One of my favourite things about going out at night when travelling is discovering those uber-vibey nightlife districts, full of tiny little atmospheric bars and cafes spilling out on the road… there’s always one of these in most cities – whether it’s Beirut, Istanbul, or Hong Kong. You just can’t beat the intimate charm of these places, and the experience of walking from one bar to another, stumbling upon amazing new places, trying out new flavours is unbeatable.
While I found a lot of Kuala Lumpur quite uninspiring (other Asian capitals seem to have a lot more vibrancy), I did love Changkat Bukit Bintang. A small side street off the urban shopping area that is Bukit Bintang, Changkat is home to a variety of bars and restaurants, from funky Japanese to Cuban and everything in between (literally. Daikanyama (Japanese) and Havana are at two ends of the street!).
Luckily for me, during my trip to Malaysia, two of my friends happened to be holidaying in KL that same week – perfect! We’d meet up most evenings at Changkat, and worked our way through quite a few of the establishments. There was the elegant Whisky bar with a range of malts on offer; the bar with ‘ladies night’ where we were hustled in, only to be served the world’s most un-authentic Mojito; the Thai restaurant; gourmet French at the inappropriately named Frangipani; and the ubiquitous Irish pub. There was a karaoke bar I had my eye on, but we never made it in there.
Where we did end up spending a lot of time – and Malaysian ringets – were the aforementioned Japanese and Cuban. They were my absolute favourites. Daikanyama is a quirky bar with an underground metro rail-themed menu, an innovative cocktail menu (Japanese silk stockings or Pink geisha, anyone?), and the best garlic pork skewers EVER! While this is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall sort of place that is easy to miss unless you have the inside track, Havana is a flagship bar housed in a colonial-style building that sits proudly at the top of the street – with a wide range of rare rums on the menu and quirkiness in the decor (think: retro art on the walls, old-fashioned ceiling fans, and a very cool vintage washbasin in the bathroom). The outdoor pub garden style setting is perfect for chilling out, while the restaurant inside serves up Cajun-style food. With its stylish yet laid-back vibe, this is one place I’d go back to in a heartbeat. And having been to Cuba since, I can honestly say, it does recreate the Havana vibes quite well!
This post features stock images.