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Kuala Lumpur

KL, as it is locally known, is Malaysia’s hub; a huge, bustling, cosmopolitan city that is the business heart of the nation. Its very ethnic diversity is part of the attraction with Malays, Chinese, Indian and European cultures melting together on the tropical streets. Often overlooked by many tourists KL has a wealth of attractions, with the voluminous Petronas Twin Towers at a height of 436m (1453ft) amongst the tallest buildings in the world.

From the viewing level of the Towers the city unfolds with its old mosques and ramshackle buildings, contrasting with the gleaming skyscrapers that have sprouted as Malaysia has become one of the regional economic powerhouses. Merdeka Square is at the very heart of old Malaysia, with the stunning highlight the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which bizarrely blending Victorian and Moorish architectural styles.

The Tasek Perdana Lake Gardens are one of the city’s best known natural landmarks, a popular spot for picnics and walking. Within the gardens are Parliament House and the National Monument. The National Monument, an impressive brass sculpture, is one of the world’s largest free-standing sculptures. Close by is the National Museum, which houses many historical exhibits. The building incorporates various different Malaysian architectural styles and craftwork from different parts of the nation, making the National Museum an embodiment of many aspects of the nation.

Near the railway station is the National Mosque surrounded by lawns ornamented with fountains. This modern mosque, built in 1965, gleams every bit as brightly as any of Kuala Lumpur’s skyscrapers. The main dome is moulded in the shape of an 18-point star to represent the 13 states of Malaysia and the five central Pillars of Islam. The huge main prayer hall can hold up to 10,000 worshippers, although this section of the mosque is closed to non-worshippers. Nearby is the old Chinese clan house of Chan See Yuen and the colourful Indian temple of Sri Mahamariaman.

Shopping and eating are other key attractions with retail opportunities including everything from huge air-conditioned malls with bargains on many items, through to local handicrafts sold by the people who make them. KL has a smorgasbord of eating opportunities with fine dining restaurants, through to local eateries that showcase the finest culinary delicacies from all over Malaysia. Then there are the street markets, with their food stalls, where some of the best and cheapest food is to be found for the adventurous.

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