KL is one of those cities where you think you know where you are and how the world fits together. Then you walk two blocks and all of a sudden you feel like you’re in a different city altogether, questioning what you once thought was certain. There are constant contradictions. Uncanny wealth, followed by poverty, crystal clear pools but brown rivers, ‘green’ buildings but no where obvious to put your recycling. I didn’t love KL at first when I first got there, but it grew on me.
The kids continued to surprise me with how quickly they adapted. Initially fearful of trying anything new, they found their sense of adventure (and appetite) by day three. Ruby is now eating full size meals – the more wantons, noodles and soupy sauce, the better.
I was also surprised at how quickly Russ and I started breaking our food safety rules. It started with crunching icy drinks and has quickly escalated to bain maries (only at lunch time) and street vendors. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but perhaps we are travelling too long to live like overly cautious tourists.
I’m also surprised with how little of the local language we’ve tried or learnt. In our defence, the people of KL are enablers, with their excellent English skills, English signs and English menus. As we venture further afield I expect we will have to try harder.
There are lots of things to do in KL and inspired by this TripAdvisor post on KL in three days, I thought we would attempt some of the more kid friendly activities. Unfortunately the author was clearly travelling without children, as we would not be able to complete his KL in three days itinerary in anything less than 10. So here is my KL in five days (with two kids and lots of pool time) itinerary.
Kuala Lumpur things to do with kids
Day one: the aquarium and KLCC park
The aquarium was awesome. Probably my favourite Kuala Lumpur things to do with kids. Our kids absolutely loved it. It starts with touching pools where you can stroke small bamboo sharks, sea anemones and crabs and you work your way round until you go through the tunnel that seems to last forever. We had such a great time we went back to the start and did it all over again. Just outside of the aquarium is a reasonably priced food court to stop at for lunch.
We then headed to KLCC park which was lots of fun. There is a huge playground, nice gardens and a kids’ fountain/water play area where you can cool off.
Day two: Little India
Little India was initially a little overwhelming for Ruby, while Lincoln was seemingly oblivious. The noise, traffic, food and ‘grime’ was confronting, but once safely tucked away at a 24 hour Indian restaurant, we were right at home. I don’t think there is anything more delicious than freshly cooked naan served with a dahl and raita. So hot and tasty and only costs about $2.50 aud. That was lunch and dinner for the kids.
Day three: a pool day, Jalan Alor and then the Petronas Towers.
The Petronas Towers are everywhere in advertising for KL. Like the Harbour Bridge to Sydney and the Eiffel Tower to Paris, the Petronas Towers are KLs must see attraction. We had a quiet day mainly by the pool before heading into the city in the late afternoon. We took the monorail to Bukit Bintang and headed to Jalan Alor where restaurants spill out onto the street (which is still open to traffic?!)
We then weaved our way through the markets towards the Petronas Towers. We saw the towers during the day, but at night they really are at their best. There are hundreds of people taking photos and we were in there too.
Day four: Bukit Bintang and the best food court in KL
Bukit Bintang is an extremely popular shopping area in KL, and as we forgot Lincoln’s shoes, we headed into town to buy him a new pair. Not wanting a ‘western’ shopping experience, we found a more traditional centre where there were no familiar brand names and market stalls in the middle. This was where Ruby learnt the art of haggling (and did ok until she started crying because she thought she wasn’t going to get her toy) and Lincoln coolly told the stall owner he wasn’t interested in their overpriced remote control car (but his face was a dead give away). So we left with a pair of shoes, a funny looking rabbit and an overpriced (but very fun) small remote control car.
It’s a big call, but Russ thinks we had lunch at the best food court in KL. I don’t know how we found it, but down an escalator from the street level was this great food court. It was busy; everything was freshly cooked and delicious.
Day five: more pool time and then bus to Tanah Rata
Obviously if we didn’t have as much pool time, we would have seen more of KL, but it was a tradeoff with the kids. Often tired, hot and ratty after sight seeing, being able to jump in the pool and cool off was a major attraction for all of us. Accommodation with a pool has now been added as a must in our search for places to stay.
We then caught the bus to Tanah Rata, where the climate is much cooler and it rains at least for an hour everyday. It’s been a great place to have a different ‘Malaysian’ experience.