Kuala Lumpur skyline, Malaysia

What To Do In Kuala Lumpur – Top 10 Things in 2024

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Any trip to Malaysia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Kuala Lumpur.

The capital of my favourite south east Asian nation, it is more than likely that travellers will have to pass through it at some point on their trip as they get around the vast nation.

Whether it is just a stop at the vast bus station or major international airport, to spending a few days to a week in the capital, odds are, you’ll be seeing some part of it.

Whilst many may just skip Kuala Lumpur as “just another south east Asian capital”, I shared some of those views for the first few times I passed through.

Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have endless admirers in the travel community, but after staying for an extended period of time as a digital nomad, I have found the charm in KL (as the locals call it) and realised there is plenty to see and do in Kuala Lumpur.

Like the rest of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has a little bit of something for everyone, and a little bit of culture from everything. From backpackers, to digital nomads, to long term expats and everything in between, here is what to do in Kuala Lumpur on your next trip.

The 10 Top Things to see in Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers

The Petronas towers are the two symbols of Malaysia arriving into the 21st century. See any image of Kuala Lumpur and it is likely that the iconic twin towers will be featured somewhere.

Built in the 1990’s to contain the offices of the state oil company Petronas, they now stand to show the world that Kuala Lumpur is a thriving, modern and prosperous. Designed with an Islamic style in mind, the towers can be seen from all of Kuala Lumpur.

Tickets can be bought to go up to the top of the towers, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It is best to book online before hand to ensure availability as they do sell out. I have had mixed luck getting tickets, twice they have been sold out and twice I have been able to get tickets on the day or for a few hours later.

After taking in the bridge joining the two towers together on the 42nd floor at 170m above the ground, the highest double decker bridge in the world, you will be whisked up to the 86th floor for views over the entire city with a small museum with explanations on how the towers were built as well as some advertisements for all the good Petronas, as an oil company, is doing around the world…

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Petronas Towers at night

KLCC Park

Just out the back of the Petronas Towers lies KLCC park. This peaceful green space, in amongst the concrete jungle of skyscrapers surrounding it, has a manmade lake area, a playground for kids, a running track and another set of pools and mini water park for kids to splash around in.

Come again at night time to watch the sound and light show of the fountains in the pools and watch all the cultures of Malaysia come together to enjoy an evening’s entertainment from 8pm onwards.

KLCC Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
View of KLCC park from the Petronas Towers

KL Tower

Another tower that isn’t as well known as the Petronas Towers, but nonetheless still an icon of the KL skyline, the KL Tower as it is also known seems to actually be higher than the Petronas Towers as it is built on a hill giving it a 40m head start.

With an indoor and outdoor observation deck, as well as a revolving restaurant, the Menara Tower has everything for all budgets. A ticket to the observation deck only starts at RM60 but a candlelit dinner at the top on a Saturday night is RM249 per person. Perhaps a treat at the end of your travels is in store?

KL Skyline, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Menara Tower on the left hand side

You may also like: Petronas Twin Towers vs KL Tower: Which Is Best To Visit?

China town

With the city being founded by Chinese miners and the multi cultured nature of Malaysia, it’s unsurprising that Kuala Lumpur has an extensive China Town. Focused around Petaling Street, the area has hawker stalls selling Chinese style food and Chinese temples surround the area. At the end of the street are the ubiquitous red Chinese gates that are found in China towns around the world.

Petaling Street is now a covered market selling cheap knock off goods such as “designer” handbags, clothes, shoes, football shirts and budget electronics including an abundance of selfie sticks.

The hawker stalls at Tang City Food Court is a good place to go for lunch or evening meal if you want traditional fair.

China Town, Petaling street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pasar Seni

Just a short walk from China town, Pasar Seni (Art Market) was the original wet market for all of Kuala Lumpur built by the British in 1888. Now it sells traditional goods from around Malaysia, has a small food court and some highly commendable art from local artists in modern and traditional styles.
It’s open everyday from 10am-8pm.

Pasar Seni KL, Malaysia

Masjid Jemak

Masjid Jemak is a large mosque located on the confluence of the two rivers which gives Kuala Lumpur its name. The oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur, it is only open to visitors at set times and is closed to non muslims during prayer.

If it’s not possible to go inside, the best views of the Masjid is from across the river or the Klang River Bridge.

Masjid Jemak, Kuala Lumpur, malaysia
Masjid Jemak, along the Klang River

National Museum

I love a museum and the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur (Muzium Negara), provides and excellent overview of all things Malaysia. It has four main rooms focusing on pre history, before colonisation, the colonisation period and the current day.

It doesn’t focus too long on any particular aspect and provides enough information to be informative without having too much to make it boring.

I often wonder if it’s better to visit a National Museum before your trip so you learn everything about a country, or as one of the last things to do, as once you have improved your knowledge, the museum will piece the dots together.

Either way, this has enough to whet the appetite and to teach you more.

Entrance is RM5 for foreigners and they often have additional exhibits at most times of the year. There is no public transport available but Grab offers an affordable option.

National Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
National Museum

Botanic Gardens

Within walking distance of the national museum is the botanic gardens. Also containing a butterfly park, deer park, bird park, bamboo park and a planetarium. There’s lots of parks to see here! The lush green gardens make for an excellent place to get back to nature and escape from the city.

The large central lake makes an excellent focal point and with covered areas, skateboard ramps, wide pathways and lush green grassy areas to sit back and enjoy your day.

Botanic Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Botanic Gardens

Independence Square

On 31st August 1957, the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time in Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka) by Tunku Abdul Rahman. Now it is an important place in Malaysian history and hosts the independence day parade each year.

The roads around it are closed on Sundays and families come out to play and enjoy the wide open spaces as street stalls set up their wares. It makes a fascinating place to discover Malaysian history including the large flagpole and state flags surrounding. It is also one of my favourite viewpoints in Kuala Lumpur with sights of Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the home of the British colonial administration, as well as the ultra modern KL Tower, Merdeka 118 and Petronas Towers in the distance.

Independence Square, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Independence Square

Batu Caves

The only item on this list that is outside of the city centre, the Batu Caves have become increasing popular in recent years for one small reason.

I first visited in 2018 and the steps up to the caves were a dull grey concrete. Shortly after they were painted bright colours which made them an Instagram sensation. And I have to say, I fully agree with how pretty they are.

The caves are for Murugan, the Hindu god of war and one of the most important Hindu religious sites outside of India. It’s possible to take the train there from KL Sentral or via a Grab from KLCC costing RM12.

Batu caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Batu caves

The more unusual alternative things to do in KL

On one of the main streets in Bukit Bintang, close to Jalan Alor, Dining in the Dark is the first of its kind in Malayasia. Take your senses to the extreme as you eat your surprise meal in total darkness. The food has unique textures and flavours which is revealed at the end of your reservation.

With a city of skyscrapers, be prepared for for an abundance of rooftop bars and infinity pools. HeliPad KL in Bukit Bintang offers a rooftop bar with a twist. During the day, this is a helipad that can be used by the rich and famous for public transport, but in the evenings, it turns into a fancy rooftop bar. Another option would be Boudoirz, the bar and restaurant at the top of Ceylonz Suites in Bukit Ceylon. Pricey food but it comes with the additional bonus of an infinity pool.

Like many cities, KL also has its fair share of quirky attractions like the UpsideDown House at Menara KL. If you like something that brings more culture, the National Mosque of Malaysia and Islamic Arts Museum and located next to each other and is a must see for anyone with an interest in Islamic architecture and history.

Getting Around Kuala Lumpur

Many of the major tourist sites in KL listed here are within walking distance of each other. Although it would be a long walk, it would be easy to walk from the Petronas Towers, to Masjid Jamek, China Town and back to Bukit Bintang.

Kuala Lumpur isn’t the most walkable with pavements often not perfectly flat and always be aware of traffic. Bikes especially seem to have a law unto their own and will often ride on the pavement if it saves them a few seconds.

The public transport in KL is confusing. I’ve been there countless times and I still can’t get my head around it. There are a variety of train lines, all radiating out from KL Sentral station but if you want to change any of the lines, it means leaving the station and buying a new ticket. Buses are an option but they have always appeared very busy, as they would be when some routes are free. I have asked locals this and they agree that the public transport is poor in KL and car is king.

You may also like: How To Get From KL International Airport To The City Centre in 5 Different Ways

Unless you hire a car (which I wouldn’t recommend unless you have experience driving in Asian cities), using the Grab app is an excellent choice. Grab is the Malaysian version of Uber with short journeys costing as little as RM5, and wait times in the centre rarely being over 5 minutes. Traffic can be bad at rush hour, in which case it may be quicker to walk so be aware of where you want to go before blindly booking a taxi.

Best Time to Visit Kuala Lumpur

Being a bustling city, there is always something going on in Kuala Lumpur no matter the time of year.

January and February and June to August are most favourable in terms of weather with slightly less rainfall predicted, with November and December and March to April considered especially wet.

The temperature averages 30 degrees with high humidity year round which may make travelling tough for those not used to the weather.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has options for all budgets across the city. For those with deep pockets, there is ample 5 star accommodation close to KLCC with the Four Seasons having rooms starting at £200 per night.

AirBnB’s are numerous across the city, with Bukit Bintang and around the Golden Triangle being popular areas with studios and one bedroom apartments widely available.

Backpacker hostels start at £8 per night and can be found around Bukit Bintang and China Town, perfect for those cheap eats in the evening as well. Bangsar is popular with expats with many western shops, businesses and restaurants if you do miss it.

KL skyline, Malaysia

Summing Up Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is now one of my favourite cities and I’ve listed the best thing to do in Kuala Lumpur that I’ve loved and done many times. Like any city in the world, the longer you stay and the more you do, the more charm you discover. Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia should be on everyones travel list as I genuinely believe that Malaysia is one of the best countries in the world. I hope this list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur has given you the inspiration (if you’re planning to go) or added to your plans (if you’ve already got your tickets!) when you get to the Malaysian capital.

Check out my other posts for travelling around Malaysia:

Sarawak

Kuala Lumpur

Penang

Langkawi

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