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  • Last Updated: 25th July 2013

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Kuala Lumpur - Lifestyle & Culture

In recent years, Kuala Lumpur has made great strides in adding a cultural element to its downtown package of shops, spas and bars. Its National Theatre's programme of local and touring productions is always worth checking out, as is the KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) to the north of the city.

The National Planetarium is great for a rainy day (there are many in KL!) and offers an accessible, multi-lingual voyage of the heavens. Located in Lake Gardens and surrounded by the National Mosque, National Museum and the Bird Park, this state-of-the-art complex is KL's way of showing the world how technically advanced and forward looking a society it is.

The National Museum itself, next to the entrance of the lake gardens, is housed in a fragile-looking old Malay mansion and is the first place to call if you're interested in getting some - rare - context to KL's history and a glimpse of Malay culture.

Masjid Jamek is the oldest of the city's many mosques - all of which can be visited if you're suitably attired - with attractive, gold leaf covered domes and cool, arcaded colonnades.

More impressive still, the gleaming copper domes and the 130 metre clock tower of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is a Moorish masterpiece, with influences ranging from British neoclassical to Moghul flourishes. The building forms the natural focal point of the city's Independence Square and is wonderfully illuminated at night.

For culture of a different hue, Chinatown is hard to beat. This thrift-lover's hunting ground is awash with great shopping, vibrant street life and oriental temples, especially clustered around Petaling Street.

Nightlife is vibrant and eclectic in Kuala Lumpur. The Golden Triangle is the centre of the action - with the clubs of Jalan P. Ramlee the clubbing zone. Bukit Bintang's shooters bars, karaoke joints and happy hours might not be the most authentic Malay experience, but they're great fun. As are the side streets of Bangsar, alive with bars and clubs until the early hours.

For a touch more style the Heritage Row, in Tuanku Abdul Rahman, is a chi-chi enclave of trendy cocktail bars, upscale clubs and late-night cabaret.