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A tour of the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur

What's it like standing 1,230 feet above Malaysia? Here's a tour of the Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur.

Geoffrey Morrison Contributor
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
4 min read
Geoffrey Morrison

The iconic Petronas Towers dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline, becoming, as many great buildings do, a symbol of the city.

On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, I was able to get tickets up to the top (not a given as they do sell out).

Metal and glass and a bridge, after the jump.

A tour of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur (Pictures)

See all photos

I didn't know what to expect when I got to Kuala Lumpur. It's a city I'd heard of, but not one I knew much about. For one thing, it's hot. Even at the end of February, it was an oppressive 95 degrees with, I'm not sure, is it possible to have 9,000% humidity?

There's a business to the city, perhaps not as rushed and hectic as Hong Kong, but like most big cities, there's an undeniable feeling of people doing things.

Construction was what many were doing, and that's probably KL's biggest story. There's construction everywhere. KL is growing. Rapidly.

You buy tickets for a certain time, and you only get a limited amount at the top (about 15 minutes). This is disappointing, as I would have liked to have just chilled up there for a bit. It's not a big space, the viewing area, so a regimented schedule makes sense, I guess.

Geoffrey Morrison

You start, however, in the basement. No bags allowed. You surrender them as you pass though security. Then the coolness begins: a safety briefing on smoke. Not about smoke mind you, but projected onto smoke. Well, a vapor anyway. It's a clever use for a screen (there are some pictures in the gallery), and reminds me of the captain's cabin in SeaQuest DSV.

Then you're squished into the elevator. There are no windows. Instead, big vertical flat panels give you a video of what it would look like if there were windows. Cheeky, that.

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The first stop is the bridge between the twin towers. I was equally excited to see this bridge, one of the Tower's defining features. I have a thing for interstitial spaces like this. The view was great. Even though you're not that high (41st floor), peering out past the towers themselves plus the feeling that there's nothing below you for hundreds of feet, makes for a cool space.

Then after a few minutes you're herded back into the elevators for the ascent up to the top.

The viewing floor is on 86, and already the size of the tower has shrunk from its base. It's barely larger than your average sized house. The views, of course, are better. It's not entirely open, so you can't walk around the windows for 360 degrees, but you can see out each side. The city stretches out in all directions.

Then, after all too brief of a time, you're corralled back into the elevators for the decent back to Earth.

Check out the gallery for all the pictures and more details about the Towers.

A note about height
I'm a bit of a building nerd, and when the Petronas Towers took the "tallest building" crown from the formerly-called Sears Tower, I scoffed. Petronas has 88 floors. The Sears Willis Tower has 108, the World Trade Center had two more. Because the pointy bits at the top of Petronas aren't antennas -- instead, they're integral to the design -- the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (yes, there's a group that regulates these things), says the Petronas towers are taller. Harumph. Still, they're really tall and way cooler looking than the black Lego bricks of the Wills.

Of course, this is all moot as the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors and is more than a half-mile tall.

If you're in the area...
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city, and definitely a rapidly growing one. As you'll see in one of the slides, there are plans for several other very tall buildings in the area around the Petronas Towers. I found nearby Singapore to be more interesting, honestly, but since they're so close, you could certainly do both on the same trip.

As well as covering audio and display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips and more.

Also check out Budget Travel for Dummies, his travel book, and his bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines. You can follow him on Instagram and YouTube