Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide

Understand

As in most of Malaysia’s cities and towns, Malaysian Chinese form a majority of the population, at 55%, in Kuala Lumpur. Malays (who form the majority of Malaysia's population, overall) and Malaysian Indians are also present in large numbers in the city, and there are substantial numbers of more recent immigrants and workers from South and Southeast Asia, Eurasians, and expatriates from Western countries and the Middle East. The result is a mix of cultures that meld together to make Kuala Lumpur a modern and diverse capital.

Kuala Lumpur is said to be locked in an unofficial rivalry with nearby city-state Singapore. The ethnic Chinese-dominated Singapore was separated from the indigenous Malay-majority Federation due primarily to irreconcilable ideological differences. Singapore strove to become a viable independent state and spurred rapid development, which the Malaysians sought to keep up with by investing in Kuala Lumpur. If Singapore has a first class airport, so does KL. When Singapore got an efficient urban transport system, so did KL. As Singapore becomes clean and green, so does KL. Everywhere you go, there are swats and strips of manicured public lawns and refreshing jungle-like parks - just like Singapore. If Singapore has an aquatic park and a bird park, so does KL. Same thing with an orchid park and butterfly park. If Singapore renovates and paints its colonial shop houses with tutti frutti colors, so does KL. If Singapore builds theme parks, so does KL. And if Singapore aims to be a shopping mecca with a plethora of shopping malls and all sorts of gimmicks, so does KL. What Singapore has, KL matches. So if you've been to Singapore, you will have seen it all in KL, a bit of déjà vu, or vice versa.

Both cities' locations on the geographically, economically and politically important Bangkok-Jakarta corridor have favoured their growth. The two cities are built from the same cultural ingredients, though in different proportions: Chinese culture is more dominant in Singapore.

History

Founded in 1857 under British rule as a tin mining outpost, Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go and lacks the rich history of Georgetown or Malacca. Due to the success of tin mining, Kuala Lumpur began to flourish but had problems with gang fighting in the late 1800s. Following this, Kuala Lumpur faced further misfortune after much of the city burnt down in a large fire as most buildings were built from wood and thatch. As a result buildings in Kuala Lumpur were required to be built with brick and tile. After these rough early years, Kuala Lumpur began to prosper and was made capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896.

During World War II, Kuala Lumpur and the Federated Malay States were occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. During this time the economy was virtually halted. Soon after the British regained power it was declared that the Federated Malay States were to become the Malayan Union and work toward independence began. In 1952, Kuala Lumpur was one of the first cities in the Union to hold elections. Malaysia's independence was declared in 1957 in front of huge crowds at what was later named Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), and Kuala Lumpur continued as the new nation's capital.

In 1972, Kuala Lumpur was given city status and by 1974 became a Federal Territory of Malaysia in its own right, hence losing the title as capital city of Selangor. The economic boom of the 1990s brought Kuala Lumpur the standard trappings of a modern city, but it was severely hit by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which stalled the Malaysian economy and led to the abandonment or delay of many construction projects. Today, Kuala Lumpur has become a modern city, bristling with skyscrapers and with a modern transportation system. Despite this, Kuala Lumpur has still kept some of its historical charm.

Climate

As Kuala Lumpur is only 3 degrees north of the Equator, you can expect tropical weather year round. Shielded by the Titiwangsa Mountains to the east and Sumatra to the west, temperatures are relatively cooler than other cities within Peninsular Malaysia. Expect sunny days with temperatures above 30°C (86°F) and slightly cooler evenings, particularly when afternoon showers occur and humidity is high. Rainfall can be sporadic and quite torrential at times, but usually does not last very long. During the wet season, around October to March, the northeast monsoon brings heavy rainfall that can occasionally flood some areas of Kuala Lumpur. The months around June and July could be classed as the dry season, but even then it can frequently rain.

Occasionally, due to forest fires from Sumatra around May to October, haze can blanket the city and surrounding regions and it is best to remain indoors if you suffer from asthma.

As the weather can be hot and humid during the day, try to dress lightly if you expect to be outside and, whilst it may seem obvious, don't forget to remain hydrated. Also keep in mind that mosques and some temples have strict dress codes, although many do supply gowns to cover you if you are inadequately dressed. If you do find it too hot to be outside consider going to a shopping mall to relax and work that credit card whilst in air conditioned comfort.

source: Wikivoyage

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