For me, the best place to live in Asia was Kuala Lumpur. That was very unexpected for me, while I’ve read a lot of articles where bloggers describe Kuala Lumpur as a place without a soul. I had a different experience, and I’ll try to share it with you in this article.
If you’re looking for practical advice, check out this article. There you will find information about accommodation, food and transport I used in Kuala Lumpur. But if you want to know why I loved this place and consider Kuala Lumpur as the best place to live in Asia, continue reading.
What I knew about KL before I visited it
KL is a popular visa-run destination among digital nomads who live long term in Bali. Many people don’t even go out to the city, just get their stamps at the passport control, wait at the airport and return back to the Island of Gods.
In autumn 2019, I also lived in Bali and needed to do visa runs. My first one was to Bangkok, and for the second one, I decided to visit Kuala Lumpur. Most of my friends advised me not to go there for long. In their opinions, two days had to be more than enough. The first day to see Batu caves and Petronas Towers, the second day for shopping, and that’s it. But I know myself. It often appears that I like places other people consider boring.
Best place to live in Asia could be different for different people
For example, I loved Siem Reap in Cambodia. My friends considered this place worth three days’ visit only – to see Angkor Wat and take a picture with the tree on the ruins from Tomb Raider movie. My wife and I stayed in Siem Reap one month in February – March 2020. On our last day, we were walking at the bank of the river, saying that this place is magical and we can imagine ourselves living here for much longer.
And the next day we were declined to enter Vietnam and had to stay in Siem Reap for five more months. Even though in terms of infrastructure and weather during the rainy season, Siem Reap is not the best place to live in Asia. However, I truly enjoyed every single day there.
What to expect from Kuala Lumpur
It was a similar situation with Kuala Lumpur. Of course, my friends’ words influenced me. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular from KL and decided to stay there for only five days. Today I regret this decision. I had to pack my bags and go there for a full month! I fell in love with KL and planned to come back in April 2020. But if you’re not from another planet, you know why I couldn’t make it. I didn’t come back, and KL has its place in my heart. This place is half empty now, and I hope that soon I will be able to fill it in.
If it’s not the first article you’re reading about KL, it sounds a bit crazy for you, right? What was this guy doing that was so awesome that five days were not enough? To say honestly, it was not about doing anything, it was about the way I felt in Kuala Lumpur.
Why KL was the Best place to live in Asia for me
Maybe the main reason why I consider Kuala Lumpur as the best place to live in Asia, even though I spent only five days in KL, is that I didn’t feel there like a tourist. I lived in KL. And that’s the secret of why I enjoyed it so much.
Even though it was the rainy season, KL was the most comfortable city for me. Kuala Lumpur didn’t take away my energy when I was walking around the streets, as often happened in Bali, where the only place you can walk is the beach. It didn’t attack my senses with too strong smells and sounds as Bangkok. And it didn’t empty my wallet, like Singapore.
Talking about a wallet, one more thing I appreciated was the attitude of the locals. I wasn’t considered by KL sellers and taxi drivers to be a money bag, as it was in Bali, Thailand and Cambodia. That’s a small thing considering the modest prices in these countries but made me feel good when I didn’t have to bargain for every service or good I ordered.
Casual life in Kuala Lumpur
I was spending my time in KL in a very casual way. Every day after breakfast on the rooftop we took a taxi to the city center. For several hours we nestled in Starbucks with laptops and surprisingly cheap coffee. After work, we spent time in the same way we would in Bratislava.
City parks in KL
The first day we went for a walk to the park. I found a spot for a Jurassic Park style photoshoot. I would have spent more time there, but mosquitoes almost ate my wife, and we had to go.
I had only a few bite marks, but my wife has some superpower to attract all kinds of biting insects. Usually, a person like that would always have a repellent in their pocket. But not my wife. She generously fed hungry mosquitoes with her blood, and then we had to run away from the park, while her legs were already blue and red after all those bites.
Pavilion Shopping Mall
Next days were rainy, and we spent evenings in the Pavilion Shopping Mall. I found a shop with collectibles and bought figures of Punisher and Ra’s al Ghul from Batman. I described my toy hunt in KL, what figures I saw there and what the prices were in this article. Another day we went to the Marvel exhibition, and the last evening we spent in the cinema watching the Joker movie.
My favourite bistro in KL
Every day we went for dinner to the same place – a small vegetarian bistro near D’Majestic suites. The atmosphere of the place reminded me of the feeling I had when I was watching Miyazaki movies.
Here I learned how to use chopsticks together with a spoon for noodle soup, and that Chinese waffles’ taste reminds me a lot of the Slovakian “oblatky” we eat on Christmas. The owner looked exactly like the ladies from the Miyazaki universe. She had a kind, ageless face framed with silver hair. And the waitress reminded me of the Malaysian cousin of Max from Two Broke Girls! She had the same mannerisms and gesticulation, same energy and smile. She didn’t speak English, but last evening when we came for dinner, she came to us and said: “You are my favourite customers!”
Amazing city view from the rooftop
Our days always ended in the same way – workout at the rooftop gym, enjoying the night city view and then a short swim in the infinity pool.
long-term traveler vs. tourist
This simple routine and places where I was a regular customer strengthened the feeling of being home in Kuala Lumpur. As a tourist, I was always hurrying, trying to experience as much as I could, see, taste and try everything in a limited time. But being a long-term traveler, I don’t have this pressure.
I’m not searching for extraordinary experiences anymore. Now I understand that there is no way to plan real-life adventures. And I’m not searching for the “special vibe” or “the soul” of the city. Now I’m not trying to absorb the surroundings with all my senses, but observing myself as a part of its ecosystem.
What I’m looking for when I travel
Now I’m focusing on how the place influences me, how I feel walking in its streets, doing simple things like shopping, working and relaxing. I’m mentioning the difference of the pain in my legs from walking around the different landscapes and surfaces. And now I know that in some places I’m wearing an old t-shirt and don’t shave all week, while in others if I have a small spot on my boot, I feel slovenly. Or in one place I can’t stand a day without workout, while in others without a can of beer.
It is similar to friendship. Same as how close people influence us, different cities have a different impact on the way we live. And sometimes we like more what we see in the mirror, and sometimes less.
the best place to live in asia
Kuala Lumpur supported the part of me I like, offered me maximum comfort for work and urban style relaxation. If I had to choose a place to settle down, and it had to be in Asia, without any doubts I would become a citizen of Kuala Lumpur.