Kuala Lumpur City Guide 2012
The Malaysian capital is changing so rapidly that, even if you’ve been before, you might want to extend your next stopover or business trip there to take it all in. In particular, the shopping and dining options have become markedly more varied and appealing.
In a recent issue of BK, we reported that Bangsar is the trendiest district of Kuala Lumpur, similar to Thonglor in Bangkok. But when it comes to getting some serious shopping done, locals still head en masse to Bukit Bintang, which is reminiscent of Ratchaprasong, lined as it is with malls serving every category of customers, from tech geeks to fashionistas.
Back in December last year, global cosmetics chain Sephora (Jalan Bukit Bintang. Open daily 10am-10pm) landed at Starhill Gallery, the luxurious shopping mall which recently had its facade reinvented by architect Stephen Pimbley. Its prismatic architecture is now home to more than 200 emerging and classic beauty brands, some of which are exclusive to Sephora.
KL’s answer to Siam Paragon, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (Jalan Bukit Bintang, +603-2118-8833. Open daily 10am-10pm), just unveiled its new, expanded look. The Connection, the walking corridor that connects Jalan Bukit Bintang with Jalan Raja Chulan, houses new dining spots (see Eat & Play), meanwhile in the space formerly occupied by Tangs (2-3/F), a lifestyle department store from Singapore that has relocated to 1 Utama Mall, is now Fashion Avenue which features top brands we can’t find in Bangkok: Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren and Aesop. The top floor has also been transformed into a Japanese-style walking street called Tokyo Street Market (6/F), offering Japanese snacks, clothes and manga displayed in faux-shophouses.
Around a 15-minute taxi ride north of downtown (around RM12 [B120] per trip, depending on traffic), you’ll find the one-year-old Publika (Block C5, Solaris Dutamas, 1 Jalan Dutamas, +603-6207-9426. Open daily 10am-9pm. www.publika.com.my), which reminds us of the former Playground in Thonglor. Set in the lower floors of a high-end residential complex, this all-black design-focused shopping mall is home to cool cafes (we love Plan B and The Bee) and select design stores. It also hosts cultural events, ranging from art installations to live performances at its outdoor stage.
Finally, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is set to welcome the world’s third official Lonely Planet Store, following Sydney and London, at its departure hall close to the Harrod’s. Retailing all series of guidebooks, the store should be open before the end of the year.
Bars & Restaurants
The guys behind the famous dining venues The Press Room and Le Bodega in Bangsar have expanded. Not too different from its older sister, The Press Room Bistro (3/F, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Bukit Bintang. Open daily noon-2am) is set in a dimly-lit space decked out with a combination of natural wood and black metal details. Evenings are when the place really lights up with creative types and young expats enjoying French specialties including salads, cold cuts on Poilane bread, and solid steaks.
At Publika, the must-visit foodie venues are Plan B and The Bee. Plan B (Level G2, +603-6205-5318) serves Australian-cum-New York-style comfort food (bread, sandwiches, pastas and desserts). The décor is modern, think natural wood with a touch of the industrial. Located at the far end of the mall, The Bee (Level G2, +603-6211-7621. www.thebee.com.my) has become a favorite hangout spot for creative and fashion people, from designers to models. Chef Miguel Hokama, a Peruvian with Japanese lineage, concocts comfort food (again) among a kitsch melange of mismatched chairs, vintage bric-a-brac and raw cement. The place regularly hosts non-food-related activities, like movie nights and pechakucha talks, too.
Perched on the 57th floor of the Menara 3 Petronas Tower is Marini’s on 57 (57/F, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, +603-2161-2880/4880. www.marinis57.com), the town’s newest sky-high dining location. Blessed with a close-up view of the Petronas Twin Towers next door as well as the nearby KLCC Park, the place is divided into three zones, the restaurant (open daily 7-11pm) serving Italian, the bar (open daily 5pm-3am) and the soon-to-open cigar lounge. It’s always fully booked so make reservations (shorts and sandals not allowed—yes, even if they’re Prada).
Serious partygoers might want to check out the newest club arrived from Singapore, The Butter Factory KL (www.thebutterfactorykl.com), which sits behind Pavilion Mall on Raja Chulan Road. As it’s presently KL’s most happening venue, you’ll probably need to queue for at least half an hour to get in on weekends. Put simply, the club is a combination of Bangkok’s Route 66 on RCA (in terms of décor and laser lighting) and Hollywood (in terms of “entertainment”). Walk into this large, black cube structure and you’ll be blasted with international dance hits, but at least you get to mingle with the beautiful people of Kuala Lumpur.
How to Get There
THAI Airways (www.thaiairways.com), Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) and Air Asia (www.airasia.com) fly direct from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur daily. Rates for the standard carriers are pretty similar, ranging from B9,500-12,000, while Air Asia often starts from as low as B7,000.
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