Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Flying Air Asia from Stansted UK to Kuala Lumpur

Travelling direct from the UK to Kuala Lumpur has recently become 50% cheaper.
Air Asia,the region's leading budget airline fly the route in a no-frills Airbus for about RM 1,800( 300 Sterling) return as opposed to MAS charging RM 3,800 (650 Sterling) You get what you pay for and with the Air Asia flight you have to pay extra for everything including blanket,meals,water and mediocre entertainment.
On the plus side it's cheap.On the minus side,well if you get a day-flight it could well be the most boring and miserable 13 hours you'll ever spend.The seats recline all of 10 degrees and there's nothing to look at unless you want to stare at the not-unattractive cabin crew or gaze out of the window and guess where you are.
The food is inadequate and bland,best to sneak-on your own (officially not allowed) and it's probably best to take your own entertainment along with you as well.
But,having said that,it's cheap and direct.The cabin crew are friendly and always happy to sell things to you.
MAS http://www.malaysianairlines.com.my/ sometimes offer good deals on their website to nearly match the above pricing and you get all the benefits of flying a scheduled service.
As alternatives you can also fly with a variety of the Gulf State's airlines (Emirates,Etihad,Qatar) all of whom offer competitive pricing with a stop-over to break-up the boredom of long-haul travel.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jalan Imbi/Pudu

Jalan Imbi runs parallel to Bukit Bintang,along this street is the megalithic Times Square shopping mall.If you get a bit tired of concrete and steel the area behind Jalan Imbi can almost transport you back to how most of KL must have looked back in the 1970's before the construction boom.It's a self-contained suburb that still retains a certain charm.
Here you will find relatively traffic-free,tree-lined streets offering a respite from the normal chaos of most of the city's streets.The developers have yet too move-in and you can still find some old-unrestored shophouses being used as general stores,restaurants,repair shops etc.
If you're feeling a bit macabre,start at the old Pudu jail (best seen from the monorail) and then walk behind Times Square and wander aimlessly to see what you discover....The area only covers a few blocks and can offer some unexpected sights such as the Beryls Chocolate Kingdom http://www.berylschocolate.com.my/eng/shops.html housed in an impressive looking bungalow on Jalan Utara. Close-by are a few batik and leather warehouses/showrooms, a huge wholesale market and an interesting produce/wet market that are on the tour-bus route as well as hundreds of Chinese restaurants and a few karaoke lounges/cheap hotels.
Unlike the rest of Kuala Lumpur,there are wide pavements and shady-trees and it's a pleasant enough location to spend a few hours exploring.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Swanky Bars in Kuala Lumpur

If you've got a lot of cash to burn,there are many up-market,expensive bars and night-spots in Kuala Lumpur where you can spend your money.Dress smart,pack your credit-card and enjoy!
Here are just a few to choose from:
Zeta Bar at the KL Hilton,KL Sentral is one of the places to see and bee seen.A big beer will set you back at least RM35 so sip it slowly......The crowd is a mix of wealthy tourists and flashy locals who come to pose.There is usually a good band belting-out fairly mellow Jazz and R&B and if you can swallow the exorbitant prices,it's an OK place to spend an hour or so in.
Qba at the Westin Hotel,Bukit Bintang has a similar price structure as Zeta,about RM17 for a small beer.it's a more relaxed, laid-back,slightly less posy place with a Latin vibe,generally has a South American band playing.There is also the benefit of an open courtyard if you get bored of Latin music.
Pulse,at the Grand Millennium Hotel on Bukit Bintang is a relatively new kid on the block and has eroded the crowd that used to frequent Qba.It's similar to Zeta Bar,but has a more central location.Because it's new,it gets packed.
7atenine on Jalan Pinang,around the corner from Jalan P.Ramlee is much more chilled-out and offers good night time views of the KLCC Twin Towers.Pricing is similar to the above and is more of an eatery/chill-out bar rather than a full-on club.You can sit either on the terrace or inside with the aircon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Accommodation-Bukit Bintang Area

Hotel/Guest House Accommodation in Kuala Lumpur is going through a mini-boom at the moment with a new hotel appearing every month or so.Prices are competitive and whether you book online or walk-in,it makes sense to shop around.
The area around Changkat Bukit Bintang/Jalan Tong Shin/Jalan Alor is fast-becoming the place to head for and there are hundreds of Guest Houses,Budget Hotels and Boutique Hotels in the area.It's a city-centre location,so expect a fair bit of noise but if you want to stay in the centre of things it's a great place to be based.You're within walking distance of some great restaurants and bars as well as the shopping delights of KLCC and Bukit Bintang.
Needless to say,if you're staying in lower-prices accommodation,always check-out the room first.
Amongst the favourites in this location are:
Pondock Lodge above Ceylon Bar on Changkat Bukit Bintang has been going for over 10 years and constantly gets good reviews.Prices start at RM50 for a clean,decent room,but I hear it may be getting a bit shabby-so check it out first.
Number8 Guest House,around the corner on Jalan Tong Shin is an interesting alternative.Nearby is the Corona Inn starting at RM130,around the corner on Jalan Alor is the Hotel Nova from RM 160.Slightly more upmarket is the Alpha Genesis (RM 200) on Jalan Tong Shin and the big Radius International with a pool starts at RM160.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Asian Heritage Row (Jalan Doraisamy)

Although you won't find much heritage here-you will find a truly happening clubbing scene.
Asian Heritage Row http://www.asianheritagerow.com/ is situated in a row of restored Shophouses behind the Sheraton Imperial Hotel. The main attractions are various swanky restaurants and clubs,plus a couple of bars to cater for the "after office crowd".
Things don't really get going until after midnight and there's a host of venues to chose from.
It's one of the places to see and be seen. At the moment,Cynna at The Loft is probably the most happening...but things change,just pick one you like the look of.If you don't like it,there's always next door.....
Sunshine,at the end of the row is a more relaxed down-to-earth bar.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jalan Alor

Running paralel to Bukit Bintang and at a right-angle to Changkat Bukit Bintang,Jalan Alor is one of Kuala Lumpur's more well-known streets.
At nightime it becomes jam-packed with restaurants and food-stalls that overflow onto the pavements.It's a "must-see" on lots of itinerary's and the food's not too bad either.
The cuisine on offer is mainly Chinese food,especially sea-food with a few Thai places further down the road,prices can be a bit "touristy" although each restaurant has it's own menu and price list.If you don't want to pay the prices on Changkat Bukit Bintang,Jalan Alor is a cheaper alternative
If eating outside is not your thing (or it's raining) a lot of the restaurants have indoor dining areas with air con.

Cars double-park on each side of the street so it can be very slow-going for walking and taxis hate it at night but they will drop-you off at either end.
There are also a few hotels along this street offering fairly decent accommodation.
Expect to see a few rats,hopefully at a distance and like most street-food stalls don't think too much about the hygiene....but it's very rare for anyone to get sick from eating here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good Bars-Changkat Bukit Bintang

This small street,just off the main Jalan Bukit Bintang (walk down the street next to KFC and keep going) is chock-full of bars and restaurants.At the last count there were over 30. Every night seems to be party-night in one bar or another and you're sure to find something here to suit your taste.Friday and Saturday nights are busiest with constant traffic-jams. The only hassle is navigating the cars that inconsiderate and ignorant drivers/jockey-parkers park on the pavement,so be prepared to walk in the road...Nevertheless, it's a great street for bar-hopping. Most of the bars offer pretty good food and most of the restaurants serve as pretty good bars...
Best Bars include: Finnegan's Irish Bar,Bar Ceylon,Magnificent Fish and Chip Bar, The Green Man and Gypsy Bar.The clientele in all the above is fairly inter-changeable,with a good mix of tourists,expats and locals as well as a few girls looking for short-term boyfriends with money.
Cheapest beer all night-long is probably found at Gypsy Bar, but check the other bars for some good Happy-Hour deals,for example Finnegans has happy-hour all night-long on Sundays.
Gypsy can get absolutely packed-out,especially Friday and Saturday nights after 11pm when the crowd can spill onto the pavement and it becomes increasingly difficult to get served.
The choice of restaurant includes French,Italian,Japanese,Indian,Chinese,German and Fusion as well as good old fashioned pub-grub and ranges in price from mid-market and upwards.
Best Eateries include,La Bouchon,Pinchos,the increasingly popular Tappas Bar,Twenty-One,Yoko's,Bermuda and Onion,Flams,El Cerdo , Ciccio's, Frangipani and the Magnificent Fish and Chip Bar
Lounge Bars/Clubs can be found at Envie,Twenty One,Werner;s and Frangipani.
Other places of note,just up the hill and around the corner are two fairly upmarket restaurants,Bijan for Malay food and Nerovivo for Italian,whilst new kid on the block is Bar Italia situated on Jalan Berangan, the road behind Changkat Bukit Bintang,
For cheaper food,head to SK Corner, Tengkat Tong Shin,just around the corner near the 7-Eleven

The area has lots of accommodation options ranging from 3 star tourist-class hotels to small,independent lodges and homestays.If you're looking for hotels in Kuala Lumpur this area is probably the best place to stay.