City Guide: Kuala Lumpur

From the roti tisu to rooftop bars, here are the best things to experience when in Kuala Lumpur!

The Kuala Lumpur City Guide gives you an insider’s look at Malaysia’s dynamic metropolis!

Don’t know what to do in Kuala Lumpur? Here’s a guide to Malaysia’s underrated capital complete with the best eats and the must-sees., all doable in four days time. It’s a melting pot of people with ethnic Malay, Indians, and Chinese coexisting in the same space so make it your mission to sample a bit of each culture whether your eating Nasi Goreng in Jalan Alor, making your way to a Chinese Tea House, or offering a lotus blossom to Lord Madruga at the Batu Caves. And if you find yourself falling in love with Malaysia like I did, there’s plenty more to see and do!

cg-highlights-01
City Guide Kuala Lumpur Batu Caves
  • Watch out for the monkeys darting across the steps at the BATU CAVES, a Hindu shrine dedicated to the Lord Madruga, located outside of Kuala Lumpur in the Gombak district where a colossal golden statue of the deity towers over the mountain side
  • Walk the double-decked Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors, connecting the two units of the PETRONAS TOWERS, KL’s most recognizable symbol, although this iconic monument cannot be missed once in the city proper
  • Cage yourself in with pelicans and peacocks and the vividly colored red ibis at the world’s largest free flight walk-in aviary, KL BIRD PARK, which is also located near other tourist attractions such as the BUTTERFLY PARK, THE ORCHID GARDEN,  and THE NATIONAL PLANETARIUM.
  • Browse through a collection of Malaysian goods from traditional batik textiles to Chinese candies, all at the CENTRAL MARKET, and haggle your way towards a deal
  • For nightlife, CHANGKAT BUKIT BINTANG is the go-to spot for a great line-up of flashy clubs, Irish pubs, salsa dancing, hookah bars, and posh dining lounges; don’t miss out on the amazing happy hour hookups
  • Wander around the sleepy neighborhood of KAMPANG BARU where tradition reigns as ethnic Malays continue to preserve their country lifestyles and eat among non-English speaking locals
  • Eat every dish under the sun at JALAN ALOR, the walking street synonymous to Malaysian cuisine lined with eateries serving everything from stir-fry to barbeque to hotpot, as you eat outside by the light of red paper lanterns (try char kway teow, a bed of flat rice noodles doused in soy sauced and stir-fried with vegetables, egg, and meat)
  • Pore over a well-kept collection of Islamic artistry at the ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM showcasing the most beautiful religious relics from Malaysia’s predominant faith
cg-foodie-01
City Guide Kuala Lumpur Animals

IF VEGETARIAN IS YOUR STYLE

  • RANI VILAS RESTAURANT VEGETARIAN FOOD (at the base of the Batu Caves) Not only does this South Indian restaurant provide the friendliest service, but it also serves up the best roti I’ve ever tasted in my life; it was buttery, flaky, and chewy all at once and with a bottomless serving of chutney and daal soup, my eyes were literally drooping by the time I finished the meal.

IF YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF FOODCOURTS

  • TANG CITY FOOD COURT (Jelan Petaling, Chinatown) While the winding streets of Chinatown pose an issue for the directionally-challenged, I have stumbled upon this food court, not once, but twice – and everytime, this canteen selling food by the pound always left me with a grossly overflowing plate costing only 10 ringgit (roughly $2.5).

IF YOU DON’T MIND A WALK THROUGH THE GHETTO

  • HUSSEN CAFE (Jalan Dutamas 1, Wilayah Persekutuan) Despite the fact that location is not the most ideal (or safe for that matter), you will get the most authentic feasting experience at this locals-recommended café. With a seemingly loyal customer base, you have to have faith that the meal will be good after being handed a Malay-only menu.  Even though we didn’t know what we were eating, every dish that came out surprisingly satisfied us. Don’t be confused: there is a Hussen Café right next door but the better one is the one with the larger seating space.

IF YOU’RE WANTING TO THROW A ROTI PARTY

  • RESTORAN SK CORNER (Jalan Rembia, Bukit Bintang) For a perfect drunk-dining spot, head to this Indian joint, where their servings of roti (unleavened flour bread) are varied and cheap. Don’t miss out on Roti Pisang (Roti with banana), Roti Tisu (Roti shaped into a cone that’s crispy and is paired with a sugar-infused, melted butter sauce) and regular Roti (to satisfy your sweet tooth, ask for a side dish of condensed milk and for those craving salt, try the chicken curry dip).

IF YOU NEED A BREAK FROM RICE

  • BURGER BAR BY FATBOY CONCEPTS (Jalan Dutamas 1, Wilayah Persekutuan) With a menu catering Western taste buds, this pseudo-food stand allows you to order specialty burgers or create your own. However, the sides are truly the highlight of the establishment — with a selection of unique items such as their ‘Disco Fries’ (French fries covered in gravy and topped with melted cheese) and‘Spam Fries’ (thinly cut spam battered and deep-fried), you’ll want a second helping or two. Just a forewarning: it gets very messy!
cg-luckyfinds-01
City Guide Kuala Lumpur Helipad Lounge
  • The Helipad Lounge was named after its original function as a helicopter landing pad but has been converted into an unrestrained rooftop drinking area; surrounded by a breathtaking 360-degree view of downtown KL with the Petronas Towers on your left and the KL Tower on your right, sip your cocktail and relax while you watch the sunset (come an hour before sunrise to get a seat)
  • Don’t be deterred by the long lines at KL’s hottest club Zouk; this five-story dance complex is well worth the wait provided the free-entry for foreigners if you bring your actual passport
  • On the 6th floor of Pavilion, there is a space called Tokyo Street, selling Japanese-themed merchandise and goods; if you’re hankering for some aesthetically pleasing goodies or a relatively-inexpensive Japanese meal, this is your retreat
  • For that cheesy photo opp and a free souvenir, the “I Love KL” sign is found outside the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
  • A hidden sanctuary from the urban madness, KLCC Park is a 50-acre green space, featuring spectacular water fountains and 74 species of flora, perfect for a nice stroll or jog at dusk when it isn’t too hot
  • Arriving in February? Take part in the Thaipusam Festival where thousands of Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to the steps of Batu Caves carrying pots of milk in great procession.
cg-accomodations-01
City Guide Kuala Lumpur Accommodations

SPLURGE

Classic Malay Guesthouse (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3587097) had surpassed every expectation we had in terms of accommodations. An actual “guest house” belonging to a Malaysian couple named Sharifa and Amin, this two-story classic Malay space is painted in a cheery yellow and blue color scheme built around the base of a mangrove tree, surrounded by a tiled courtyard shaded by palm trees and bubbling water fountains.  Book weeks in advance as the calendar gets full. $60 per night for the entire house.

SAVE

Pod Backpackers (http://podsbackpacker.com/) is only a few meters walk away from Sentral Station, the major transportation hub in KL. Situated in Brickfields, KL’s Little India neighborhood, the rooms are fairly cheap and you are given the basic amenities like a towel and fresh sheets. If you splurge for a private room, don’t expect any privacy: the walls don’t extend to the ceiling. Otherwise, the common area has a large flatscreen tv, perfect for nights in getting to know other guests and the night staff is the sweetest. Starting at $8.42 per night.

cg-tidbits-01

👉Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur? Share your tips for seeing the city in the comments below!

Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?

A comprehensive guide to the best of Kuala Lumpur with @The Next Somewhere


Izzy Pulido is a Bostonian by way of the Philippines who loves to vagabond. At twenty-seven, she’s traded in gallivanting around Europe for the 9-to-5 grind… but don’t count out the vagabonding! With a new long distance relationship, she’s bringing American travel to the forefront. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps.

RELATED POST

  1. Sarah

    22 April

    I love how you put your posts together in these graphics! My fave part = the roti party because yes, I’d love to be part of a roti party.

    • Izzy Pulido

      22 April

      *high fives* Roti parties are definitely the best parties! Especially when they’re drenched in butter and dipped in sugar… why are all my dreams made up of fatty foods (because they’re awesome! Duh!)

  2. Lindsay

    22 April

    This is SUCH PERFECT TIMING!!! I’m actually looking at heading to Malaysia for my summer vacation and always welcome some good solid advice!! Can’t wait to look in to some of these places further as my plan my travels 🙂

    Did you go to any of the beaches while in Malaysia? I was thinking of doing a few days in the city and then heading to the beach!

    • Izzy Pulido

      23 April

      Awww I’m so happy you can reference this for your future trip! I haven’t been to any of Malaysia’s beaches, only the capital but I have friends who recently went to Penang and loved it. You should make that a priority when you’re there! 😀

  3. Roxy Hutton

    22 April

    Always love reading your posts Izzy! So beautifully created and put together. I only spent a few hours KL while in transit on the way to the Perhentian Islands. Wish I had had your guide for that time!
    x

    • Izzy Pulido

      22 April

      Aww thanks Roxy! I love getting compliments from you! I’ve realized KL is a layover stop more than anything but I think it should definitely be enjoyed. I’ve been three times already and absolutely loved every journey!

  4. Matt

    24 April

    Awesome post! You can tell that you put a ton of thought into it. Very thorough and interesting. You’ve made me want to check out KL now. Keep doing your thang!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 April

      Thanks Matt! You can do a KL trip during one of your long holidays or your summer and winter breaks! Its a pretty easy country to do quickly and super cheap!

  5. Voyager

    26 April

    Its a detailed post with very useful information about everything one needs to know to make a visit to Kuala Lumpur. Being vegetarians, the tip about the vegetarian restaurant is very useful for us. Just had a question on the Batu Caves, you have mentioned that this is dedicated to Lord Madruga. In India this deity is known as Muruga or Murugan, is it the same one?

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 April

      I think its so important to feature vegetarian finds in a comprehensive guide! Even though I’m an omnivore, I’ve loved eating vegetables ever since I was a kid and I’m always so happy to eat meat-free meals! Its a necessity for my lifestyle actually! And yes, the same one 🙂 I think the Malaysian Hindus call him Madruga but I’ve heard him referred to as Murugan 🙂

  6. Natasha

    26 April

    Wow, what a great guide Izzy! I’ve been in Malaysia two times — and both were layovers. Once it was a 14 hour one but sadly it was overnight, so we felt if we left the airport, everything would be closed. We slept in a capsule hotel instead (in the airport) LOL. I’d love to check out some of these activities someday!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 April

      I found out that KL was the largest layover destination in Southeast Asia! Who would’ve known? And I didn’t know they had a capsule hotel at the airport! Maybe I should try that out for my next layover! Thanks for the heads up 😀

  7. Wow, I can tell you put a lot of attention to detail into this post! I love the way you structured it with the addition of the images. That AirBnb looks AWESOME! I’m saving your guide for my someday trip to KL!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 April

      Thanks for the compliments! You’re one of the coolest bloggers out there so its really such a huge compliment to me and that AirBNB is probably the coolest place I’ve ever stayed at! You have to book months in advance so if you ever do KL, plan ahead 😉

  8. Stephanie

    26 April

    How much time do you recommend to see the sights? The helicopter launch pad bar sounds pretty cool! I’ll definitely be stopping by there if I make it to KL!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 April

      Oh it should take 3-4 days tops. That’s also if you try to see everything but I think the Batu Caves should be high on your list. Luckily, everything is very accessibly by public transport and all the tourist hotspots are grouped together so you don’t waste time on traveling. The Helipad is super fun! It gets really crowded but if you can make it there before everyone else does and snag some seats, you are good to go!

  9. Cassie

    27 April

    What a fantastic thorough guide – that AirBNB looks stunning!! I also absolutely love the style of your images! How do you put them together?

  10. Megan Indoe

    7 August

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this post! We only have one day in KL but you have really helped me figure out what we should do/see! How much time does it take to go and see the Batu Caves and get back? We will totally check out the Heli Lounge thanks to you!!! Awesome list, thanks so much for putting this together!

  11. […] We really didn’t get much of an impression from the city as we didn’t really leave our hotel other than to visit the Batu Caves. But given more time we would have loved to check out the HeliPad Bar with more epic views of the city as well as some of these hotspots Izzy from The Next Somewhere highlights in her guide to Kuala Lumpur. […]

  12. Mike Clegg

    25 January

    This is just what I need as I am likely going to Kuala Lumpur in March/April. I may check out the hostel you have suggested and some of the food places. Thank you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

INSTAGRAM
FOLLOW THENEXTSOMEWHERE