Business Travel Guide: Kuala Lumpur

Locally translated as ‘muddy confluence’, Kuala Lumpur’s role as one of the world’s ‘alpha cities’ has certainly stuck, as its blend of natural splendour, historic poignancy and contemporary aesthetics make it one of the most appealing global destinations

Malaysia’s largest city, national capital and primary global lure forms the perfect setting for tourists and business executives alike as a consequence of a diversity which can take you down the most naturally eerie of caves one second, and up the most impressive of manmade towers, the next.

Situated within and characterised by the surrounding Klang Valley, when one thinks of Malaysia - the country - it’s not disrespectful to assume they mean Kuala Lumpur, and this is forgivable considering the city’s role and responsibility within the nation.

Boasting the largest of everything, the most populous of headcounts and the most renowned of businesses across all industries, KL’s leading role has affirmed its position as an alpha world city, and the cultural, financial and economic centre of a country at the heart of Asian-Pacific development.

For the visiting business traveller, some of these wider connotations and repercussions can be lost of course, but at eye level, the significance and magnitude of the city is every bit as striking.

From the towering Petronas and Menara KL structures to the winding cultural offerings of the city’s Chinatowns and markets - and every world-renowned eatery and bar in-between - Kuala Lumpur really does have it all. And this includes the climate, infrastructure and modernity that are also ready, honed and waiting for the global elite to descend in their droves each year. 

Facts and figures

Country: Malaysia

Languages: Malay, English

Area: 243 square kilometres

Population (2015): 1.768 million

Currency: Ringgit

Time zone: UTC+8

Dialling code: +60

Internet TLD: .my

Climate: Tropical rainforest

Highest recorded temperature: 38.5 °C

Transport Links

And descend they do! As part of the appealing Asia-Pacific destination bucket list, Malaysia relies on its star attraction to greet and welcome all into the country, and it therefore has a transport array worthy of such a responsibility.

Comprising the country’s most prominent dock, airport, public transport network and rail service; no stone has been left unturned in balancing western expectations with local nuances and efficiency. But like most Asian cities, moving around under your own steam along state-of-the-art roads is arguably the best - if not the most relaxing - mode of transport.

Connecting the city to the rest of the Malaysian Peninsular, its highways might be busy but they’re extensive, and with so much to see outside of the boardroom during your limited stay, it’s perhaps advisable not to rely on timetabled methods.

That being said, it’s not to say that KL’s rail network is sub-par. In fact, it represents a work in progress that is set to enjoy a landmark overhaul by the end of 2016 which will see the opening of two light metro extension lines as well as the introduction of new train lines in and out of the Klang Valley honey pot.

A new airport rail link to the world famous Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang is also set to ease the transition from travelling to inhabiting quicker than before, and is an indictment of the general philosophy surrounding infrastructural evolution in the city.

Without harming the natural aesthetics and historical facets within the region, visitors can travel to, around and from Kuala Lumpur in more pristine, modern style than is seen in the majority of the world’s capitals.

The business end

As one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing metropolitan regions from both an economic and population perspective, its role as the all-encompassing national hub and seat of the Parliament of Malaysia inevitably brings the world’s elite to its doorstep.

Spanning key industries of manufacturing, construction, finance, retail and hospitality - to name a few - the majority of the prominent players have set up shop there; epitomised by a thriving entertainment hub  - the ‘Golden Triangle - and compounded by a hotel scene right up there with the best in the world.

Overseeing this most important of business strands ensuring the world’s business travellers are sleeping easy each night, is Shaharuddin Saaid, Executive Director of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAHO).

He says: “The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (MAHO) was established in 1998 with members comprising companies which owned three-five-star hotels in the country. The objective and vision was to be the official representative for hotel owners with the Government addressing and taking care of relevant hotel owners issues, taking care of the welfare of the hotel sector and hotel owners, as well as for networking and closer rapport.

“MAHO has progressed and achieved very much in terms of membership and contribution to the industry. Of date, membership now stands at 94 members owning a total of 211 hotels.

“Malaysia’s hospitality and tourism industry has progressed very much and made remarkable achievements over the years. Many and more highly rated hotels were built adding more and more rooms to the inventory. There are now two premier brand St. Regis hotels operating; one in Kuala Lumpur and another in Langkawi. In addition to the one in Langkawi which has been operating for a number of years, Four Seasons Place is under development in Kuala Lumpur; expected to be ready in 2017. Other luxury/premier brands will be operating soon including Banyan Tree Pavilion and Kempinski.

“Based on Ministry of Tourism and Culture data - from August, 2016 - there are now 103 five-star hotels with an aggregate room count of 35,096; 150 four-star hotels with 35,826 rooms; and 285 three-star hotels with 46,408 rooms. The total number of hotels is 1,121 with an aggregate room count of 156,020; as compared to 98,440 rooms in 1998.”

Saiid concludes: “We have a good and positive feeling on the progress and development over the past three-five years since MAHO has been actively involved; and now have the opportunity to contribute to the industry in its objectives, development, plans and direction moving ahead.”

Transport Links

And descend they do! As part of the appealing Asia-Pacific destination bucket list, Malaysia relies on its star attraction to greet and welcome all into the country, and it therefore has a transport array worthy of such a responsibility.

Comprising the country’s most prominent dock, airport, public transport network and rail service; no stone has been left unturned in balancing western expectations with local nuances and efficiency. But like most Asian cities, moving around under your own steam along state-of-the-art roads is arguably the best - if not the most relaxing - mode of transport.

Connecting the city to the rest of the Malaysian Peninsular, its highways might be busy but they’re extensive, and with so much to see outside of the boardroom during your limited stay, it’s perhaps advisable not to rely on timetabled methods.

That being said, it’s not to say that KL’s rail network is sub-par. In fact, it represents a work in progress that is set to enjoy a landmark overhaul by the end of 2016 which will see the opening of two light metro extension lines as well as the introduction of new train lines in and out of the Klang Valley honey pot.

A new airport rail link to the world famous Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang is also set to ease the transition from travelling to inhabiting quicker than before, and is an indictment of the general philosophy surrounding infrastructural evolution in the city.

Without harming the natural aesthetics and historical facets within the region, visitors can travel to, around and from Kuala Lumpur in more pristine, modern style than is seen in the majority of the world’s capitals.

The business end

As one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing metropolitan regions from both an economic and population perspective, its role as the all-encompassing national hub and seat of the Parliament of Malaysia inevitably brings the world’s elite to its doorstep.

Spanning key industries of manufacturing, construction, finance, retail and hospitality - to name a few - the majority of the prominent players have set up shop there; epitomised by a thriving entertainment hub  - the ‘Golden Triangle - and compounded by a hotel scene right up there with the best in the world.

Overseeing this most important of business strands ensuring the world’s business travellers are sleeping easy each night, is Shaharuddin Saaid, Executive Director of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAHO).

He says: “The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (MAHO) was established in 1998 with members comprising companies which owned three-five-star hotels in the country. The objective and vision was to be the official representative for hotel owners with the Government addressing and taking care of relevant hotel owners issues, taking care of the welfare of the hotel sector and hotel owners, as well as for networking and closer rapport.

“MAHO has progressed and achieved very much in terms of membership and contribution to the industry. Of date, membership now stands at 94 members owning a total of 211 hotels.

“Malaysia’s hospitality and tourism industry has progressed very much and made remarkable achievements over the years. Many and more highly rated hotels were built adding more and more rooms to the inventory. There are now two premier brand St. Regis hotels operating; one in Kuala Lumpur and another in Langkawi. In addition to the one in Langkawi which has been operating for a number of years, Four Seasons Place is under development in Kuala Lumpur; expected to be ready in 2017. Other luxury/premier brands will be operating soon including Banyan Tree Pavilion and Kempinski.

“Based on Ministry of Tourism and Culture data - from August, 2016 - there are now 103 five-star hotels with an aggregate room count of 35,096; 150 four-star hotels with 35,826 rooms; and 285 three-star hotels with 46,408 rooms. The total number of hotels is 1,121 with an aggregate room count of 156,020; as compared to 98,440 rooms in 1998.”

Saiid concludes: “We have a good and positive feeling on the progress and development over the past three-five years since MAHO has been actively involved; and now have the opportunity to contribute to the industry in its objectives, development, plans and direction moving ahead.”

Outlook recommends

“This is Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia’s sultry capital packed with historic monuments, steel-clad skyscrapers, lush parks, mega-sized shopping malls, bustling street markets and trendy nightspots.” - Lonely Planet

Corporate hospitality and travel

Putrajaya International Convention Centre

Embracing the city’s culture of hospitality better than most is Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC); a platform for executive, leisure and entertainment events to thrive in a beautiful setting and with the vision of the country’s former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a primary driving force.

Berjaya Hotel

As a core member of MAHO, Berjaya’s stunning location and exquisite interior grounds in the heart of KL makes it a relaxing haven on backdrop of exciting city life.

Comfort Taxi

Nature

Perdana Botanical Garden

Aquaria KLCC

KL Bird Park

Arts and culture

Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

National Art Gallery of Malaysia

Batu Caves

Retail

Petaling Street

Central Market

Food & Drink

Jalan Alor

The Point

Heli Lounge Bar

Landmark attractions

Petronas Towers

“The Petronas Twin Towers is an iconic landmark that merits a visit (and photo opportunity) for any first-time visitor to Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1998, the sleek structure stands at 88 storeys high and joined by a double-decker Sky Bridge that offers an exhilarating view of KL city centre and beyond. Set at the foot of Petronas Twin Towers is Suria KLCC Shopping Mall, which hosts an array of international brands, cinema, two food courts, an art gallery, restaurants, concert hall, and the massive Aquaria KLCC.” - Kuala Lumpur by Hotels.com

Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower

“Standing atop the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, the 421m-high KL Tower is one of the world's tallest structures. Officially known as Menara KL, it has been outshone by the Petronas Twin Towers but remains an important architectural marker and boasts spectacular views of the city. The viewing deck is at least 100 metres higher than the Petronas Tower’s Skybridge - to get free tickets be sure to arrive early.” - Kuala Lumpur by Hotels.com

Thean Hou Temple

“Sitting atop leafy Robson Heights, this imposing multistorey Chinese temple, dedicated to Thean Hou, the heavenly queen, affords wonderful views over Kuala Lumpur. There are great views from the temple's upper decks where you can get close-up views of the mosaic dragons and phoenixes adorning the eaves.” - Lonely Planet

Merdeka Square

Located in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Merdeka Square literally translates as Independence Square and is host to the annual National Day Parade in the centre of the city. While the square itself is nothing spectacular - in fact, still largely reminiscent of its former guise as a cricket pitch - it also acts as the landmark and meeting place from which most of the city centre’s star attractions and activities emanate.

The main events

Chinese New Year

“The Chinese New Year is the most important ethnic festival for the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the whole of Malaysia. It celebrates the first day of the lunar calendar, and lasts for 15 days. The prelude to the festival is filled with much fan-fare, shopping and events around the city.” - Kuala Lumpur by Hotels.com

Date: January-February, 2017

1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival

“After having been ranked by CNN as world’s fourth-best shopping destination, Kuala Lumpur is finally on the world shopping map, right after big metropolitan cities such as New York, Tokyo and London. Recognising this, the Malaysian Tourism Board has decided to step it up a notch by organising countrywide sales twice a year. The end of the first half of the year sees the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival.” - Kuala Lumpur by Hotels.com

Date: June-August, 2017

Hari Merdeka

Malaysia’s National Day signifies the most important date in the country’s history, in remembrance of its independence back in 1957. Poignancy and celebration unite as a consequence with a “riot of colours” complemented by the best in national entertainment and concerts to mark the occasion.

Date: 31 August

Malaysian F1 Grand Prix 2017

Aptly, with the might of Petronas behind the event, Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit instantly became one of the most popular races on the Formula One circuit upon its inception in the 1990s. For the drivers, it is one of the most technical circuits of the season, and for the fans, it makes for a fantastic spectacle too. For those lucky enough to be watching it in the flesh as opposed to their TV screens, the distinct atmosphere around the circuit makes it one of the biggest lures in the annual calendar.

Date: 15-17 September, 2017

Website: https://www.grandprixevents.com/f1-races/malaysia