Jun 17 2011

Tengkat Tong Shin: Kuala Lumpur’s best hub for independent travellers

Published by at 6:00 am under Accommodation


For a city that sees as many young independent travellers as Kuala Lumpur, it is peculiar how few services have sprung up to serve their needs. Compare the situation with Bangkok say, which has a whole travel industry centred on backpackers, and more recently flashpackers too. While KL might not want the fully fledged Khao San Road experience, it could certainly do with more businesses catering towards independent visitors.

Follow the arrow to some great guesthouses and hotels.

A big step in the right direction has been the growth of Tengkat Tong Shin, in Bukit Bintang, as KL’s first real traveller accommodation hub. Though still low-key compared to the likes of Khao San, Tengkat and neighbouring streets now boast dozens of guesthouses, from old-style cheapies through to charming flashpacker digs. This is great, as far as it goes, but the area still lacks ancillary services, such as secondhand book shops and cafes, specifically aimed at independent travellers.

If you like art deco, you'll love Tengkat.

Tengkat started life as an upmarket street, whose main inhabitants were wealthy Chinese families. As such, it was heavily targeted by Malay mobs in the May 1969 violence, in their campaign of murder, rape and arson. The area went through a long downward spiral after 1969, and became distinctly seedy. The lifting of rent controls a decade ago breathed new life into the area, although Tengkat has yet to rid itself completely of its reputation as a red light district.

A window on both the good and bad times.

One of the most pleasing aspects of Tengkat’s transformation is how many of its beautiful colonial era buildings have been turned into guesthouses, hotels and restaurants. The normal pattern of development in KL is to bulldoze every trace of history, and then build another concrete monstrosity. While sympathetic restoration is a rarity in the city, it has become the norm on and around Tengkat.

The flashpacker pioneer.

Number Eight Guesthouse is credited with being the first of a new breed of more comfortable and tasteful accommodation for independent travellers in the area. Though the rooms may be a little overpriced these days, the communal areas are spacious and pleasant. Several other recommended places now compete for the same market, such as the quirkily designed Tropical Guesthouse and the well-run Anjun KL Guesthouse.

Sheer class, in the heart of KL.

The area also has some good new midrange options, like the restored Hotel Rae, and the funky, modern YY38 Hotel. Last, and definitely not least, Tengkat boasts the city’s best boutique hotel, the comfortable and classy Anggun. The latter encapsulates how the area has been transformed from red light to highlight, in the space of a few years.

Number Eight Guesthouse
8 & 10 Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2144 2050
www.numbereight.com.my

Tropical Guesthouse
2 Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2141 1168
www.tropicalguesthousekl.com

Anjung KL Guesthouse
4 Tengkat Tong shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 6812
www.anjungkl.com

Hotel Rae
42, 44 & 46 Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 1770
www.hotelrae.com

YY38 Hotel
33 Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 8838
www.yy38hotel.com.my

Anggun Boutique Hotel
7 & 9 Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2145 8003
www.anggunkl.com

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2 Responses to “Tengkat Tong Shin: Kuala Lumpur’s best hub for independent travellers” ...

  1. James Butleron 17 Jun 2011 at 7:44 am

    Nice article, thanks. Any info on how to find the place?

  2. Paton 18 Jun 2011 at 6:33 am

    Sorry, should have thought about that. Tengkat is in the heart of Bukit Bintang, running parallel to Jalan Alor and Jalan Bukit Bintang, and perpendicular to Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Tong Shin. Taxis (all of whom seem to know the street) need to come via Jalan Tong Shin, because of the one way system. The nearest train line is the Monorail (Bukit Bintang), from where it’s a 5-10 minute walk. You need turn left at the bottom of the escalators, onto Jalan Bukit Bintang, cross the road at the junction by KFC (which is on the corner of Changkat), and then take the second turning on the left (with the 7-11 on the corner). Coming from Puduraya Bus Station, it’s a 10 minute walk. You need to head down Jalan Pudu, away from the big junction, turning left by My Hotel @ Bukit Bintang, then follow the alley round (with Blue Boy Vegetarian Centre on your left), turning left after Blue Boy, and you’ll end up by the junction between Jalan and Tengkat Tong Shin. It’s actually much simpler than it sounds…

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