Live like a local in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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By: Adam Lauer / Noe Rios

Experiencing new places, people, and things are some of life's most beautiful gifts, but sometimes knowing where to go and what to do can be a little overwhelming.

Insert: Adam and Noe, two "digital nomads" traveling and exploring a new city every month for the next year. Last month we started our "Remote Year" journey in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Like most travelers, we Googled "top things to do," and found ourselves living like total tourists. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's so much more to do and see. We want to share our experiences because everyone should enjoy these cool spots just as much as we did.

Live like a local in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Here's a list of the "top things to do" you'll come across in almost every travel post online; and below that you'll find our "how to live like a local" recommendations:

  1. Petronas Towers
  2. Batu Caves
  3. KL Tower
  4. Petaling Street Market
  5. Sunway Lagoon
  6. Aquaria KLCC
  7. Bukit Bintang
  8. Islamic Arts Museum
  9. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
  10. National Mosque of Malaysia

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How to live like a local in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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How to live like a local in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Coffee Shops
If you’re like us, you’ll need a great cup of coffee and free wifi to start your day.  Don’t worry, there’s no shortage of hipster cafes in Kuala Lumpur.  A few of our favorite spots are Feeka, where the baristas remember your order, and Lepaq Lepaq, where a cloud of cotton candy slowly melts into your cup to sweeten your brew.  Check out Best Cafe’s for Remote Work in Kuala Lumpur for a full rundown.
KLCC Park
At the base of the famous Petronas Towers (an obvious must-see in KL) you’ll find the KLCC Park.  Bring some snacks and drinks and just absorb the local energy.  There’s a water show, a tiny rainforest, and a fountain you can dip your feet in. 
Authentic Malaysian Food
Lot10Hutong, or as we called it, “The Dungeon” because of its underground location, is pretty much the Epcot of Malaysian comfort food. It. Has. Everything.
Chin Student Organisation
Vacationing is typically about seeing the pretty things, but if you really want to experience life in Kuala Lumpur, learn a bit more about the Chin Refugee crisis.  The Chin Student Organisation offers an opportunity to teach the "forgotten children" of Myanmar.  Sparing just a couple hours of your time to help can be a super rewarding experience for both you and the children.
Two Blocks Off the Strip
Bukit Bintang, known for its shopping, bars, and restaurants, is a total tourist trap and complete mess. If you venture just two blocks off the main entertainment district, Changkat Bukit Bintang, in any direction, you’ll find incredible, authentic local restaurants and bars that are way more chill, and definitely worth your time.
Nightlife
Kuala Lumpur really comes alive at night -- there’s no shortage of bars and clubs.  If you’re looking for an epic, Vegas-style night of clubbing, try Zouk.  You’ll pay a cover, but it comes with a complimentary beverage. For a more laid-back rooftop vibe, try Negaba KL’s rooftop Mojito Bar; or for the most fabulous drag cabaret in KL, head to Blue Boy Discotheque.
Street Food
Don’t be a wuss, try the street food. Jalan Alor is filled with incredible grub (we’re partial to the satay), but you can really find great street food anywhere in KL. Don’t be put off by the smells that you’re not used to; even the stingray is pretty damn tasty.
Hop to Spot
In KL for an extended trip? Hit the beach for the weekend. The Perhentian Islands are the place to go. Be ready to go offline and enjoy pristine beaches, crystal waters, and nighttime dance parties in this relatively undiscovered paradise.  You can go luxe and stay at the Bubu Resort on Long Beach, or you can rough it a bit and camp on the Coral Beach.
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