petronas twin towers kl

Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant capital of Malaysia, offers a fascinating blend of modern skyscrapers, colonial architecture, and lush greenery. Whether you’re into history, a nature lover, or a foodie, Kuala Lumpur has something for everyone. I was lucky enough to spend 3 months remote working in Kuala Lumpur and was surprised at what I found. So, here is my guide on the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

How to Get to Kuala Lumpur

Getting to Kuala Lumpur is relatively straightforward. The city centre is about 45km away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). From the airport, you can take the KLIA Ekspres train, which gets you to KL Sentral in 28 minutes. Alternatively, there are airport taxis, ride-sharing services, and buses. If you’re coming from other parts of Malaysia or neighbouring countries, Kuala Lumpur is well-connected by bus and train services. I have taken the bus several times between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and always found it to be comfortable, efficient and cheap! I also did a return bus journey from Penang to Kuala Lumpur which was fairly easy too!

Petronas Twin Towers

No trip to Kuala Lumpur is complete without visiting the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Standing at 451.9m, the Petronas twin towers were once the tallest buildings in the world. You can either enjoy the majestic building from the ground or buy tickets to up inside it. There’s Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors and the observation deck on the 86th floor offer stunning views of the city. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues!

I found the towers to be great to visit both day and night, but particularly special once the sun has set, as the towers light up. In addition, I’d highly recommend going to a rooftop bar nearby to enjoy a few drinks and watch the Petronas Twin Towers light up as the sun goes down. My favourite rooftop bars for this were Wet Deck at the W Hotel and the Sky Bar.

If you’re visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, consider popping into Surai Shopping Mall or visit the KLCC Park for a coffee and walk. If you’re looking for good photo opportunities with the Twin Towers, go to the bridge in the KLCC Park!!

The Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are located just a short drive north of the city centre and are a must-do in Kuala Lumpur. These are a series of caves and cave temples nestled within a limestone hill. The main attraction is the large Golden Statue of Lord Murugan at the entrance and the 272 colourful steps leading up to the Temple Cave.

You could easily spend a few hours here, exploring the caves and the surrounding area. Arrive early to avoid the heat and large crowds and be mindfill that the Batu Caves are a religious site, so wear appropriate clothing.

Hikes and Walks in Nature in Kuala Lumpur

If you’re looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, Kuala Lumpur offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, right in the city centre, offers a lush escape with lush, jungle-like experience with hiking trails and a canopy walk.

I also loved visiting The Botanic Gardens, which had a range of different areas to explore, such as the main lake and the Butterfly Garden. For a more challenging hike, head to Bukit Tabur, known for its dramatic ridge and panoramic views. If you’re looking for a family-friendly option, the KLCC Park, with its walking paths and water fountains, is perfect. This is a great place for Petronas Twin Tower photo ops here!

presint 18 parkrun Putrajaya
Presint 18 Parkrun Putrajaya

I’m a big fan of Parkrun and I loved going to the Presint 18 Parkrun in Putrajaya. It was a gorgeous run in the park, along a palm tree-lined river, with a really friendly bunch of people. Putrajaya, the home of Government buildings, was also a fascinating place to spend the morning and see some beautiful, unique architecture. Although it wasn’t the easiest of parkruns to get to, I’d highly recommend it to any other runners visiting Kuala Lumpur. The Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) Park is also a beautiful urban oasis, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a jog.

With all of these parks and trails, I’d highly recommend getting there as early as possible as the heat and humidity were almost unbearable on some days. Also in the rain season, the afternoons typically have a strong downpour of rain which wouldn’t be fun to experience in the middle of a park/trail.

Shopping in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s paradise. From luxury malls to bustling street markets, there’s something for every budget. Suria KLCC and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur offer a range of high-end brands, while Berjaya Times Square is great for bargain hunters. The famous Petaling Street and Central Market in Chinatown is good for souvenirs, clothes and crafts.

One of my favourite areas to shop was the TRX building. There are a number of good shops there but my favourite part was the huge food hall on the C floor and the bars and restaurants alongside TRX with an outdoor roof area.

Food Markets

One of the best ways to experience KL is through its incredible food scene. The city is a melting pot of cultures, and this diversity is reflected in its cuisine. Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, and Petaling Street in Chinatown, are famous for street food, offering everything from satay to durian. Jalan Alor is also moments away from Changkat Bukit Bintang – a street full of various bars and restaurants and often a good place for cheap drinks deals.

For a more local experience, visit the Taman Connaught Night Market, open on Wednesdays. It’s slightly out the way of the city centre but you’ll be able to try a variety of Malaysian dishes like char kuey teow, nasi lemak, and roti canai.

For a more upscale dining experience, check out the trendy restaurants in the Bangsar and Damansara neighbourhoods. I found there were lots of hidden speakeasies and restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, so have a look on maps, as you might not walk past in.

Nightlife in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has pretty good nightlife. You’re not going to have the backpacker vibes of Thailand or the wide variety, as a city like Singapore, but there is fairly good nightlife. Changkat Bukit Bintang is one of the go-to place for bars and nightclubs in the city centre. It’s a strip filled with various ‘pub type’ places to eat and drink, typically with good happy hour deals. Kuala Lumpur is also home to a number of great rooftop bars, perfect for enjoying a laid back drink with sunset views of the city. Rooftop bars in Kuala Lumpur I enjoyed were SkyBar, Heli Lounge Bar and Wet Deck.

I found KL also had a range of good speakeasy bars, many were in Chinatown. You can also check out the Petaling Street Night Market here too. Other areas I enjoyed going out in were Bukit Damansara, Desa Sri and Hartamas. I was based near these areas as it was further out from the touristy, crowded centre. But there will be other district with good bars too – just be wary of slow taxi times given the bad KL traffic if you’re travelling from KLCC area.

Cultural and Historical Sites

Kuala Lumpur is also home to rich history and culture. If you’re short on time in the city, definitely prioritise visiting the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Merdeka Square, and the National Mosque. These are significant landmarks and are located fairly close together, making it easy to visit in one afternoon. If you are in this area, consider checking out Chinatown and the Botanic Gardens too, as they’re close. For a deeper understanding of the local culture, visit the Islamic Arts Museum and the National Museum.

FAQs

What is the Best Time to Visit Kuala Lumpur?

Probably the best time to visit Kuala Lumpur would be during the dry season, from May to July and December to February. However, I was based there for March – June, and despite the downpours, had a great time! As with many countries in this region, the rain was fairly predictable so you could just plan your day around it.

Is Kuala Lumpur Safe for Tourists?

Yes, Kuala Lumpur is generally safe, but like any major city, it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings. I would say though my only complaint on Kuala Lumpur was some men were fairly inappropriate in terms of staring and calling out. I’ve not experienced this to the same scale so i’d highly urge women to be covered – choosing long, floaty trousers over denim shorts for example.

What Language is Spoken in Kuala Lumpur?

Malay is the official language, but English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas. I found there to be no issues with language barriers as an english speaker.

What Currency is Used in Kuala Lumpur?

The Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). I used Wise throughout my trip and it was really easy to check the live exchange rate, transfer and convert money and use the contactless app. You will need to have cash for food markets and adhoc places like laundromats. There are money exchange services at the airport, hotels, and throughout the city. However, cards and contactless payments were accepted at most places.

Do I need a Visa to Visit Kuala Lumpur?

This will depend on your nationality. Many countries have visa-free entry for short stays. Check with the Malaysian embassy or government websites for more details on your specific situation.

How Can I Get Around Kuala Lumpur?

Public transportation is efficient, with options like the LRT, MRT, buses, and taxis. I personally found Grab to be quite cheap, so that was often a go-to also. It’ll depend on which time you’re planning to travel as rush hour in Kuala Lumpur is pretty bad!

Are there any cultural considerations I should be aware of?

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country, so it’s important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites! Some places, like the Batu Caves, will provide cover ups to rent but this isn’t a guarantee at every religious site. It’s also advisable to avoid public displays of affection and alcohol consumption in certain areas out of respect for local customs.

I was truely surprised by Kuala Lumpur, and what was supposed to be a few weeks of remote working turned into 30 months! From its towering skyscrapers to its historical sites, and from the bustling markets to the serene parks, there was always something to explore. Whether you’re here for a short visit or an extended stay, Kuala Lumpur promises an unforgettable experience

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