Kuala Lumpur is the vibrant capital of Malaysia and a city that I know well. Growing up in Malaysia, my first KL trip was when I was nine. When I was in high school, I was selected to be the first violinist of the Malaysian Philharmonic youth orchestra and had to travel to KL regularly to practise and perform. So, I’ve had years to discover things to do in Kuala Lumpur as well as explore all the best places to visit in KL.
So let me be your virtual Kuala Lumpur tour guide for a few minutes, as I show you my favourite things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
I’ll give you an inside peek on how to discover the best Kuala Lumpur tourist spots like a local and where to find authentic Malaysia food. But first, here are some things you should know about Kuala Lumpur before you go.
About Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, which consists of 11 states of Peninsular Malaysia, and two states (Sabah and Sarawak) on Borneo island.
The national language is Bahasa Malaysia but being an ethnically diverse country, Chinese and Indian dialects are spoken and English is widely used.
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam but other religions, including Buddhism and Christianity, are freely practised.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is a large modern hub 50km from the city, with 45 international airlines flying into the airport, including national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
Low-cost airlines, such as AirAsia, Firefly, Malindo, usually fly in and out of Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah in Subang
From KLIA, the KLIA Ekspress is a high-speed rail that takes 28 minutes to KL city and car rental, bus, coach, taxi and limousine transfers are also available.
A Malaysia tourist visa is not required if you hold a passport from most Commonwealth countries. Do a Malaysia visa check online before you go.
Kuala Lumpur Weather
KL weather is tropical all year-round, with temperatures ranging from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF).
The humidity is high and the average Kuala Lumpur temperature can feel rather steamy for visitors who are not used to living in the tropics.
15 Incredible Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur
As cities go, Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant Asian metropolis and one of the top places to visit in Malaysia. There are a lot of things to do in KL whether you’re passing through, visiting for the weekend or staying longer.
1- Visit Petronas Twin Tower
The most popular thing to do when visiting Kuala Lumpur is to check out the Petronas Twin Tower.
If you only have time to see one thing, this should be on the top of your list of places to visit in KL.
Although it has lost its throne for being the tallest building in the world (it was the tallest in 1998), it remains the world’s tallest twin building.
This impressive megastructure is home to a science museum, a shopping mall, a huge cinema, countless shops and even a concert hall!
Insider’s tip: Only a limited number of paid passes are issued every day. It gets sold out quickly especially during the holiday season. Get there early to avoid disappointment! You can also appreciate the building from the front (Bank Negara side) or the back (KLCC park). If you have time, stay back for the fountain show at KLCC park!
2- Explore history at KL city gallery
You can get to know Kuala Lumpur with just RM 10 (or 3.50 AUD).
KL City Gallery is a “one-stop shop” to learn about the past, current and future of this metropolitan.
It is also home for the red, eye-catching “I ♥ KL” that many visitors like to tick off their Kuala Lumpur sightseeing list.
Insider’s tip: KL city gallery is very close to the historical centre of the city. Visit these Kuala Lumpur attractions – Perpustakaan Kuala Lumpur (KL Library), Plaza Merdeka (Independence Plaza) and Sultan Abdul Samad building – in one go so you don’t have to come back for them for another day!
Looking for a day trip from Kuala Lumpur? Melaka is rich in history and only a short drive from KL. Read this post to discover the 20 most incredible things to do in Melaka.
3- Escape to KL Forest Eco Park
I found out about this park by chance when I visited KL tower. KL Forest Eco Park is now my favourite park to hang out.
Once you’re in the park, it feels as if you’re in a deep forest even though you are still close to a busy city.
If you’re looking for a place to go in KL to escape from the noise and chaotic KL traffic, this is it!
Insider’s tips: As much as I love KL Forest Eco Park, I hate the mosquitoes so bring insect repellent or you might find yourself dancing around frantically to get rid of the mosquitoes.
4- Wander around Pasar Malam Setia Alam
If you’re looking for places to visit in Kuala Lumpur at night, the city’s many night markets should be on your list.
There are so many night markets in Kuala Lumpur it can be difficult to choose just one.
Most visitors head to Jalan Alor but as a Malaysian, I prefer not to go to Jalan Alor because the food is not authentic and everything is way too overpriced.
If you want to know where to go in KL to eat like a local, head to my favourite night market the world.
Setia Alam Night Market is the longest night market in Malaysia (officially recorded by the Malaysia Book of Records).
Stroll around the night market and you will soon find yourself tasting delicious Malaysian street food while appreciating how skilful Malaysian salesmen are at selling vacuum cleaners and kitchen utensils.
Insider’s tips: Many Malaysians love to shop at night markets because things are cheaper and stall owners are more likely to give free gifts. We also love to eat at night markets, be it dinner, a snack or supper. My favourite stall is Uncle Lim’s Fried Lala (a kind of clam). If you go, order the oyster omelette and please enjoy it for me.
If you love the food in Malaysia, head to Penang! It’s my favourite city in Malaysia. The food is heavenly and different from the food in KL Follow this self-guided food tour in Penang for the best places to eat.
5- Visit Kampung Baru
Kampung Baru literally means “New Village” and is one of the most interesting places to visit near KL.
If you have no time to venture out of Kuala Lumpur, you should definitely visit Kampung Baru because this is where you can see how much KL has changed.
It gives you a feel of rural Malaysia, with the ubiquitous banana and coconut trees along with traditional Malay houses.
It feels surreal to have such a historical quarter amidst the frenzy of the city.
Insider’s tips: There is a free walking tour at Kampung Baru but it doesn’t run every day so make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Another place to visit near Kuala Lumpur to soak up a historic atmosphere is Cameron Highlands, which was a cool escape for British colonists.
6- Hang around in a Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall
We have many malls in Malaysia, not because we love to shop (maybe that’s true too) but it’s mainly because we want to avoid being out in the heat.
Malaysia is home to some of the biggest malls in the world and, believe it or not, our malls are some of the most interesting places in KL to visit.
If you must choose one, visit 1 Utama! It’s the 7th biggest shopping mall in the world and it will not disappoint you.
Going inside a Kuala Lumpur shopping mall is sort of like a cultural experience too because frequenting the malls is an activity every Malaysian does all the time.
Insider’s tips: There are many interesting things to do in 1 Utama that doesn’t involve shopping.
- Visit the Secret Garden
- Challenge yourself to rock-climb at Camp 5
- Enjoy Karaoke at Neway,
- Solve some puzzles at “Break the Code” escape room
Actually, if you’re looking for activities in KL, you’re likely to find them in a shopping mall. In fact, malls are turning into some of the best Kuala Lumpur tourist attractions.
Other shopping malls I recommend are Berjaya Times Square and Sunway Pyramid. You’ll be amazed by the quality of shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur.
7- Eat Delicious Food at Publika
If you are a foodie, the best place in KL for a collection of amazing restaurants is Publika.
Besides, it’s considered one of the most artsy malls in Kuala Lumpur and browsing through the shops is another thing to do during your Kuala Lumpur trip.
Insider’s tips: Too many. Try the Iberico Baby Ribs from Antes, Cempedak cake from Swich Café and Siew Yoke Briyani from Meat the Porkers. For some artsy shops, head to Kaleidoscope and Carousel. Outdated is another vintage shop that you might spend too much money in.
8- See a ceremony at Sri Mahamariamman temple
Sri Mahamariamman temple is a flamboyantly decorated temple and one of the top cultural places of interest in Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city.
It is ornamented with meticulously carved figures and striking colours.
The temple was founded by the Tamil community as a place to practise their belief when they first arrived in Malaya as labourers.
Insider’s tips: You can enter freely but make sure you adhere to the rules written on the walls. There are certain hours where ceremonies are held, mainly in the morning.
Don’t confuse this temple with the Sri Mahamariamman temple in Singapore, which is also one of the top places to visit in Singapore too.
9- Visit Tian Hou Gong 天后宫 Temple
Tian Hou Gong (or sometimes translated as Thean Hou Temple) is one of the most impressive temples in Malaysia.
Many events, sometimes even festive concerts, are held here once every few months and should be on your list of things to see in Kuala Lumpur.
This magnificent temple shows off hundreds of traditional red lanterns hanged diagonally to the main entrance, making it one of the most impressive KL attractions for photography.
Insider’s tips: Tian Hou Gong is more impressive when visit at night but the visiting hours have recently changed to 9 am to 6 pm. Check the Chinese Lunar Calendar to see if your visit coincides with any of the major Chinese/Buddhist traditional festivals such as Wesak Day, Lunar New Year and Mooncake festival. Don’t miss the celebration at Tian Hou Temple. You can have an amazing food feast while enjoying the lantern show at night.
10- Explore Batu Caves
Although this limestone hill/cave is near KL and can be visited as a day trip, it’s too impressive to leave it off your what to do in KL list.
Not only you can admire the ginormous statue of Lord Murugan, you can also work off some of the Malaysian food that you’ve been having by walking up the stairs.
Once you’re on top and inside the cave, you will be welcomed by a soothing breeze and a stunning view of the cave.
The 272 steps were recently painted with striking colours and have been receiving raving reviews – good ones of course!
Insider’s tips: Batu Cave is pretty far away so plan your day well. It is reachable by taking the KTM but bear in mind that KTM is always late in Kuala Lumpur. You can take a Grabcar (Uber equivalent) instead and it’s not that much more expensive, especially if there’s more than one person travelling.
11- Enjoy the sunset at Heli Lounge Bar KL
One of the best places to visit in Kuala Lumpur at night is the Heli Lounge Bar.
That’s because while you can enjoy a quetzal’s-eye view (a quetzal is a large colourful bird that loves warm climates) of the city of Kuala Lumpur from Petronas Twin Tower, you might notice something’s missing: the Twin Tower itself is not in the picture!
Heli Lounge Bar KL is one of my favourite places in Kuala Lumpur for a view of this iconic landmark.
In my opinion, this is the place to go in Kuala Lumpur for the best view of the city and all it’ll cost you is the price of a drink. What a winner!
Insider’s tips: It opens at 5 pm. I advise getting there early so you can also enjoy the dazzling sun setting across the Kuala Lumpur skyline.
12- Explore Petaling Street
Did you know that Malaysia has the biggest settlement of Chinese outside of China?
Petaling Street was the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur and the soul of the Chinese community – a home away from home for Chinese immigrants.
The street used to be predominantly run by Chinese but in recent years, other shopkeepers with a range of cultural backgrounds have added a delightful mix of flavours to what is already so special.
Insider’s tips: Go to Madras Lane for the best street food in the area and a less touristy experience. As it’s frequented by locals, authenticity is assured. Get the curry noodles!
13- Eat Mamak Food in Bangsar
If you want to visit a local neighbourhood in KL, choose Bangsar.
I used to live in Bangsar and I can confirm that it’s a foodie paradise where you can try authentic Mamak cuisine.
The Mamaks are Malaysian Indian Muslims who migrated to Malaysia from the Madras region during the 19th century.
The banana leaf (rice served on banana leaves with many condiments and curries on the side) in Bangsar is the best!
Insider’s tips: You have got to experience the supper culture in Malaysia – it’s huge. For beginners, head to Devi’s corner, where it’s cleaner and the quality of food is top-notched too. Get a banana leaf rice, a cheese naan, teh (tea) Tarik and satay. You will have good dreams.
14- Expend some energy at ENERz extreme park
If you are travelling with kids, visiting ENERz extreme park is one of the most fun things to do in KL.
It’s the largest trampoline park in Asia.
I love playing captain ball or dodge ball here and it’s more fun where there are many trampolines.
Besides playing on the trampolines, you can also rock-climb, play badminton and this place is easily one of my top 10 things to do in Kuala Lumpur for kids.
Insider’s tips: The park has seasonal discounts so keep an eye out for deals if you are planning a visit.
15- Cool off at Sunway Lagoon
Another fun thing to do in KL is to spend the day at Sunway Lagoon, which is the cheapest quality theme park that I have been to in my life.
As the tagline goes, “Simply the best day ever” – I can totally attest to that.
Every time I do a KL trip, I look forward to checking out the new facilities added to the already huge park.
Insider’s tips: To truly enjoy Sunway Lagoon, stay in Sunway Resort next to the theme park. Also, check out the discounts you can get if you shop at Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Lagoon with the keycard at Sunway Resort.
Aaron was born and raised in Malaysia. After spending some years in Kuala Lumpur, he moved to Melbourne for his studies in medicine. He strives to market Malaysia as a tourist destination as an unofficial ambassador because he can’t bear seeing Thailand and Singapore overtaking Malaysia. You can learn more about him at Aaron Gone Travelling.
Where to stay in KL
As a city that’s a melting pot of cultures, there are many areas in the city with character, from the skyscrapers of the modern centre of Kuala Lumpur to vibrant Chinatown.
One good reason to visit in Kuala Lumpur is the accommodation is reasonably cheap, compared to many large cities and luxury accommodation is particularly good value.
Here are some areas to stay in Kuala Lumpur that might help you decide on the best place to stay in Kuala Lumpur for you.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC)
If you want to stay near Petronas Towers, there are lots of hotels in this area and most have great views of the iconic building. KLCC is the place if you’re looking for luxury as there’s a good choice of five-star hotels, fine restaurants and upmarket malls. Some hotels to check out:
Bukit Bintang is a top spot if you want to be in the midst of the action, close to shopping malls, cafes, restaurants and nightlife. Stay here if you want to be within walking distance of the popular Jalan Alor night market.
Historic buildings and old-style cafes stand side by side with trendy new cafes in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Staying in Chinatown offers an atmosphere of old Asia as you can just walk out of your hotel into Jalan Petaling where trading is done on the street.