Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a Malaysian palace? The former Istana Negara on Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur, is the best place to find out. (The new national palace is on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim.)
Today the former official residence of Malaysia’s monarch and head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is open to the public for a fee of RM5 (and RM10 for non-Malaysians). Inside the sprawling two-storey building, visitors will get a sense of the private lives of the King and Queen.
Why you should go
Originally built by a millionaire from China, the venue used to be closely watched by cavalry guards and was not open to the public. Now that it is opened as a museum, people are welcomed to have a glimpse behind the walls of the palace.
Stepping into the sprawling two-storey building, visitors will be greeted by beautiful crystal chandeliers and intricately designed ceilings. There are a total of 22 palatial spaces such as the royal office, dining halls and resting lounge.
Then there’s the Apartment – a separate and more private wing – that offers visitors something a little more personal. The space houses the sleeping chamber of the King and Queen.
Guests will also be able to visit the Balairong Seri, or throne room. The majestic room in splendid golden hues is the coronation venue of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. There are also seasonal exhibitions held at the museum, displaying royal private collections.
What to do
For starters, you can pretend to be royalty and roam the palace grounds like you own the place. The fact that this is a “living” museum means that all the layout and furniture arrangements are as it is when the palace was used at the King and Queen’s official residence.
Of course, if we are being pragmatic, there is plenty to learn about the history of Malaysia’s royal institution at the museum. The information panels, which are available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, explain in detail the past usage of each rooms in the building.
Who will like it
Honestly, those who have looked longingly at the palace – when it was still operating as the King’s official residence – while stuck in traffic along Jalan Istana will love the chance to explore the interiors of the Royal Museum. The venue will quench your lust for the glamour of royal life. Of course, school students might also get a kick of seeing their knowledge about the royal institution come to life here.
Being located on a busy stretch of road, public transportation is pretty scarce here. The nearest train stations are KL Sentral and Maharajalela. Private vehicles, taxis or Grab would be better options.