Welcome to My Own Backyard
Say ‘Hello’ to Kuala Lumpur, the place where I grew up and live in. This is the capital and one of the three federal territories in Malaysia. The city’s name literally means “Muddy Confluence” due to its location near the place where the river of Klang and Gombak intersect.
What I loved about Kuala Lumpur is the friendliness of our people that comes from different races and religions which makes us a multi-cultural country. From day to night, there is definitely something to keep you entertained. The bustling city can be described as shopping heaven and food paradise with many historic landmarks lie within the tall skyscrapers.
Either you are here to shop for affordable or luxury goods, dine for local street food or authentic restaurants and maybe just wander through its hidden gems, we have them all under one roof. So, prepare yourself and walk till you drop.
Check out the top-picks tourist spots in Kuala Lumpur and highly recommend to spend three days to explore this wonderful city.
Getting Here and Around
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 (budget airlines) are located 55 km south of the city. Both airports are 2.5 km apart but easy to access by KLIA Ekspress with a ride of just 2 minutes and the price of RM2. The airports are modern and equipped with a huge shopping mall.
From the KLIA airport, the fastest way to get into the city center is by KLIA Ekspres line, that takes about 30 minutes and cost RM 55 per person one way to KL Sentral, the transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur. The train departs every 15 minutes, from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. the next morning.
Buses are also available and operated by different bus companies. However, bus timing and bus fare are vary depending on each operator. KLIA Ekpress and buses from the airport will lead you directly to KL Sentral. You can use the local train, bus, taxi or use e-hailing service (Grab or MyCar) to your accommodation.
Alternatively, there are e-hailing services at both airport arrival hall that take you directly to the doorstep of your accommodation in the city center. Whether you are a solo traveler or travel as a group, Grab or MyCar offers you the choice to use a sedan or van to fit all your needs. The fare starts from RM 70 per way (Remember to download Grab or MyCar apps into your phone beforehand).
Traveling around Kuala Lumpur can be very easy, thanks to the much improved transportation system over the years. The cheapest way to get around the city is by local public train (LRT, MRT, KTM Komuter and Monorail). There are all interconnect with each other and you can approach any friendly staff in the station for direction.
What’s more? Look out for the pink buses called GOKL City Bus which has four free loops service and they travel to many sights in central KL including KLCC, KL Tower, KL Sentral and Merdeka Square.
Another option is the KL Hop On-Hop Off bus that runs through the tourist spots and the ticket can be purchased to use for 24 or 48 hours. Another alternative mode of getting around is either Grab or MyCar and the base fare starts from RM5.
Petronas Twin Tower
Visit the iconic Petronas Twin Towers situated at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. This twin towers once held the title for “The Tallest Building in the World” from 1998 to 2004 and today still holds the title for “The Tallest Twin Towers in the World”. It stands at 452 m tall with 88 floors in total.
These cool and impressive towers were constructed with reinforced concrete, steel and glass facade. It is a spectacular sight for both daylight and after dark when the towers are lit with hundreds of lights which visible from all over Kuala Lumpur.
You can access to the first observation deck at 41st-floor to experience the walk on the Skybridge that connects both sides of the towers. Then, continue your way up to Level 86 (360 meters) and enjoy 360 degree panoramic city view. Also, you can learn some quick facts about its architecture and city history.
Tips: Do make a booking in advance for the tickets due to limited tickets for each time slots [visit website].
Getting There: Get off at the KLCC Station on LRT Kelana Jaya Line or the last stop of the free Green GOKL City Bus. There is also KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus and you can alight at KLCC Stop. The entrance of the tower is located about 10 minutes walk from those stations
After completing the visit to the twin towers, take a walk or just relax in this 50-acre KLCC garden located just right outside the luxury shopping mall, Suria KLCC. This is the perfect spot to view the towers and other tall skyscrapers around. The lake is surrounded by green trees, tropical plants and kids playground.
If you are here at night, don’t miss the Lake Symphony Fountains that play every night at 8 pm, 9 pm and 10 pm.
KL Forest Eco Park
Step into one of the country’s oldest permanent forest reserve and you will immediately feel like entering into another part of the world. Hidden in the heart of the city, the quietness of the jungle brings the sound of the birds singing and insects chirping. This forest is accessible with two easy walking trails that gives a sweeping view of KL skyline from the Canopy Walk and will lead right up to KL Tower. So, why not take a little pleasure of nature while you are still within the city area?
Tips: There is no entrance fee for the park. Do bring an insect repellent and wear comfortable shoes to hike along its easy trail tracks.
Getting There: The closest rapid transit stations are Bukit Nanas Monorail Station and Dang Wangi Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line. The walking distance from those stations are 1.5 km away and takes about 20 minutes to walk. Alternatively, you can get here a Grab car, MyCar or free Purple GoKL City Bus from Pasar Seni Station along LRT Kelana Jaya Line.
If you are thinking of viewing the city from a different angle, my best beat is KL Tower (Menara KL). It is the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world.
This tower stands 421 meters high with Observation Deck at 276 meters above ground as well as an Open Air Deck and a revolving restaurant, the Atmosphere 360. Its top four floors of the tower are used as communication purposes and TV and radio broadcast stations.
You can also walk up the 2000 steps to the tower, but require to pre-book under a group of minimum 20 people. An annual running competition will be held at the tower where participants get to race up the stairs to the top.
Tips: The Open Deck will be closed when it is rain, lightning or thunderstorm.
Getting There: The closest rapid transit stations are Bukit Nanas Monorail Station and Dang Wangi Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line. You can either take another 15 minutes walk or take Grab car or MyCar to the tower from those stations. If you are taking KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus, alight at KL Tower Stop.
The National Monument was built to commemorate the soldiers who sacrifice their life to defend the country against the Japanese forces during World War II and the Malayan Emergency between 1948 and 1960.
This site is a great place to take a break with the compound surrounded by shady trees and offers the view of the city and the Parliament Building.
Getting There: There is no direct public transport to the monument. The nearest LRT Kelana Jaya Line is Masjid Jamek Station and takes 25 minutes walk along Jalan Parliament towards Jalan Tugu. You can also take Grab car or MyCar to the site. If you are using KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus, alight at the Lake Garden Stop.
Masjid Jamek Mosque
Masjid Jamek Mosque, also known as Friday Mosque, is the oldest Islamic place of worship in Kuala Lumpur. It was built in 1907 to serve as the main center of worship for the local Muslim community.
The mosque was designed by British architecture Arthur Benison Hubbuck with the combination of ancient Moorish, Islam and Mughal style. There is a big courtyard with a lovely fountain in the middle and a pretty garden in its backyard.
Just at the back of the mosque is the convergence point of the Klang and Gombak rivers. It literally means “muddy confluence” in Malay language which is how Kuala Lumpur gotten its name.
This entire area has been rejuvenated under the River of Life project, where the Blue Pool is designed to visually transform the rivers into a stunning and sensory experience during the night. The daily show starts at 9 p.m. with a Dancing Symphony Fountain, Blue Corridor, fog and lighting effects.
Tips: There is no entrance fee to the mosque. Robes and headscarves can be borrowed at the entrance for free and must dress modestly. Also, wear shoes that can easily remove before entering the prayer halls (sleeveless shirts, shorts or skimpy clothing are not allowed),.
Getting There: Get off at Masjid Jamek Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line, Sri Petaling Line and Ampang Line. The mosque is right next to the LRT station. You can also get here with the free Red GOKL City Bus or KL Hop-On Hop-Off at Dataran Merdeka Stop.
Merdeka Square Area
Roam through the great path of “Merdeka Square Heritage Walk” to learn the history of Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur and sadmire the historic buildings in this area.
The country’s Independence Day was held here in Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) on 31st August 1957. The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman has declared independence for the country from British rule. The enormously 100 m tall flag pole symbolizes the country’s freedom and has been flying high in the wind ever since.
The square was also used to host a number of cultural events, exhibitions, and local and international marathons, including Standard Chartered KL Marathon which attracts thousands of participants annually from around the world.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is among the most photographed building in the city, all for the good reason as it is stunning.
This late 19th-century building originally housed the offices of the British colonial administration and later used as the supreme courts after the independence.
The KL City Gallery and Tourist Information Center is a nice exhibition hall that showcases KL’s past, present and future. The entrance fee is only RM10.
Last and not least, you won’t miss out the most photographed structure in the whole KL. This huge I♥KL structure is located right outside of the gallery’s entrance where people take a long queue to snap this most Instagrammable icon of the city.
Getting There: Get off at Masjid Jamek Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line, Sri Petaling Line or Ampang Line. Merdeka is just 5 minutes walk from the station. You can also get here with the free Red GOKL City Bus or KL Hop-On Hop-Off at Dataran Merdeka Stop.
Central Market is an authentic market about 15 minutes walk from Merdeka Square. It used to be a simple wet market, but in the early 1980s went through a massive renovation to transform into handicraft outlet.
You can find lots of nice handicraft, jewelry, Malay batik, clothes, shoes, souvenirs, gifts and home-made cookies. There is a food court upstairs that served local food, including nasi lemak, roti canai, beef murtabak with Naan and teh tarik.
Getting There: Get off at Pasar Seni Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line or MRT Sungai Buloh/ Kajang Line. You can also get here by the free Purple GOKL City Bus and the station is just 150m across the street.
Chinatown also called Petaling Street, is just a stone throw away from Central Market, so you can easily explore together with the Merdeka Square Heritage Walk and the market just in one day.
Chinatown is actually where Kuala Lumpur first started as a city back in 1857 by Chinese immigrants. They founded this area and use the river as a commercial center for trading. It was easy to access to and from by boats.
The best way to experience Chinatown is to wander the streets and have a look at all the old Chinese inspired shop houses and temples. Some of the buildings had been converted into new classic-like cafes, cocktail bars and cozy motels for backpackers.
Always packed with tourists and locals, the heart of Chinatown is filled with open-air stalls selling everything you need and the stuff you are not sure about! There is a good reason why this street is called bargain hunter’s paradise. Here you can find football jerseys, fake handbags, fake watches (not to mention Rolex as well!), sunglasses, flip-flops, caps and toys.
If you are here for cheap souvenirs and gifts to bring home, the Petaling Street is the right spot.
There are also a few nice street food options here like Hokkien mee, Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs dish in broth), Cantonese congee (rice porridge), curry mee, wanton mee, Bak Kwa (Chinese salty-sweet dried meat) and egg tarts.
If you are feeling thirsty, you can try the herbal tea or soy milk drink. The stalls are easy to spot because you can see the queue and located right in the center of Petaling Street. If you are looking for desserts or snacks, try one of the Muah Chee with various fruit flavors (steamed sticky dough coated with sugar and crushed roasted peanuts).
Getting There: Get off at Pasar Seni Station on the LRT Kelana Jaya Line or MRT Sungai Buloh/ Kajang Line. You can also take the free Purple GOKL City Bus, get off and walk 100m along Jalan Hang Lekir.
Bukit Bintang or Bintang Walk is located at KL’s Golden Triangle and is packed with modern shopping malls that sell all kinds of Asian and international brands.
The Bintang Walk is the spot to shop until you drop with countless number of stores in every shopping complex, all lined up next to each other:
- Pavilion (a luxury mall with huge food court Food Republic in the lower ground floor)
- Starhill Gallery (high-end expensive brands)
- Fahrenheit 88
- Lot 10 (mostly Asian fashion and an underground Chinese food court)
- Sungei Wang
- Low Yat Plaza (electronic items and gadgets)
- Berjaya Times Square (mid-range products and cheap items that you can and can’t think of)
Getting There: Get off at Bukit Bintang Station along MRT Sungai Buloh/ Kajang Line or Bukit Bintang Monorail Station. You can also ride on the free Blue, Purple and Green GoKL City Buses and KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus and alight at Bukit Bintang Stop.
The best shopping malls located outside the city center are Mid Valley and the Garden (near Bangsar Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line) and 1 Utama Shopping Center (at Bandar Utama Station along the MRT Sungai Buloh/ Kajang Line) which claimed to be the largest mall in term of its size.
KL Street Arts
The alleys behind the biggest and most expensive shopping malls lies the street of amazing arts. These murals were done by local and international artists as part of the city art project in 2018.
A more novelty art type on display are the neon scuiptures of cartoony cloud silhouettes that float above the street and will light up at night. Other most notable painted murals with bright colors are the water stream painted on the floor, rainforest and some tropical Southeast Asia fauna.
Getting There: Alight at Bukit Bintang Station along the MRT Sungai Buloh/ Kajang Line or Bukit Bintang Monorail Station. You can also get here by the free Blue, Purple and Green GoKL City Buses and KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus and alight at Bukit Bintang Stop.
From any of the bus or train station, walk toward Lot 10 shopping mall and cross to the opposite side of the road in front of McDonald’s. Continue walking, make a right turn when you see the KFC restaurant and this beautiful street art are just around the corner (Still lost? Here’s the address: 62 Changkat Bukit Bintang).
The National Palace (Istana Negara) is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the monarch of Malaysia. It is about 25 minutes drive from the city center. This majestic palace was completed in 2011 with the cost of RM812 million to build.
You can only admire the beautiful exterior of the palace from the front gate of the palace. It has a total of 22 domes with the main dome reaching up to 60 m designed after a betel leaf which commonly presented at the Malay weddings.
The National Palace has one thing in common with Buckingham Palace that makes it also a must visit attraction for the same reason. You can catch the changing of horse guard at 1.30 pm
There is a guard house for members of the Royal Malay Regiment at the main entrance and two guards will stand on their post on each side of the gate. I was lucky enough to watch the changing guards, but it was overcrowded
Getting There: You can come here by the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus or take a ride with Grab car or MyCar which takes about 25 minutes (Inform the driver to take you to the National Palace in Jalan Tunku Abdul Halim (formerly known as Jalan Duta and do not be confused with the old palace in Jalan Istana).
Thean Hou Temple
The colorful Chinese Buddhist Thean Hou Temple is located on the top of the hill with amazing views of Kuala Lumpur city. It was completed in 1989 and cost RM 7 million to built.
The temple was built to honor Thean Hou, the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven. The large statue of Thean Hou is located in the 3rd floor of the main temple together with the goddess of water (Shuiwei Shengniang) on the left side and goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) on the right side. There are also some smaller Buddha statues.
Tips: There is no entrance fee to the temple and opens daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Getting There: Take the train to Bangsar Station along the LRT Kelana Jaya Line and take a ride to Thean Tau Temple with Grab car or MyCar.
Situated 13 km away from Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India and is dedicated to a Hindu deity, Lord Murugan.
It is home to the world’s tallest statue of Murugan that stands at 42.7 m in height. This statute was made from 1,550 cubic meters of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint.
Climb up this 272 beautifully-painted steps of this massive cathedral-like temple and be welcomed by wild monkeys.
Batu Caves is served as a pilgrimage site for the Hindu’s Thaipusam festival. The procession starts in the wee hours of the morning from Sri Mahamariamman Temple in KL leading up to the cave lasting up to eight hours.
Tips: The temple opens daily from 8 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. with no admission fee. Do wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. Also, wear comfortable shoes to climb 272 steps. Remember to bring water or buy some at the ground before heading up the temple.
Getting Here: Take a 30-minutes train ride from KL Sentral to Batu Caves along No. 1 KTM Seremban Line train. You can also take Grab Car or MyCar to the temple.
Craving for more Malaysian food? Or have a strong appetite for dinner? Then look not further.
Make your way to the most famous street food of KL, Jalan Alor that travelers will flock here to indulge themselves with delicious local food. Once the sun begins to set, the scene here will be totally different as it will transform into a bustling nightlife. There are plenty of restaurants that served seafood, stir-fried dishes and Chinese Sze Chuan food.
If you are here on a budget, an open-air restaurant called Restoran Dragon View is highly recommended. You can taste a diverse range of food without breaking your bank because the price is affordable. Hawkers here sell smoky-flavored satay, oyster egg, Hainanese chicken rice, fried koey teow, roasted barbecue pork and prawn noodles (to name a few). Also save your tummy for mouth-watering desserts: ABC, cendol and ice kacang.
So by now you should know why Kuala Lumpur (or Malaysia) is called a food paradise.
- Avoid traveling by buses or taxi and use the train between 7- 9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. because this are the peak hours before and after work.
- Don’t carry too many cash at once on the street. Snatch thief and robbery can be very common especially in the tourist spots.
- Remember to dress modesty as a sign of respect to other religions, regardless if you are visiting mosques, temples or churches.