A mosaic of culture, cuisine, architecture … and sensational shopping!
Whether you’re a shopaholic, foodie, culture fiend or nature lover, you’ll find plenty of reasons to love Kuala Lumpur (KL). Combining the energy, excitement and endless attractions of a fast-paced metropolis with a sultry tropical feel, Malaysia’s capital makes for an unforgettable holiday.
The city’s architecture reflects its diversity. Gleaming skyscrapers tower over traditional temples and mosques, while gigantic, flamboyant mega-malls are landmarks in their own right. Visitors keen to explore KL’s famous retail scene are spoiled for choice, with iconic complexes like Pavilion, Mid-Valley Megamall, Starhill Gallery and the artsy Publika just the start.
Many of the mega-malls have great food halls, but for a more down-home culinary experience, hit the streets. Chinatown and Bukit Bintang are great places to try out KL’s much-loved hawker stalls while soaking up the local ambience. For fine dining with a view, try one of the swanky restaurants high in the city’s skyscrapers.
Taking time out from the hubbub is easy: KL is dotted with glorious urban parks. From the magical Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park and the lush Perdana Botanical Garden to the tropical forest of Taman Tugu, green spaces abound.
Things to do: Kuala Lumpur
Reach new heights at the Petronas Twin Towers
No trip to KL is complete without a visit to KL’s most famous landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers. At 88 storeys high, the towers are the world’s tallest twin structures and dominate the city skyline. Take in the views from the double-decker Skybridge connecting the buildings at levels 41 and 42, then head to the Observation Deck on Level 86 for an even more breathtaking panorama.
Stroll Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Alor
Changkat Bukit Bintang is a great place to grab dinner or a cold one after a long day of sight-seeing. There are plenty of restaurants and bars lining both sides of the street, many housed in gorgeous colonial buildings. A popular location for tourists and locals alike, the area comes alive as night falls. Another local favourite is nearby Jalan Alor, a bustling strip full of street-hawker stalls and casual open-air dining.
Explore the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
The largest museum of Islamic art in southeast Asia, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is home to a mindboggling collection of art, jewellery, textiles, ceramics and metalwork. As if the beauty, history and exquisite craftsmanship of the exhibits wasn’t reason enough to visit, the building itself is a stunner. With its airy light-filled galleries, intricate tilework, and turquoise-patterned domes, it’s an Insta-opportunity waiting to happen. Don’t forget to swing by the fabulous gift shop on your way out.
Recharge at KL Forest Eco Park
Escape the concrete jungle and immerse yourself in the green, leafy kind at this wonderful park in the middle of the city. This swathe of protected tropical rainforest is home to all sorts of native flora and fauna, including amazing trees, monkeys, and birds galore. Wander the shady trails or the canopy walkway, kick back with a picnic, or join a guided tour to learn more about this historic park. It’s hard to believe you're just a stone’s throw from the hustle bustle.
Marvel at the Batu Caves
One of KL’s most popular attractions, the Batu Caves complex has to be seen to be believed. Set in an ancient limestone hill just 13km from the city, the caves have been repurposed as a series of colourful Hindu temples and shrines. A 272-step climb will lead you to the star of the show, the spectacular and holy Temple Cave, guarded by a giant golden Hindu god, Lord Murugan. Hordes of cheeky monkeys hang around the site, haranguing visitors for food. Don’t give in or you'll be over-run!
Distance to city centre 55km
Taxi There are taxi counters in the arrivals hall where you can buy a pre-paid voucher. The trip into central KL, depending on where you’re going, will cost around MYR RM80-100 for a budget taxi (2-3 people) and take around an hour. Metered taxis are also available outside the terminal, but you’ll need to buy a coupon for MYR2.00 from the airport counter prior to boarding one. There’s a 50% surcharge between 12am and 6am.Back to top
When to go
With tropical weather year-round, there isn’t really a bad time to visit Malaysia. The wetter monsoon seasons occur in late May to September and November to March. If you're planning to visit the islands on the east coast, it’s best to avoid November to February, as beach resorts will be closed.
The city comes alive during key festivals such as Christmas and New Year, Chinese New Year, Merdeka or Independence Day (August 31) and Hari Raya Puasa. Late January/early February sees the Hindu festival of Thaipusam celebrated in grand style at Batu Caves.Back to top
The free GOKL bus service has four circular routes around the city, with buses running every 5 minutes during peak times and every 10 minutes at other times. The monorail can be useful for travelling between sightseeing areas. There is also the LRT (Light Rail Transit) for going further afield. A KL TravelPass, available at the airport, will give you airport transfers on the KLIA Ekspres as well as two days’ free travel; you can then add cash to the card to continue using it on public transport. Taxis are plentiful, but make sure they use the meter.Back to top
Discover more about Kuala Lumpur
This street food haven is less than an hour from KL
Klang is not the only foodie road trip worth taking when you’re visiting KL. Seremban offers a more diverse range of hawker food at affordable prices.
These are the restaurants this top chef loves in Kuala Lumpur
From fine-dining restaurants to local food stalls, Sricharan Venkatesh, Chef de Cuisine at Nadodi tells us where his favourite F&B haunts are in Kuala Lumpur.
The nature retreats near Kuala Lumpur you have to see to believe
Firefly colonies, rice paddy fields for as far as your eye can see, and the oldest quartz formation in the world ... all this and more are just an easy drive away from Kuala Lumpur.
The quirky side of Kuala Lumpur most tourists don't see
From home-grown farms to private dining experiences and local hang-outs, these are the best places to visit to see the more offbeat side of the Malaysian capital.
5 reasons to visit Kuala Lumpur
The Malaysian capital has it all – unique architecture, timeless mountain ranges and tasty food, all of which add up to a rich culture and history.
I went on an 'achievement holiday' in Kuala Lumpur. Here's how it went!
Returning from holiday having acquired a new skill or accomplishing something is the latest trend in travel. For a jewellery fan, learning to be a pewtersmith in Malaysia was the perfect way to 'upskill on downtime'.
Legit cafes in Kuala Lumpur for coffee junkies
Marcus Foo, co-founder and managing director of Papa Palheta Malaysia, shares his five favourite cafes for seriously good coffee in KL.
Why you should see Kuala Lumpur on a bicycle
Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur boasts amazing skyscrapers, a myriad of natural attractions, colonial architecture and friendly locals. What better way to see it than on a bicycle.