An Insider's Weekend in Kuala Lumpur

What Locals do in KL in 2 Days

Kuala Lumpur has been my home for over 10 years, so the city isn’t exactly foreign to me. In fact, being a writer for KL Magazine encourages me to explore new places, savour unique dishes, both local and international, and even enjoy a tipple (or two). There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, from free outdoor yoga sessions to music festivals spanning weeks or months at a time.

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  Penny Wong
Travel Expert, Writer and Photographer
I’m a small town girl currently living in Kuala Lumpur since 2007. Between 2014 and 2015, I’ve gone on seemingly endless trips to many beautiful cities around the world, including Melbourne, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Hoi An, and Bangkok.

Where I Stayed

A weekend in Kuala Lumpur obviously differs from one person to another – for myself, I opted for a staycation in the city centre to minimise the hours of commute. For two nights, I stayed at Mingle Hostel Kuala Lumpur, a favourite amongst backpackers due to its affordability and location.

Set within Chinatown KL, it’s a five-minute walk from Petaling Street and the Pasar Seni LRT station, making it convenient for exploring Kuala Lumpur. The hostel’s ground floor houses The Leaf Co, a quaint café that offers guests a 20% discount on ala carte dishes. There’s also a semi-covered rooftop area, where you can have your breakfast (provided by the hostel) until 10:00 and/or alcoholic beverages in the evening.

While I loved its rustic and minimalistic setting, my only gripe with this accommodation was the lack of soundproofing in the room. Earplugs are provided upon check-in, but they’re rendered useless if you need to be up at a certain time. Nonetheless, hotels really just a temporary shelter for the night, so missing out on a couple hours of sleep didn’t put a damper to my mood.

Day One

Weekends are great for getting back in touch with nature, so my first stop of the day was the KL Forest Eco Park, which is a 15-minute walk from Mingle Hostel. The park is free and open daily, where you can find plenty of walking trails ranging between 300 and 500 metres in length. After spending about an hour being surrounded by views of trees, herbs, bamboo, and creepers as well as KL Tower, I returned to the hostel for a quick shower before having breakfast at the rooftop.  

For the rest of the day, I visited some of the most popular landmarks in Chinatown KL, including Petaling Street, Kuan Ti Temple, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Central Market, Chan See Shu Yuen Temple, and Sin Sze Si Ya Temple. Chinatown KL is also renowned for its extensive food offerings, ranging from hawker stalls selling snacks, seafood and noodles, to award-winning French bistros and rustic-style cafes.

One of my favourite dining venues here is Chocha Foodstore KL – I absolutely loved the Chinese pesto flat noodles and duck confit rice! A good option for getting your caffeine fix is Merchant’s Lane Café, serving long black, mocha, piccolo, and cappuccino as well as unique concoctions such as jasmine black, caramel latte and cold-brewed earl grey latte.

When it comes to nightlife, Chinatown KL has several speakeasies and hostel-owned rooftop bars, such as Reggae Bar, PS150, and The Berlin KL. Expats and travellers usually make their way to the bustling Changkat Bukit Bintang, the city’s most vibrant nightlife district. Pisco Bar is one of my favourites for a fun night out, followed closely by Opium KL and No Black Tie.

Day Two

The last day of my KL staycation is mostly free and easy, starting with brunch at VCR Café, one of the most popular cafes in the city. Located along Jalan Galloway, its coffee (brewed using Coffex and Artisan beans) menu is definitely its star attraction, but I also enjoyed its unique brunch offerings. I highly recommend the French Toast (berries compote, mocha sauce, chocolate biscuit crumble, pumpkin seeds, and espresso ice cream) and the Fluffy Potato Waffle (topped with mushrooms, chervil, and poached eggs), both of which kept me full until past lunchtime.

A girl can’t miss out on some weekend retail therapy, so a quick monorail train ride brought me to the Bukit Bintang district. There, major shopping malls such as Lot 10, Starhill Gallery, Pavilion KL, and Fahrenheit 88 are within walking distance of each other.

In the evening, I made my way to Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) via the Bukit Bintang - KLCC Pedestrian Walkway. Connecting Pavilion KL to Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, it’s about a 15-minute walk but the bridge is completely covered and well-ventilated so that pedestrian can travel safely and comfortably.

A must visit (even if you’re local), the PETRONAS Twin Towers are the city’s most recognised landmarks. While the towers are beautiful to photograph at any time of the day, I prefer visiting in the evening or night as they’re well-lit from ground to tip, while the surrounding water fountains make for more dynamic-looking shots.

My final stop was Sky Bar, a luxurious cocktail lounge located on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur. This covered, rooftop nightlife venue not only overlooks KL city and its famous twin towers, it also boasts an indoor swimming pool, cabanas, and delicious cocktails such as Selangor Sling, Mata D’ Or, and Raised in Manhattan. After a few rounds of drinks, it was time to call it a night, so I headed back to the hotel and prepared myself for a new week ahead. 

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