©2012; 2000 Connecting: Solo
Travel Network & Raymond Wells. Information
Note: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.
Going Solo in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – An Insider's Advice for Single and Solo Travelers
By Raymond J G Wells
Lumpur ranks highly on my list of single-friendly cities. I have visited
numerous times, often on my own, and always in relative safety and comfort.
The vast majority of the locals are genuinely warm and friendly and will
probably be curious about where you are from and interested in what you
think of their home city. Once a provincial backwater, KL, as it is affectionately
called by its residents, is now the center of Malaysia’s political, commercial,
cultural and social life. Full of frothy energy, with a population of nearly
1.5 million, this city of remarkable contrasts is a fascinating juxtaposition
of glistening skyscrapers alongside graceful colonial edifices, pre-war
ornate shophouses, gleaming copper-domed roofs and Moorish-style buildings.
It is a combination of cutting edge, cosmopolitan sophistication and lingering
olde world charm. The hot and humid climate creates lush greenery and a
profusion of blooms and colors – a tropical version of the Big Apple, New
Going Solo in Kuala
It’s easy to have fun on your own. Kuala Lumpur
is still very affordable for North Americans, Japanese and Europeans, and
the quality of most accommodation is very good. Getting around is easy, and many Malaysian’s
speak good English. The districts I would recommend for solo travelers
include Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Jalan Petaling, Jalan Ampang and Bukit
Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
This district houses some of the most photographed
buildings in town such as the elaborate Supreme Court built in Moorish
style by the British at the turn of the century. The railway station is
another fine example featuring the Moorish design elements much favored
by colonial British architects.
Moving south, it’s impossible not to notice
the Dayabumi Complex with its intricate blue Islamic designs incorporated
into a modern office building. A short stroll will bring you to the National
Mosque (Masjid Negara); this is a magnificent example of Islamic expressive
art, and the mosque has a unique blue “umbrella” roof design. This is a
sightseeing area par excellence.
Jalan Petaling is the heart of Chinatown and
it’s a great place to hunt for souvenirs. Overshadowed by tall office blocks
and towering hotels, it’s a city within a city, and this is where you will
come across Chinese groceries, herbalists, shoe-shops and numerous delicacies.
Fake “branded” goods are also plentiful. The Central Market has been extensively
refurbished and today functions as a bustling bazaar cum center for arts
This is KL’s prestigious Embassy Row, and
it has a lot to catch the eye, including deluxe 5-star hotels like Hotel
Nikko, the Renaissance and the nearby Oriental Mandarin, all lavishly elegant.
There’s super shopping at Suria KLCC, which houses several department stores
such as Isetan and Marks and Spencer, around 250 speciality stores, designer
boutiques and eateries. If you should get bored shopping at KLCC pop into
the Petronas Gallerie. It’s a modern, international class, fine art gallery
and well worth a visit. All in all Ampang is a good area for lodging, dining
and wining, and for shopaholics.
Bukit Bintang in
Bukit Bintang is a locale I would recommend
for a night-time visit. This district has long been a hub for shopping
and entertainment, going back to pre-World War II times. The area includes
the two major shopping malls of Starhill and Lot 10 and several five-star
hotels such as J W Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton. Recently, it has been
thoroughly transformed with an attractive pedestrian walkway complete with
huge terra cotta pots filled with bright flowering plants, water columns,
shady trees, al fresco dining areas and touristy coffee houses. It’s now
KL’s most vibrant leisure and entertainment center.
Where to stay
The Mandarin Hotel (2-8 Jalan Sultan, Kuala
Lumpur 5000. Tel. +60-3-230-3000), situated in the heart of town near the
Central Market/Petaling Street axis. It is ideal for the single budget
traveler. Standard room costs RM70 (C$28; US$19).
The Malaysia Hotel (Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala
Lumpur. Tel. +60-3-244- 7733), a no-frills, 3-star hotel with inexpensive
dining outlets. Rates: single rooms from RM140 (C$55; US$37).
Concorde Hotel (2 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala
Lumpur 50250. Tel. +60-3-244-2200), a well located 4-star hotel popular
with solo travelers. Rates: from RM220 (C$86; US$58).
Park Royal Hotel (54A Jalan Sultan Ismail,
Kuala Lumpur 50250. Tel. +60-3-242-5588), a very elegant 5-star, centrally
located hotel. Rates: from RM380 (C$150; US$100).
Best Bites for Singles
Dining opportunities in KL are stupendous.
Myriad cultural influences have made the city renowned for eclectic but
very creative cuisine at prices that won’t break the bank, especially with
the current exchange rate of 3.8 Malaysian Ringgit to 1 US dollar. Food
is taken very seriously here from the 5-star hotel restaurants right down
to the simple hawker’s stalls. The cuisine of China’s Canton and of Southern
India have had significant influence on the city’s culinary heritage, as
well as the sublime cuisine of Thailand. Here’s a small selection of good
restaurants in town for single travelers.
Gloria Jean’s Coffee (Lot G48, Ground Floor,
Suria KLCC. Tel. +60-3-216-5299). From the “good ole US of A,” this is
a convenient place for a late breakfast or mid-morning brunch and is a
people-watchers’ paradise. It is blessed with a wonderful view of the park
and fountain in the landmark mall, Suria KLCC. There are chicken, beef,
turkey and spicy tuna sandwiches on either Panini or Focaccia bread as
well as several different types of pasta and delectable cakes. Gloria Jean’s
is of course famous for its coffees, including cappuccino (RM5.25 a cup),
latté and other fancy coffees. Tea drinkers also have numerous varieties
to sample at RM4.85. Try dining al fresco in the courtyard.
Gin Ger Restaurant (FM12, Mezzanine Floor
Central Market, Jalan Hang Tuah. Tel. +60-3-273-7371). This is one of KL’s
fusion eateries, although there is a strong emphasis on Thai food. Handily
located in the Central Market, this is an ideal spot for lunch after a
morning’s sightseeing. The decor is rather garish, but the food more than
makes up for the strain on your eyes. The tom yam soup is fiery but delicious,
the crispy squid salad is tasty, and the green curry chicken is formidable.
It’s a popular hangout for shoppers and tourists visiting the Central Market.
A good lunch is around US$8.
Coliseum (98, Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Tel. +60-3-292-6270)
is a cheap and cheerful place strategically located in one of Kuala Lumpur’s
main shopping streets, which offers not only good food, especially for
lunch, but oozes character as well. The Coliseum, an old colonial haunt,
specializes in European food and wow, it’s good! It offers a range of sirloin,
rump, fillet steaks, fish and chips, baked crab, and other seafood dishes,
yummy deserts. With its whirling ceiling fans, ornate dark wood rickety
furniture, starched linen tablecloths, it’s sure to remind you of days
gone by. You can eat really well here for less than US$10, and it’s easy
to find, right next door to the Coliseum cinema in the main shopping street.
Shanghai in the 5-star J W Marriot Hotel in
Kuala Lumpur’s colorful, vibrant, Bukit Bintang district specializes, surprise,
surprise, in Shanghainese cuisine. Chef Wong Sai Man served his culinary
apprenticeship at a leading restaurant in Shanghai. In this sophisticated
eatery you can try out dishes such as succulent pigeon blended in red wine,
crispy duck served with fortune roll, sauteed shrimp, braised bean curd
with egg roll, pancake with red bean paste and sip Chinese Tea. When you
are in the mood to splurge, this is a luxurious spot for dinner. The Marriott
is popular among business travelers, thus there is always a possibility
of getting acquainted with other single diners. The waiters too are so
smoothly competent and welcoming, they make opulence and indulgence seem
Cato’s Rajstaffel Café and Restaurant
(258 Jalan Ampang. Tel. +60-3-457-9487) is one of the latest dining places
in town and is handy to Suria KLCC – the shopping complex at the base of
the Petronas Twin Towers – the tallest building in the world. Owners Hans
and Anita Buchler will make a solo diner feel at home. This eatery specializes
in Batavian cuisine which they explain “…is a blend of Indonesian, Chinese
and Dutch cooking as enjoyed by the people of Jakarta during the pre World
War II era.” The chef’s recommendations include Cato’s chicken, lontong
cap gomek, ikan bumbu bali (a fish dish) and the “Rajstaffel Menu,” which
is offered as a set dinner (Thursdays through Sundays) featuring eight
of the Buchler’s favorite dishes. Expect dinner to cost around US$20.
Center. Perched atop a hill in the outlying suburb of Bukit
Kiara, the National Science Center (Jalan Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit
Kiara Kuala Lumpur 50480. Tel. +60-3-252-1150) is the Malaysian equivalent
of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. The building resembles a truncated
cone capped with a geodesic dome. It’s open daily, 9am to 5pm, and taxi
services are available to and from the city center, or take the Intrakota
Bus No. 339 from Klang Bus Station via Bangsar. Admission is RM6 for adults.
Setapak. Royal Selangor
Pewter Factory, in the outlying district of Setapak, is the
world’s largest pewter factory, the home of Royal Selangor Pewter, which
is recognized worldwide for quality craftsmanship. A tour of the factory
is both informative and entertaining, and you might be tempted to buy a
nice pewter souvenir to take home.
National Zoo (Zoo
Negara). Malaysia’s national zoo, about 12 km from the city,
is considered one of the most interesting in the region and there are a
number of live performances by some of the residents, notably the elephants
and sea lions.
A must see spot a few miles north of the city, the impressive Batu Caves
are now a Hindu temple complex. There are three grand caves: the Dark Cave,
the Museum Cave and the Temple Cave housing artworks and statues. You have
to climb up 272 steps to the Temple Cave, home to the statue of Lord Muruga.
The best way to get there and back is to take a taxi.
If You Go to Kuala Lumpur
There are flights into Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) from most
Asian cities, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America. Departure
Tax: RM40 (International Flights)
Day and Night Magazine on sale at newsstands at RM2 for what’s happening.
Money (as of 2000):
C$1 = RM2.54; US$1 = RM3.80
is not a custom in Malaysia. It is unnecessary in hotels and restaurants
where a 10% service charge, unless the service rendered is exceptionally
Hot and humid; wear light clothing.
Transportation in Kuala Lumpur is relatively cheap. There are plenty of
taxis, and a cab from KLIA to the City can be booked at the airport. Within
the city, the taxi fare is RM2 for the first 2 km and 10 cents for every
200 meters thereafter. · Malayan Railway (KTM Komuter) operates
speedy electric train services from the KL Railway Station to designated
points within the city. · There are two Light Rail Transit lines:
Star and Putra. Routes and timetables are indicated in stations with a
LRT logo. · Major bus companies servicing the city are Intrakota,
Metro and Cityliner.
Remove shoes when entering homes and places of worship. · Dress
neatly in suitable attire which covers arms and legs when visiting places
of worship. · When handling food, do so with the right hand only.
· Refrain from raising your voice or displaying fits of anger as
considered ill mannered.
>> From Anita Roy: "That truly is an insightful article and gives me a much better understanding of how I should plan my solo trip to KL this December . I am really looking forward to it and hope to enjoy it with some interesting co-travelers I connected with on mingletrips.com."