Kuala Lumpur is regarded as one of the major transit hubs of South East Asia and a popular tourist destination for travelers. The city offers a culturally diverse and contemporary atmosphere full of activities, sights, and experiences to keep you entertained. The rich history combined with a thriving metropolis offers a balance and energy that I have not experienced in any other city.
My time in Kuala Lumpur was spread out over a 3-day period, flying with AirAisa via New Zealand and back. I intended to jam as much in as possible because let’s face it, who wants to spend wasted hours in a hotel room or hostel (always an exception). There are sights to see, and new experiences to embrace! With Kuala Lumpur’s efficient public transport allowing you to get more done in less time, as opposed to other cities in my travels, makes it easy to jam pack the activities in.
Prior to my time in Kuala Lumpur, I did some research online and throughout social media to ensure I did not miss anything during my time in the city. I also liaised with locals and staff at the hotel I was staying at, trying to locate any hidden gems that only locals would know about.
But hey, let’s not keep you waiting, below are my top 10 recommendations for Kuala Lumpur.
10. Take local transport
Kuala Lumpur is a massive metropolitan with one of the best public transport systems that I have seen in a city. Offering a mono rail, train, and buses to name a few that will take you around the main attractions and areas of the city. Alternatively, you can use Uber or grab a taxi, but you never get a feel for the city in my opinion. Going through the process of buying your mono rail ticket, locating where to get on and off, and getting packed into the mono rail with the locals is an experience.
Give it a go, it’s a bunch of fun!
Shopping is a very common leisurely activity for both the locals and tourist to partake in. Kuala Lumpur offers a range of upscale shopping centers and malls right down to localized markets. One of the most popular markets is Central Market which was established in 1888. It has both an indoor mall like structure that seems to never end with an outdoor walking street included. Both offering a balance between classic tourist items and genuine excellent quality items.
8. Walk around the city
Kuala Lumpur simply blew my mind. One thing I like to do when I get to a new city is just to wander around and see what the vibes are like. The city itself is very culturally diverse and this carries over into the architecture of the city. You have modern day skyscrapers immersed in both traditional and contemporary mosques along with Indian palaces and its very own distinct China Town. The city offers the perfect balance between concrete and nature and that is even more relevant when you go up the KL tower (number 4).
7. Bird Park
The Kuala Lumpur bird park is unlike anything I have seen before. A massive enclosure that will take you the best part of 20 minutes to walk from one side to the other. The Bird Park is home to hundreds of birds from all corners of the globe. From tropical birds to flightless birds even flamingos and a pelican can be found in this amazing park. Walking around the park is calming, with the trees hanging out over the paths and multiple waterfalls it feels just like the jungle. The hundreds if not thousands of birds are the icing on the cake.
6. China Town
Kuala Lumpur is a very culturally diverse city and almost a quarter of its population is Chinese. It is no wonder that it has a very prominent Chinese influenced suburb. Spreading across multiple streets you can get a real taste for the Chinese culture. Opportunities to shop for unique items and food is endless. If you take the time to duck down to the back streets you’ll feel as if you have stepped into China or walked through a time machine.
Tip – If you are not a fan of public transport to get around, use Uber to save money on a taxi.
5. Night Market
The night market reminds you that you are in Asia and brings the city back down to earth. The market street lined with food goes as far as the eye can see. From traditional Malay food, right through to other Asian cultures and classic BBQ. You can indulge in the likes of Frog and Stingray or just stick with what you know. The street also offers incredible vibes with musicians playing live music everywhere you look. There is something here for everyone! Highly recommend visiting the night market even if you’re only in Kuala Lumpur for one night.
4. KL Tower
The KL tower rises out of the ground as a thin needle like structure and can be seen from anywhere in the city. The easiest way to get there is either by Uber or public transport. I did the classic look at the big structure in the sky and walk towards it. However this did not work as I walked around in circles for over half an hour. The tower itself has multiple top levels floors you can choose from including restaurants and bars. The top floor has an open observation deck where you can get 360-degree views of the city.
3. KLCC Park
KLCC is located on one side of the Petronas towers. The better side of the towers if you ask me as the other side is a busy road full of traffic. The park has a couple of man-made lakes lined with lush green grass and trees. This is the perfect place to chill out for the afternoon. It is a common place to see both tourists and locals embracing the nature-like feeling in the middle of a metropolis. There is also a paddle pool and playground which is perfect to entertain kids if you have them.
2. Petronas Towers
The Petronas Towers are located in the heart in the city and arguably the main attraction or landmark in Kuala Lumpur. The two towers are a modern-day representation of the Islamic culture. Two towers rise out of the ground making them one of the tallest structures in South East Asia. The two towers are connected by a sky bridge. You can stand at the base in complete bliss otherwise make your way up to the sky deck.
1. Batu Caves
Located a short 15 – 20 minutes out of the city center dependant on traffic you will find the Batu caves. Home to a giant statue and beautiful caves it is a must see when visiting Kuala Lumpur. The big golden structure that represents Tamil Hindu sits at the base of the Batu caves. Steep stairs make there way up the cliff side to the two caves. The first is the dark cave which you can go into and explore deeply for 35 Malaysian Ringgit (RM). The main Batu cave is only a short distance further, taking only 10-15 minutes to walk up. A big open cave full of South Indian religious structures and beautiful scenery. It would be my number 1 recommendation if you have limited time in the city.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Kuala Lumpur for an extended layover, a couple days or a week I would recommend getting into the city and crossing a few of these items of the list if not all of them.