Planning a trip to Malaysia? Start with exploring all the fun things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s bustling capital city. From its modern skyscrapers to its vibrant historic neighborhoods, KL is one of Southeast Asia’s most interesting urban destinations. Whether you want to see the city from above at the Petronas Towers or learn more about Malay heritage in Kampung Baru, discover all that Kuala Lumpur has to offer with this attractions guide for first-time visitors.
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What to see & do in Kuala Lumpur
While they may no longer be the world’s largest buildings, the sleek Petronas Towers are as awe-inspiring as ever. Rising 88 storeys, these iconic buildings are KL’s most recognizable landmarks, visible from nearly every vantage point in the city.
The design of the Petronas Towers incorporates both Asian and Islamic elements, creating an architectural style that’s uniquely Malaysian. Over two decades have passed since their competition, and, still, no other structure in Kuala Lumpur beckons for a peek inside—and out.
The Petrona Towers are adjoined by a double-decker bridge that offers a spectacular view of central KL. Even if you only have one day in Kuala Lumpur, spend time on the Sky Bridge observation deck to gape at the clutter of tower spires and the stunning KL skyline.
PRO TIP: There’s a limited number of tickets available. Get to the Petronas Twin Towers in the wee hours to snatch yours up. Alternatively, buy your tickets online from the Petrona Twin Towers website. Tickets will set you back no more than RM98.
How to get to Petronas Towers
Hop onto the LRT and make your way to KLCC Station on the Kelana Jaya Line. The Petronas Towers are connected to the station by a pedestrian subway.
Little India (Brickfields)
Situated at the heart of KL Sentral Station, Brickfields, commonly known as “Little India,” is home to the majority of the city’s Indian population. The area is home to several residential complexes and a strip of colourful Indian shops. Visiting Little India gives travelers the perfect opportunity to explore Malaysian Indian culture & tradition while visiting Kuala Lumpur.
Walk aimlessly along the streets in Little India to take in the sights and smells. Sample Indian delicacies in one of Little India’s many restaurants to tackle your hunger with a little dash of spice. Experience a taste of South Indian cuisine at Restoran MTR or GEM Restaurant, two of the area’s more popular eateries. Or enjoy the street food scene with a stop at Brickfields Pisang Goreng, a small hawker stall famed for its fried bananas.
If you’re interested in shopping, Little India is the perfect place to take home authentic silk saris and jewelry. With all the bustle and uniqueness of Little India, you may even forget you’re in Malaysia!
How to get to Little India (Brickfields)
Brickfields sits just outside of KL Sentral Station. From KL Sentral, find your way to Jalan Tun Sambanthan, the main drag in Little India.
Bukit Bintang is the trendiest and most happening shopping and entertainment district in Kuala Lumpur. The area offers everything from plush shopping centres to glitzy five-star hotels. You’ll also be able to tackle all your Malaysia food cravings at its 24-hour restaurants or get wild at its vibrant pubs.
Bukit Bintang buzzes with activities all year round. One of the most iconic places to visit here is Pavilion KL. This sleek and upscale shopping mall houses the world’s top brands. Shops include European luxury retailers like Dolce & Gabbana, Coach, Juicy Couture, Versace, and MaxMara. You can shop your heart out in the luxury stores of this shopping mall, provided you’re willing to splurge.
If you’re more nocturnal, experience the legendary nightlife of the Bintang Walk. Dive into nightclubs and bars to socialize with locals and learn more about Malaysian customs and culture. Spend a relaxing evening at a posh pub, enjoy live music, or sip pints of beer, cocktails, and wine at an opulent rooftop bar. Whatever your evening entertainment preference, you’ll find it around the Bintang Walk.
PRO TIP: If you’ve built up an appetite, head over to Jalan Alor, one of KL’s most famous food streets. The action along Jalan Alor starts up in the late afternoon and continues until late into the night. You can find everything here, from Malay food favourites like satay to Chinese staples like wonton mee.
With all the nightlife and excitement abound, Bukit Bintang is also one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Kuala Lumpur. Backpackers should check out the hip minimalist Paper Plane Hostel, one of the best hostels in Kuala Lumpur. Those looking for more privacy and luxury will love the Verdant Hill Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
How to get to Bukit Bintang
Thanks to its central location, Bukit Bintang is easily accessible. You can reach Bukit Bintang from practically every corner of Kuala Lumpur via public transportation. The quickest way is via monorail, exiting at Bukit Bintang Station.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Built in 1873, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is an ancient Hindu temple that catches attention from worshipers and visitors alike. Designed by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, the temple was opened to the general public only in the late 1900s. Today, with more than a century of remarkable history, this temple (oddly located in Chinatown) stands as the richest Hindu temple in KL.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is designed with a variety of intricate architectural formations. They’re sure to grab your eyeballs and motivate you to take a few snapshots from different angles and perspectives.
The temple’s most remarkable feature is the massive structure resembling the shape of the human body. The temple is also bordered by impressive gateways at all the tiers, adorned with Hindu deities sculpted in a typical South-Indian style.
If you visit Sri Mahamariamman Temple during Thaipusam (a Hindu festival), you’ll get to be a part of the procession. It carries the statues of Lord Muruga and his consorts all the way to Batu Caves until the wee hours of dawn.
When you’re famished from all the photography and sightseeing, slink over to vibrant Petaling Street nearby for a hearty Chinese meal.
How to get to Sri Mahamariamman Temple
The closest LRT station to Sri Mahamariamman Temple is Pasar Seni. Exit Pasar Seni Station onto Jalan Sultan, taking your second left onto Jalan Tun H S Lee. The temple will be on your lefthand side.
Menara KL Tower
Overlooking the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, Menara KL Tower is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. With a whopping height of 421 metres, the tower stands as one of the tallest man-made structures on the globe.
KL Tower may be outshone by the glitzier Petronas Towers, but it still remains a spectacular architectural landmark. And just like Petronas, KL Tower draws huge crowds of tourists and locals alike.
The tower offers spectacular panoramic views of the city from its observation deck. Since the viewing deck is around 100 metres higher than that of the Petronas Tower, you’re sure to get the best view of Kuala Lumpur from KL Tower. The view is particularly splendid at sunset when you get to see the sparkling city center in all its glory.
Menara KL also has a revolving restaurant, Atmosphere 360. The restaurant offers fine dining and a pleasing ambiance. It charms with curving walls, immaculate table arrangements, and starry, sky-high views. Atmosphere 360 is the ideal place for travel date nights.
How to get to Menara KL Tower
Take the monorail to Raja Chulan Station. Walk out of the station towards Jalan Tengah, following it to Jalan P Ramlee. After crossing the street, you’ll need to continue straight(ish) onto Jalan Puncak. Walk as far as the guard gate, where you’ll be able to catch a free shuttle to KL Tower.
Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street)
The heart of KL’s Chinatown beats at Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street). The street is a popular destination for tourists and locals to engage in budget shopping and fine dining.
Petaling Street is one of the most famous places to shop in Kuala Lumpur and should be on the radar of every person who visits the city for the first time. The busy streets of Chinatown are lined by nondescript shops, offering everything from clothes and bags to keychains and gadgets.
Haggle with the shopkeepers on Jalan Petaling to carve out superb deals for whatever you find. If you’ve got some mad bargaining skills, you may even score up to half off!
Once you’ve finished shopping, head into one of the tiny tea shops to relish exquisite Chinese tea. Stomach growling with hunger? Pop into one of Jalan Petaling’s many restaurants to gorge upon KL’s most delicious Chinese gastronomic delights.
How to get to Jalan Petaling
The closest station to Jalan Petaling is Pasar Seni. Make your way to Pasar Seni LRT Station on the Kelana Jaya Line. Once outside of the station, walk straight up Jalan Sultan. Jalan Petaling will be the fourth street on your left.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Built in 1898, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is one of the earliest Moorish-style structures in Kuala Lumpur. The building is regarded as one of the most prestigious landmarks in the city. A couple of decades ago, it acted as the centre for the colonial British administration.
Times changed after independence. Today, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is now home to several government offices. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Communications of Malaysia calls the building home.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is situated on the eastern wing of Merdeka Square, forming a spectacular backdrop for the annual Independence Day Parade.
Gape at the marvellous architecture of this Gothic and Moorish-style building. Take a couple of snapshots against its graceful arches. You can also tour its 42-metre-high clock tower to revel in its old-world charm. Even amidst the changing skyline, Sultan Abdul Samad Building is still a must-see for travellers.
How to get to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Hop on the LRT, exiting at Masjid Jamek Station. Follow the signs from here to get to Merdeka Square. Sultan Abdul Samad Building lies upon the square.
KL Bird Park
Located in the serene and picturesque Lake Gardens, KL Bird Park is an enchanting tropical paradise. KL Bird Park is home to thousands of exotic birds and is regarded as the largest walk-in aviary in the world.
KL Bird Park houses 21 acres of valley terrain. The landscapes are replete with hidden adventures, unexpected bends, and dense forests, making the park a fantastic destination whether you’re an avid bird-watcher or a run-of-the-mill nature lover.
The activities at KL Bird Park offer endless opportunities for family fun and wildlife photography. You can chase the peacocks and gape at the hornbills or pose with the owls with a parrot on one shoulder. Feed chirping parakeets while watching the ostriches lay eggs, or be awed by the cacophony of the soaring storks in the surroundings.
How to get to KL Bird Park
The simplest way to KL Bird Park is to take RapidKL Bus 115 from KL Sentral. The bus will drop you off in front. Or find your way to Kuala Lumpur Station (not KL Sentral). You can take a taxi or walk to KL Bird Park via Jalan Perdana.
Once a hotbed for political activities, Kampung Baru is now a bustling foodies’ paradise. The district is tucked away in a silent little corner of downtown Kuala Lumpur, painting a quaint rural scene within the city. Its traditional timber houses are flanked by frangipani and coconut trees. All the while, stunning skyscrapers form a backdrop to its village-like look and feel.
Begin your time in Kampung Baru with a free walking tour into the heart of this traditional Malay village. This route will take you through amazing neighborhood sites. You’ll see the Sultan Sulaiman Club, Masjid Jamek, as well as charming old wooden houses. You can also imbibe the sights and sounds of this Malay village.
Stop in a traditional shop to buy authentic Malay spices as a souvenir. Or, if you’re more of a gadget geek, wander about the many lanes of Pasar Malam. Here, you can stock up on your favorite DVDs, books, clothes, and fashion accessories at unbelievably low prices.
Whatever you choose to do in Kampung Baru, carve out time to enjoy all the culinary delicacies at its hawker stalls. After all, eating at a hawker stall is one of the most important experiences in Malaysia! Just grab a plate, select the foods you want to try, and sit down to eat. Don’t be surprised if you feel like eating everything you see—even if you can’t identify all of them!
How to get to Kampung Baru
You can begin exploring the area by getting to Kampung Baru LRT Station on the Kelana Jaya Line. Simply walking around Kampung Baru is the best way to explore it.
Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque)
Designed in Mogul style, the impeccable Masjid Jamek adorns a Neo-Moorish style architecture. The design features signature onion-shaped domes, turrets, and dome-shaped canopies. Ancient horseshoe arches hang strikingly over decorated columns.
Located at the confluence of the Klang River and Gombank river, Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia. The grand façade and intricate carvings gracing the spires amaze anyone who sets their eyes upon it. You’ll find it nestled beneath a canopy of swaying, shady coconut trees.
Despite lying in the middle of a thriving metropolis of two million, the mosque has a tranquil & peaceful aura. It’s reminiscent of less complicated times in the Malaysian capital.
On Fridays, worshippers from all corners of Kuala Lumpur congregate here. Be sure to plan your visit to avoid this. Whatever time you choose to visit Masjid Jamek, don’t forget to dress conservatively as a mark of respect for Islamic culture.
How to get to Masjid Jamek
This is an easy one. Hop on the LRT to Masjid Jamek Station—and you’re there!
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur for sightseeing
Even with the size of the city, choosing where to stay in Kuala Lumpur isn’t exactly a hair-raising experience. Narrow your search to the areas around KLCC and Bukit Bintang. There’s a good mix of hotels offering superb value.
- 1000 Miles is about as good as a budget hotel gets. Anywhere. The rooftop terrace and proximity to Chinatown make it even more appealing.
- Verdant Hill Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a stylish 4-star hotel in the heart of KL. The incredible outdoor infinity pool and its skyline views set the hotel apart.
- Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur is a world-class 5-star luxury hotel for the price of a mid-range in most world cities. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the rooms drop in stunning views over KL.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is served by Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL). Several major airlines fly into KUL, including Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. As KL is one of the major airline hubs in Southeast Asia, it’s accessible from nearly every major city around the globe.
Buses from Singapore depart for Kuala Lumpur regularly. They cost about SGD30 and take approximately 5 hours. You can also reach KL from Melaka (RM10-20; ~3 hours) and Penang (RM40; ~5 hours).