A Pocket Guide To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Even when judged against the frenetic pace of most Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur has a lot going on. Here’s how to make the most of it

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your back for a moment in KL and a new skyscraper will have
shouldered its way into the skyline, or a dilapidated street been
reborn as the latest eat, work and play hub. The Malaysian capital
is an exciting place to be, but a tricky one to keep up with. KLCC
and Bukit Bintang in the city centre boast countless luxury hotels
and high-end boutiques, but it’s worth the (very affordable) cab or
LRT fare to venture a little further afield to neighbourhoods such
as Bangsar, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bukit Damansara for more
authentic encounters, especially when it comes to food. The appeal
of Kuala Lumpur? Simultaneously fancy and humble, local and
international, creative and commercial, this is an intriguing,
multifaceted city like no other.

A Kuala Lumpur city guide: where to eat, drink, stay and

Street food stall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Road, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Where to stay

The RuMa Hotel & Residences

This pocket of stillness in KL’s jostling city centre is proof
that luxury hotels needn’t sacrifice individuality. Filled with
handcrafted furniture and local art, RuMa looks and feels more like
the well-appointed home of a stylish friend (the name is taken from
the Malay word for home, “rumah”). Thoughtful features include a
free minibar, Truefitt & Hill barbershop and 24-hour fitness
centre for jet-lagged gym bunnies. Rooms are spacious and
characterful, with many offering views of the dazzling Petronas
Twin Towers. The elegant spa offers everything from express
manicures to full-day wellness retreats, while the sundeck and
infinity pool make for a relaxing afternoon before dinner in Atas

7 Jalan Kia Peng, 50450
+60 3 2778 0888

The Chow Kit

Once known for gambling dens and questionable after-dark
activity, the central Chow Kit neighbourhood has had a rebrand, and
it’s largely thanks to this charming boutique hotel making the New
York Times’ 52 Places to Go list in 2020. Rooms blend the heritage
nostalgia of old KL with a contemporary design aesthetic, while the
Chow Kit Kitchen & Bar is worth a visit in its own right for
home-style Malaysian cooking. Book a foodie or walking tour to
explore the area with a local, and be sure to sample Malaysia’s
beloved nasi lemak from Taste Legendary Nasi Lemak in nearby Chow
Kit Market.

1012 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50350
+60 3 2778 6666

Restaurant, Else Retreat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bedroom, Else Retreat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Else Retreat


For those who want to disconnect, this low-lit, design-led hotel
is the place to do it – if you can resist the itch to Instagram its
many photo-ready vignettes. Switch off your phone and soak up the
sun by the pool, or take to one of the sensory-deprivation
floatation pods in the boutique gym for true zero-gravity
relaxation. Located on the edge of newly hip-again Chinatown, Else
is a hit among KL’s style-savvy set, who love to congregate at Raw
Kitchen Hall, and the ideal base for exploring the neighbourhood’s
lively nightlife.

145 Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50000
+60 3 2300 3700

Where to drink

Feeka at The Five

KL’s third-wave coffee scene has really taken off and there’s no
lack of decent joe options wherever you find yourself in the city.
Feeka Coffee Roasters has a few outposts, the latest of which is
this industrial-styled space at The Five. The aims-to-please menu
offers all-day breakfasts, salads, pasta, laksa and weekend roasts,
but it’s the coffee that’s the true star. Linger over a macchiato
before diving into your day of exploring.

E-GF-02, The Five, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, 49 Jalan
Dungun, 50490
+60 3 2011 5850

Interiors at Common Man Coffee Roasters, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Brunch, Common Man Coffee Roasters, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Common Man Coffee Roasters

Common Man Coffee Roasters

Suburban Taman Tun Dr Ismail (better known as TTDI) has no
shortage of great cafés and restaurants, but this all-day diner is
one of the biggest (meaning they’ll probably find you a table) and
most consistent for both coffee and food. Brunches are a particular
highlight, but be prepared for gargantuan portions. If you’re here
late in the day during Ramadan, check out the nearby TTDI night
market, too, for the best Malay takeaway.

Plaza Vads, A-G-1 New Podium, 1 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad,
+60 3 7731 7095

Where to eat

Olivia Deli

Housed in a former Bangsar printing factory, APW (A Place Where)
is a hipster haven for food, drinks and shopping that swarms with
people day and night. There are plenty of options for all-day
dining, but for dinner our pick is Olivia Deli, a relaxed, open-air
deli-come-restaurant whose Mediterranean-inspired vibe and menu
feel right at home in KL’s balmy climate. Order ahead if you want
to try its famous paella.

APW, 29 Jalan Riong, Bangsar Lot B03, 59100
+60 1 2911 2537


Cheap and cheerful banana leaf curry houses are scattered across
KL, but Jwala is the city’s first upscale north Indian restaurant.
Co-founded by one of the team behind Bangkok’s Michelin-starred
Gaggan, and tucked amid the lush greenery of Damansara Heights,
Jwala is all about fire and charcoal. Watching the veteran chefs
work the striking copper-clad tandoor ovens in the open kitchen
provides both dinner and a show. Don’t miss the juiciest kebabs of
your life, cooked over mangrove charcoal, and the signature
tandoori croissant, an artisanal bread that gives new meaning to

E-2-01, Level 2, Block E, The Five, Kompleks Pejabat
Damansara, 49 Jalan Dungun, 50490
+60 1 2947 9100

Troika Sky Dining

This KL dining mainstay atop Norman Foster’s Troika building is
as popular for its unrivalled skyline views as it is for its four
restaurants. Fuego is inspired by the fresh flavours of Central and
South America, and has a chilled balcony setting (as long as you
don’t suffer from vertigo); Strato’s the pick for pizza and pasta;
Cantaloupe offers upmarket fine dining worthy of celebration meals;
while Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar does as its name suggests by
merging two unlikely cuisines to great effect in novelties such as
nori tacos and Korean duck fajitas.

Level 23A, Tower B, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC,
+60 3 2162 0886

What to do

Islamic Arts Museum

You don’t have to be a museums type to appreciate this stunning
insight into Islam’s history, artistry and contribution to the
world. More than 1,400 years of Islamic culture are documented in
12 permanent galleries filled with ceramics, textiles, manuscripts,
art, jewellery and more drawn from south-east Asia, China, the
Middle East and Africa.

Jalan Lembah Perdana, 50480
+60 3 2092 7070

Cassey Gan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cassey Gan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Cassey Gan


KL-ites love their frosty shopping malls and international
brands, but seek out local indie labels for souvenirs you can’t
find anywhere else, whether it’s a coveted piece of wearable art by
fashion designers Alia Bastamam and Cassey Gan (make an appointment for the latter
via Instagram first), shoes from Nelissa Hilman,
quirky gifts from Snackfood, jewellery from Wanderlust &
, or ceramics from Bendang Studio. Keep an eye out for sporadic Riuh markets and
pop-ups for artisanal goods from local creatives, too.

Batu Caves

Guarded by a towering golden statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan,
the Batu Caves are both a place of pilgrimage and a geographical
wonder. (And a macaque paradise – be prepared.) Take a cab to the
limestone hills some 13km from KL, then climb the 272 rainbow-hued
steps to reach soaring, spectacular Temple Cave. This one’s free to
enter, but it’s worth paying for guided tours of the Ramayana Cave,
to witness its spectacular diorama of scenes from the Indian epic,
and the Dark Cave, to truly appreciate just how many critters it
holds (including the incredibly rare trapdoor spider).

Gombak, 68100
+60 3 6189 6284

How to get there

Kick off your trip in style by flying to Malaysia with Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways flies to Kuala
Lumpur from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and
Birmingham. Voted Skytrax Airline of the Year 2022 for a record
seventh time, Qatar Airways is an industry leader whose many other
awards include Best Business Class, Best Airline in the Middle East
and Best Business Class Airline Lounge Dining experience.

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The Lowdown

Ready to explore Kuala Lumpur? Visit Qatar Airways to book your trip.

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