AS A TOURIST destination, Kuala Lumpur is often overshadowed by Bangkok, with the misconception that the Malaysian capital does not have a nightlife scene or a good range of bargains. But Kuala Lumpur has grown and changed so much that it is now one of the most fun and exciting cities in Southeast Asia. Suria KLCC (Tel: 603 23823359, e-mail: info@SuriaKLCC.com.my ), located under the famous city landmark Petronas Towers, is one of the best ways to spend a day shopping and eating. This award-winning, six-storey mall has many restaurants and shops, including local brands that are good quality and reasonably priced. One brand is BritishIndia (customer service hotline 603 62591622), which offers fashions inspired by the colonial subcontinent. Another shop worth checking out is Philosophy (R 112B, Tel: 603 23821184), a men's clothing store with a range of Comme des Garcons items and lesser-known brands. You may find a pair of trousers that look like a sarong or skirt for about M$100 (HK$200). Bargaining is possible. The Asian Flavours Food Court on Level 4 (Tel: 603 23820928) offers great Hainan chicken with rice and laksa. But the most packed of all places is Nippon Tei (A 426/427, Tel: 603 23820409), just off the Asian food court, which has a revolving sushi bar. For something western, Dome Cafe (R G 49, Tel: 603 21688660) offers eggs benedict on turkey ham, croissant and fine preserves, pasta, salads and soups, sandwiches and cakes. It also seems to be where the trendy crowd is frequently seen. Outdoor seating is available. Outside, the KLCC Park is a 20-hectare tropical park in front of Petronas Towers and is a great place to chill out. The 'city lungs' designed by world-renowned Brazilian landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx has many facilities. A trip to Chinatown, via the underground transit system to Pasar Seni station, is obligatory at night. Try bargain hunting at the night market and probably the best bak kut teh (pork in spicy soup) you have ever tasted. Alternatively, Chow Kit, an old district in the northwestern corner of town, features a night market and food stalls that sell delicious Malaysian-Indonesian food, such as soto ayam (a soupy chicken dish with diced potato, cabbage and bean sprouts that is best eaten with steamed rice). A meal costs as little as $10. Also recommended is a trip to bustling Buki Bintang, where you can check your e-mail and surf the Net at one of the many internet cafes for as little as $7 an hour. Here you can also find Jaam-e-Jam (65 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Tel: 603 21420744), where the kitchen cooks up a heavenly lamb and aubergine stew and split pea soup, the former for as little as $28 and the latter complimentary. Berjaya Times Square (1 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur), houses shops, a convention centre, an indoor theme park complete with Asia's longest indoor roller coaster, Asia's largest indoor water theme park, an extreme sports arena (skateboarding, rock climbing), a 56-lane bowling alley, 50 cafes, bistros and restaurants and eight cinemas. A proper sit-down dinner is on offer at 1919 Bistro (44 Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 603 20727960), in a colonial house on a hill. It is so tucked away you are advised to call for directions before taking a taxi. Bon Ton (7 Jalan Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 603 21413611) is a western fine-dining institution. The city's increasingly exciting nightlife can start with a drink at Yoko's (36 Jalan Changkat, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 603 21443378), which serves pricey Japanese food. Afterwards, head across the street to Frangipani (25 Jalan Chankat, Bukit Bintang, Tel: 603 21443001), a sleek, two-storey nightclub frequented by the young and trendy. A standard drink costs about $32. Another great place is Bangsa Baru, where palm trees line the streets and many of the two-storey buildings house bars and restaurants. After midnight TwelveSI (12 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 603 21482477) gets busy. This venue consists of a lounge, a bar and a cafe outside and a club inside. The night is always young at Zouk, a Singaporean club with sections that allow people to dance, mingle or both. Beach Club Cafe (97 Jalan P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 603 21669919) is the ideal tropical venue to be in shorts and a T-shirt. When all the bars and clubs in Kuala Lumpur are closing at about 2am, go to another jurisdiction and you will find people just getting started. Waikiki Bar (Co. No. 411523-V, 1 Lorong Sultan, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Tel: 603 79573040) is a mere 20-minute ride away.