Paul Fournier
By Paul

Bukit Bintang & KLCC: A Guide to Kuala Lumpur’s Best Districts

Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it’s known to locals, is Malaysia’s diverse capital city which combines old colonial architecture and new skyscrapers, as well as influences from its Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. The two best districts to experience this interesting mix are KLCC and Bukit Bintang.

On this page, I’ve written a comprehensive guide on what to do, where to stay, and where to eat in KLCC and Bukit Bintang. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect from these two popular areas in Kuala Lumpur.

About Bukit Bintang & KLCC

The districts of Bukit Bintang and KLCC are located right beside each other, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

You can walk from Bukit Bintang to KLCC and vice versa on foot, as they’re connected by the KLCC-Bukit Bintang covered walkway. It starts just outside the Suria KLCC shopping mall at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, and brings you to Pavilion shopping mall in Bukit Bintang.

KLCC

Kuala Lumpur City Center, or KLCC, is one of the most popular places for sightseeing and accommodation in Kuala Lumpur. This district is home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers – formerly the world’s tallest buildings until 2004, and still the tallest twin structures in the world at 451.9 meters.

The Petronas Twin Towers are part of a huge complex that is home to Suria KLCC, the Petronas Philharmonic Hall for classical music, KL Convention Center, Aquaria KLCC, science museum Petrosains, as well as the expansive KLCC Park.

Besides being a major tourist attraction, KLCC is also Malaysia’s business hub. Many office headquarters for local and international businesses are located in the area, along with retail outlets for mid-range and luxury brands.

Bukit Bintang

Bukit Bintang is a trendy shopping and entertainment district, also popular with tourists and locals alike. There, you’ll find a good mix of modern, high-end shopping centers like Pavilion, as well as budget backpacker accommodation, cafes and street food.

The district is also known for its nightlife. particularly in Changkat, a neighbourhood with everything from laidback pubs to energetic nightclubs. There’s also the famous Jalan Alor, a street which comes to life after sunset with many seafood restaurants and hawker stalls selling delicious local cuisine by the roadside.

Recently in 2018, parts of Bukit Bintang have been given a facelift by the KL City Hall, with a series of bright and colorful street art murals. One of the best examples is a side alley near Jalan Alor painted to look like a stream with 3D effects, inspired by a stream that used to be there nearly a century ago.

Things to Do in Bukit Bintang and KLCC

There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the Bukit Bintang and KLCC districts. You can go shopping and sightseeing at some of Kuala Lumpur’s most iconic attractions in the day, and head to Bukit Bintang for some yummy street food and check out some bars by night.

Here, I list a few things to do so that you’ll have a good idea about what’s there in order to build a fun itinerary.

Visit Petronas Twin Towers, the World’s Tallest Twin Towers

No visit to KL is complete without a stop at the Petronas Twin Towers in KLCC! You can take a selfie with the towers from the KLCC Park outside, or take a tour to visit the Skybridge connecting the towers at Level 41 and Observation Deck at Level 86 to enjoy great views over the city.

The Suria KLCC shopping mall at the base of the towers is also a popular shopping spot, carrying luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and more. If you’re traveling with children, the interactive Petrosains science museum and Aquaria KLCC aquarium are worth visiting too.

Admire the Lake Symphony at KLCC Park

KLCC Park is just next to the Petronas Twin Towers. It’s a big green space with great views of the towers, and has a children’s playground, wading pool, and a 1.3 kilometer jogging track winding throughout the park grounds.

The highlight of the park though, is the Lake Symphony. At 8pm, 9pm and 10pm every night, synchronized water fountains on a lake light up and dance along to tunes for the crowds gathered. Each show lasts about 10 minutes, with the fountains performing as many as 150 animations during that time.

Dine in a Revolving Restaurant at Menara Kuala Lumpur

Menara Kuala Lumpur, or Kuala Lumpur Tower is the world’s 7th tallest telecommunications tower, located in KLCC. At 421m, it’s shorter than the Petronas Twin Towers but is a great place to get views of the city that include the twin towers.

You can visit the observation deck and “skyboxes”, which are glass cubes with glass flooring that make you feel like you’re floating above the city. Alternatively, you can also indulge in fine dining at the Atmosphere 360° revolving restaurant, where you can experience 360° views around KL in about 90 minutes.

Indulge in Street Food at Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor, or Alor Street in Bukit Bintang, is a bustling, famous food haven in Bukit Bintang. Both sides of the road are lined with roadside hawker stalls or air-conditioned restaurants selling everything from seafood, hanging ducks, fruits and endless other choices of local cuisine.

Restaurants and stalls here are open from the early evening till late night, so it’s a good place to grab a bite before or after heading for drinks at nearby Changkat.

Play Tricks on Your Eyes at the Museum of Illusions

A relatively new attraction in Bukit Bintang is the Museum of Illusions, located in Ansa Hotel just a short walk away from Pavilion Mall. It’s the first branch of a global chain located in Asia, and is a fun visit for both kids and adults.

Some of the best attractions here include the Vortex Tunnel, where walking on a perfectly stable and flat surface becomes really hard when it’s in a rotating cylinder. Or the Ames Room, where you can watch a friend grow or shrink in front of your eyes, just by walking across the room!

Shop Till You Drop at Pavilion Mall

Pavilion is a major landmark in Bukit Bintang, and also one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular malls. It has over 550 stores within, carrying everything from luxury brands like Givenchy, Gucci and Hermes, to more budget brands like Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

One thing that makes Pavilion stand out is its extensive holiday décor, which draws huge crowds taking pictures during holiday seasons. There’s no expense spared during celebrations like Christmas, Lunar New Year, and Ramadan, so if you visit during these times you’re in for a treat!

The Best Restaurants & Must-Eat Foods

Malaysia is well-known for being a street food haven, as there’s a wide variety of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine to be found on every corner.

Here, I describe 3 of the best places, where you can taste some of the most popular and unique street foods in Kuala Lumpur – Hokkien mee, ikan bakar, and nasi lemak.

Hokkien Mee at Fatt Kee Hokkien Mee

Hokkien mee in Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding regions refers to a popular Chinese dish of thick noodles, wok-fried with dark soy sauce along with pork, shrimp, cabbage, and crispy pork lard cubes.

A good place to try Hokkien Mee at is ‘Fatt Kee Hokkien Mee’. It’s a hawker stall in front of Win Heng Seng coffee shop at Jalan Imbi in Bukit Bintang. The stall only operates at night, so make your dinner plans accordingly 🙂

Ikan Bakar at Kak Jat Ikan Bakar

Ikan bakar translates to “grilled fish” in English. It’s a traditional Malay dish where seafood is fried on a flat pan with a sheet of banana leaf in between, and usually served with rice and other side dishes.

A good place to try ikan bakar is Kak Jat Ikan Bakar, one of many stalls selling grilled fish along Jalan Bellamy, a short drive away from Bukit Bintang. You can choose from several grilled fish dishes like stingray, mackerel, and tilapia. Try to get there before noon to beat the lunch crowd.

Nasi Lemak at Nasi Lemak Wanjo

Unofficially the “national dish” of Malaysia, nasi lemak, or “fatty rice”, is a Malay dish of coconut milk rice, served with spicy sambal sauce, crispy fried anchovies, peanuts, cucumber, and sometimes hard-boiled egg.

Give nasi lemak a try at Nasi Lemak Wanjo, a no-frills restaurant in Kampung Baru just outside of KLCC. They open from 7am – 12pm, and again from 3pm to late night, great for breakfast or a late-night bite. Try your nasi with a side of beef rendang, a spicy meat dish bound to get your eyes watering 😉

Where to Stay, from Budget to Luxury

Choosing between Bukit Bintang and KLCC for accommodation in Kuala Lumpur depends on your personal preferences. For most, Bukit Bintang would be the best choice because of the many food options, proximity to transport and shopping malls, and also a good mix of cheap hotels and luxury accommodation.

On the other hand, KLCC is where you’ll find the famous Petronas Twin Towers, along with many 5-star hotels and high-end shopping and dining options. If you’re looking for an accommodation with a view of the towers or a chance to shop for luxury goods, you may want to consider KLCC.

My personal recommendation for accommodation is Bukit Bintang because of its highly convenient location, so I’ve listed some of the best hotels there based on budget, to help you decide where to stay.

Budget: Gold 3 Boutique Hotel

Gold 3 Boutique Hotel is located next to Fahrenheit 88 mall, just across the road from Pavilion and close to transport links. They have affordable rooms that can accommodate up to 4 people.

A fun touch if you’re into photography is the small camera museum on the second floor, which houses a collection of vintage cameras. There are also lighting and décor items inspired by cameras all throughout the hotel.

Mid-range: The Kuala Lumpur Journal

The Kuala Lumpur Journal is a trendy boutique hotel, located just a few minutes’ walk away from Jalan Alor and the Changkat nightlife hotspot. It’s also within easy walking distance to monorail and MRT stations.

The hotel has a rooftop pool, as well as a popular poolside bar, the colorful, Wes Anderson-inspired Swimming Club. It’s a good place to kick back with a sunset drink and tunes from the DJ.

Luxury: Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur Managed by Banyan Tree

Pavilion Hotel is a relatively new luxury accommodation located right next to Pavilion mall, in the heart of Bukit Bintang. With direct access to the mall on several levels, it’s a good choice worth considering if shopping is high on your vacation itinerary.

If you book club rooms or suites, you’ll also get access to the exclusive Club Lounge where you can get a complimentary buffet breakfast, or relax with evening cocktails and canapes. The hotel also has an infinity pool, where you can have a leisurely swim with great views over the city.

P.S. If you’d rather stay in KLCC instead, 3 good alternative hotels to have a look at with similar price-points are The Bed KLCC (Budget), Element Kuala Lumpur (Mid-Range), and Four Seasons Hotel (Luxury).

How to Get There from the Airport

There are four options for getting from the airport (both KLIA and KLIA2 terminals) to Bukit Bintang or KLCC – bus, train, taxi, or Grab, an Uber-like app. The most economical option is the bus, and the most comfortable and convenient options are taxi or Grab.

By Bus

The Skybus airport shuttle bus is a budget-friendly way to get to the city center. A one-way ticket costs RM11, and the journey will take around 70 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

However, the bus does not go directly to Bukit Bintang or KLCC, and stops at the KL Sentral transportation hub instead. From there, you’ll have to take a taxi or one of the trains below to get to your destination.

To Bukit Bintang: From KL Sentral, take the MRT or monorail to Bukit Bintang station.

To KLCC: From KL Sentral, take the Kelana Jaya LRT line to KLCC station.

By Train

The KLIA Ekspres train takes you from KLIA/KLIA2 to KL Sentral in half the time. The journey takes only around 30 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs RM55.

However, similarly with the bus, you’ll have to take a taxi or transfer to another train from KL Sentral to get to your hotel.

To Bukit Bintang: From KL Sentral, take the MRT or monorail to Bukit Bintang station.

To KLCC: From KL Sentral, take the Kelana Jaya LRT line to KLCC station.

By Taxi

Taking a taxi is the most comfortable and convenient option to get from the Kuala Lumpur airport to Bukit Bintang or KLCC, as it takes you directly to your destination. Do take note though to purchase a coupon from the official counter inside the airport, to avoid surprise fees from taxi touts.

A one-way journey will take about 70 minutes depending on traffic, and will cost roughly RM75. However, trips taken between 11:30pm – 6am will incur an extra 50% surcharge.

By Grab

Grab is an e-hailing app in Southeast Asia, similar to Uber. Like the taxi, it’s also a comfortable and convenient option that takes you right to your hotel without any transfers.

A one-way journey will take around 70 minutes, and a flat base fare of RM65 is charged for any destination in the greater KL area. With the addition of toll fees, the final fare would be between RM72-80 depending on the destination, and there is no nighttime surcharge applied.

Bukit Bintang & KLCC Map

Conclusion & Summary

Kuala Lumpur is a lively city that is a unique melting pot of different cultures, and the best districts to experience these contrasts are Bukit Bintang and KLCC.

Bukit Bintang is compact, and packed with lots of food and nightlife options, while KLCC is the glitzy district with high-end shopping malls, and iconic attractions like the Petronas Twin Towers. These districts are so close together, you can experience everything easily without missing out on anything.

These two districts also offer you plenty of opportunities to sample Malaysia’s wide variety of street food. Start from Jalan Alor to get acquainted, or just stop at the next roadside stall you find!

Hope this helps you make the most out of your visit to Kuala Lumpur! 🙂

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