Kuala Lumpur, like most Asian capitals, is a sprawling metropolis spanning miles in every direction. For anyone new to the city, it might feel overwhelming or even impossible to get your bearings. As our bus parked at KL Sentral Station, I was in awe at the massive hub that I had just been dropped off at.
It was Grand Central Station on crack. Different trains and buses go all over the city. Even though mine was only one stop away via LRT, it took me maybe 20 minutes just to navigate the chaotic maze. KL can be tough, especially when you don’t know what to do or where to stay.
For a traveler looking for all of the best that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, the best place to stay would be near Jalan Alor and Bukit Bintang. While many people come to Kuala Lumpur to see the Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves, and Chinatown, one shouldn’t revolve their entire time around a few attractions. Most people will say that you don’t need more than three days in Malaysia’s capital. I like to think that those people aren’t staying in the right areas.
Jalan Alor is a large street lined with restaurants covering seemingly every South East Asian country. I sat down at a Thai place before thinking how much I wanted to also grab a Banh Mi from the Vietnamese place across from me. Next door to that was a Cambodian place offering one of my favorite dishes in the world, luc lac beef. You’ll find anything from authentic food stalls to some of Kuala Lumpur’s most famous restaurants.
What else does this region of KL offer? The best nightlife in all of Malaysia. Changkat Bukit Bintang is a street filled with the most exciting bars in KL. Opium, Zion, and Zouk are all in this area and are favorites of both locals and travelers.
Cheap accommodation is everywhere within walking distance of Jalan Alor and Bukit Bintang. Hostels, guesthouses, and budget-friendly hotels are easy to find.
For backpackers who have been to Thailand, I would equate this to a cleaner, classier Khaosan Road. The party is unbeatable. The food and drinks will be flowing all night. The area is actually clean and isn’t paved with endless stores selling the same tourist-wares.
The area is within walking distance of Chinatown, KL Tower, Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, and a few of KL’s popular museums. Public transportation is also very close to the area, with Bukit Bintang station and Plaza Rakyat station within 5-minutes walk. A free bus also circles around the area, picking up at Bukit Bintang and dropping off at a number of popular spots in Kuala Lumpur.
The region has a lot of character, further increased by the development of street art to liven up the older alleyways. For travelers looking to experience the excitement rather than just the sights, this is the place to be.