Wandering around Southeast Asia? There’s a good chance you’ll spend at least one day in Kuala Lumpur. The capital of Malaysia is one of the region’s main transport hubs. Kuala Lumpur is an emerging favourite on the traveller trail.
Even if you only have 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur, you can experience plenty in this eclectic city. You’ll gawk at the gleaming skyscrapers. You can stay in a glitzy luxury hotel—at surprisingly affordable prices. You’ll wander around traditional ethnic neighbourhoods. And you’ll eat & revel in some of the best food on the planet.
Ready to experience the best of Kuala Lumpur in one day? Start planning your trip with this complete 1-day Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
Where to go in Kuala Lumpur in 24 hours: A complete 1-day itinerary
Whether you’ve got 10 days in Malaysia or three weeks, there’s no better starting point than Kuala Lumpur. (Or KL as its most endearing fans would say). The Malaysian capital is one of the most exciting cities in Southeast Asia.
There’s a multitude of cool things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Even with just one day in Kuala Lumpur, you can visit a good chunk of the top attractions. Unfold your Kuala Lumpur itinerary by starting off with these ideas.
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Beat your morning blues at the Petronas Twin Towers
You won’t need to beat yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn to catch KL’s biggest attraction. But get a head start on the morning and your itinerary by plowing over to the Petronas Twin Towers.
This towering landmark is the undisputed symbol of Kuala Lumpur. Until 2004, it was the tallest building in world. Even if it’s been overtaken 15 times since, Petronas Towers is still one of the finest modern architectural treasures in the world. It’s one of the absolute must-sees in Malaysia.
Unless you buy your Petronas Towers tickets beforehand, you’ll need to start lining up at the ticketing counter before 8:30am. There’s only limited number of tickets available on a first come, first-serve basis.
Once you’ve secured your entrance tickets, scoot up to the observation deck. It hovers on the 86th-floor, 170 metres above the ground. Relax and enjoy spellbinding views of KL.
Your Petronas Towers tickets also include entrance to the Skybridge. This covered glass platform links the twin towers on the 41st and 42nd floors. The Skybridge offers its own spectacular views of Kuala Lumpur.
Want to make the most out of your visit to Petronas Towers? Check out these skip-the-line options and hand-picked KL tours!
- Skip-the-Line Petronas Towers Ticket: Avoid the long queue at the Twin Towers with these convenient skip-the-line tickets. Includes delivery to you Kuala Lumpur city centre hotel!
- Petronas Towers and KL Tower Tickets: Can’t get enough of seeing Kuala Lumpur from above? Combine a visit to the Petronas observation deck and skybridge from the city’s other top viewpoint, KL Tower, with these combo tickets. Delivery to your hotel in KL is included.
- 4-Hour Tour and Twin Towers Visit: Get more out of your Kuala Lumpur travel plan with this action-packed 4-hour guided tour. It’ll whisk you through some of the city’s best tourist sites. The excursion includes admission to both Petronas Twin Towers and KL Menara Tower. You’ll also get round-trip transportation and hotel pick-up.
Relive the history of KL at Merdeka Square
Finished soaking in the views from the Petronas Towers? Continue your day in Kuala Lumpur by heading over to nearby KLCC Station. The station is 8 minutes by foot from the twin towers.
Hop onto a train for the short ride to Masjid Jamek Station. From here, it’s a short 5- to 7-minute walk to Merdeka Square at the historical heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Once a mere cricket ground in colonial times, Merdeka Square is, today, one of the most important sites in Kuala Lumpur. The lovely square is surrounded by beautiful historical buildings.
Most stunning on the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The building is a prime example of 19th-century Moorish architecture. It currently houses the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and Arts. (Snapping a few Instagram-worthy shots is always recommended here.)
There’s a handful of other attractions around Merdeka Square. Options include the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and the National Textile Museum. With only one day in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll probably want to give them a miss unless you’re a huge history-buff or a closet batik connoisseur.
Interested in the history of Kuala Lumpur? Check out these recommended Kuala Lumpur city tours!
- Best of Kuala Lumpur Tour: Fit in all the best of the city on this full-day guided tour! Highlights include Petronas Towers (admission included), Merdeka Square, National Mosque, and Batu Caves.
- 10 Wonders of KL Tour: Join in on this private full-day tour of the best attractions in Kuala Lumpur. Stops include the Twin Towers, National Museum, Chinatown, and Brickfields (Little India). You’ll also visit the Central Market and Thean Hou Temple.
- Private KL City Tour: Hop onto this affordable half-day private tour to learn about history of Kuala Lumpur while exploring some of its top sites. Includes a side trip to the beautiful Batu Caves outside of the city centre.
Shop & chow down at Central Market Kuala Lumpur
Absorbed the sights and sounds of Merdeka Square? Cross over the Klang River via Leboh Pasar Besar. Head south along the eastern bank to one of KL’s cultural landmarks, Central Market.
Central Market was built in 1928 with roots digging back as far 1888. Central Market transformed itself from a quiet wet market into a handicrafts nirvana. Browsing through the torrent of stalls at Central Market is like staring down Malaysia in miniature. You’ll find everything from Malay batik to Indian saris to Chinese sculptures.
Besides selling a wide array of handicraft and souvenirs, Central Market is one of the best places to eat in Kuala Lumpur on a budget. From asam laksa and dumplings to fresh fruit juices, all kinds of mouth-watering Malay food & drinks await in the upper food court. And all for prices that would likely barely get you a bus ride back home.
Just don’t fill up too much. There’s plenty more in store for your belly as you continue your Kuala Lumpur trip itinerary!
Got delicious food on the brain? Indulge your cravings on one of these oh-so-yummy food tours!
- Half-Day Food Walking Tour: Eat your way through the cornucopia of Indian, Malay, and Chinese flavours of Kuala Lumpur. This 3.5-hour guided food walks through Brickfields and Chinatown.
- Off-the-Eaten-Track Food Tour: Dig through the city’s hidden food stalls at four different stops on this offbeat 3.5-hour tour. Food samples include local favourites like satay, nasi goreng, and hokkien mie.
- Kuala Lumpur Food Tour: Taste 10 delicious Malay, Indian, and Chinese dishes on this flavour extravaganza. The tour wanders through Chow Kit Market, Kampung Baru, Masjid India, and Madras Lane.
Explore the heart of KL’s Chinatown at Petaling Street
From Central Market, it’s a quick walk down Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock to Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street). The famous street is the central nervous system of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown.
The area is one of the most exciting in KL. It’s constantly abuzz with action day and night. Jalan Petaling is an absolute must-visit during your first 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur.
Walking along Petaling Street, you’ll feel as if you’ve magically stepped into the streets of Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing. The atmosphere is lively along the street. Kiosks pop out from the buildings under awnings and umbrellas. As you walk, shopkeepers beckon you to buy their latest wares.
Chinatown is the perfect place in Kuala Lumpur to sharpen your bargaining skills. You’ll find everything from clothing and fashion accessories to handicrafts and souvenirs here all at bargain-basement prices that’ll astound you—even before haggling them down.
But, of course, Petaling Street isn’t just about shopping. In a city that’s as batty for food as KL, you’d have to expect that Chinatown offers some of Kuala Lumpur’s best cuisine. If you’ve still got room after your Central Market adventures, fuel up your itinerary at one of these top restaurants in KL’s Chinatown:
- Restoran Kim Lian Kee is a KL classic that dubs itself as the originator of hokkien mee. This dish is a delicious combo of stir-fried noodles and a thick dark-soy-based sauce.
- Restoran Koon Kee Wan Tan Mee is a restaurant with over 50 years of history backing it up. The restaurant serves up KL’s best wan tan mee. This Cantonese favourite consists of noodles in a sweet black sauce. It’s topped with ingredients like sweet BBQ pork, chicken, and dumplings.
- Old China Cafe is a small restaurant with an old-world feel. It delivers Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) food, including their spicy & juicy beef rendang.
Before you leave Chinatown, don’t miss a chance to see Sri Mahamariamman Temple. This ornate 19th-century Hindu temple is quite striking & eye-catching. It seems wholly out-of-place among the Taoist & Buddhist temples scattered elsewhere in Chinatown.
Ready to explore Chinatown deeper? Check out these recommended tours!
- Petaling Street Food Tour: Indulge in the tastiest food KL has to offer. This 3.5-hour tour pierces through the heart of Chinatown. You’ll sample local dishes like ikan bakar (BBQ fish), yu tiao breadsticks, and kaya jam (toast with coconut jam).
- Food Trail Walking Tour: Join this 3- to 4-hour small-group walking tour to experience the sights, sounds, and flavours of Chinatown, Brickfields, and Bangsar.
- Night Market Tour and Buffet: Explore Kuala Lumpur by night on this private evening sightseeing tour. It walks through Independence Square, Central Market, and Petaling Street. Round-trip hotel transportation and a buffet dinner is included.
Get a taste of Bollywood in KL’s Little India (Brickfields)
After immersing yourself in the delights of Chinatown, head back towards the Klang River. Enter into Pasar Seni Station for a train ride to KL Sentral. Around the station, you’ll continue to explore KL’s diversity in Little India.
Officially known as Brickfields, Little India is one of the Malaysian capital’s more colourful corners. The area is plastered with curry houses and shops blasting Hindi music onto the street. The neighbourhood’s stores sell everything from saris to Bollywood DVDs to spices.
Appetite hasn’t yet reeled from your Chinatown culinary adventures? Skip on the area’s famous banana leaf rice & curry dishes for now. Opt instead for a delicious & refreshing mango lassi to help you cool down in KL’s mid-day heat.
Looking to learn more about Brickfields? Hop onto one of these top tours!
- Discover Brickfields Tour: Tackle the bustling streets, markets and temples of KL’s Little India on this 1.5-hour private tour!
- Private Religious Tour: Learn more about KL’s religious heritage on this private tour through Batu Caves, Masjid Negara, and Thean Hou Temple. Includes a tasty lunch in Brickfields.
Enjoy the sunset at SkyBar
With the bulk of a day spent haggling, walking and sightseeing, I’d say you’ve earned a little downtime. In a city sprinkled with epic views like KL, there’s no better way to do it than to chill out at a rooftop bar.
There are plenty of rooftop bars in Kuala Lumpur. One of most acclaimed is SkyBar. The bar is located on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel in KLCC.
Visit SkyBar to enjoy some of the city’s most innovative cocktails and rub elbows with KL’s well-to-do. An evening relaxing at SkyBar places the best views of Kuala Lumpur front-and-centre. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll marvel at a majestic view of the Petronas Towers.
Another option for unfettered Kuala Lumpur city views is the Heli Lounge Bar. The bar is situated on the 34th floor of Menara BH Building on a helipad. This popular spot features wonderful 360-degree vistas of the Petronas Towers and KL Menara Tower with zero hindrance.
Both the SkyBar at the Traders Hotel and the Heli Lounge Bar are within a 20- to 30-minute walk from KLCC Station. It’s 5 stops and 10 minutes by train from KL Sentral.
Ready to make the most out of your evening? Book yourself onto one of these top-rated Kuala Lumpur nightlife & food tours!
- Local Street Food Night Tour: Experience KL as it’s meant to be—through the tastebuds! This 2-hour evening food tour visits top foodie destinations like Hutong Food Court, Jalan Alor, and Mamak SK Corner.
- Menara KL Tower Dining Experience: Dine to tremendous skyline views by hooking yourself up with this ticket for the Atmosphere 360 restaurant atop KL Tower.
- Discover the Magic Evening Tour: Illuminate your tastebuds to sunsets and bright evening lights on this private 3-hour excursion. This value-laden tour includes a drink at the famous Heli Lounge Bar. You’ll also enjoy food sampling along Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang.
Shop & dine in Bukit Bintang
Snagging world-class panoramas has surely resurged your appetite, no? If so, fire up your legs for the short walk south to Bukit Bintang. The neighbourhood is one of the coolest areas in KL. It bursts with local & international restaurants, classy bars, and trendy boutiques & shopping malls.
Brace yourself for a deluge of flavours in Bukit Bintang. From the spicy goodness of Indian to the fragrant & exotic tastes of Malay & Thai food, it’s all here. Both restaurants & hawker stalls fill the streets here. They deliver some of the most scrumptious food in KL. Stuff yourself at one of these best places to eat in Bukit Bintang:
- Jalan Alor: is one of the best food streets in Asia. Jalan Alor offers some of the best street food in KL. You can enjoy grilled satay skewers cooked to perfection on charcoal grills. Or delight in stir-fried noodle dishes tossed around in a wok.
- Lot 10 Hutong Food Court is a hawker centre with a layout inspired by a Beijing hutong. This culinary nirvana features handpicked favourites from popular food vendors from around KL and as far as Penang. Top dishes include hokkien mee and wonton dumpling soup.
- Bijan Bar & Restaurant is an award-winning restaurant focusing on Malay cuisine. Among the restaurant’s specialties is their beef rendang, a beef curry slow-cooked to spicy perfection.
Got a little more energy to spare after eating to your heart’s content? Spend the rest of the evening browsing Bukit Bintang’s fashion boutiques and malls. Or let loose by partaking in its legendary nightlife.
Need a little evening action around Bukit Bintang? Check out one of these Kuala Lumpur nightlife tours!
Where to stay with 24 hours in Kuala Lumpur
When you’ve only got one day in KL, choosing where to stay in Kuala Lumpur isn’t such a difficult task. As much as the Malaysian capital can seem like a massive sprawl, the action for tourists revolves around the city centre. Look for accommodations around Chinatown, KLCC and Bukit Bintang. Get your search started with these top Kuala Lumpur hotels:
- The Kuala Lumpur Journal Hotel is a modern hotel with retro twists thrown into the delightful chaos of Bukit Bintang. The rooms are sleek with superb city views. The hotel’s at its best when you’re peering out onto KL from the rooftop infinity pool.
- Traders Hotel is home to the famous SkyBar. This 4-star hotel delivers on modern rooms with incredible floor-to-ceiling views. Chill out at the spa’s steam room or hot tub to unwind after a long day of sightseeing in Kuala Lumpur.
- Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur is one of the best luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur. This 5-star gem spikes up the serotonin with its palatial rooms and spellbinding vistas.
More 1-day Kuala Lumpur itinerary ideas
- Want to embrace nature? Fit in some time at KL Bird Park, a relaxing oasis amid the chaos of Kuala Lumpur, not far from KL Sentral.
- Love seeing Kuala Lumpur from above? Pop over the KL Menara Tower for some of the best skyline views in the city.
- Obsessed with history? Snag a few hours at the National Museum of Malaysia. This interactive museum covers the country’s history from the prehistoric age to the modern era.
- Searching for KL’s architectural roots? The Malay area of Kampung Baru gives a hint at the humble aesthetics of Kuala Lumpur before its resource-fuelled building boom.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is served by Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL). Most travellers coming from abroad will enter Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia via KUL.
KUL is hub for several airlines, including AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines. Kuala Lumpur a popular layover destination on Southeast Asia itineraries.
Malaysia offers an budget-friendly network of buses to get you around the country. Services are generally convenient & comfortable. Some of the most popular bust routes to Kuala Lumpur and travel times include:
- Melaka (2.5 hours)
- Penang (6 hours)
- Singapore (5-6 hours)