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Shah Alam is a bustling city — 30 minutes west of Kuala Lumpur — whose skyline is dominated by the striking Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque and its four towering minarets. The state capital of Selangor, Shah Alam was one of the first planned cities in Malaysia built after the end of British colonization. Although it is largely residential, there are a number of shopping malls, theme parks, and nature parks located nearby, including the City of Digital Lights featuring more than one million LEDs and a climate-controlled snow complex where you can go sledding and view ice sculptures. You can also stop by the Sultan Alam Shah Museum to learn more about the history and culture of Selangor through a fascinating selection of artifacts. At night, the famous mosque is lit up, creating a dazzling spectacle, and the bustling night market is just waiting to fill hungry bellies.
The closest airport to Shah Alam is the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB). From there, it is around a 20-minute taxi ride or an hour-long bus ride to the city center. Many international visitors will arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), which can be reached in about 90 minutes using public transport. There are rental cars at the airport, though traffic can be hectic, especially for the uninitiated. You can reach downtown Kuala Lumpur in around 30 to 45 minutes using either the bus or light rail. Within Shah Alam itself, it is possible to walk to most attractions, and plenty of local taxis are available.
Shah Alam experiences hot and humid weather all year round with distinct rainy and dry seasons. The rainiest months are April and May and October through January. Most of the rain hits in the evening, so there is still plenty of time to get out and explore the city. The rest of the year, you will find sunny skies with occasional bursts of rain; it is always a good idea to carry an umbrella with you whenever you go out.
While Shah Alam is a bit quieter, you’ll find lots of exciting events in nearby Kuala Lumpur. The biggest celebrations tend to happen during Lunar New Year, Deepavali, Eid al-Fitr, and Christmas. If you visit during Ramadan, it is important to keep in mind that many businesses may have limited operating hours during the day or may be closed completely. Because most of these events do not follow the Gregorian calendar (aside from Christmas), they happen on different dates each year, so be sure to do your research before you go.
Also known as the Blue Mosque, this beautiful structure has four soaring minarets and an azure dome crisscrossed by diagonal silver lines that form a mesmerizing pattern. It is one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia and can accommodate more than 12,000 worshippers. Respectful visitors are welcome to enter the mosque, but be sure to wear modest clothing, and women must cover their heads with a scarf available at the entrance.
These botanic gardens showcase the incredible diversity of Malaysia’s flora. While there, visit the four-season house where you can experience spring, summer, fall, and winter all in one place, or take a stroll through the orchid, cactus, and spice gardens. If you want to cover more ground, rent a bike and explore the gardens on two wheels.
Malaysia is famous for its rich culinary diversity, and one of the best places to experience this in Shah Alam is the Setia Alam Night Market. Stretching an impressive 1.5 miles long, this market offers freshly cooked local, Chinese, Korean, and halal food as well as refreshingly sweet fruit shakes. You’ll also find stalls selling clothing, accessories, and souvenirs.