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TOP THINGS TO DO IN KUALA LUMPUR

A FIRST-TIMER'S GUIDE


If we had to describe the capital of Malaysia in just one word, it would be “diverse”. Kuala Lumpur has a mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay heritage. The city skyline is composed of skyscrapers, urban parklands and contemporary public transport alongside traditional architecture, beautiful mosques and ancient temples. You can shop at flea markets or extravagant shopping malls and eat at hawker centres or fine-dining restaurants. It's easy to see why KL is a popular travel destination, and we haven't even started the list of top things to do.

Top Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur

 

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PETRONAS TOWERS & KLCC PARK

Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur - Petronas Towers

You cannot visit Kuala Lumpur without seeing the famous Petronas Towers. Designed by Argentian architect César Pelli, these twin towers were completed in 1996. Standing at 88 storeys, they are the tallest twin towers in the world. There is a lot to explore, including the observation deck and sky bridge, and from the outside, you need to see the towers soar into the blue skies during the day, then light up and dazzle at night.


A great location to admire the towers is the KLCC Park. An urban parkland in the heart of the city, KLCC Park features walking and running tracks, playgrounds, sculptures, fountains, information on the tropical flora, a swimming pool, and the nightly Simfoni Lake Water Show.


The towers are open 10 am - 6 pm, closed on Mondays, and admission for an adult is 80 MYR.


SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD BUILDING


The iconic Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad) is one of the most photographed landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. This prominent heritage building is located across from Merdeka Square in the city centre. It was opened in 1897 as the Government Offices of the British Administration and was named after the reigning sultan of Selangor.


The building is still utilised by the Government, so is not open to tourists. However, you can walk around the outside of the building, exploring the gardens and admiring the stunning architecture.


SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD JAMEK MOSQUE


Next to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad). Opened in 1909, this Mosque was considered the centre of Islamic worship in KL until the National Mosque was opened in 1965. It was built at the meeting point of the Klang and Gomback Rivers, which, once a muddy embankment, gave the capital city its name. Prior to construction, this site was also the first Muslim cemetery in KL.


Tourists are welcome to visit the Mosque outside of prayer times, admission is free and appropriate dress is required, which can be borrowed from the information desk if you need.
Discover the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque


MERDEKA SQUARE


Merdeka Square, or Independence Square, is a significant historical site in Kuala Lumpur. It is the location where the Union Jack flag was lowered, and the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time on 31st August 1957. This moment officially declared Malaysia’s independence from the British. On the lawn is a 100-metre flag pole, flying the Malaysian flag in the spot where the first was hoisted all those years ago. Around the square, there are many other buildings to explore, including the Kuala Lumpur Library, City Gallery and the Royal Selangor Club.



CENTRAL MARKET & PETALING STREET MARKET


The Central Market in Chinatown is a top tourist attraction for shopping, dining and random experiences like portrait drawings. What started as a wet market in 1888 is now an Art Deco building that serves as the centre for arts and crafts and the perfect location to stock up on last-minute souvenirs.


Once you’ve experienced the Central Market, be sure to leave some time to walk through the nearby Petaling Street Market. This covered market, also in Chinatown, is a tourist-focused shopping experience, with stalls of clothes, bags and miscellaneous souvenirs, with stall owners ready for you to haggle for sales.



BATU CAVES


Only a short taxi, bus or train trip north of downtown is one of the top must-see places in Kuala Lumpur. Batu Caves is the site of a Hindu Temple dedicated to the deity Murugan. The main attraction of Batu Caves is the rainbow staircase, made up of 272 steps that take you to the entrance of the limestone caves, which house multiple temples and shrines. At the foot of the staircase stands the world’s tallest statue of Murugan.


Here are a few things to know before you visit Batu Caves ...


The main Temple Cave is free to enter, but there are also other sections, including the Dark Cave, Cave Villa and Ramayana Cave, which all cost for admission.


Like most temples in KL, women must cover up to enter the site.


We caught the KMUTER train out to Batu Caves from Putra station. It costs 5 MYR per person to purchase a tap-and-go card and 2 MYR for the trip each way. A Grab taxi was also quite affordable, quoting us around 13 MYR each way.


We struggled to find the opening hours online. We got to the gate at 7:30 am, thinking it might open at 7, but the sign on the gate said opening was from 5:45 am (so if you would like to be there for sunrise, you can). There were a handful of other people there at 7:30 am, but it was mostly quiet, and no vendors were open yet.


Finally, be prepared for the flocks of pigeons and the families of macaques that call this place home. The macaques are not shy and may come up to you on the staircase. If you have food, hide it in your bag, or they will take it from you. We also saw them get quite aggressive with each other, but we did not see them bite or attack any people, only eagerly chase them for their food.



LOT 10 HUTONG


If you are looking for affordable and delicious local food but aren’t ready to venture to the actual street stalls, you should head to Lot 10 Hutong. On the basement level of the shopping mall, this food court, designed like a traditional hawker market, has won awards for its offering of diverse and tasty Asian street food, served by some of the best eateries in the country, right in the commercial heart of Bukit Bintang.



OUR GOOGLE MAPS


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use too.


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