12 of our favourite things to do in Kuala Lumpur – Peninsular Malaysia. A guide to some of the unmissable activities Kuala Lumpur has to offer.
Kuala Lumpur is one of our favourite cities in the world. We absolutely love it! Having both run small group tours up and down Southeast Asia, we have been lucky enough to travel through Peninsular Malaysia dozens of times. And whether visiting for work or pleasure, we never get tired of Kuala Lumpur. We love revisiting old favourite places and finding new ones to explore. So we squeeze a visit to KL whenever we can.
With so many attractions, deciding how to fill your time can be a little overwhelming. So here’s 12 of our favourite things to see and do in Kuala Lumpur.
1. Watch day turn to night from the SkyBar at Traders Hotel
Is there a better view of the iconic Petronas Towers than the one from the SkyBar at Traders Hotel? We think not. The Skybar sits on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel and is the place to go for cocktails with a view. The drinks are a little pricey, so for those on a budget, don’t forget to plan your visit around happy-hours and ladies night (2 for 1) if you want to save the pennies. An absolute must for any KL visit and one of our favourite things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
2. KL Forest Eco Park
Kuala Lumpur’s very own naturally occurring urban forest. Formerly known as Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, the park covers just over 9 hectares right in the heart of the city. With a range of hiking trails and the relatively new canopy walk it feels like you’ve left the city. Getting up high on the canopy walk, you’re treated to great views and with luck, some birdlife and even monkeys. A free and easy nature experience for everyone to enjoy.
3. The Sultan Abdul Samad building
Found in front of Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka), the Sultan Abdul Samad building is another of KL’s iconic structures. At well over 100 years old, this building adds contrast to its increasingly modern surroundings. With its mixture of Moorish, Mogul and British influences and features, this building really has a bit of everything. Red and white bricks, copper dome topped towers and even replication of London’s Big Ben.
4. Masjid Negara
Visit the National Mosque of Malaysia. Also known as Masjid Negara, it is the nationwide symbol of Islam. With its 16-point, now blue and green mosaic star-shaped roof and 73-metre-high minaret, it’s a very elegant building. And it has a lovely outdoor garden with picturesque pools and fountains. Remember to be respectful and dress appropriately covering your shoulders and knees. Headscarves and robes can be borrowed from the entrance.
5. Eat, Eat, Eat!!!
We’d come to KL, just for mouth-watering Malaysian cuisine. Char Kway Teow, Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, BBQ Pork Wantan Noodle and Hokkien Mee are just a few dishes we can’t get enough of. With so many cheap and tasty eateries all around the city, you’re never far from an amazing meal. So make sure to try plenty of local dishes while you’re out and about. Our go-to include places to eat include Jalan Alor Night Market street food, Signatures Food Court in Suria KLCC, Nasi Kandar Pelita, and Restoran Yusoof Dan Zakhir. But for the ultimate ‘gourmet heritage’ experience head to Lot 10 Hutong Food Court. We’ve eaten there so often, they named a dish after Imbi… haha!
6. Petronas Twin Towers
The iconic Petronas Twin Towers surely feature on everyones list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur. This Islamic-inspired architectural masterpiece is the symbol of Kuala Lumpur. At 452m tall they are the world’s tallest twin towers. Enjoy them from up high and down low. Head up to the Level 86 observation deck for awesome views and even cross the double-decked Skybridge. Or stand at their base and admire from in front and behind and be dwarfed by these massive towers.
7. Head up the KL Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur)
At 276m the KL Towers viewing deck is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur. The 360-degree views from up here are spectacular. But there’s more than just the vistas from the open air sky deck on offer here. Test your nerve standing in the glass bottomed Sky Box. Or for a different spin on things, book a table at the Atmosphere 360, the towers revolving restaurant.
8. Perdana Botanical Gardens (Lake Gardens)
The Perdana Botanical Gardens is known as the ‘green lung of the city.’ The landscaped gardens and lake are the perfect place to unwind and escape the crowds. Or if you want to work up a serious sweat, the ideal place for a moist jog. With lots of flora and fauna around, you don’t need to go to the KL Bird Park to see plenty of pretty birds here in their natural environment. Look out for the colourful Bee-eaters, Barbets, Sunbirds and Kingfishers.
9. Sunrise with a view at The Platinum Face Suites
An infinity pool sunrise from The Platinum Face Suites – what a way to start the day! It’s not hard to wake up early for dawn vistas like this. Staring out from the pool and watching the sunrise and the colourful sky light up Kuala Lumpur’s iconic landmarks is truly magic. With the Petronas Twin Towers to one side and the KL Tower to the other, the skyline views are mesmerising.
10. Brave the macaques at the Batu Caves
Head a few kilometres out of Kuala Lumpur and visit the impressive Batu Caves. With the massive golden statue of Lord Murugan and the colourful stairs it makes a striking first impression! Climbing the 272 stairs to the caves is easier said than done and certainly no place for anyone with chromatophobia (fear of colours). Since its 2018 colour makeover it’s not just the fearless Macaques you need to brave. You’ll need to fend your way through the fearsome insta selfie mob on the stairs too! But it’s well worth the effort, the massive limestone grotto’s, Hindu shrines and depictions are fascinating.
11. Relax in KLCC Park
Located at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, this 50 acre urban space is a delight. With manicured gardens, paddling pools and a 1.3km rubberised jogging track, this great spot to escape the KL chaos and relax and unwind. Come evening, brighten up your night and watch the daily KLCC Lake Symphony Water Fountain Light and Sound Show.
12. Shop til you drop!
Shopping isn’t something we’d usually highlight, but Kuala really does cater for everyone. For thrifty backpackers like us, test your haggling skills in Chinatown and Central Market. Or for those with deeper pockets, checkout some of the massive malls like Suria KLCC and Berjaya Times Square with their multitude of designer stores and brand names. And if you want just about anything electrical, then Low Yat Plaza’s your one stop shop. So if you need a little retail therapy KL won’t disappoint.
When to visit Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur can be visited year round. It has a tropical climate and the weather is consistently hot and humid. It can and will rain at anytime. But as a general pattern, March and April and October to December are the wettest periods. These are during Peninsular Malaysia’s two monsoonal periods. The driest months of the year fall from May through to August.
Accommodation in Kuala Lumpur
As always, we only ever mention places we’ve actually stayed at! But having visited KL, close to 50 times now we’ve been lucky enough to stay at few. So here’s 3 we particularly recommend at different price points.
Hotel China Town Inn – Right in the middle of China Town, very close to the night market, without the noise. Very good transport options nearby, with the Pasar Seni LRT Station only 200m away. Our go to, for a quick and relatively cheap visit, easy to connect to from the airports.
The Platinum Face Suites – You’ll want to go for the infinity pool alone! This is our favourite place to stay in Kuala Lumpur. Apartments bookable through Airbnb.
Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur – Right in the heart of KL business district. It has a great location only a couple of minutes walk from the Petronas Towers. If you want to splurge, this a great option.
Useful information and packing essentials
- Do your bit in minimising plastic waste by bringing a reusable water bottle. Not only does it minimise plastic waste, but it saves money. There water refill station througout the city and at hotels. Travelling with a reusable water bottle is a must anywhere in the world.
- Take plenty of good ‘reef-friendly’ sunscreen with you. Regular sunscreens contain ingredients that contribute to coral bleaching. We love Sunbutter Skincare, which comes in a tin and is good for our oceans.
Planning a visit to Malaysia? Check out our Malaysia blogs to help get you started!