What once was a sleepy Chinese tin-mining village is now a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis with a pounding pulse. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or simply KL, is a true gem of a city yet to be fully discovered by most mainstream world travelers. To compensate for its brief history (founded only in 1857), Malaysia’s capital city has a wealth of cultures mainly comprised of Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and Malays. Kuala Lumpur is a blend of older colonial and modern architecture and mores, combining Asian and Islamic influences in most aspects of traditional daily life.

Kuala Lumpur’s fervent urban landscape is met by a series of lush and serene parks. For every trait of a modern, vivacious city, such as its electric nightlife and sophisticated museums, there are tranquil things, like Lake Gardens and the natural Batu Caves to balance it out. Bangsar is the restaurant and entertainment district, with trendy fusion eateries and late-night bars and clubs. The Golden Triangle is where the city’s finest hotels and shopping malls are found (check out Bukit Bingtang). Here local and foreign goods are available in every price bracket, but are considerably cheaper than in most American and European cities. Located just north is Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the traditional shopping district and location of the city’s main festivals. Kuala Lumpur is a multi-faceted city that offers an eclectic, strictly Malaysian experience to travelers looking for something a little different.

Though Kuala Lumpur is home to some of the most inexpensive five-star hotels and spas in the world, a serious dose of R&R is not all the city has to offer. The two most popular pastimes of both tourists and locals here are also two of the most essential experiences a traveler can take on while spending time in a foreign country: eating and shopping.  From street food stalls and coffee shops, to indoor food courts and high-end restaurants, finding a mouth-watering Malaysian (or Indian, or Chinese or Korean) meal is never a struggle in Kuala Lumpur. Whether in Chinatown, Little India or Kampung Baru, the colorful atmosphere and intoxicating cuisine will only leave you hungry for more.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) is the region’s main hub for domestic and international flights. Though located 50 kilometers away in the suburb of Selangor, KLIA is widely used for the city and surrounding areas, serving over 50 different airline carriers. The city has an extensive rail network which includes light rail and monorail transportation. Fares are inexpensive and tickets or Touch ‘n Go cards can be purchased at all major train stations. There are also buses and taxis driving throughout Kuala Lumpur, but while they might seem like an easy choice for transportation, the traffic in the city can become overwhelming. Many parts of the city are quite walkable, with walking tours available as well as easy-to-read street signs and maps.

Characterized as having a humid, tropical climate, Kuala Lumpur weather remains fairly hot all year, with ample amounts of rainfall. With temperatures mostly unchanged throughout the seasons, the city maintains an average high temperature of around 90° F (32.3° C) and low of 74° F (23.2° C). The months of June and July have the least amount of rainfall, leaving the other 10 months with an average 7 to 10 inches of rainfall each month (the worst month being November). Though temperatures can get extremely hot and humid, these two summer months are the best for traveling.