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Ron Virmani : Visiting Kuala Lumpur
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Malaysia is perhaps best known for the Petronas Towers but that is not the only reason why it is a fun place to visit. A good friend of mine, Ron Virmani stayed a few weeks at the Istana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and he had nothing but great words to say about this city. So when the husband and I were planning our Asian vacation we decided to make this city our first stop. Ron Virmani suggested the Hotel Istana which were offering their rooms at half off during the Ramadan season, which sounded great to us since we were planning a June-July trip.
What to See
Kuala Lumpur is a progressive city and a bustling metropolis. The new developments resemble any city in the West, with skyscrapers, fashion forward pedestrians, Starbucks and shopping malls. Ron Virmani suggested we spend our first day on foot since our hotel was located right at the heart of the Golden Triangle. This meant that we could easily walk to famous sights like the Petronas Towers, Petaling Street,and the National Mosque.
The food is also amazingly cheap yet full of rich flavors. Most street restaurants are clean and the people are so friendly, you won't feel intimated walking into a traditional Malay streetside eatery. For dinner, we tried some of the bars along Tengkat Tong Shin. These restaurants serve varied fare, from international cuisine to traditional Malay food and are located inside pre-war terraced houses renovated and refurbished as modern restaurants and bars. It was easy to get a feel of how modern cuisine has influenced traditional Malaysian cooking when you get a meal at any of these restaurants. Located in the Bukit Bintang area, we literally had to walk just a few steps to get there from our hotel.
Ron Virmani also suggested that we visit the KL Tower. This is a radio tower that has cinemas, restaurants and shopping centers inside. You take a free shuttle service from the street which delivers you to the entrance of the traditional Malaysian Village, which contains life-sized replicas of traditional Malay houses. From the tower, you get an amazing 360 degree view of the city.
When to Visit
Kuala Lumpur is a great destination all year round. However, you can take advantage of steep hotel discounts if you travel during Ramadan. With a huge Muslim population, hotel bookings usually dip during this time, which means hotels have to be creative if they want to draw customers. If not for Ron Virmani we would not have thought of visiting Kuala Lumpur. This gem of a city is sure to be one of our stops when we visit Southeast Asia again.
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