Day one

09.00: Find your bearings with a walk through the historic city centre, starting at the Masjid Jamek LRT Station, named after the beautiful nearby mosque. The station is the starting point for the self-guided Heritage Trail. Many of its buildings are clustered around Merdeka Square, with its cricket green and mock-Tudor buildings. This is where, in 1957, the Union Jack was lowered and replaced by the Malaysian flag.

10.00: Get a caffeine fix at Medan Pasar’s Cafe Old Market Square, founded by a Hainanese immigrant in 1928. The top floor of this heritage building is an art gallery, filled with photos of old Malaysia. A cup of Hailam kopi o, a sweet Hainanese coffee, will restore energy levels.

11.00: Time for some retail therapy, Chinatown-style. It’s just a short walk to Central Market, although if you’re travelling from farther afield

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and fancy some air-conditioned respite from KL’s humidity, the nearest LRT station is Pasar Seni. The market dates back to the 1880s, when the British came here to trade tin and other goods. It’s a fantastic place to pick up handicrafts, but for the best bargains, head to nearby Petaling Street, a huge market where you can haggle for everything from ‘I love KL’ T-shirts to children’s toys.

13.00: Make your way through Petaling Street’s colourful chaos to the Old China Cafe, once the guildhall of the Selangor & Federal Territory Laundry Association. This knick-knack-filled pre-war shophouse has remained largely unchanged and it’s a great place to try traditional Peranakan Chinese cuisine, such as fried sotong (squid), washed down with plum juice.

14.00: Leave the history behind over at KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) with its tangle of skyscrapers including, most notably,

the Petronas Twin Towers. Once the world’s tallest buildings, their geometrical, Islamic-inspired design features 55,000 glass panels. There are 29 double-decker lifts, and the one I step into whisks me to the sky bridge at five metres a second. Next stop? The observatory on the 86th floor, 370 metres above ground level.

16.00: It’s the perfect time to head outside the city to the historic town of Kuala Selangor, where highlights include the Tanjung Keramat Fort and the Kuala Selangor District Historical Museum. It’s an hour’s drive, or you can hop on bus 100 at KL’s Medan Pasar bus station. The area is famous for its fireflies, which can be seen after dark on one of the boat excursions at Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park.

19.00: Time to paint the town red. The Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur is one of the closest skyscrapers to the Petronas Towers, where the signature cocktails at Bar Trigona are made with honey from

the bar’s namesake, the trigona (stingless) bee. Afterwards, feast on Chinese cuisine at the hotel’s Yun House, with must-try dishes such as charcoal lava buns. Though my favourite bit is the abstract masterpiece by Gaesarin Bangsai: made from 22,000 ceramic discs, it took 43 days to assemble.

21.00: Bukit Bintang is Kuala Lumpur’s entertainment district. Much of the action takes place in and around TREC, a complex filled with bars and nightclubs, including the city’s biggest, Zouk. The liveliest bit is Changkat, a stretch of Bukit Bintang bars popular with locals and tourists. Rock Bottom is known for its live music, while The Rabbit Hole has themed rooms and legendary happy hours. Feeling hungry? Head to nearby Jalan Alor, a street that undergoes a spectacular transformation at night. This is where you’ll find the best street food, especially if you’re brave enough to sample the local speciality: lime-drizzled stingray.

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