To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia – a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Its multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colorful festivals. Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.
Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.
One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just meters away from ancient reefs.
Kuala Lumpur is the federal capital and most populous city in Malaysia. The city covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.6 million as of 2012. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 5.7 million as of 2010. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country, in terms of population and economy.
Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial and economic centre of Malaysia due to its position as the capital as well as being a key city. Kuala Lumpur was ranked 48th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index and was ranked 67th among global cities for economic and social innovation by the 2 think now Innovation Cities Index in 2010.
Since the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting, political and cultural events including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One Grand Prix. In addition, Kuala Lumpur is home to one of the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, which have become an iconic symbol of Malaysia’s futuristic development.
The Kuala Lumpur currency used is the Malaysian ringgit. The word ringgit remains the same in all uses (e.g., 1 ringgit, 10 ringgit, 45 ringgit).
Protected by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east and Indonesia’s Sumatra Island in the west, Kuala Lumpur has a tropical rainforest climate which is warm and sunny, along with abundant rainfall, especially during the northeast monsoon season from October to March. Temperatures tend to remain constant. Maximums hover between 31 and 33 °C (88 and 91 °F) and have never exceeded 39.3 °C (102.7 °F), while minimums hover between 22 and 23.5 °C (72 and 74 °F) and have never fallen below 14.4 °C (57.9 °F). Kuala Lumpur typically receives minimum 2,600 mm (100 in) of rain annually; June and July are relatively dry, but even then rainfall typically exceeds 127 millimeters (5.0 in) per month.
Flooding is a frequent occurrence in Kuala Lumpur whenever there is a heavy downpour, especially in the city centre and downstream areas. Dust particles from forest fires from nearby Sumatra sometimes cast a haze over the region. It is a major source of pollution in the city together with open burning, emission from motor vehicles and construction work.
From its humble beginnings as a tin mining town in the 1800s, Kuala Lumpur (KL) has transformed into a vibrant, bustling, cosmopolitan city that is home to more than seven million people.
Three unforgettable experiences in Kuala Lumpur include:
The public transport system is regulated by various authorities, including the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) of the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development, the Ministry of Transport and local governments such as the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and the other city and municipal councils.
Public transport in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley covers a variety of transport modes such as bus, rail and taxi.
There are several bus operators operating in Kuala Lumpur, linking the city centre with the suburbs of the Klang Valley. The main operator is the government-owned Rapid KL, which stands for Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd. Rapid KL took over the operations of the two main bus operators, Intrakota and Cityliner. Other operators include Metrobus, Selangor Omnibus, Len Seng, Transnasional/Kenderaan Klang-Banting, Triton, Permata Kiara and others.
Kuala Lumpur’s rail-based transit system consists of two Light Rail Transit lines (rapid transit), three commuter rail lines (including the Rawang-Tanjung Malim shuttle service), one monorail line and an airport rail link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which consists of an express and a transit service.
Metered taxis can be hailed throughout the city. However, traffic jams, especially during rush hour are fairly common in KL and it might be difficult to get a taxi during rush hour. There have been many incidents of taxi drivers charging extravagant fares, especially among tourists, therefore, tourists are advised to travel with taxis that charge fare according to meters, or insist on using the meter.