City Guide: 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!
✱ BATU CAVES
Watch out for the monkeys darting across the colorful steps of this popular Hindu shrine dedicated to the Lord Madruga. It’s located outside of Kuala Lumpur in the district of Gombak where a colossal golden statue of the deity Madruga towers over the mountain side.
✱ PETRONAS TOWERS
Walk the double-decked Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors, connecting the twin towers, KL’s most recognizable symbol. This iconic monument cannot be missed once in the city proper.
✱ KL BIRD PARK
Lock yourself in a giant cage with pelicans, peacocks, and the vividly colored red ibis at the world’s largest free flight walk-in aviary. The bird park is also located near other tourist attractions such as the Butterfly Park, The Orchid Garden, and The National Planetarium.
✱ CENTRAL MARKET
Haggle your way towards a deal at Pesar Sani (what the locals call this indoor marketplace), selling a number of Malaysian goods and souvenirs from traditional batik textiles to pewter crafts and authentic freshwater pearls from the islands of Sabah and Serawak.
✱ CHANGKAT BUKIT BINTANG
For a great line-up of flashy clubs, Irish pubs, salsa dancing, hookah bars, and posh dining lounges, head to the number one nightlife spot in the city. Ladies, don’t miss out on the amazing happy hour deals.
✱ KAMPANG BARU
Wander around the sleepy neighborhood of where tradition reigns as ethnic Malays continue to preserve their country lifestyles and eat among non-English speaking locals
✱ JALAN ALOR
This walking food street synonymous is lined with eateries serving everything from stir-fry, to barbecue, 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.
✱ ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM
Pour over a well-kept collection of Islamic artistrym showcasing the most beautiful religious relics from Malaysia’s predominant faith.
A clinic that doubles as a charitable organization trains and employs blind massage therapists in support of equal opportunity for the disabled community in Pokhara.
IF VEGETARIAN IS YOUR STYLE
- RANI VILAS RESTAURANT VEGETARIAN FOOD – 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. (At the base of the Batu Caves)
IF YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF FOODCOURTS
- TANG CITY FOOD COURT – 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 MYR (roughly $2.5 USD). (Jelan Petaling, Chinatown)
IF YOU DON’T MIND A WALK THROUGH THE GHETTO
- HUSSEN CAFE – 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. (Jalan Dutamas 1, Wilayah Persekutuan)
IF YOU’RE WANTING TO THROW A ROTI PARTY
- RESTORAN SK CORNER – 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 more savory flavors, try the chicken curry dip. (Jalan Rembia, Bukit Bintang)
IF YOU NEED A BREAK FROM RICE
- BURGER BAR BY FATBOY CONCEPTS – 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! (Jalan Dutamas 1, Wilayah Persekutuan)
✱BERJAYA TIMES SQUARE THEME PARK – Check out the world’s largest indoor rollercoaster, a fixture of Asia’s second largest indoor themepark, on the 5th to 8th floors of the Berjaya Times Square Mall.
✱ THE HELIPAD LOUNGE – Now this is what you call a rooftop bar. This cocktail lounge pays homage to its original function as a helicopter landing pad and let’s you drink your fancy martini drinks right on the helipad with an unobstructed 360-degree view of downtown KL and the glittering Petronas Towers. Come an hour before sunrise to get an actual seat. (34 Menara KH, Jalan Sultan Ismail,)
✱ ZOUK – Don’t be deterred by the long lines at KL’s hottest club. This five-story dance complex is well worth the wait provided the free-entry for foreigners if you bring your physical passport. Just don’t lose it on the dance floor. (436, Jalan Tun Razak, Kelab Golf di Raja Selangor)
✱ TOKYO STREET – The 6th floor of Pavilion Mall is dedicated to all things Japanese; if you’re hankering for some kawaii stationery, manga merchandise, or a relatively-inexpensive Japanese meal, this is your spot.
✱ “I LOVE KL” SIGN – In need of a free souvenir? Make your way to the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery for that cheesy photo opp.
✱ KLCC PARK – This 50-acre green space is a hidden sanctuary from the urban madness, featuring spectacular water fountains and 74 species of flora, perfect for a nice stroll or jog at dusk when it isn’t too hot.
✱ THAIPUSAM FESTIVAL – Visiting in February? Join thousands of Hindu devotees on a pilgrimage to the steps of Batu Caves carrying pots of milk in great procession.
Classic Malay Guesthouse 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. $75 per night for the entire house.
Pod Backpackers 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.
Kuala Lumpur is calling you! Continue building your to-do list with help from these resources!
34 Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur by There She Goes Again
17 Top Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur by The Wandering Soles
12 Unmissable Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur by Inspired By Maps
2 Days in Kuala Lumpur by Wandering On
14 Unique Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur by Miss Filatelista
👉 Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur? Share your tips for seeing the city in the comments below!
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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.
*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!)
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!
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! 😀
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!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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 🙂
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!
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 😀
Lauren of Postgrad & Postcards
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!
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 😉
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!
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!
What a fantastic thorough guide – that AirBNB looks stunning!! I also absolutely love the style of your images! How do you put them together?
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!
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.