The centre and cultural heart of Malaysia, it’s no wonder visitors flock to Kuala Lumpur time and time again. With a variety of old and modern attractions including mosques, museums, temples and the world famous Petronas Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world), there’s plenty of things to do in KL (Kuala Lumpur) for travellers to the city.
Malaysians, especially those from Kuala Lumpur, are incredibly proud of their national heritage and how their country is such an eclectic melting pot of cultures. This is prevalent throughout the city, through its variety of religious buildings, people of different nationalities living in harmony and is mentioned frequently in its museums and is even a common feature in Kuala Lumpur’s street art. It is this distinctive mix of cultures that makes the capital of Malaysia such a special city for visitors and locals alike.
Top Things To Do in KL, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Train Station
Kuala Lumpur Train Station is a fantastic mix of British Victorian and Asian architecture and it’s a must-visit for any fans of colonial history and architectural styles. It’s located just around the corner from Jamek Mosque, and is nowadays used as a terminal for some coach companies; making it a convenient location to snap a unique Malaysian photo!
The beautiful Jamek Mosque sits at the founding point of Kuala Lumpur, the confluence of Klang and Gombak rivers. In Malay, Kuala Lumpur means ‘muddy place where two rivers meet’; which it was named so because of this place. Jamek Mosque is the oldest in the capital and arguably the prettiest. It was built in 1909 and spent some time as the National Mosque – although today it is not, although it remains the most significant cultural attraction in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. At certain times, visitors can enter the mosque and learn a little about the history of the mosque and Islam in general.
The National Mosque is a Kuala Lumpur must visit; at certain times of the day, visitors can enter and explore most areas of the mosque at their own leisure. It’s the largest and most famous mosque in Malaysia, and is extremely eloquent, with high ceilings and lavish décor. It was built on the site of an old church back in 1965 and is renowned as an important cultural symbol of Malaysia. Popular features include minarets and a 16 pointed star concrete roof. The grounds are worth a walk around as well; there’s many fountains and reflective pools, as well as signs with information about the religious building. Visitors to the mosque must be dressed conservatively, with loose, baggy clothes and legs, arms and hair (for female guests) covered, but robes are provided.
An icon of the modern Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world, and also encompass the highest 2 story bridge in the world – a Skybridge connects the towers on the 41st and 42nd floors. Planning for the towers began in January 1992, with building beginning in 1994 and they were officially opened in 1999.
They were the tallest buildings in the world at the time of opening. Nowadays this has been superseded, but they remain an architectural marvel; soaring nearly half a kilometre above the city in the KLCC area. They’re best visited at night; when this area of Kuala Lumpur is illuminated and they shine brightly against the dark sky. Visiting these towers is by far one of the most popular things to do in KL.
Kuala Lumpur Tower
With the Petronas towers, the Kuala Lumpur tower is one of Malaysia’s capital’s most notable landmarks. The tower is 421 meters high and enjoys a prestigious location in the KLCC district, not far from the Kuala Lumpur towers. The Kuala Lumpur tower has a viewing deck at 276 meters, which offers one of the very best vistas in the entire city. There is also a revolving restaurant named Atmosphere 360, which offers diner and high tea with a spectacular view of the city. One of the top things to do in KL at sunset or at night! For more cool places to drink, check out these top rooftop bars in KL.
Located near to the National Mosque and National Museum, the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park is a realistic representation of a butterfly’s natural habitat of a rainforest. The park is home to around 6,000 butterflies from more than 120 species finding home in 15,000 plants. It’s a really beautiful spot to visit and a great thing to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids!
Sri Mariamman Temple
The oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Mariamman has been a place of worship for Kuala Lumpur’s Indian population since its establishment in 1873. The temple is located very close to Chinatown; it’s a spectacle of colours, with figures of deities around the interior. For those interested in Hinduism, there’s lots of significant religious figures to spot and volunteers in the temple who will happily chat about their religion to any interested tourists. If you visit at certain times of the day, you may be able to witness Hindu prayers, which visitors are welcome to observe – they’re a joyful time of day with lots of music. Tourists are also welcome to use the temple to meditate or pray themselves at other times of the day.
Resembling a blue domed mosque, the National Planetarium is situated within Kuala Lumpur’s serene Lake Gardens. Highlights of the Planeterium include a mock up of the International Space Station’s interior and the space suit of the first Malaysian astronaut. The gallery is free to look around. Also on site is a cinema; where the films are displayed on the inside of the dome’s roof, giving visitors a fantastic panoramic view of the film on display.
Whatever you want to buy, Central Market most probably has it! The Chinatown-based vendors sell all sorts of products, including shoes, clothes, and beauty products at discount prices. Haggling is common and widely acceptable; although a lot of the prices are very inexpensive to begin with it. It’s also a great place to see locals shop and experience some uniquely Malaysian food and drink.
A short journey from Kuala Lumpur (that is very easy by train!) the 400 million year old Batu Caves are a Kuala Lumpur must-visit. Limestone caves are found throughout Malaysia and they are one of the country’s most distinctive natural features; and the Batu Caves are probably the easiest to access.
Visitors to the caves can enjoy the Hindu history that is contained within them – the Batu Caves are considered a highly religious site by Malaysia’s Hindu population and Cathedral Cave, the most popular cavern, is home to a variety of Hindu religious artefacts. In other caves, there is a chance to learn about the unusual fauna and flora life of the environment and even take part in a cave adventure tour (bookings are required). It is free to enter the main caves.
National Museum of Malaysia
From colonialization by Dutch and English, to becoming a melting pot of cultures with a large Indian and Chinese community, the National Museum of Malaysia is a great starting point for any first time visitors to the country. There are five sections within the museum; Pre History, Malay Kingdoms, Colonial Era and Malaysia Today. Together, they give a fascinating introduction into the country of Malaysia and the coincidental events that have created today’s multicultural and intriguing nation. It costs 5 RM to enter and explore the museum.
Planning to tour more of Malaysia? Check out these fun things to do in Penang!
Author bio: Antoine is a Canadian who currently resides in the Cayman Islands, but spends a great amount of time travelling and exploring the world; with last country count being at 45! His goal is to eventually visit every country and show you overlooked attractions in each location. Check out his blog at www.travelinglife.com or follow him on Facebook.