Downtown KL: A Guide To Safely Exploring The ‘Dodgiest’ Part Of The City

Downtown KL: A Guide To Safely Exploring The ‘Dodgiest’ Part Of The City

Thinking of exploring Downtown Kuala Lumpur? Here’s some safety-related information that might come in handy. (Image by SpencerWing.)

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Are you thinking of hitting the big city alone or looking to gather friends to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city that is Kuala Lumpur (KL)? Perhaps you want to indulge in the hidden restaurants of KL with your favourite people in what many perceive to be the ‘dodgy’ part of KL. In all honesty, this is an unfair nickname. If you know where to go, when to go, and what to do, Downtown KL is far from dodgy.

This is why we’re highlighting some key places across Downtown KL for you female travellers to explore. Because as much as COVID-19 is still around, you also have a life to live! All you need to do is follow strict guidelines and SOPs wherever you are, okay? We’re also going to break this down according to time of day, all for you to plan your day correctly!

Note: There are trains and buses that travel to and from the places mentioned in this article. But if you’re a drive-and-walk person, that’s fine too!

Morning time

Rise and shine! If you’re a morning person or wishing to turn over a new leaf, you’re in luck. Walk through the Bukit Nanas (now called KL Forest Eco Park) forest reserve, which is at the base of the KL Tower, one of the tallest telecommunications structures in the world.

There is a Monorail station nearby if you need it to get to your brekkie spot after your morning walk. Otherwise, walk along the street until you reach The Row (previously known as Asian Heritage Row).

Once you’re at The Row, explore the nearby streets (you can also return to The Row for a drink at night if that’s what you fancy). You’ll find yourself walking along Jalan Yap Ah Shak and then making your way to Jalan Raja Abdullah – where you’ll find one of the best nasi lemaks in town!

If nasi lemak isn’t on the agenda for you that day, you can opt for Yut Kee, a Chinese restaurant established in 1928 serving delicious Hainanese cuisine.

Safety notes: With the sun up at 7am, you’ll find that many people are out and about early in the morning, so walking around is perfectly safe. On the weekdays, people are likely headed to the offices scattered around, while the weekends will see other wanderers or people running/cycling through town. Be sure to keep your belongings close to you as snatch theft can be a problem.

In the afternoon

Consider getting a bike to easily move around the city, since driving can be problematic with KL’s forever-congested roads, and walking may not be the best Malaysian choice (you know, the weather is hot).

Your next stop for lunch should be at Nasi Lemak Wanjo at Kampung Baru, where you can indulge in fragrant rice with all of its tasty spices and condiments.

Once you’re done, consider walking it off around Kampung Baru. It’s a lovely area in the city that still boasts rural vibes thanks to the wooden stilt houses. There are also some interesting Vietnamese cafes worth checking out while you’re at it.

Next, consider mural hunting for Sudirman – the once loved singer-songwriter of Malaysia along Jalan Chow Kit. It should already be late afternoon when you do this, so do watch out for rain around this time, as it’s constantly pouring lately! The Chow Kit Market (one of the largest morning markets in the city centre) is also nearby, but closes at 1pm, so maybe you can check that out first before going on your mural hunt.

Safety notes: Carry your foldable umbrella to ensure you’re well-prepped for any weather during your mini-tour. In terms of safety, keep to walking on the pavements instead of on the roads themselves as much as possible.

Come evening

Some notable mentions of restaurants for dinner when you’re in Downtown KL include Nasi Kandar Kudu Abdul (closes early and on Sundays though, so do check before going) and Jalan Alor for your nighttime street food indulgence.

Just a stone’s throw away from Jalan Alor is Changkat, where you’ll find rows of bars, so pick your liking when you’re in the mood to get a little tipsy (drink responsibly!). Oh, there’s a stall selling amazing fried chicken wings too! Please don’t say we bojio.

From Chow Kit, you can explore Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, where heaps of clothes are sold throughout. If you visit during the Hari Raya period, be sure to get loads of bargains, as it’s one of the best places to shop for the celebration. With the heaps of people around, you can bet the area isn’t dodgy.

Otherwise, cycle around Pertama Complex, it’s named Pertama for a reason – it’s the first shopping mall in KL. It houses many mid- to low-priced items like sportswear, shoes, and electronic goods, so head over if you want to get something for a steal.

If you’re not yet hungry for a meal, opt for a short walk along the outer shaded walkway of Tung Shin Hospital. It’s about a 25-minute walking distance from Pertama Complex, and the evening breeze can be very refreshing.

Safety notes: If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can choose to explore the Lorong Bellamy area for some ikan bakar (grilled fish). Don’t worry, though! It’s a relatively safe place to walk around.

When night falls

A little further away you’ll find yourself at Curry Fish Head Pudu — a restaurant that’s ‘fishy’ in the best way possible! Of course, their speciality here is the fish head curry — a dish best enjoyed with the company of friends and family.

This is also near Lalaport (and Pudu Glutton Street), so you can opt for a mall environment if you want some air-conditioning instead. If you’ve been cycling around town this whole while, park your bike near the information counter.

There’s also the Lai Foong Lala Noodles that you can try if you want something different as its menu features seafood and the broth is to-die-for! Also nearby are Chinatown and Petaling Street (the area is safe to explore, but be careful when crossing roads), so you can head over to one of the many cafes afterwards – either for your caffeine or dessert fix. There’s also The Hungry Tapir, famed for being the only vegan and vegetarian restaurant with a bar! Cool, huh?

Right around midnight

Unless a city you’re in is known to have little to zero crime rates, we would never recommend heading out this late on your own. KL (and pretty much any other metropolis) will pose its own risks, so if you’re thinking of exploring DTKL this late, we advise that you don’t do it alone.

Downtown KL does remain very much alive late into the night. Especially now with restrictions on opening hours about to be lifted! Expect to find a plethora of bars, restaurants, food stalls, and maybe even shops open and abuzz with people.

Safety notes: For ladies (and even men), there’s always strength in numbers. So, go with a big group if you must. If you are hanging out till late at some of the best bars in KL, do get yourself a Grab as trains and other public transportation will usually cease their service early.

Right, with all that in mind, do you still think Downtown KL is a dodgy area to visit? With areas such as Petaling Street and Pudu becoming so gentrified, we really think not. So, happy exploring!

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Inspirations come in all shapes and sizes. I like writing them as they come by, and sharing what I know with the world. I aspire to inspire.