Extreme sports may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about urban life. But Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL), offers a wide array of thrilling opportunities.
Arguably, the most terrifying is base jumping in the heart of the city. Not for the fainthearted, this involves jumping off the 1,099-feet (335m) high dome of the KL Tower armed with a wingsuit or parachute, making for an incomparable way to see the city. Be warned that this is only available to experienced base jumpers.
Aquaria KL also offers the opportunity to swim with sharks and other marine life in its 60,000-square-foot aquarium. Those with diving certificates can opt for the full diving package, while those without can sample the Cage Rage option.
If all this sounds too much for you, let sisters Atiqah and Izzati Khairudin, Malaysia’s first female balloon pilots, take you on a memorable cruise of the skies above Putrajaya. Following in the footsteps of their father who was the first Malaysian balloon pilot, the sisters run MyBalloon Adventure, offering flights all year round.
“Ballooning is something that you go with the flow with, you don’t have much control, but nevertheless it’s one of the calmest things you can do,” Izzati told the Malaysian Digest.
The siblings have also expanded to Desa Park City with the annual MyBalloon Fiesta, a festival of hot air ballooning open to the public.
Beyond city limits
Rock climbing is another popular activity with KLites, which can be enjoyed in the safety of shopping malls, like One Utama’s Camp5, Asia’s largest indoor climbing gym.
Or you can take a short drive out of the city to experience the real thing. A good choice is around Batu Caves, more famous for its impressive Sri Murugan temple sporting 272 steps recently painted in rainbow colours. The prehistoric limestone caves that are the setting to the temple also deliver opportunities for crag climbing and spelunking in the Dark Caves.
“I think the best place to start climbing outdoors is Gua Damai at Batu Caves,” Jaysooria Pusparajasekeran, an avid rock climber, says.
“It’s easy to get to, has ample parking, public toilets, and the climbs are very beginner-friendly. You can really hone your climbing skills there,” Jaysooria shares.
More advanced climbs are also available at Batu Caves with the Nyamuk Wall and Nanyang Wall. For a bigger challenge, head to Bukit Takun in Templer Park, Rawang, a favourite of architect and rock climber, Areef Salimi.
"The wall teaches you to stay calm and overcome fear. It also teaches you to trust – trust yourself, trust your gear, and trust your belay partner. If you have trust issues, climbing is not for you,” Areef jokes.
Should rock climbing prove a step too far, the hiking opportunities just outside KL are phenomenal. A mere 15-minute drive from Batu Caves, Bukit Tabur is part of the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, the longest and oldest quartz ridge in the world. Its 1,000m-above-sea-level ridges (3,300 ft.), popularly known as the Dragon’s Back, attract hikers from all over and can be done in half a day.
The west ridge is longer but easier to hike, while the east is for more experienced hikers with stamina and a strong stomach due to some narrow trails and steep cliffsides. Proper equipment – like shoes with good grip and torches – are essential to climb Tabur, as accidents are not uncommon.
“Its rugged terrain, razor-shaped rocks and vertical drops are unforgiving. All it takes is a slip and you could tumble like a rag doll into the ravine,” K.M. Leo, a regular hiker, told the Star.
Whether you are looking for a thrill, lush nature or to simply stretch your muscles in an unbeatable setting, KL may surprise you.