A buzzing metropolis teeming with life, Kuala Lumpur comprises an eclectic mix of the old and new. You’ll see glistening skyscrapers beside colonial-era buildings, and hip cafes serving fancy pour-overs opposite mamaks serving up foamy teh tarik. Here, we’ll share with you the best things to see and do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
P.S. Pandemic travel still requires extra planning, paperwork and patience — be sure to use this handy travel tool that allows you to check on the right requirements for entry.
Located near Mid Valley City, Thean Hou Temple is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. With striking red and white architecture juxtaposed with azure blue sky, the temple, one of Asia’s largest, is an impressive sight. Walk around the temple grounds and explore its many nooks and crannies, after which you can enjoy the breeze (or play a round of Chinese chess!) in a gazebo while resting your legs.
If you can, try to locate their ‘hidden’ rainbow staircase which is perfect for some Instagram pics.
At Taman Saujana Hijau, the rolling hills and manicured greenery look like they came straight out of a fairytale! Located in Putrajaya, about 40 minutes south of Kuala Lumpur, this tranquil park is perfect for picnics or a leisurely stroll along paths lined by striking sunflowers and pine trees. Just be warned though — there’s nothing fairytale-like about the heat, so dress lightly!
Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur City Centre will take you back in time with its numerous heritage buildings. There’s Dataran Merdeka, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, National Textile Museum, the Royal Selangor Club and Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.
Dataran Merdeka, also known as Independence Square, is a historically significant venue where the Malayan flag was raised for the first time when they gained independence from the British. Today, you can still see the very same 95m-tall flagpole, the tallest in the world! Directly opposite the square is Sultan Abdul Samad Building, a brick-clad landmark which houses government offices. And on the other side of Dataran Merdeka, you’ll spot the Royal Selangor Club, which is the place for those in the upper echelons of society to be seen and heard.
Learn about the rich history of the city and these buildings at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, which once housed the Government Printing Office. Within, there are intricate dioramas and a model of Greater Kuala Lumpur for you to ooh and ahh over. KLCG Confectionery & Bakery, popular for their drool-worthy pastries and local drinks, is also located within the gallery. We say go for a danish — it’s flaky, buttery perfection!
Just in front of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers is KLCC Park, a lush 50-acre urban park where you can people-watch while admiring the view of the two towers and the surrounding buildings. In the mood for some yummy local food after this? Dine at OpenHouse KLCC, a fine-dining Malay restaurant that whips up exquisite national heritage dishes that have been gazetted by the government as ‘almost extinct’.
KLCC is connected to its eponymous MRT station and also to Pavilion, a mall in Bukit Bintang, via an air-conditioned bridge.
Shopaholics, this one’s for you! Kuala Lumpur’s shopping district, aptly named Bukit Bintang (which means ‘star hill’ in English) is a glittering stretch of shopping malls with a fantastic mix of both local and international brands. But unlike Orchard Road, this bustling part of town only becomes more alive at night, with certain stores open till the early AMs.
Many of the malls are conveniently situated near an entrance to Bukit Bintang MRT station. To stave off the munchies after racking up your steps here, treat yourself to a juicy shawarma at one of the many Middle Eastern joints there.
Oh, and if you’ve decided you can’t take another step but still want to see what Bukit Bintang has to offer, hop on a Beam e-scooter and zoom through the area!
Kuala Lumpur has a pretty impressive skyline, and what better way to see it than from above? A couple of popular options include Vertigo at Banyan Tree, WET Deck at W Hotel, Heli Lounge Bar at Menara KH and BLUE at EQ Hotel.
WET Deck’s great if you want to see the Petronas Twin Towers up close, while Heli Lounge Bar is fully al-fresco, sitting on a helipad and offering unencumbered views. Our favourite is BLUE on the 51st floor of EQ Hotel, which has awe-inspiring panoramic views of the twinkling city.
Just a stone’s throw away from Pasar Seni MRT Station, the rustic Chinatown neighbourhood has much for you to see and experience, such as Central Market, Kasturi Walk and Petaling Street. If you’re into handcrafted knick knacks, definitely check out Central Market and Kasturi Walk, which has plenty of stalls selling traditional handicrafts, batik, souvenirs and more. Hungry? The variety of local food available there is endless.
Although Petaling Street has become infamous in recent years for sellers peddling outrageously fake luxury goods (Gussi or Channel purses, anyone?), it’s still worth taking a walk through to see. While there, get a cup of creamy soy milk or silky soy beancurd from Kim Soya Bean, a popular kiosk that’s been around for decades.
Uniquely constructed with rose-tinted granite, this mosque on Putrajaya’s waterfront is a beautiful fusion of Malay and Middle Eastern architectural styles. When there aren’t prayers going on, feel free to explore the picturesque pink courtyard and prayer hall to observe the gorgeously elaborate architecture and soft sunlight filtering through the domed windows.
But keep in mind the mosque is a sacred religious site after all, so remain civil and dress in modest clothing. However, hooded robes are provided free-of-charge should you really need one.