Asia / Malaysia / My Epic Round the World Trip / Reflections

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): Why Not All Destinations Turn Out Great

I wanted to love Kuala Lumpur in the same way that Penang had stolen my heart; after all, they were both in Malaysia, so surely they must have the same vibe and be pretty similar. It wasn’t the case, and for the first time in my travels, I left a destination feeling disillusioned. But what had it been about this city that I hadn’t liked, and why did I feel uncomfortable to say I disliked it?

Was it because other travel bloggers showcased photographs depicting it as a fabulous place to visit and spoke of its merits? How many of its layers had they had to uncover to reveal its attraction when I felt my encounter was of a city that had lost its identity and soul. Back home, when asked how I had enjoyed it, I wanted to shout out it was terrific but instead told the eager listener that it had been the one place on my epic round the world trip that I hadn’t liked.

I wanted to encounter the indigenous Malaysian locals that I had found so friendly in Penang, but where were they all? Kuala Lumpur seemed to be a melting pot for others who had chosen this capital city as their home and in doing so had changed its cultural role.

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Is it OK to not love a destination?

I don’t want to offend any residents of Kuala Lumpur as I am sure there is a different side to the city which maybe I didn’t see but right now it isn’t on my “must go to” list of places. I have seen the backlash bloggers receive on social media if they turn against public opinion and admit to disliking a destination but isn’t it the duty of a writer to speak from the heart and not sugar-coat information to please the reader? Are we not all entitled to our own opinions and freedom of speech?

I found that the markets sold counterfeit and plastic souvenirs and stallholders were rude and dismissive—a far cry from the friendly artisan sellers in Penang. At night as we strolled around the markets, it felt far less safe than the other cities we had visited.

Shadows lurked in doorways while business was conducted and intoxicated men swayed along the pavements and stared at me in a manner that would make even the bravest woman uncomfortable. Was it just me being hypervigilant and noticing things that others had not?

Woman Standing in Front of the Petronas Towers

Should I give it a second chance?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed visiting the Batu Caves and soaring high inside the iconic Petronas Towers. I enjoyed eating the delicious local food and swimming in my rooftop pool at The Face Suites but for some reason that still didn’t make me warm to the city. Was it down to the fact that this was my last stop after a round-the-world-trip? Was I tired and not ready to try too hard to uncover the city’s deeper qualities?

woman in a rooftop pool

My solution to this dilemma is to return to Kuala Lumpur one day. I want to give it a second chance and be able to walk away with a new-found affection for the city.

I will search to find the street art that pops up frequently on Instagram; and I will walk back up the multi-coloured steps of the Batu caves, which were grey and unpainted when I visited. Malaysia’s national palace, Istana Negara will teach me about the country’s royal history, and I will skip through the butterfly park without a care in the world.

Still, for now, I only have memories of how it was on my first visit. Kuala Lumpur I want to love you, and I hope one day I will!

Is there a destination that you have disliked? Have you been honest and told people about your feelings towards it? I would love to hear your comments on this subject.

Read About Somewhere I Loved in Malaysia:

George Town in Penang
About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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1 year ago

Hi Angie,
Loved reading your views on KL and I have to agree with you that honesty is the best policy. If you didn’t like a place for good reasons it is relevant to publish it. Many others visiting may have the same views and agree. Others may be pre-warned. Others may disagree and love it but all views are relevant. Throw them all together and we get a balanced view of the place. I have been to a couple of places that I have thought ” ok, seen it, but have no desire to return”, they just didn’t captivate me …. and I say it in my post (luckily not too many disappointed me though!). I did like KL but my experience was different to yours and if the same had happened to me (despite being a bloke) I would not have appreciated it either. Well done on a great read . Looking forward to reading more of your visits.

Reply to  Barry
1 year ago

I’m glad you appreciate my honesty in this post. I feel that as a travel blogger my posts should be authentic because at the end of the day when you have travelled to 50+ countries you can’t love them all. Thanks for subscribing, I hope you enjoy my monthly newsletter.

2 years ago


Honesty is always best, and I think your desire to give it a second chance another time is more than admirable. I know I wouldn’t want to go back to anywhere I didn’t really warm too, or feel totally safe. I have so far liked everywhere I have been, but we don’t all have the same tastes, and honesty from a travel blogger is important. So cheers.

Reply to  Merielle
2 years ago

Thank you Merielle. I appreciate your comment. It is hard to write about something you don’t like but it is no good sugar coating the raw facts. I am sure if I ever return I will see a different side to KL – or at least I hope I will!

2 years ago

Hi Angie.
I like your honesty without just putting a total downer on a place without any good reasons behind it.

Reply to  Donny
2 years ago

Thanks for reaching out and understanding. It is hard to say that you don’t like somewhere but we can’t like everywhere, can we.

Nic Peters
Nic Peters
2 years ago

Hi Angie! I love the truth behind this post and as you say I would much rather hear your personal point of view as opposed to sugar coating it all.

I would have expected that as Penang is only a few hours drive from KL that the hustle and bustle of the city would be very much the same but it is interesting to hear how much a city can vary from others so close by.

I have been in a threatening situation previously on my travels and wouldn’t want to wish this on anyone, so I completely understand why you would feel threatened by those men, there’s something about being so far from home that really does amplify the danger others pose to me and alarm bells start ringing very early on!

I will be interested to visit KL myself and hope I am able to find some great things that maybe you yourself might consider it worth going back for! Another great post Angie 😁

Reply to  Nic Peters
2 years ago

I really appreciate that you have taken the time to respond to my post. It is good to know that my honesty is seen as a positive and not a negative. I am sure you will find the treasures of KL that others have talked about if you ever get there

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