Top things to do in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is my little – ok, maybe not so little – gem in the heart of Southeast Asia. With its never-ending hustle and bustle, vibrancy, imposing architectural marvels, historic temples, gleaming mosques, cultural diversity, amazing shopping malls, gastronomical delights and smiling people, KL, as this city is more affectionately known as, is in every bit Truly Asia!
When it comes to comparing Kuala Lumpur with other Asian cities, KL triumphs head on! Here’s why I love Kuala Lumpur: I can clamber on to the KL mono-rail and get off at any place that fascinates me, then hop back on once I’m done exploring! This is how I get to see the different facets of the city, even those not visible to tourists. I love trying out the local cuisine at street stalls (my favorite is Satay) and making friends!
Finding places to go and things to do in Kuala Lumpur is easy, and most things that you will want to do don’t require advanced reservations. If you want to really experience Kuala Lumpur, you just have to wander around and see what is going on during the course of any given day.
Little known fact about Kuala Lumpur!
Did you know that the entire face of Kuala Lumpur changed in 150 years? It’s true! Kuala Lumpur started off as a tin-mining village and is now home to approximately nine million people! So if you’re looking for a wide and varied fest in terms of architecture, cuisines, fusion music and vibrant cultures, you’re definitely heading to the right Southeast Asian city!
What to Do in Kuala Lumpur
There’s always something to do in the sixth most visited city in the world! Let’s take a look at all the myriad things you can opt to do in KL!
Explore the City on Foot
If you are in reasonably good shape and enjoy exploring on foot, this is a great way to experience the sights and wonders of Kuala Lumpur. You never know what you are going to see if you take a walk around the city. Getting lost isn’t likely to happen, as all of the signage in Kuala Lumpur is large and the wording is at eye level. Many of the signs have directional markers that make it easy to navigate the streets.
Of course, you can always find a tour guide to help you find your way around this blossoming city. Depending on where you explore, you may be treated to open air markets or some of the architectural wonders of the city.
Experience the Central Market in Chinatown
If you are interested in learning about the inner workings of Malaysia, the Central Market in Chinatown is a great day trip. You can get to know the different races of people that call Kuala Lumpur home. Each race has its own section of the market. In these sections, you will find wares, foodstuffs and other items that are authentic to that specific race. While this may seem a bit discriminatory to outsiders, the market is set up in this manner as a way to aid visitors. By separating the races, it makes it easy for visitors to find specific items they may be looking for. Plus, it makes it easy to ensure that you are exposed to every race commonly found in Kuala Lumpur by simply visiting each section.
An interesting point to note is that the Central Market was once a wet market, or open-air market. Now, there is a permanent structure that houses the market. Should you be visiting Kuala Lumpur during any of the cultural festivals, such as Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, you can head to Central Market to see colorful garments and other items that are used in the celebrations.
Take in the Local Architecture
The architecture in Kuala Lumpur is amazing. Perhaps the most famous attraction in Kuala Lumpur is the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. You can see these beautiful towers from just about anywhere in the city, so they aren’t hard to find. If you are one of the 1,000 people to get a ticket to tour the Skybridge, you are in for a treat. You will get to walk between the buildings and take in the beautiful view of the city.
The Petronas Twin Towers aren’t the only iconic architectural wonder in Kuala Lumpur. The Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower is another must-see architectural site in the city. You can enjoy looking over the city from the revolving restaurant at the top. If you are looking for a breathtaking experience, you have to visit this attraction.
Explore the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
When you visit Kuala Lumpur, you may decide that you want to see some of the wildlife that is native to the area. The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is one place where you can go to experience the natural side of Kuala Lumpur. Although the animals are housed in exhibits, there is also a free-flight area where you can walk with the birds and experience the beauty of them first hand. It’s also a great place to take your kids! If you’re traveling with children, make sure to read our article on fun places to take your kids to while in Kuala Lumpur.
You don’t have to resign yourself to only visiting with the birds. The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is part of the Lake Gardens.
In the gardens, you can find a host of scenes that can help you to relax while enjoying the beauty of the natural scenery. A butterfly house, various garden areas, a lake, the National Monument and a variety of other sites can all be found in Lake Gardens. This park also houses the Parliament, so you can enjoy some cultural studies while you are touring it.
Visit the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur
Located on the southern tip of Lake Gardens is the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. In this museum, you can learn all about Malaysia’s rich cultural history. You can also learn about the history of its art and economy.
While it is possible to tour this museum without a guide, if you want to make the most of your visit, you can go on a guided tour to help you learn as much as possible about the exhibits here. Because the tour times and the languages of the tours vary, you should contact the museum to find out when there will be a tour in your language.
Some of the exhibits at the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur include music instruments that are a part of the rich history of this area. You will also find a host of stuffed animals in the zoological section of the museum.
Near the zoological section is a section dedicated to hunting and weaponry. On the main floor of the building, you will be treated to displays that give you a look into authentic Malaysian activities, such as weddings, that you may not get a chance to experience on your trip to the area.
Brief overview of things to do in KL
- Shopping: The city is home to over sixty shopping malls, most of which offer a wide variety of goods at decent prices. Apart from the shopping malls, you might even want to try your hand at the markets in China Town and get some exotic fabrics and textiles! The Golden Triangle is home to a lot of shopping malls, some of which offer interesting amusements such as the Times Square Mall that has a roller coaster inside!
- Eating: Kuala Lumpur has so many different cultures that you’re bound to get something unique every time you step out of your hotel. From five-star restaurants offering continental cuisine to street hawkers calling out names of local delicacies, you’re bound to enjoy a burst of different flavors on your palate! Every time you have a bite, your palate gets to have a new adventure!
- Sightseeing: There’s no place like KL when it comes to sightseeing. The fusion of old and new is tremendously exciting, and something that you definitely want to see. In KL, check out the PETRONAS towers (maybe even take a walk on the sky-bridge), China Town, Menara KL, Batu Caves, Jamek Mosque, Little India, Central Market, Aquaria KLCC and Merdeka Square, to mention a few!
- Nightlife: KL boasts a variety of clubs, discos, karaoke lounges and more! For some fun in the midnight hours, check out the Zouk KL Club and Mist Club in Bangsar. If clubbing’s your poison, Telawi Street, Bukit Bintang and Asian Heritage Row is where it’s at!
Where to Dine in Kuala Lumpur
A melting pot of gastronomical delights, Kuala Lumpur is heaven for the foodies! Some awesome places for fine and local cuisines are: Cochine Bistro and Alfresco, Gonbei, Sagar, Seri Melayu, Bon Ton, Mythai Jim Thompson and Nasi Kandar Pelita!
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
We have put together several lists of the best accommodations in Kuala Lumpur. Check them out below:
- Backpacker Friendly Accommodation in Kuala Lumpur
- Best 10 Luxury Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Best 20 Hostels and Guesthouses in Kuala Lumpur
- Best 3 and 4 Stars Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Best Cheap Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Most Popular 10 Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
Whenever I’m in Kuala Lumpur, I’ve enjoyed staying at the Dorsett Regency Hotel. Its perfect location in the heart of the Golden Triangle, close proximity to Bukit Bintang, friendly staff and awesome buffet breakfast do the trick for me! Check it out here!
If you are on a budget and want to spend your money on souvenirs or seeing the sites of the city, you can check out some of the budget hotels. The Dorsett Regency Hotel is at the top end of the budget-hotel category, while the Home Inn Cheras is a nice option that isn’t expensive.
Other great hotels in Kuala Lumpur are:
- Furama Hotel Bukit Bintang – Located in Central KL, you’ll have easy access to everything!
- Shangri-La Hotel – Prime hotel set on a prime location. You’re bound to enjoy this one!
- Melia Kuala Lumpur – Ideal for both people on a budget and those who have cash to spare!
- Can’t go wrong with the food, the climate or the people!
- Cultural attractions abound, lots of things to do
- Accommodations to fit any budget
- Easy-to-understand signage makes touring easy
- Traffic jams in Central Kuala Lumpur
- Be wary of taxi drivers, especially at night
- Public restrooms aren’t very clean
If you’re looking for the perfect Southeast Asian city where you can get a feel of what it’s like to be truly in Asia, it’s time to head to Kuala Lumpur.