The main intersection in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur at night (Photo by aidil maula via Unsplash)

An electrifying shopping district with lively nightlife and blinding city lights, Kuala Lumpur’s (KL) Bukit Bintang is a must-visit when you’re in town. The name’s fitting too, as it translates into Star Hill in English. There’s an assortment of activities to do along this bright and bustling stretch, as well as an excellent mix of street food and high-end dining. Bukit Bintang has been likened to Times Square in New York City, USA, but on a more local and eclectic scale.

How to get there

There are a couple of ways to get here. Most people walk over from the KL City Centre (KLCC) area via an air-conditioned elevated pedestrian bridge that links to Bukit Bintang. However, if you really don’t want to do the 15-minute walk, you can take a Grab (it’s an e-hailing app much like Uber) from KLCC as the prices are quite reasonable. It shouldn’t cost more than RM5 (approximately USD1.20).

The other alternative is to get here by train. You can take the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line or the KL Monorail. Both will take you directly to the Bukit Bintang station. If you’re travelling from KL Sentral, (one of the main train connections), you can alight the SBK Line via Muzium Negara, which is a five-minute walk from KL Sentral.

Street musicians serenading diners as they eat along Jalan Alor (Photo by Fauzan via Unsplash)

What to eat

Bukit Bintang is THE place for foodies. You can explore Jalan Alor, which has hawker stalls selling an array of local delicacies till the early hours of the morning. Keep your eyes peeled for the Wong Ah Wah BBQ chicken wing stall. Its juicy chicken wings will leave a sweet-sour, slightly fragrant taste in your mouth.

Alternatively, you can go on an underground treasure hunt for food at the LOT 10 Hutong Heritage Food Village. It has a small unassuming entrance with an escalator and then suddenly a food court opens up and you are in food heaven. Hutong features some of the country’s best hawker stalls under one roof, and it’s worth trying the Hokkien mee (noodles cooked in dark soy sauce), char kuey teow (rice noodles fried with prawns, eggs, and vegetables), wantan mee (thin noodles served with a side of wantons and barbecued pork), Soong Kee beef noodles, or roast duck.

If you’re looking for something a bit more upmarket, try the restaurants in Starhill Gallery. There’s Chinese, Japanese, and fusion fine dining joints to tempt the palette. You can also head over to Isetan the Japan Store in Lot 10 for some really good Japanese fare. Our favourite is burnt cheesecake at Tokyo Restaurant.

Lot 10 Hutong – the underground food court (Photo by Alpha via Flickr)

Finally, a 22-minute walk will take you to the Pudu Glutton Street night market. You can do exactly what the name says and be a true glutton for the night. Not many tourists know about this, but locals travel far and wide to feast on the crispy fried chicken, delicate steamed pork buns, tender soy noodles, and local desserts at this locally-renowned hawker stall alley.

The rise of food tourism has helped shape numerous food destinations all over the world. Here’s how you can also eat your way across the globe. Read this ? Food Tourism: How To Eat Your Way Around The World

Where to shop

If you’re looking for high-end fashion, the Pavilion KL and Starhill Gallery shopping malls both feature brands that range from luxury to high street. You’ll see flagships of renowned designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Miu Miu, and Gucci among many others. For more affordable fashion, head on over to Cos, Topshop, BCBG Max Azria, or Zara. The Isetan The Japan Store in Lot 10 also showcases mid-range options as seen with the cult brands in their Japan Fashion Studio and hip local talents like Jonathan Liang.

Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang (Photo by Yun Huang Yong via Flickr)

Don’t worry, there’s something for bargain hunters too! If you’re looking for something budget-friendly, you can opt for Sungei Wang and the 12-storey Berjaya Times Square shopping mall which have an array of fashionable local boutiques (or head here if you want to shop local).

Visit Low Yat Plaza if you want to purchase or fix any electrical devices. Be sure to haggle at retail outlets as the initial prices quoted will be marked up and the vendors will expect you to bargain for a final price.

How to party

If a night of partying and drinking till sunrise appeals to you, Bukit Bintang has everything you need and more. Changkat Bukit Bintang is the city’s hotspot for partying with some of KL’s most popular bars and clubs located along the street – perfect for a pub crawl. The Havana Bar & Grill and Pisco combine Latin American-themed restaurants with nightclubs. Expect to eat a good steak at the former and toss back some impressive cocktails at the latter. You can unleash your inner Latina and hip shake to salsa music after.

The exterior of Havana Bar & Grill in Changkat Bukit Bintang (Photo by Daibo Taku via Wikimedia Commons)

For those who consider themselves a whiskey connoisseur, head to The Whisky Bar. It has a chilled, sophisticated ambience and a selection of more than 650 labels stocked. Side note: they do an amazing crepe suzette. If you’re partial to craft beer then Taps Beer Bar offers a large range of craft beer from all over the world and live music, along with some delectable beer bites and pizzas. Just a stone’s throw away is Beer Bank – another craft beer joint worth visiting, but smaller and more laid-back.

As for those who really want to go all out at a large party venue with neon-lit dance floors and flashing lights, head to the Zion Club Kuala Lumpur. EDM music is normally featured, but the location also features a reggae bar in one section of the club.

Finally, a mere 10-minute walk from Bukit Bintang is a bar with a 360-degree view of the city at the top of Menara KH is the Heli Lounge Bar. You can catch the sunset on this rooftop bar, but it’s recommended that you make a reservation as this is a popular place to take pictures. The drinks are also expensive, so it’s worth ordering one drink to catch the sunset and then heading to the main Changkat stretch to party for the rest of the night.

The hanging bridges in KL Forest Eco Park (Photo by Boey Jun Hui via Unsplash)

Things to do nearby

If you have eaten to your heart’s content, boogied till the cows came home, and shopped till your bank is begging for mercy, what else can you do in KL? Well, here are some other things worth checking out in the surrounding areas.

Admire spectacular views from the KL Tower

KL Tower, or Menara KL, stands at 421 metres tall and has a viewing deck that’s at least 100 metres higher than the Twin Towers’ Skybridge. Expect to see miles and miles of the city from a bird’s eye view.

Explore the lush KL Forest Eco Park

Just at the foot of the tower is the KL Forest Eco Park; one of the oldest forest reserves in the country. It covers an area of approximately 11,000 square metres and houses a range of tropical flora and fauna. There are hanging bridges where you can walk through the trees, giving you the sensation of walking on air.

Central Market (Photo by Johen Redman via Unsplash)
Buy trinkets at Central Market

You can take the train too, but if you’re willing, go for a half-hour walk over to Pasar Seni. The place to head to is Central Market, a one-stop centre that features local arts, Malaysian batik, souvenirs and handicrafts. It’s the perfect place to shop for presents and little trinkets. There’s always a lot going on, so be sure to check out their website to find out if there are any special shows or exhibitions while you’re in town.

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