Kuala Lumpur City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 19, 2008

costoflivingMALAYSIA200Kuala Lumpur, or fondly referred to as KL, is the capital city of Malaysia.  It is located within the state of Selangor in the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur’s metropolitan area is situated within the Klang Vally, which also comprises its suburbs and other neighboring towns and cities in Selangor.  Its name is Malay for “muddy conclave”, since the city is found at the meeting of two rivers—the Klang and the Gombak rivers. Now, Kuala Lumpur is one of the most economically advanced and industrially active regions in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur started as a tin mining town in the 1850’s.  The town grew as the mining industry drew Chinese laborers, Indian immigrants, and Malays from neighboring villages.  After going through numerous clan wars, massive flooding, malaria epidemics, and a fire, Kuala Lumpur was declared the capital of the Federated Malay States in 1896.  In 1957, the federation gained its independence from British rule  and Kuala Lumpur remained its capital until the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Since then, Kuala Lumpur has gone through a phenomenal growth and development.  It has seen the growth of modern skyscrapers and dozens of infrastructure, emphasizing its importance as the country’s economic and business center.  The once world’s tallest buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers, are located here and soars proudly above the city.  Kuala Lumpur has truly become a prime city rich in history and cultural heritage.

Living in Kuala Lumpur was captured in a post at the General Expat Discussions last January 27, 2009:

I’ve been living in Malaysia for the past 2 years. Advantages: Almost everyone speaks English, there are plenty of English bookstores, etc – there is almost no need at all to learn a new language. English is actually the “first language” of a large percentage of the population. People are friendly and go out of their way to be helpful. Health care is very good – a trip to a local doctor costs about US$5, and seeing a hospital-based specialist trained in the US or UK costs under US$30. You can find inexpensive places to rent (a 3-bedroom condo in a good neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur can easily be found for under US$600 per month, and it’s generally less expensive elsewhere in the country). High-speed internet is everywhere – at an internet cafe, it costs about US$1 an hour. Wireless broadband is also widely available. Food is great – Malaysians love international cuisines, and I never feel as if I have to “do without” when it comes to food. And it’s safe – crime is low, terrorism is basically non-existent, and the standard of living is quite good.

Disadvantages: The majority of the population is Muslim (roughly 60%, with the remainder being Chinese, Indian and ex-pat) – not necessarily a disadvantage, but as a result, some things, such as beer, are relatively expensive. And conservative dress is appreciated, especially in the less urban, Muslim areas – no halter tops, for example. The low land areas, such as those that encompass every city in Malaysia, tend to be hot and humid. However, there are central highlands that are easily accessible where you can go to cool down.

For the two of us, living in Kuala Lumpur, we spend an average of US$1500 per month – that includes eating out regularly, internet, running the air conditioning most of the day, the occasional “holiday” trip to other areas, and generally living quite comfortably.

Residential Places in Kuala Lumpur

One of the most prestigious and sought after residential areas in Kuala Lumpur is found in Bangsar.  It is located 20 minutes away from the city and is easily accessible with any road.  Because of its prime location, Bangsar is the residential area of choice of Kuala Lumpur’s affluent families and most expatriates.  It is surrounded with numerous fine dining and international restaurants, as well as dozens of clubs and bistros.  Its streets are also lined with banks, spas, medical center, supermarkets, and shopping malls.  Properties in this upscale area vary from bungalows, landed properties, and condominiums. Just five minutes away from Bangsar is another exclusive residential area, called Damansara Heights.  This tranquil residential spot is situated up  in a hill and offers a haven away from the fuss and hassles of the city.  Damansara Heights features a variety of properties to match any would-be resident’s needs.   Another prime residential area is Ampang located east of the city.  Many expatriates working in the city center choose to live here because of its easy access to the city and because of the international schools and prime medical centers in the area.  Some housing estates found in Ampang are Pandan Jaya, Pandan Indah, Taman Dagang, Taman Cempaka, and Taman Cahaya.

Prime Properties

Two other prime property areas in Kuala Lumpur are Kenny Hills and Mount Kiara.  Kenny Hills is dubbed the local version of the famous Beverly Hills. It is the residential choice of the rich and famous in Kuala Lumpur.  Mount Kiara, on the other hand, is a preferred residence of many expatriates.  It has a variety of establishments, business centers, and three international schools.

Hospitals and Universities of Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian government is promoting their country as one of the best sites for pursuing a world-class education through its Edu Tourism program.  Kuala Lumpur answers this with their most prestigious university–the University of Malaya (UM).  It is the oldest university in Malaysia and was formed in1949 by the merger of King VII Medical College and Raffles College.  UM was ranked first among the universities in Malaysia by the Times Higher Education supplementary in 2004.  At present, it has an extensive student exchange program to provide its students a globalized perception on key issues, as well as to further their expertise through an exchange of ideas with people of other cultural backgrounds. Another notable tertiary institution in Kuala Lumpur is the International Medical University (IMU) in Bukit, jalil.  It is a private school that offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in medicine and allied medical sciences.  IMU has twin programs with 26 partner universities all over the world.  These include the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney in Australia, University of Auckland in New Zealand, University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow in UK, Jefferson medical College  in USA, and Dealhousie University in Canada. All in all there are tertiary educational institutions, seventy nine high schools, one hundred fifty five elementary schools and one hundred thirty six kindergarten schools which contribute to the 97.5 % literacy rate in the city.

Healthcare in Malaysia

Malaysia’s Health Tourism has brought many medical tourists in the country to get world-class medical treatment, yet at a much lower cost.  Private and government hospitals abound in Kuala Lumpur.  Most private hospitals have the latest diagnostic and imaging facilities to meet the expectations of the medical tourists.  The list of private hospitals in Kuala Lumpur includes Chinese Maternity Hospital that boasts of its status as a five-star maternity hospital, Damai Service hospital in  the town of Taman malawati, Gleneagle Intan medical Center which had catered to the most prestigious patients, Lourdes Medical Centre which is an acute care hospital, Pantai Cheras Medical Centre in Taman Cheras, Sentosa Medical Centre and Roopi Medical Centre which are both located in Damai Complex, Sambhi Clinic & Nursing Home which also serves as a gynaecological centre, Samuel Clinic in Jalan Tun Razak, and Tung Shin hospital in Jalan Pudu.  These hospitals are also affiliated with CryoCord; the first internationally certified Stem Cell Bank in Malaysia. Other major private hospitals in Kuala Lumpur include Klinik Alam Medic Sentul which is a primary care clinic that offers family wellness services, Pantai medical Center which boasts of an international ward and lounge, ‘Dato’ Dr Harnam ENT Clinic  in Jalan Ipoh, Pusat Rawatan Islam in Petaling Jaya, Tawakal specialists Centre in Jalan Pahang, Cheras Geriatric Centre which Provides continuous minor acute care for persons who require social and supportive services,  Institut Jantung Negara or the National Hart Institute in Jalan Tun Razak, Apollo TTDI Medical Centre in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Poliklinik Kotaraya which specializes in physiotherapy, Sentul Hospital in Jalan Sentul, Imran Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist Hospital located at Brickfields, and Hospital Pantai Indah set in Pandan Indah.

Commercial Places in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s entertainment and shopping hub is found in the Golden Triangle where hotels, shopping malls, clubs, and restaurants abound. The shopping area numbers a total of sixty six shopping malls, making Kuala Lumpur the retail and shopping hub of Malaysia.  It covers many streets, with Jalan Imbi, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan bordering it to form a triangle.  The Golden Triangle’s foremost shopping district is located in Jalan Bukit Bintang where diverse shops and malls line the street.  The major shopping malls located there are Lot 10,  Low Yat Plaza, Times Square, and Sungai Wang Plaza.   Many more shops abound in Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Imbi. There are other popular shopping malls found outside the Golden Triangle.  One of these is the Suria KLCC Shopping Mall situated between the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur City center.  It features most upscale stores merchandising local and international brands, prominent specialty stores, electronic shops, cafes, and international restaurants.  The Midvalley Megamall is another popular shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur which sits near Bangsar and comprises of a shopping mall, an office tower, and two hotels.  The shopping mall boasts of over 400 shops, a cinema, a modern bowling center, a convenient IT center, two foodcourts, and a large bookstore. The Nidvalley Megamall was given the Best Shopping Complex Award by Tourism Malaysia in 2000.

Dining Pleasures

Dining establishments of all kind can be found in Kuala Lumpur.  Coffee shops, or road-stalls offer mostly Malaysian cuisine in an inexpensive price. Jalan Petaling, Jalan Sultan, and Jalan Hang Lekir  in the city Center, as well as Jalan Alor in the Golden Triangle have the most number of coffee shops in the city.  Alternatively, “Mamak shops” and “Mamak stalls’ serve just as inexpensive halal dishes.  They are food establishments run by Indian Muslims and Jalan Doraisamy near Heritage Row has the most popular set of these stalls. They can also be found in every street in Malaysia. Restaurants, clubs, pubs, and karaoke bars abound in Bukit Bintang in the Golden Triangle. The Bintang Walk, which stretches from Lot 10 to the Marriot Resort, has various international restaurants and bars.  Prominent establishments in the Golden Triangle include Planet Hollywood which serves American food and drinks with live music, the Western-styled pub of Carnegie’s, Blue Boy which is famous for its cabaret  shows, the Latin pub Little Havana, Frangipani which serves various concoctions of alcoholic drinks, and the Irish pub Finnegan’s.  .

Prominent Clubs, Bars and Restaurants

Jalan Sultan Ismail Jalan Perak, and Jalan P. Ramlee, in Kuala Lumpur City Center, also has its set of bars, cafes, and coffee shops. One prominent establishment in KLCC is the Hard Rock Café which sits next to the Concord Hotel and is a usual spot for expats,.  It has a line-up of American dishes and various drinks which they serve with live music.  Beach Club, with its open-air bar, is also a favorite watering hole for Caucasian tourists. Other prominent establishments are Nouvo which mostly caters to older clubbers and urban professionals, Espanda with its alfresco dining, Ruums with its tropical island  style lounge and space age theme dance floor, the hip Zouk Dance Club, the Alexis which offers dining served with live jazz music, Poppy techno bar, the Thai Club & Bistro, and Rum Jungle.,

Service Establishments of Kuala Lumpur

There are many telecommunication companies in Malaysia that offers a range of services.  One of these is Telekom Malaysia, headquartered in Jalan Pantai Baharu, Kuala Lumpur.  It is the largest telecommunication company in Malaysia.  It offers fixed line services, as well as mobile services through its subsidiary TMTouch.  Through TMNet, It provides internet connection service that ranges from narrow band to broad band (DSL).  The company is the sole DSL provider in Malaysia.   Maxis Communications is a mobile telecom company that provides landline services, prepaid and line subscription mobile services, and broad band internet connection.  Its head office is located at Maxis Tower in KLCC. Another is Menara Celcom found in Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz in Kuala Lumpur. It provides both mobile services and broad band connection.  It is one of the subsidiaries of Telekom Malaysia and has associations with Vodafone, Google, and Hewlett-Packard.  U Mobile is another mobile network provider headquartered in Berjaya Times square.  Its list of services is Mobile Live TV™, Mobile Data, Mobile Telephony, and Mobile Multimedia.  DiGi Telecommunications also provides mobile services and internet connection (iDIGI).  It has its head office at Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park in Shah Alam, Selangor. Tenaga Nasional Berhad is Malaysia’s main power provider.  It has its head office at Jalan Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur.  Applications may be done by accessing their website or calling their hotline.

Security in Malaysia

Law enforcement in Malaysia is the jurisdiction of Polis Diraja Malaysia or the Royal Malaysia Police.  There are numerous police stations which are strategically place all over the city to ensure order and the safety of the public. The police stations in Kuala Lumpur are Police Station Jalan Travers, Police Station Jalan Setapak, Police Station Sungai Way, Police Station Jalan Dang Wangi,   Police Station Subang Jaya, Police Station Ttdi, Police Station Ulu Kelang, Police Station Kepong, Police Station Port Klang, Police Station Sri Serdang, Police Station Kajang, Police Station Batu 9 Cheras, and Police Station Pantai.

Embassies in Kuala Lumpur

Many countries have their embassies and consulates located in Kuala Lumpur , particularly in Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak.  The countries with embassies and consulates in Jalan Ampang are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, the Republic of Fiji, Finland, France, Japan,  Kazakhstan, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, and Zimbabwe.     The countries with embassies and consulates located in Jalan Tun Razak are Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore, the United States, and Venezuela. The other embassies and consulates are located in other areas of the city, such as the Embassy of Albania in Jalan Bukit Ledang, Algerian Embassy  in Jalan Mesra, Australian High Commission in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Embassy of Austria in Jalan Sultan Ismail, Embassy of Cambodia in Jalan U-Thant, Embassy of Colombia in Jalan Pinang, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Jalan Mesra, Embassy of Guinea in Jalan Kedondong, Embassy of Italy in Jalan U Thant, Embassy of Laos in Jalan Damai, Embassy of Luxembourg in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Maltese Consulate  near Jalan Ipoh,  Embassy of Myanmar in Jalan Ru, Embassy of Namibia in Jalan Mesra, Royal Norwegian Embassy at the Empire Tower, Embassy of the Philippines in Changkat Kia Peng, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Jalan Langgak Golf, Embassy of Romania in Jalan Damai, Embassy of Switzerland, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Jalan Imbi, and the Embassy of Uruguay in Jalan Taman U Thant,

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

noreen December 11, 2009 at 9:29 am

want to apply as physiotherapy demonstrator in any physiotherapy educational institute what should i do.

Reply

petter April 11, 2011 at 6:01 am

does any knows any elementary or international school nearby bukit bintang? im looking elementary school for her.

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