Welcome to Kuala Lumpur!
Malaysia is a beautiful, culturally and geographically diverse country and it’s cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur, or KL, is fast becoming a major flight hub and cheaper alternative to Singapore.
From the ultra modern sky scrapers of Kuala Lumpur the iconic Petronas Twin Towers rise above the skyline. In the shadow of these modern skyscrapers, the monorails and a classy new malls, nestle old, often decrepit colonial buildings and buzzing Chinatown – the heart of old KL.
Although officially an Islamic country people of many different ethnicities and religions bustle through the modern malls and through Chinatown and Little India shopping, snacking at food stalls and worshipping at the variety of temples, mosques, shrines and churches throughout multicultural Malaysia.
I love Malaysia but during my visits to the city I came across many travelers who were just waiting for a flight and seemed stuck for ideas of things to do in the Malaysian capital but there are plenty of things to do in this cosmopolitan city to keep you occupied for days.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur:
#1 Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas Twin Towers, completed in 1998 used to hold the title of the tallest building in the world until surpassed by Taipei 101 in 2004. They still retain the title of the tallest twin towers and the icon of KL. The towers look their best at night and there are many places to admire the view and take some obligatory touristy pics.
You can go up inside the towers for 80 Ringgit (£15 / $25) and admire the view over the city . You can get an even better view from the Menara Kuala Lumpur ( KL Tower) for 49 Ringgit or from a rooftop bar.
The Suria KLCC is a fancy mall underneath the towers, check out the cool, musical, multi coloured fountains outside and catch a shuttle across the park to the rooftop bar of the Traders Hotel where you can enjoy drinks while getting an awesome view of the Petronas Towers. Theres even a swimming pool in the stylish bar and on Wednesday’s ladies get free magaritas!
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #2 Batu Caves
Take a train 13km north of the city to the Hindu Batu Caves, a complex of 3 caves set high into the cliffs. Climb the steep 272 steps to explore the colourful Hindu temples and shrines with their pantheon of gods and deities. Batu Caves are guarded by an impressive and imposing 43m high golden statue of Murugan – the largest in the world. There is also a 15 meter high statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee to Lord Rama, and Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #3 Shop till you drop.
From shopping in the classy, high end and elaborately decorated ultra modern malls, buying souvenirs and arts and crafts in the historic art deco central market to exploding your senses in the wet markets or chow kit market and haggling for a bargain in China Town’s Petaling Street market. KL is fast becoming a shopping destination and there is even a roller coaster and theme park in the Berjaya Times Square Mall.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #4 Learn about Islam
Malaysia is a culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse country but Islam is the state religion. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art where art and history collide through the intricate artifacts. Check out the 1907 Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque) with it’s quaint onion domes and minarets within a grove of palm trees and non Muslims can also enter the unique contemporary Masjid Negara (National Mosque) which is one of the largest in SE Asia and has a 16 pointed star roof. Visit the new bridge and spectacular mosque in Putrajaya a futuristic, new planned city now the administrative capital of Malaysia.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #5 Take a Walking Tour
Explore the history and culture through the heritage architecture, explore gritty, frantic Chinatown the oldest part of the city, experience cultural diversity through the food and temple hop from mosques to Chinese temples and elaborately decorated Hindu temples and see the colonial architecture in Merdeka Square. Various tours depart from the Central Market. For more information see malaysiaheritage.net
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #6 Try New Foods
Food in Malaysia is wonderfully tasty and varied due to all the different cultures that make up Malaysia. Try something new, look around the wet markets, food courts and night markets and surf the street food stalls on bustling Jalan Alor for tasty, varied, diverse, cheap and safe food
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #7 Go Green
KL is a surprisingly green city. In the center rises up the Lake Gardens Park. Escape the city and visit the excellent KL Bird Park, National Museum, watch tai chi in the morning or rent a boat on the lake while getting great views of the skyline or explore the nature trails around the bottom of the KL Tower.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #8 Experience Little India
Little India comes alive with the feel of a bazaar. Browse brightly coloured sari shops, listen to the beats of Bollywood music, eat Indian food the proper way (with your hands) and get a mehndi (Indian henna tattoo) There is also a free walking tour of Little India from the City Hall on Saturdays.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #9 KL City Gallery
Visit the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery in a heritage building in Merdeka Square. It’s free, with free wifi, and has a model of the city and galleries showing some of the history and memories of Kuala Lumpur as well as maps and walking tours information and some stylish souvenirs.
With some awesome new Malaysian friends on a rooftop heli pad bar with amazing views over the city and Petronas Towers. Photo credit www.vagabondimpulse.com
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur #10 Make Friends!
Malay people are welcoming and genuinely open and friendly and a good level of English is spoken so it is easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends with Malays.
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Kuala Lumpur is just the start of discovering incredible Malaysia. Check out 10 Must See Places in Malaysia, to save money on accommodation check out my 5 top backpacker hostels in Kuala Lumpur and find out the reasons Why I Love Malaysia – and why you should visit too.