Kuala Lumpur, with its skyscrapers, busy commercial streets and fantastic shopping, is Malaysia’s capital, most populous city and a popular tourist destination.
But before you become too dazzled by the excitement of the city, you’ll want to visit the Batu Caves, home of the second tallest Hindu statue in the world. I have no comprehension of what this means until Lord Murugan comes into view.
Soaring 141 feet into the sky, the golden deity is quite impressive guarding the entrance to the caves. The next step – or steps; 272 to be exact – takes me to the entrance of the caves. As I climb toward the caves, curious monkeys wait for handouts and are quick to snatch hats, sunglasses and beverage cups from unsuspecting visitors.
The first shrine was built in the largest of the caves just after the caves were discovered in the late 1800s. Now, three main caves are filled with Hindu shrines.
There are several religious destinations in Kuala Lumpur, but Batu Caves is the most popular for its location and the sculpture.
In the city, one of the first things I want to do is visit Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world at 1,483 feet. It also sports the world's highest double-decked bridge at levels 41 and 42.
After visiting the bridge, guests are whisked up to level 86, which is also a museum with interesting exhibits explaining the towers’ construction and its symbolism.
Another great vantage point in the city is at the top of the Menara Telecommunications Tower at Atmosphere 360 Revolving Restaurant. Authentic Malaysian and international cuisine is served, but it’s the spectacular view of the city and the mountains beyond that is the attraction here. The restaurant is nearly 1,400 feet above the city and in one hour makes a complete rotation.
The Royal Selangor Pewter factory is the largest in the world. Here I join a tour where I am able to view many of its historic items in a museum, watch artists create beautiful pieces and make a pendant of my own by pouring heated pewter into a mold, file off the sharp edges and polish it.
At the end of the tour is a gift shop with items for every budget – a letter opener for a few dollars to an ornate peacock sculpture for several thousand dollars.
At Jadi Batek Gallery, guests can watch artisans create batik, a fabric dyeing method using wax to create patterns and designs. After learning about the method, which is thought to be thousands of years old, I am invited to create my own batik art by adding dye to a picture outlined in wax.
In Malaysia, batik has become a national identity. The fabric is used to create formal and informal clothing, home furnishings, table cloths and art pieces.
The gift shop offers batik items as well as other Malaysian souvenirs.
Another great location to learn about arts and crafts is Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex, located near the "Golden Triangle" shopping area and next to The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur hotel.
The complex was built with the purpose of educating, marketing and promoting various Malaysia crafts. In addition to shopping for one-of-a-kind items for sale, I enjoy watching artisans busy making everything from batik bookmarks to ceramics and woven baskets.
Kuala Lumpur is a great addition to any Malaysian holiday with its many diverse offerings.
If you go:
Kuala Lumpur: The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur.
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This trip was sponsored by Malaysian Tourism. The opinions expressed here are my own.
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