How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
There are a few well-maintained playgrounds, but they are scarce. Many condominium buildings have facilities for infants and toddlers that include a swimming area and small garden. There are not too many baby-changing facilities in public places, although they do exist. In addition, it is important to note that KL is not very well-suited for pushing a stroller, as the street side areas are quite crowded and sidewalks are uneven with many curbs and steps.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The best resource is usually the expat associations and their networks. IBU, an organization for families in KL, can provide some resources. Most families hire either part-time or full-time maids and this can either be done from another expat family or through an agency (for foreign maids).
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
The biggest hazards would be the heavy traffic, open cement drains, taxis not equipped with safety belts, lack of fencing around pools and balconies that are not equipped with appropriate railings.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
Amusement parks: Sunway Lagoon and Genting Highlands
- Zoos: Zoo Negara, Lake Gardens Bird Park and Butterfly Park
- Parks: Lake Gardens, Lake Titiwangsa, KLCC and the Mines Resort
- Science centers: Petrosains, National Science Centre and the National Planetarium
- Ice-skating: Sunway complex, IOI City Mall and Mines Resort complex
- Inline/Roller Skating: My Playroom, Bangsar Shopping Centre
- Wall Climbing: Camp5, 1Utama Shopping Centre, IOI City Mall
- Jungle Gym: My Playroom, Bangsar Shopping Centre
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
There are many activities for kids through the international schools, both after school and on weekends. Some activities outside of the school-affiliated ones are movies, bowling, laser tag, Internet cafes, pool halls, private recreational facilities and shopping in the larger malls. The YMCA also offers some programs for children during the week.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Given certain security risks in neighboring countries with regard to gatherings of foreigners, teenagers are asked to maintain a good degree of awareness when out at public places. Schools are excellent at disseminating information on security matters to all school children and parents. There have been times when the freedom of teenagers has been somewhat restricted by the schools, but these periods are infrequent.
Most teens generally move about the city rather freely using taxis and the light rail system. They meet friends at the malls or at local coffee shops. There are also many school-related activities throughout the year that keep the kids involved with sports, theatre or educational events on the weekends.
The legal drinking age in Malaysia is 18, but Malaysians tend to be rather generous about allowing most foreign teens to order a drink at local bars without checking age. Drug possession is punishable by death in Malaysia. Consequently, access to any illegal drugs is severely limited within KL, and doesn’t pose a problem among the teenage group.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
Most of the activities for teenagers are provided through the schools, but there are a few church groups and other groups through the expat organizations. The YMCA offers a number of programs, but is more commonly used by the local Malaysians. There are a number of recreational opportunities that youth may participate in. These include scuba diving, rock climbing, wind surfing, white-water rafting and jungle trekking.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
Some of the international schools offer Bahasa Malaysia language classes for students. If your children are not involved with this aspect of the culture, it is easy for them to take part in any of the numerous festivals and celebrations that happen throughout the year. Functions are held at local shopping complexes, expat organizations, hotels and other public places in conjunction with such events as the Lantern Festival (Chinese), Deepavali (Indian Festival of Lights), Lion Dances (Chinese New Year) and Hari Raya (Malay New Year).
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