After a grueling 12 hour long haul flight we ventured out from the icy grip of the hotel’s over compensating air conditioning to be smacked in the face with a wall of humidity.
The perfect solution to prevent us from drowning in our own sweat was to board the KL Hop On and Off bus, complete with breezy top floor open deck.
It had been 7 years since I’d last been in Kuala Lumpur, I really should have expected it to have changed, but for some reason I still had that image from 7 years ago etched in my brain. Perhaps it had something to do with our mode of travel, instead of exploring by foot in the heat we opted for a ride on the KL Hop On Hop Off tour bus to take us around some of the city’s major sights.
Although visually in KL there has clearly been developments, with huge elevated walkways above the pavement, monorail, modern advertising and TV screens, the underlying food cultures of Chinese, Indian and Malay are still a dominant feature despite the onslaught of various modern fast food chains.
Perhaps it was because of the style of my travel 7 years ago or maybe Kuala Lumpur is drastically different, the city seems so much more modern, more consumerist, more developed than the city I thought I had visited as a backpacking 26 year old.
The KL Hop On and Off excursion
The easiest and simplest way to visit some of Kuala Lumpur’s key landmarks is to take the Hop On and Off tour bus. If you’re still suffering from a spot of jet-lag or you just don’t want to have to worry about getting across the city in the humidity, the bus is an attractive and relaxing option. It takes in some of KL’s suburbs, Petaling Street, Satay Station, KL lookout point, Kuala Lumpur mosque and has extended stop at Batu Cave.
Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
Situated in Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square) the first stop on the tour was Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, a key stop off for learning all about the City’s historical past and its future. The building houses various prints, photos and miniatures in its 114 year old building but the most impressive sight is its 40ft x 50ft model of the city that highlights it’s past, present and future.
Petaling Street is known for its bustling stalls selling everything from pirated clothes to DVDs and CDs, but it also has plenty of food stalls and restaurants. Haggling for a purchase is a must.
The stop off at Petaling Street brought back many memories of my previous visit to Kuala Lumpur seven years ago, I was staying in a small hostel just around the corner opposite the newly revamped bus station. From my hazy memory the market really hadn’t changed much at all, the same food stalls, hawkers and restaurants seemed to still be in the same place. It was reassuring to see that although Kuala Lumpur has clearly developed and modernised, some of the great attractions such as the street food have remained the same.
Towards the north of Kuala Lumpur, sat within a huge limestone hill is the impressive Batu Caves. American naturalist William Hornaday discovered them 120 years ago and shortly after a Hindu shrine was built in the open space within the cave. In the daytime the trek up the 272 steps to the Temple Cave can be interrupted by excitable monkeys that either fascinate or scare the tourists, you can find them scampering around the huge Temple Cave at the top of the stairs. In the evenings the monkeys are no where to be seen and you can climb the stairs to the summit without distraction.
At the base of the Batu Cave steps, measuring 47.2 metres high is the second tallest statue of Hindu deity in the world and the tallest statue in Malaysia. The statue took three years to build and was revealed during Thaipusam festival in January 2006. It’s an impressive sight, especially lit up at night.
I was still a little dazed from the long flight and time difference but the brisk steep climb to the Temple Cave had a positive effect, the exercise seemed to energise most of the tour group.
It was sweltering working clambering up and down from the cave and I was glad that we attempted it in the evening rather than in the mid-afternoon heat. Once at the top I managed to snap this photo sphere image of the Temple Cave above.
There’s plenty of Satay on offer in Kuala Lumpur but if you’re looking for great Satay that has been produced with special care and attention, then a visit to the Satay Station should be high on your list. Satay Station obviously specialises in Satay but also servers various local dishes including a spicy Mee Rebus (fish, noodle dish) that was traditionally served by mobile hawkers. The hawkers would carry two baskets on a pole, one with the stove with the pot of boiling water and the other containing the ingredients of the dish.
Dining at the Satay Station we were treated to some local music along with a selection of chicken and beef Satay with a delicious peanut sauce followed by the spicy Mee Rebus dish. The Satay was well marinated and tender, perfect with the accompaniment of thick peanut sauce. The chicken Satay is prepared with boneless chicken and infused with a blend of secret ingredients and the beef Satay using premium cuts of meat, they’re then grilled using a traditional method over high quality charcoals. The Mee Rebus was pretty spicy although I avoided the fiery green chilli’s sat on top of the dish just in case they had their revenge the next day!
After recharging at Satay Station we hopped back on the bus and cruised to a superb lookout point 3000 metres above the city. The outlook had an amazing panoramic view across the Kuala Lumpur skyline with easy to spot landmarks such as The Petronas Towers and The KL Tower.
Although we were pretty tired by the end of the tour, it was a great hassle-free way to get a idea of what Kuala Lumpur has to offer and more importantly what its key landmarks are. The tour has the perfect mix of attractions by combining temples, street markets, local cuisine with stunning views of the city.
We took the tour bus in the evening, but it runs from 8:30am until 8:30pm at 30 minute intervals from the stops and operates seven days a week. Tickets can be purchased from the main ticket counter, on the bus and online from their website.
The tour has pre-recorded commentary in nine different languages as well as a tour assistant to help and advise tourists throughout.
STANDARD ADULT TICKET
RM 38.00 Validity: 24 Hours
RM 65.00 Validity: 48 Hours
CHILD, STUDENT & DISABLE TICKET
RM 17.00 Validity: 24 Hours
RM 29.00 Validity: 48 Hours
For 5 to 12 years old
The trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca was sponsored by Malaysia Airlines and the Hop On and Off tour was sponsored by MASholidays, you can find more information on their website – KL Hop-on Hop-off City Tour.