Why should you work remotely in Kuala Lumpur? Think: a unique collision of cultures, a vibrant culinary scene, and proximity to natural rainforests.
Kuala Lumpur is a diamond in the rough. As Asian cities go, it is one of the lesser-known gems for remote workers, often overlooked for more Insta-ready destinations like Bali, Indonesia and oceanside cities in Thailand.
Kuala Lumpur is a city that was meant to be explored. It is home to hole-in-the-wall restaurants that rival your favorite 5-star spots, with a mix of mouth watering cuisines that can’t be distilled into one overarching category. Its iconic skyline sets the stage for an urban experience, while its neighboring rainforests offer you an opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
This is a city you won’t want to leave off your must-see list as a remote worker. Just take it from one member of Remote Year Kublai, who said, “Kuala Lumpur is one of the most diverse cities in the world where cultures, traditions and cuisines overlap to create a perfect cocktail. Be prepared for this ride because it's not for the faint-hearted."
It is impossible to talk about Kuala Lumpur without mentioning its unbelievable makeup of people from across the globe. This so-called gateway between the East and West is primarily home to three main nationalities: people who identify as Malay, Chinese, and Indian. However, this city is a veritable melting pot of professionals, with remote workers from around the world creating their own community within the city limits. You’ll find that, in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll feel as though you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, a movement toward flexibility and global understanding. Take time between your professional projects to really get a feel for the way cultures collide in KL. Explore its temples, take part in local festivals and celebrations, and strike up a conversation with someone new in the coworking space. You never know what stories someone has to tell.
Brett Mueller, a Remote Year Yugen participant said, “Spend some time in Kuala Lumpur. I know it's tempting to go on a bunch of side trips but the combination of different cultures you will find in KL is an experience like no other.”
If there’s one thing we know about Kuala Lumpur, it’s that you’ll never run out of options for mind blowing meals. That cultural melting pot that we mentioned earlier is most evident in the plethora of cuisines available in the city. Imagine heading out to a local market to grab lok-lok (a phrase that can reference anything on a stick, from protein, to vegetables to tofu or seafood balls, with spicy or salty sauces), or a local restaurant for char kuey teow (a noodle stir fry with bean sprouts and chicken, seafood or pork) or roti canai (an Indian flatbread served with lentil gravy, curry and sambal). Our mouths are watering just thinking of the delectable aromas that drift throughout the city at all times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wandering into an eatery because you were drawn in by the smell - you likely won’t be disappointed.
Kuala Lumpur is a haven for the remote workers out there who are more likely to choose natural wonders over the manmade variety. Take advantage of great connectivity and accessibility within the city, then head out of the metropolis to explore some of Malaysia’s stunningly beautiful natural wonders. You won’t have to go very far - Kuala Lumpur is just a 40-minute drive from Forest Research Institute Malaysia, a preserved rainforest home to monkeys, lizards, and a canopy walkway that will take you through the forest’s tallest trees.
If you’re looking for even more immersive experiences, Kuala Lumpur offers easy access to places like Langkawi where you can island hop on a jet-ski, and Sandakan, where you can witness orangutans, sea turtles, rhinos, and elephants in their natural habitats.
A member of Remote Year Meraki said, “This month was my introduction to Asia so from a cultural standpoint this is one of the biggest “culture-shock” months for me. I’ve learned a lot about the local customs, food, mannerisms, etc. Kuala Lumpur has been a great city to ease my way into this continent.”
The end of a month long fast is something to celebrate, and the city of Kuala Lumpur does it right. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city when Ramadan ends, you’ll be able to join in the wildly colorful festivities, chowing down on much-loved foods such as chicken satay, beef rendang, curry chicken, ketupat, and more. The streets will be filled with eye-catching decorations, lit by hanging lanterns to celebrate a city that has pushed the limits of their discipline for the past month. As a visiting remote worker, this will be an experience that you’ll never forget. If possible, do as the residents of Kuala Lumpur do, and organize a get together with friends and family for the holiday. This is a time to come together, celebrate, and, most of all, feast.
If you thought Hari Raya was magnificent, wait until you see what the city does for Diwali, the Festival of Lights. It’s a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, light over dark, so the city decks itself out in colorful lights and lanterns during Diwali. During Diwali, Hindus rise early in the mornings and take an herbal bath that is meant to cleanse them of their sins. To fully immerse yourself in the Diwali tradition, follow these steps, then visit a Temple to experience the rituals and and acts of worship.
As you’re wandering the city during this time, perhaps over a lunch break from work or an early morning jaunt, you’ll notice that homes and malls are decorated with “kolam”, intricate, temporary floor designs made out of dyed rice and colorful powders. Other Diwali practices that you may experience as a remote worker in Malaysia include attending fireworks displays and setting off small firecrackers, giving children gifts of money enclosed in purple or yellow packages, and eating an abundance of sweet and savory foods and sharing them with neighbors.
Kuala Lumpur is featured on many Remote Year itineraries because of its clash of cultures, rising status in the remote work world, and its unrivaled cuisine. Want to know which upcoming programs will be living and working in Kuala Lumpur over the next year? Check out our list of available itineraries here.