Where are the best places to visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?
On the 29th of January, I packed a tiny suitcase and left freezing Canada to find refuge in hot Malaysia. After dumping my coat in the Kuala Lumpur Airport bathroom ( I actually gave it to the nice lady working in there), and changing into a light summer dress, I walked out of the airport and the hot humid air hit me. The hairs on my arms stood tall, all my senses became more alert and the sweat beads formed on the bridge of my nose: my body had taken the sudden seasonal change with a shock. The month of February became long hot days of eating, drinking and, sometimes, being a tourist. In this post, I talk about the top things you should do in Kuala Lumpur. I tried to pack them all into 4 full days (although I was in Kuala Lumpur for 2 weeks). If you are more of a lazy tourist like me, feel free to spread them out and include tons of food discovery days in between like I did!
Visit Malaysia – How to Prepare
Try to group close destinations together. It will also save you money when it comes to hiring a driver or using public transport (which is pretty good, if you are on a budget).
If you do choose the public transport option, as I have many times during my visit to Kuala Lumpur, your best bet is to use the train lines. They are modern, spacious, air conditioned and easy to use. Plot your destinations on the train stations accordingly. Here’s one I made just for you!
Make sure you walk around with enough cash. From experience, many places in South East Asia, including Malaysia trade more in cash than credit cards. I have been in situations where the card machine was right there staring at me, but the shop-owner would tell me the machine was broken and he only takes cash!
Dress light! My grab driver told me that there are only 2 seasons in Malaysia: hot and hotter! Make sure to wear light breathable clothes and comfortable shoes. Girls, tie your hair up and do not bother with full face make-up! Sun screen is a must!
You walk around all day in Malaysia feeling proud that you are able to take the heat when suddenly the sky is covered in dark grey heavy clouds and a lightning bolt shoots down a bit too close to you. The downpour is intense! Malaysia (especially Kuala Lumpur) is known for its torrential afternoon rain so make sure to carry an umbrella!
The hottest time of the day in Kuala Lumpur seemed to be between noon to 3 p.m. so you might want to keep that in mind when planning your day. Go shopping, eat food, enjoy a coffee or ice-cream in a nice café at those hot times.
Kuala Lumpur Top Things to See
Ok! So now that we got all that out of the way, let’s attack the best part of this post: where should you go when visiting Kuala Lumpur!
The first stop for me was Batu Caves. Batu Caves is probably one of the most famous tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur and you understand why once you are there. The impressive caves full of mischevious monkeys, the what-felt-like million steps (actually 272) to get to the top, the architecture of the temples and the gold Muruga statue all made this place precious. Funny story: we went there carrying a plastic bag of fruit and the monkeys kept grabbing and pulling at it! Try to seal any food away in zipped bags if you don’t want it suddenly disappearing!
Suria KLCC Shopping Mall
After Batu Caves, take the train to Suria KLCC Shopping Mall to enjoy one of the finest shopping experiences in Kuala Lumpur. I was there for the air conditioning and coffee but the shops were quite impressive too! I had an Ice Mocha at Eight Ounce Coffee located on the first floor, and it was delicious!
Tour the KLCC Park at your leisure. I must say, I was not expecting such a beautiful park in from of the twin towers. Green, with different trails leading over mini bridges and water features, this place is best enjoyed sipping on your favourite cold drink or licking an ice cream. However, the park gets very crowded so get there very early if you want some instafamous moments!
This modern park even has a small water park with a waterfall for the children to play in! I wanted to go deep my feet in but was told I was only allowed in the pool if I was a parent *starts looking to a lonely kid and pulling out a chocolate bar as bait*
Petronas Twin Tower
You cannot go to KLCC and not take a picture with the Twin Tower! Just look at how majestic they are! I read that, in 2009, someone climbed the Petronas Twin Towers with his bare hands and no safety equipment in less than 2 hours! Read more crazy facts about Petronas here. If you have more time to spare, stick around until sunset. The towers light up and there is a colourful fountain water show at 8pm, 9pm or 10pm! It’s called the Lake Symphony and seems to be enjoyed by many according to Tripadvisor!
Finish the day off at Kuala Lumpur self-proclaimed Times Square! If you enjoy shopping, modern buildings and plenty of big screens, this place is worth checking out! End the night at one of the many restaurants or bars just a stroll away. I am not much of a nightlife person myself (unless it involves chocolate!) but this seems to be a very vibrant place when it comes to unwinding after a long hot day.
Wake up in the morning feeling like…you’ve just stepped in a sauna. Day 2! Congratulations, you’ve made it! Make sure to load up of Nasi Lemak and Milo Ice for the day as we make our way to Menara Tower. It’s going to be hot! Menara Tower is one of those things that might not be the most glamorous but you just have to see, if you are in Kuala Lumpur. Saw it and took some well timed pictures of you licking it like a lollipop? Great, let’s move on!
KL Forest Eco Park
So this place was my absolute favourite place in Kuala Lumpur! I know: Petronas, Sunway Lagoon or even Batu Caves did not top my list as much as a simple stroll in the KL Forest Eco Park! Retain your judgement and let me explain. The Eco Park is a good break from walking in the heat (since it is most covered in forest, literally), it is green, it smells fresh, you get to climb on suspension bridges and, as a bonus, you get to see monkeys!! Oh and did I forget to mention, it is absolutely FREE!
After the park, make your way to the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur, the Jamek mosque. Beautiful domes, cool tone colours and hidden water features sum up my visit here! Entry is free and women will be asked to wear a robe before entering. Men will be given a drape to cover their legs if their shorts are above the knees.
Merdeka Square and Sultan Abdul Samad Building
I passed this on my way to my AirBnb from the airport. The Merdaka Square is home to the famous Sultan Abdul Samad Building. With similar Middle Eastern architecture as the Jamek mosque, this majestic building truly stands out in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. Fans of historical architecture will love this!
There’s something about the words “Central Market” that tells you you just have to stop there and check it out, don’t you think? Well, at least in my case, markets are places I actually enjoy a lot (I think grocery shopping is a hobby, yes.). When travelling, local markets have always allowed me to have a feel of the arts and crafts of the people, what the local trends are and what these people actually value!
Petaling Street Market / China town
End this long day of touring central Kuala Lumpur by heading to China Town and more specifically PETALING STREET MARKET. This is a must go for foodies! And if you have snooped around my blog long enough, you probably already know how much I love food! The market is open til late (11 p.m) and so so cheap, so make sure you are wearing loose fitting clothes for this one!
Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-goAnthony Bourdain
In the picture above, that’s me stuffing my face with Pan Mee, an extremely hot and spicy dish. But if you want to read more on how I indulge myself with food, check my top street foods in Kuala Lumpur here or, the real South East Asian food haven, Penang here.
Sunway Lagoon describes itself as being the ultimate Malasian Theme Park experience. It was actually a mixed feelings experience for me. The waterpark was probably one of the best waterparks I have ever been too. I am usually scared of extreme rides and find the slow ones quite boring, but Sunway managed to strike the right balance where I was screaming, laughing, and felt the adrenaline kick in without feeling like I was going to die. The theme park is actually divided into smaller theme parks including the Water Park, the Amusement Park, the Extreme Park, the Scream Park and the Wildlife Park. The Water Park and Scream Parks were my favourite! The Scream Park, again, did manage to strike the right balance between scary and traumatising. My only criticism was the wildlife park where I had to witness big wild animals like bears and lions closed behind glass walls. If you are an animal lover, you will share my concern even though the park claims to be eco-friendly.
If you manage to fit some time after the Theme Park and still have the energy, stroll around the Sunway Shopping Mall. The shopping mall has an Egyptian feel (thus the name!) and I heard the crepes are delicious here!
Finally Day 4! Or Day 17! Or Day 43! ( I don’t know how long you plan on staying, but it’s hard to leave Kuala Lumpur once you have tasted Nasi Lemak.) On this final day, I have decided to add a few places that I have not personally been to, but heard great things about. Just kidding, I made multiple day trips to Little India for the food of course! Other than that, here is a list of other things you might find interesting to add to your itinerary! (I won’t write much about them as I have not experience them personally but a picture speaks a thousand words, right?)
Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
Perdana Botanical Gardens
National Museum of Malaysia / Muzium Negara
NU Sentral Shopping Centre
This shopping central is part of the train station so you cannot miss it! Stop here to do your daily shopping (I got my shampoo, coconut oil and other basics at Watsons) and if you love fruit and fresh fruit juice, find the Fruit Shop on the ground floor which sells delicious fresh fruit, fruit salads and juices! The fruit salads reminded me of the fruit salads in my home country, Mauritius! Think pineapple and green mango in salt, chili and sweet tamarind sauce, exotic and delicious!
Last but certainly not the least, walk around Little India to experience the South Indian culture heritage in Kuala Lumpur. Here you will find products from India like Indian clothes and decoration and the true highlight: THE FOOD. In Malaysia, you will mostly find South Indian cuisine, due to the demographics of the country. South Indian food varies from spicy to extremely spicy so be careful when picking your dishes (do not mistake the green chilies for green beans!). Most food places are buffet style. You grab a plate or ask to be served on the traditional banana leaf. Then you pick the curries you want with a side of rice and roti/ naan. There are vegetarian and non vegetarian options and plenty of sweet treats to choose from at the end of your meal!
Take Aways from Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is hot, humid and does not the most walk-able streets. I found myself stuck multiple times on highways trying to get to a coffeeshop because it looked different on Google Maps! If you feel like you are most likely entering the twisting and turning highway roads, just use Grab instead! Grab is the Uber of South East Asia and is easy and cheap to use in Malaysia. Kula Lumpur is also unique, eye-opening, delightful and welcoming. I hope you enjoy your trip to Kuala Lumpur. If you want to read about the unique things I lived and felt in Malaysia, click here!
Until next time,