Malaysia's towering city
From ancient Islamic art to modern structures dominating the skyline, Kuala Lumpur offers an absorbing break, as Chris Beanland discovers.
Kuala Lumpur is a young city. Tigers prowled the sweaty forests of the Klang Valley just 150 years ago. When tin was discovered, however, all hell broke loose.
It was the wild east, with Chinese miners scrapping with Malays, but eventually the city became rich and sucked in influences from Indonesia, India, the Arabian Peninsular, Holland, Portugal, and our good selves.
Today Kuala Lumpur is a megacity; sprawling, vibrant and dazzling. There is, however, another side to KL: narrow alleys, quaint wooden houses, steaming dim sum shops and lively bars. The city is fascinating, easy to get around and makes a perfect stopover on a journey to Australasia or as a destination in its own right.
Do not miss
The futuristic Petronas Towers building was for a time the tallest structure in the world. Each tower is 88 floors high.
Get there at 9am to bag tickets for the Skybridge observation deck at the 41st floor from which you can see Kuala Lumpur sprawl beneath you. The towers are home to the state oil company, a symbol of new Malaysia's petro-wealth.
Once you are done with modern buildings, go back in time in Merdeka Square, once the nexus of old colonial power in Kuala Lumpur. The British cultivated a cricket pitch there and the Union Flag was last flown in the square in 1957.
Getting there: Western & Oriental (0207 666 1234)