and spice trade – the gateway for the migration of Chinese, Indians and even Arabs. A stroll around the city will really take you back in time.
To my mind, there’s no trip better than one to the Cameron Highlands, in Pahang. A three-hour journey from KL, once you turn off the motorway at Tapah the roads begin to wind through small villages and past fruit stalls run by friendly locals. Just before Tanah Rata, the main town, cool down at the Lata Iskandar waterfall. But you can only do the highlands justice with a visit to the tea plantations. Take a tea tour, jungle trek, pick strawberries and stay at The Cameron Highlands Resort if you want a lovely base.
...nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk, served with a selection of side dishes such as chicken rendang or fried eggs) best sampled at the Village Park Restaurant in KL; laksa (noodles served in fish-flavoured stock that is both spicy and sour); banana leaf rice (presented with curry and dhal); and for the brave, the king of fruit – the Durian (pictured). Proceed with caution: this fruit is an acquired taste, due to its cheesy, pungent smell.
Start with a visit to the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge (buy tickets online in advance to avoid disappointment). Later, a mini jungle trek and canopy walk at Bukit Nanas EcoPark, a tropical forest right in the heart of the city. Stroll near Dataran Merdekasquareto to soak up the colonial history and enjoy the light displays from the River of Life near the Jameq Mosque. Last but not least, climb the rainbow steps of Batu Caves (pictured) – the limestone caves on the outskirts of the city that house a Hindu temple within.
The tastiest tipples in town can be found at Man Tao Bar (pictured) at Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur, an exciting neighbourhood nook-inspired rooftop bar with easy-going vibes. Apart from these trendy bars in the sky, there is a growing number of cool speakeasies such as The Smoke House at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Omakase + Appreciate in Jalan Ampang and PS150 in Jalan Petaling, China Town.
Of course, I would recommend travellers come and stay at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Located in the quieter but no less thriving part of the city, The Majestic Hotel KL offers a plush five-star experience steeped in the romanticism of the past. The Colonial Cafe serves authentic classics such as Hainanese chicken rice balls to the sounds of the hotel’s resident jazz band.
Club members can redeem Avios at partner hotels in Kuala Lumpur. Find your perfect hotel here