Kuala Lumpur is back on our radar as a hot travel destination: and right now, families are heading over the causeway with good reason. Here's our essential guide to planning a trip to KL from Singapore
With the exchange rate in our favour (S$1 to RM2.8), now is the best time to get more bang for the Singapore buck across the Causeway. A quick getaway to KL is a must for all families – you’re sure to come back relaxed, recharged and re-stocked!
P.S If you don’t have a weekend to spare, check out our guide to JB for a fabulous day of shopping and glorious food!
The capital of Malaysia, KL is a hot pick for those who want a quick escape, but still feel the buzz of a city. With steel-clad skyscrapers to admire, lush parks, super-sized malls, bustling streets, there’s lots to see and do with the whole family. So pack up, grab your kids and get ready for an adventure!
HOW TO GET THERE
Coach: Hop on a coach for a six-hour ride; some come fully equipped with massage chairs, free wifi and on-board entertainment, making your journey comfortable and seemingly short. For bookings, visit www.easybook.com/bus-singapore-kl.
Plane: Flying to KL is a common favourite; you’re there in 45 minutes flat! A two-way ticket will cost you $80-140 on average on budget airlines such as Jetstar, Tigerair and Air Asia.
Car: Many Singaporeans prefer driving down themselves. A good option if you’re traveling in bigger numbers as it’s cost saving and a fun road trip!
A FOODIE HAVEN
It’s always makan time in KL. You can find food round the clock – you’re never more than 10 steps away from a mamak stall, you can drink award-winning coffees at midnight at Artisan Roast in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), or have a plate of mee goreng at 3am at Devi’s Corner in Bangsar. The streets are lined with restaurants, cafes and eateries making it difficult to decide where to indulge. Here are a few of our top places to get stuck into the great food on offer…
For an authentic Italian fix: Prego
The family will love feasting on Italian at Prego at the Westin Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. View the maestros at work from the open kitchen while chowing down the most tasty regional pastas, gnocchi and oven-baked pizzas. On top of the delicious food, kids can also enjoy themselves at the Westin Kids Club!
Prego, 199 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur 55100; Open for lunch Monday-Saturday: 12pm-2.30pm; Bubbalicious Champagne Brunch on Sunday only: 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner daily: 6.30pm-10.30pm.
For famous street food: Nasi Lemak Tanglin
The mighty nasi lemak needs no introduction. A collective favourite, Nasi Lemak Tanglin has been serving steaming plates loaded with flavour since 1948. It also offers side dishes such as beef rendang and even liver for the more adventurous.
Nasi Lemak Tanglin, Gerai No. 6, Jalan Cenderasari, KL City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50480; Open daily 7am-12 noon
Kid-friendly cafe: Marmalade
Marmalade in Bangsar is a charming cafe with a reputation for being a great spot for kids (the play room will keep your little ones happy and entertained). You’ll find wholesome salads, delish wraps, yummy smoothies, decadent cakes and more. We love the large floppy flowers and the funky chalkboards that add character to this pretty joint.
Marmalade, 1F-18, Bangsar Village II, No. 1 Jalan Telawi Dua, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur 59100; Open daily 10am-10pm.
For an out-of-this-world experience, bring your kids to KL’s state-of-the-art aquarium, home to more than 20,000 aquatic and land animals from all over the world. Each display cubicle in is designed to mimic the natural habitat of the animals which are exhibited. There are also stations where you can touch aquatic animals such as tiger sharks and starfish – definitely a must-see with the kids!
KL Bird Park
Located in the scenic Perdana Botanical Gardens, KL is said to be the world’s largest walk-in free-flight aviary in the world, and is home to more than 3,000 birds including 200 local and foreign bird species. Take your little one on a stroll through the park, and you’re likely to find Mandarin ducks, hawk eagles, hornbills, ostriches and peacocks along the way. For curious minds, the Egg Incubation Room and Nursery is sure to be a hit: here, your child can observe how chicken eggs are artificially incubated. Don’t forget to get some cool pics of all the colourful birds flying through the park – you never know when one will decide to perch on your head!
Petrosains, the Discovery Centre
More like a science museum, Petrosains uses a fun and interactive approach to tell the story of the technology behind the petroleum industry. Believe us, kids will love this place: there are looads of hands-on exhibits to explore – including the International Space Station and SPEED, which simulates the technology and science behind F1 racing.
CALLING ALL SHOPAHOLICS
It should come as no surprise that this is a country that takes retail therapy seriously. More than eight major malls can be found within the heart of the city, but here’s our fave three:
A giant lion greets you at the entrance of this elaborate themed mall that’s full of character (pictured above). Key tenants include Giant, Jusco Supermarket and Parkson Grand, but its real draw is its array of independent stores. The most appealing thing for kids here? It’s the only mall in Malaysia with an ice-skating rink. So mums, you know where to leave the kids with dad while you check off that shopping list!
Mid Valley Megamall
This mall certainly lives up to its name! With over 430 stores spread across its five floors, key tenants include Carrefour, Jusco, Golden Screen Cinemas, Metrojaya and Harvey Norman. You’ll also find Zara, Mango, G2000 and Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and so much more. We especially love that these stores carry ranges that vary from what we find back home.
Pavilion Shopping Mall
Pavilion is KL’s haute couture shopping mecca that keeps the city’s fashionistas looking uber chic. This is a classic example of just how extravagant some malls can be. At Pavilion, Malaysian fashion brands like Jimmy Choo can be found alongside big-ticket European luxury retailers such as Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. Visit if you’ve got a big shopping budget and lots of time to stroll around the mall. Kids will love the all-encompassing holiday decor that it’s become famous for. During Christmas, it’s decked up like a carnival with Santa’s workshop, huge pine trees and giant sleighs in full force.
WHERE TO SNOOZE
From budget guest houses to five-star luxury hotels, KL offers great rooms that suit any budget. Here are our top three accommodation picks.
A tranquil oasis in the city: Traders Hotel by Shangri-La
If you can’t get enough of the Petronas Twin Towers, check in to Traders Hotel by Shangri-La (pictured above). Right smack in the city centre, you’re situated in the heart of KL with lots of restaurants, malls, and tourist attractions around you. What more can you ask for? We fell in love with the gorgeous rooftop pool.
Rates: Twin Towers View Suites start at RM790++ for two adults and one child 12 years old and below (breakfast included for all suites).
Superb location with impeccable service: Ramada Plaza Kuala Lumpur
Nestled in a bustling suburb of KL and just steps away from the city’s shopping, entertainment and attractions, Ramada Plaza Kuala Lumpur is a stylish yet affordable choice for families who love chic living. The hotel has its own well-stocked shop (if you’ve forgotten your snack stash or toiletries) and a multi-cuisine restaurant serving both Western and local food, a steakhouse, a fancy lounge (great place for a tipple one the kids are tucked in), and a poolside bar. We soaked up the breathtaking backdrop of lush greenery at the kid’s pool and the infinity pool, and indulged in a rejuvenating spa ritual. What we absolutely love about this hotel is its spacious rooms that are ideal for families. Choose from a one-bedroom or two-bedroom suite, which comes with a fully equipped kitchenette and separate living area. Super reasonably priced, with brilliant service, we give two HoneyKids thumbs up to Ramada!
Rates: A night in a one-bedroom suite costs RM458.20 with breakfast for two; a two-bedroom suite with breakfast for two costs RM632.20.
A royal experience: The Palace of the Golden Horses
You’ll be in awe of the grandeur and opulence of this enchanting destination. The Palace of the Golden Horses is an extraordinary hotel overlooking a picturesque 150 acre lake. We booked ourselves a night in the luxurious Executive Suite – it felt like an Arabian palace! Spacious enough for the whole family, with a separate living area and bedroom, the suite is where you want to be after a hectic day out in the town. The buffet spread at breakfast was overwhelming, with a smorgasbord of dishes to indulge in. Spa enthusiasts can indulge in a pampering session, while kids will be entertained just exploring the vast grounds of the hotel. We say this pick is so very worth the splurge!
Rates: The rate for the Executive Suite is RM1,300+++ (breakfast for two included).