City Guide Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is a diverse city which characterize itself by all kinds of architecture. There is something to do for everyone: from shopping malls to several viewpoints and from food streets to cultural places. In this article I’ll tell you about must-sees and must-do’s of Kuala Lumpur.
1. Pay a visit to the KL Tower
The KL Tower is a communications tower, which you can find in the middle of the city center of Kuala Lumpur. It’s the 7th tallest telecommunication tower in the world and the tallest in Southeast Asia. With it’s height of 421 meters, you can have some panoramic views over the city.
Against payment, you can visit the KL Tower and go all the way up to enjoy some beautiful views over Kuala Lumpur. In the city, there are different kind of possibilities to go to a “viewpoint” (KL Tower, Petronas Towers, Heli Pad). We’ve asked several locals beforehand which building was the most impressive when it comes to views and they all told us to go to the KL Tower.
There is an observation deck you can visit, which is located at a height of 276 meters. From here, you can already have some amazing views behind glass. There are also several, little souvenir shops. If you would like to visit the observation deck, you’ll pay MYR 49 per adult. Children pay MYR 29 per person. The sky deck is even higher, located at a level of 421 meters,and this is the deck where you can enjoy the views outside. In this way, you can also make some better photos. Because of the fact that this deck is located higher and outside, of course it’s also more expensive. An adult pays MYR 99 and a child pays MYR 52. Since the weather wasn’t that great while we were in Kuala Lumpur (it was hot, but also very cloudy), we decided to visit only the observation desk.
If you want to, there are some other activities nearby. In the KL Tower itself, you can have dinner in the restaurant at a level of 282 meters. Outside of the tower, you can also find a Mini Zoo, a Blue Coral Aquarium, the KL Forest Eco-Park and the Upside Down House. As the other places explains their selves, the Upside Down House is like a mini museum. It provides a new experience where not only the house, but all the furniture in the house are upside down.
2. See the Petronas Towers
The well-known Petronas Towers are the symbol of Malaysia and you see them on almost every photo of Kuala Lumpur. During the initiation of the towers in 1998, the Petronas Twin Towers was the highest building of the world. The towers have each a height of 452 meters and consists out of 88 floors.
Same as the KL Tower, you can pay a visit to the Petronas Towers and go all the way up. When you walk into the building, you’ll get into one of the most popular shopping malls of Kuala Lumpur: Suria KLCC. Here you can find shops of many international brands and they’re open until late in the evening (until 10 p.m.). Just before the shopping mall, you can find the entrance of the Petronas Towers where you can buy your ticket and go up with the elevator.
Like I said before, most locals would advise you to go into the KL Tower instead of the Petronas Towers, so we didn’t went all the way up. There are both a observation deck on the 86th floor and a walk bridge on the 42nd floor (at 175 meters high). You can buy a ticket beforehand on the official website or buy it directly at the reception in the Petronas Towers. A ticket costs MYR 80 for an adult and MYR 33 for a child below 12 years old.
If you walk through the shopping mall and go out at the back of the Petronas Towers, you’ll arrive at a beautiful square. There is a large fountain where you can enjoy a beautiful light water show in the evening. During the day, you can have a nice walk through the park which you can find just behind the fountain.
3. Wander around the Botanical Gardens (Lake Gardens)
On the other side of Kuala Lumpur, you can find the Botanical Gardens. If you would like to go out of the crowded city and find some relaxation, this can be the place for you. This park is the biggest park of the city and is located very centrally. However, this beautiful park hasn’t been visited by tourists often. Because of the fact that the park is very big, it isn’t very easy to find a good entrance where you can start your walk. I would recommend to go by taxi or Grab (the Uber of Southeast Asia) and ask the driver to bring you to the right place.
Besides the Botanical Gardens, you can also find,among other places, a bird park, a butterfly garden and a planetarium. Keep in mind that these places aren’t free to enter, you have to pay a small entrance fee. The Botanical Gardens and free to enter though.
The best time to pay a visit to the park is in the morning or late afternoon. During the day, it can be very warm which doesn’t make it a pleasure to walk through a beautiful park. In the morning and late afternoon you can enjoy the beautiful gardens with a better temperature.
4. Have a look at the National Mosque
Not that far away from the Botanical Gardens, you can find the National Mosque. The building of the National Mosque is pretty amazing. Normally, you can have a beautiful walk around the Mosque, however they were renovating during my visit to Kuala Lumpur, so I haven’t got quite a nice image of the environment.
The National Mosque is very big and is able to accommodate up to 15,000 people. You can only enter the mosque when prayers are over. If you would like to pay a visit, you have to take into account that you need the be appropriately dressed. You have to cover your knees, shoulders and chest. If you aren’t that prepared, you can always borrow robes and headscarves at the entrance of the mosque.
5. Have a drink at the Heli Lounge Bar
The Heli Lounge Bar is a big helipad made into a rooftop bar. Not only can you enjoy some amazing views over Kuala Lumpur while drinking a cocktail, the terrace is completely open! There are no rail or walls, so I guess it won’t be that fun for someone who’s afraid of heights. It’s also cool to know that, during the day, the helipad is still used as a real helipad. In the evening, you can sit on the terrace. The most beautiful time to visit this rooftop bar, is during sunset. If you have a clear sky, you can have the most amazing views at that time.
Indoor you can also find a lounge on the 34th floor. The helipad is two floors upwards and you can reach it by taking some stairs. Take into account though that the helipad is very popular (especially during sunset), so you have to come early to have a nice seat. Besides, the drinks served aren’t that cheap, but that’s quite obvious when you go to popular places. Shortly, this place definitely gives an unique experience.
6. Walk through China Town
Almost every big city has China Town: a Chinese district with lots of shops, markets and restaurants. Kuala Lumpur’s China Town is located around Petaling Street and is one of the busiest touristic places of the city. Although it’s called China Town, this district has a multicultural character. You can see this at the Sri Maha Mariamman, the Indian Temple. However, of course you can also find some Chinese Temples, like the Guandi Temple. It’s nice to have a look in the Petaling Street and maybe to shop a little bit.
7. Dine at thé Food Street of Kuala Lumpur: Jalan Alor
If you would like to try typical Malaysian street food, you’re at the right place in the street Jalan Alor! Especially when you visit the food street during the evening, you have such a nice and unique ambiance. The little food stalls are everywhere and you can chose whatever you would like to eat. There are also several terraces where you can sit and enjoy your Malaysian food. Take into account that it’s set up very simple, which makes it even nicer. You can eat here delicious dishes for not that much money. A must see when being in Kuala Lumpur!
8. Shop at one of the many shopping malls
And when you’re walking through Jalan Alor, you’re already in Bukit Bintang, the heart of Kuala Lumpur! Here you can find all the big shopping malls and other shops to enjoy yourself a whole day. You can find shopping malls everywhere.From international, luxurious brands to more midrange brand, there is something for everyone to find. It’s a must to visit one of the shopping malls while walking through the center.
9. Have drinks or dinner at Changkat Bukit Bintang
A nice street in Bukit Bintang is Changkat Bukit Bintang. Here you’ll find several eateries where you can enjoy dinner or some drinks in a really nice atmosphere. During our stay in Kuala Lumpur, we’ve had dinner at Dining in the Dark. An unique concept where you’re sitting in an extremely dark room and eat unknown dishes. Besides, you’re served by people who’re blind themselves, which makes it even more special. After your dinner, you’ll have to guess what dishes you’ve had and then you’ll find out and get to see the menu. Does this sound like a nice experience? More information you can find on the official website of the restaurant.
10. Visit the Aquarium
Close to the Petronas Towers, you can find the aquarium of Kuala Lumpur. If you have some extra time in the city, I can definitely recommend to pay a visit to the aquarium. It’s pretty big and you can see all kinds of sea animals.
You can visit the aquarium daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. It can get very crowded, so I would recommend to go early in the morning.I visited the aquarium around 3 or 4 p.m. and it was, unfortunately,overcrowded. Furthermore, try to avoid the weekends and the rainy days. These times also makes the aquarium more crowded. The entrance fee is MYR 50 per adult and MYR 40 for children from 3 until 12 years old.
The aquarium has quite a hidden location. It’s located just under the enormous Suria KLCC complex (the big shopping mall at the Petronas Towers). Best is to go all the way down in the shopping mall and to follow the signs Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and Aquarium KLCC at the Cold Storage supermarket. From the outside of the shopping mall, you can also find some ways (an indoor pedestrian bridge) which lead you to the Convention Center(and therefor also to the aquarium).
11. Visit one of the sights outside Kuala Lumpur
There are some sights to visit just outside the city center of Kuala Lumpur. One of the most well-known sights is the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are several limestone caves where you can also find some Hindu temples. Most of those temples, you can find in the Temple Cave, which is 400 meters long and 100 meters high. The big, golden statue immediately gets your intention at the beginning of the stairs, which lead you to the Hindu temples in the Temple Cave. This golden statue represents Lord Murugan, a god from India who stands for victory. In order to take the stairs, you have to be dressed properly. That means that your knees, shoulders and chest need to be covered.On your way upwards, you will come across some monkeys. Besides the Temple Cave, you can also go into the Dark Cave. However, for the Dark Cave you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of MYR 35 per person.
Honestly, I found the Batu Caves quite disappointing. Although the statues are very impressive to see from nearby, it’s a overcrowded sight. If I’m not a fan of one thing, that’s overcrowded places. It has been getting too much focused on tourists. There are many shops where you can buy souvenirs or something to drink/eat. If you would like to visit the Batu Caves anyways, it’s best to get there by metro and train from Kuala Lumpur Sentral.
Other sights to visit outside Kuala Lumpur are Genting Highlands and Kuala Selangor, where you can spot the fireflies. Because of the unsure weather, we’ve decided not to go here during our time in Kuala Lumpur (we went to the aquarium instead). The driving time from the city center is a little longer (approximately an hour from Kuala Lumpur) to these sights, but I’ve heard that they’re worth a visit. You can consider it when you’ve some extra time in Kuala Lumpur.
How to travel around Kuala Lumpur
When you’re in the city center of Kuala Lumpur, it’s best to get around by metro.The KL Monorail Line (the “outside metro”) is the easiest line to get through all the central points in the city. This line starts at KL Sentral and goes via Bukit Bintang towards the Petronas Towers. A one way only cost a few Ringgit and the metro goes every 10 minutes, so there’s no need to plan your route strictly. As a ticket you’ll receive a coin, which you have to scan at the gates.
If you prefer to take a taxi, than it’s highly recommended to install the app Grab on your phone. This is the Southeast Asian version of Uber and offers cheap taxi rides. Sometimes, this can make a difference of 50% with a normal taxi! The taxi drivers are, most of the time, very kind and ride gently. I have very good experiences with Grab during my round trip through Malaysia.
In the map above, you can find all the places I’ve discussed in this article within the city center of Kuala Lumpur. You can say that Bukit Bintang is the heart of Kuala Lumpur, from where you can easily walk towards the KL Tower. The Petronas Towers are located a little further, but those are easily reached by metro, same as the Botanical Gardens and the National Mosque.
Have you ever been to Kuala Lumpur before? What was your highlight of the city?