Get ready to blow the credit card as we head to the bustling, modern and forward-thinking KL.
Kuala Lumpur is a modern Asian city, full of skyscrapers and home to two million people. The population is made up of Malays, Chinese, Indians and expats from all over the world. KL's high standard of education attracts students from many other countries. As well as the rich and varied culture, it is a shopping mecca. Designer wear, shoes, bags, batik fabric, pewter … there's an endless list helping you rid yourself of your ringgits.
The vibrant city is the country's capital and business hub, with a blend of east-meets-west architecture. Multi-storey shopping malls and the Petronas Towers, the world's tallest structures, stand beside colonial buildings and traditional mosques. It is probably safe to say that KL is the only city in the world with a jungle right in its centre. Bukit Nanas is 11 hectares of virgin lowland jungle, with monkeys making their home among tropical foliage.
Kuala Lumpur Malaysian for "river mouth" or "muddy confluence" began as a tin mining settlement in the late 1800s where the Klang and Gombak Rivers meet. In 1957 it gained its independence from Britain.
It is home to the King of Malaysia, whose official residence is Istana Negara, where visitors can enjoy watching the changing of the guard. Each state has a royal family headed by a sultan and every five years a new king is crowned. They are chosen not by succession but rotation, so each receives a turn at being king.
Petronas Towers are joined by a bridge and took just two years to build. Ten thousand people work in the 88 floors, a special number in feng shui. You need wait no more than 30 seconds for a lift. Entry to the sky bridge is free, but admission tickets are limited, so first in, first served.
Walking tours of KL's colonial district start at the magnificent train station. Built in 1911, it is a fantasy of Moorish spires, minarets, towers, cupolas and arches. It is also where you might like to indulge in high tea at Carcosa Seri Negara, the city's most historic hotel. Originally two genteel residences for senior civil servants in British Malaya governors, British high commissioners and the like the hotel has just 14 suites; seven in each mansion.
In the commercial district, known as the Golden Triangle, you will find the Sheraton Imperial on Jalan Sultan Ismail. It is the city's most luxurious hotel, with a gymnasium, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, five restaurants and a dance club.
When it comes to shopping, Malaysia has some wonderful value-for-money temptations. There are upmarket malls selling an extraordinary range of designer items and markets where you can let your bargaining talents run free!
Sungei Wang Plaza has two department stores and hundreds of small shops, selling everything you could possibly think of. The city's newest complex is Suria KLCC at the Petronas Towers. It has department stores, individual shops and the widest imaginable choice of eateries.
Central Markets near Jalan Hang Kasturi used to be a seafood and vegetable outlet, but now concentrates on local craft, selling jewellery, carvings, batik and pewterware. Painters will do a portrait of you while-you-wait and there are lots of restaurants.
Petaling Street night markets are in Chinatown. They open at 6pm each day and are real bargain-style markets. It is a closed-off area and hawkers sell everything from herbal medicine to excellent copies of designer items.
Stretching from Jalan Pudu to the JW Marriott Hotel, Bintang Walk is a kilometre of vibrant, sophisticated shops, cafes, restaurants and up-market hotels. It throbs with life and is wonderfully cosmopolitan.
There are three good ways to get around KL. Taxis are quite inexpensive, the Putra underground rail system is excellent or you can opt for the monorail.