The city centre of Kuala Lumpur, along with some choice urban spots, lights up with excitement at night as crowds of youngsters, revellers and yuppies frequent clubs, bars and pubs on the streets.
The hive of activity usually begins from 10 pm onwards though some nightspots open earlier. Karaoke is another popular activity, usually among Chinese who just love to bellow or croon oldies and contemporary pop music from Hong Kong, regardless of the breaking windows!
As Malaysia is a Muslim country, the Authorities enforce a 3 am closure ruling for nightspots in Kuala Lumpur city areas, while clubs and pubs in urban areas in the vicinity of residential estates have to close at 1 am. Occasionally, the police will conduct raids on random places to check for illicit drugs, prostitution and other vices of society. Sometimes, the severity of raids can affect the reputation and business of a club, causing it an early downfall.
Many nightspots have a short lifespan of a few years, as the clubbing crowd of Kuala Lumpur can be quite finicky, quickly changing their preference for more avant-garde and newer establishments; effectively bankrupting the old ones. But there are some that have stayed and preserved, notably in established areas such as Bangsar and Hartamas.
You'll have a nice range of places to choose from in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the Klang Valley. From large, expansive discotheques to quite, fusion bars, there's always something to cater to every taste.
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Cafes & Restaurants
At night, Kuala Lumpur folks also enjoy frequenting a new wave of cafes which blend pub and bar-like atmosphere with the dining opportunities of a fully-fledged restaurant. Some of these cafes and restaurants have a large al-fresco dining area complete with a DJ playing music. Patrons can select from the menu a wide range of local and international entrees as well as liquor such as beer, spirits and cocktails.
These nightspot restaurants will most likely have a stage for performances by bands and solo artistes both local and imported. Bigger establishments such as Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood sometimes play host to internationally-famous singers for their mini-concerts or media conferences.
In recent years, karaoke has caught on with the young and there are many lounges now open in the Klang Valley that attract people who love to sing, mostly those without the proper ability. Very similar in style, design and architecture of a nightclub, karoke lounges differ in their space arrangement. The floor is split into a series of insulated rooms that have a TV and karaoke set for patrons. The karaoke lounges in the city are still predominantly Chinese-themed as they are the main customers.
In these rooms, patrons can select from the TV a range of local and international hits, crank up the volume, pick up the microphone and sing as loud as they want. This activity is usually done among a company of friends, so that they can laugh at each other. The big-time karaoke lounges that have branches all over the Klang Valley also provide buffet dinners so that patrons can eat while singing.
The young students and working adults of the Klang Valley enjoy eating and drinking in Indian roadside-stalls at night. This is known as 'Mamak' culture, and the term originates from the name of the race of people that first set up these stalls, who are Indian Muslims.
Today, Mamak no longer refers to Indian Muslims but is interchangeably used to describe any road-side or street-side stall for eating that opens at night and attracts a large crowd. Indian cuisine is the norm but modern times have compelled many Mamak stall owners to diversify their menu to include Chinese, Western and other interesting entrees.
The setup is very simple, with plastic tables and chairs that are strewn across street curbs, parking lots and flat pavements and a cooking stall from which the chef whips us the drinks and food. Sometimes, Mamaks have attracted controversy as a few people have been killed while dining as their tables are haphazardly placed right next to the road, a sitting target for a car that's out of control.
Despite the health hazards, Mamak are a very popular form of night-time activity as friends gather around their plastic table, sip their drinks and chat away into the wee hours of the morning.
Nightclubs & Discotheques
Today, most people use the term 'clubs' to denote any large nightspot with a dance floor and an inventory of alcohol. The old term of 'disco' seems to have been abandoned although it is not incorrect to use it, technically-speaking.
Most of the well-known clubs are located in the Golden Triangle area, notably in Bukit Bintang, along Jalan Ampang and Sultan Ismail. Some hotels have their own in-house clubs or 'lounges' which can be equally as impressive in ambience and trim levels.
While the highlight of any good nightclub is its dance floor, many have diversified to provide café-like dining opportunities along with comfortable sitting arrangements for those who rather chill than dance the night away.
The upmarket nightclubs are those with a contemporary outlook, modern architecture and plush environment that play a variety of music from R&B to House and pop remixes to old-school hits. On the other hand, the neon-lights adorned Chinese clubs which are lavishly, and sometimes outrageously decorated play a heavy bombardment of loud pulsating techno beats that will blow a hole in the wall.
Some clubs have their own themes, ranging from Hawaiian beach to traditional Thai and Havana-styled to futuristic. This is reflected in their furniture, interior design, choice of music and other elements. While most play a mix of music, there are several clubs that play a certain kind of music exclusively, like trance or house.
Pubs & Bars
Small yet trendy, bars and pubs offer you the opportunity to have great dialogue with a company of friends in a lively environment that isn't as hectic as a nightclub. The popular pubs and bars are found in the urban residential areas of Bangsar and Hartamas, where the streets are lined with glittery lights, accompanied by loud music and the air pierced by cheers from patrons.
Most pubs and bars stock a good range of alcohol, with beer being the most popular drink of course. Loud music is another hallmark, with the occasional live band to entertain the patrons. While most are typical bars that are casual and dimly lit, some have their own themes such as Cuban, Japanese and classic-retro. Pool and foosball tables are norm along with thick cigarette smoke!
Pubs and bars in Kuala Lumpur usually hold their happy hours early in the evenings to attract a build-up of crowds with flat rates for free-flow of beer. Ladies' nights are often held on Wednesdays but there are many other promotions that are unique to each pub and bar. While bars and pubs are usually for drinkers, some of them enjoy converting their floors by pushing away the stools for the patrons to dance.