Dubbed affectionately as ‘KL’, Kuala Lumpur started out life in the 1850s as a Chinese mining shanty town, but over the ensuing century-and-a-half has expanded into a metropolis of 1.4 million. One of Asia’s principal financial centres, it’s a stridently modern, cosmopolitan, upbeat place whose high-rise core – a glittering spectacle at night – epitomizes the modern, forward-looking face of Malaysia.

A perfect place to get your bearings is the Observation Deck on the 86th floor of the Petronas Towers, the capital’s most iconic buildings. Nearby, a matchless view of the Towers themselves is to be had from the revolving restaurant of the Menara KL Tower, whose panorama extends to the blue-green peaks of the Titiwangsa range, beyond the city limits.

More historic character is to be found in the old colonial quarter across town, where the intricate, Moorish-style Jamek Mosque is the standout building. To its south, Chinatown’s shophouses, traditional cafés and colourful Buddhist temples give a sense of what KL might have been like half a century ago. The superb Islamic Arts Museum, whose ultra-modern premises are crowned by a turquoise-tiled Persian dome, is another of the city’s key sights. Foremost among the attractions on the fringes of the capital is the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia – ‘FRIM’ for short – where a wonderful tree canopy walk reveals more fine views over the metropolis. Nearby, the Batu Caves complex holds the country’s most revered Hindu shrine, approached via a flight of 272 steps and

Foremost among the attractions on the fringes of the capital is the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia – ‘FRIM’ for short – where a wonderful tree canopy walk reveals more fine views over the metropolis. Nearby, the Batu Caves complex holds the country’s most revered Hindu shrine, approached via a flight of 272 steps and a colossal gilded statue of Lord Murugan.

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