Kl skyline credit malaysia tourism 2

Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia

A bustling entertainment hub turned food hotspot, this is a neighbourhood where fine dining sits happily alongside a fine night market.By Tamara Hinson

Travel Time 12hrs 50min

Why go?

This central, neon-drenched neighbourhood has retained its wonderful diversity. Yes, Bukit Bintang has Kuala Lumpur's glitziest malls and swankiest boutiques, but venture away from the main drags and you'll be richly rewarded. Although you won't need to venutre far: Jalan Alor, the city's biggest daily night market, is just a five-minute walk from the Bukit Bintang MRT station.

The illuminated towers soar above the city

In the 1800s, Jalan Bukit Bintang, in the heart of the neighbourhood, was lined with shophouses ownded by entrepreneurial Chinese businessmen and women, although it wasn't long before the area's tranformation into an entertainment hub began. In the early 1900s, two brothers opened BB Park and locals flocked here to watch events ranging from boxing matches to cabaret acts, including those by Rose Chan, a dancer famous for her raunchy striptease performances. By 1950, Jalan Bukit Bintang was one of Kuala Lumpur’s few streets with bars, shops and hawker stalls on a single thoroughfare. In 1957, the Federal Hotel opened, quickly becoming the preferred crash pad for tourists and wealthy Malaysian timber tycoons; and the following year, the area’s appeal was boosted by the opening of the Cathay Cinema, one of the first in Malaysia with a Dolby sound system. The Chinese sellers on Jalan Bukit Bintang were (mostly) long gone, but shopping again became a big draw when the Sungei Wang Plaza opened in 1977. Today, it’s one of several glittering shopping malls, the largest of which is the Pavilion shopping centre.

What to do

Waiting for dinner

Changkat, known for live music and wallet-friendly watering holes, is Bukit Bintang's liveliest spot. Irish bars nudge up against swanky cocktail bars such as Old Shanghai, whose decor pays homage to China's opium dens. Bartenders rely heavily on local ingredients - try an asam laksa, made with calamansi juice and spiced rum, or a five fragrance mojito, infused with black tea.

Feeling the need to walk off any excesses? The side streets around the Jalan Alor night market have some of the city's best street art; in recent years some of Asia's top streeet artists have daubed these walls with colourful murals depicting anything from durian stalls to supersized koi carp.

Those planning to explore further afield are also in luck as Bukit Bintang's downtown location puts it in easy reahc of other city centre locations such as the KLCC development. A covered, air-conditioned walkway connects Bukit Bintang's Pavillion shopping centre with the Suria KLCC mall, at the foot of the twin-tipped Petronas Towers.

The iconic Petronas Twin Towers

Where to stay

The Westin Kuala Lumpur isn't just a great option because of its gorgeous rooftop pool and proximity to the Pavilion mall - it's got fantastic restaurants too, including Ferria, where you'll find some of the freshest seafood in town, and Sushi Mew, which specialises in modern omakase cuisine. marriott.com

Another great food-based stay is the five-star EQ Kuala Lumpur hotel. This is where you'll find Kampachi, considered one fo the city's best Japanese restaurants - the most sought after seats are at the 200-year-old Hinoki wood sushi counter. Other reasons to stay inlcude a rooftop infinity pool and enormous Sanctum Spa. eqkualalumpur.equatorial.com

Stylish Citizen M, handy for Jalan Alor

Or check into the hip, art-filled and reasonably priced Citizen M, just around the corner from Jalan Alor. General manager Duncan Hong has a personal tip for getting the most out of the market: 'Go for the barbecue honey-glazed chicken wings, satay or white clam soup.' citizenm.com

Where to eat and drink

An array of Malaysian plates

Alongside some of Malaysia's bestnasi lemak and hokkien mee, you'll find food from every corner of the globe. A number of restaurants specialise in Asian fusion cuisine, and one of the best is Jalan Mesui's Super Boring Club, an izakaya-like venue serving up barbecued Japanese-Jorean delicacies. 00 60 10 665 5277

A KL treatment of prawns

The food scene is famed for its diversity, and popular hotspots include tiny Damascus on Jalan Sultan Ismail, said to serve Malaysia's best shawarma, while at the nearby Friend Fries, the humble chip is reinterpreted with toppings such as Nutella and thousand island dressing. damascus.my 00 60 11 3755 8226

For Malaysian delicacies, you can't beat Bijan Bar & Restaurant on Jalan Ceylon. Try the rendang tok - slow-cooked beef in a coconut gravy. bijanrestaurant.com

Local delicacies

Café culture is huge here - head to Jalan Sin Chew Kee for Three Years Old. Their delicious coffee comes from Sinapore-based PPP Coffee, and homemade sparkling drinks are based on ingredients like lemongrass and makrut lime. 00 60 3 2110 6666

Three Years Old coffee houses

The star of the show is, of course, Jalan Alor, where, beneath glowing Chinese lanterns you can tuck into every type of Asian cuisine, including a mind-blowing range of sizzling satay.

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Travel Information

Travel Information

Getting There


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