Top 37 Places to Visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur (which means "muddy estuary") is simply known as KL to the locals and frequent visitors. It is the capital and fastest growing city in Malaysia. Located in the state of Selangor, it is the main centre for the country's political, business and economic events. The main population is made up of the Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. Indigenous tribes from the peninsula and other tribes like the Dayaks, Ibans and Kadazans from East Malaysia made up a small percentage of the population.
The religion embraced by the Malays is Islam, but other religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Hinduism are widely practised by different ethnic groups. The national language is Bahasa Malaysia, though English is widely used together with different dialects of the Chinese language (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hakka), Tamil and other Indian languages. The uniqueness of Malaysia is that the people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions live together in harmony. The country is rich in many cultures and the people here are warm and friendly.
Being close to the equator, Kuala Lumpur has a tropical rainforest climate which is warm, humid and sunny the whole year round. It is a paradise for tourists who want to experience the tropical sunshine and equatorial climate. For those who want to escape the heat, they can find comfort in the shopping malls which are equipped with air conditioning systems.
There are many interesting places to see in Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas. Public transportation here is very convenient - there are plenty of taxis and buses in the city area. The train system provides a fast and efficient means of transportation for commuters. The KL train system includes the Monorail, Light Rail Transport (LRT), Express Rail Link (ERL), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and KLIA Ekspres.
These are the best places to see in Kuala Lumpur, and also top places of interest in Malaysia.
1. Petronas Twin Towers
Situated in the heart of the city where large corporate organisations conduct their businesses, the Petronas Twin Towers are known locally as Rocket Twin Towers and Jagung Kembar (meaning Twin Corns). The towers stand at 88 storeys high and have made big impressions on the city's skyline since their existence about two decades ago. The two towers are connected by a double storey Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors.
2. Suria KLCC
The Suria KLCC Shopping Complex lies at the feet of the Petronas Towers. (KLCC stands for Kuala Lumpur City Centre). It is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, with many luxury shops, boutiques and food courts. The attractions in this six-storey complex include the Petronas Philharmonic Hall, Petrosains Science Discovery Centre, Petronas Art Gallery and the Aquaria Oceanarium.
Hop off at KLCC train station to get here (obvious!).
3. Aquaria KLCC
The Aquaria KLCC has an oceanarium with over 5000 exhibits of animals and marine life. A 90-metre long transparent tunnel showcases a range of sea creatures from sharks, stingrays, turtles to fishes from the tropical waters. An educational place for visitors to learn about the ecosystem and water systems in the environment.
4. KLCC Park
Take a stroll at KLCC Park and enjoy the greenery in this bustling city. The park covers an area of 20 hectares. There are rare species of trees and plants that are transplanted in the area together with around two thousand indigenous trees. The park has been designed to promote conservation and bio-diversity. Other features that have been built in the park includes a lake, fountains, waterfalls, play pools and children's playground.
5. Central Market
The Central Market building was built in 1888 and started off as a wet market. It has been renovated and is now a heritage site and landmark in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Kasturi Walk is the lane next to Central Market, this place is also known as Chinatown. There are many stalls in the area selling a variety of handicrafts, artworks, clothings, shoes, accessories, Malaysian batiks, souvenirs and food stalls.
To get to Central Market, hop on the LRT and alight at Pasar Seni station. The market is just a short walk from the train station.
Have you been to Kuala Lumpur?
6. Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
Royal Selangor is the world's largest maker of pewter. Visitors and collectors of pewter can find precious pewter items, gifts, drinkwares, tablewares, ornaments and souvenirs at Royal Selangor which is renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship and designs in pewter. The School of Hard Knocks workshop at the centre teaches visitors to make their own souvenir plate using traditional tools.
Pewter is a stable alloy of mostly tin and copper. It has been used for thousands of years since the Egyptian times when pewter was used to make spoons, plates, cups and jugs.
For the record..
The world's largest pewter tankard was made by Royal Selangor and it has been recorded in the World Guinness Book of Records.
7. Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
Pay a visit to the KL City Gallery that is a few minutes' walk from Masjid Jamek LRT station. Featuring many must-see attractions at this national heritage site, there is an iconic I Love KL structure, tourist information centre, historical Old KL, the Spectacular City Model Show, selfie area called KL Reflection, live demonstrations, workshops and more.
Free copies of the KL Walks and Tours maps are available at the information centre. The entrance fee to KL City Gallery includes a free voucher that can be redeemed at the cafe and gift shop.
8. Thean Hou Temple
This impressive Buddhist and Toaist temple was built by the Hainanese community in Malaysia and opened in 1989. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Tian Hou (Queen of Heaven). The design of the temple has a combination of modern and traditional styles with multi-levelled of function halls.
The Goddesses Tian Hou and Kuan Yin are worshipped in Thean Hou Temple. Cultural and religious activities held here attract worshippers both local and from overseas. It is also a popular tourist destination.
9. Bukit Bintang
Before the KLCC and Petronas Twin Towers were built, Bukit Bintang was the main shopping hub in Kuala Lumpur a couple of decades ago. Now, the Bukit Bintang district has expanded immensely with the development of many shopping malls around it, including Bukit Bintang Plaza, Lot 10, Pavilion, Sungei Wang Plaza and Berjaya Times Square. Each mall has its own group of retail shops attracting both the local shoppers and tourists.
Shopping centres within Bukit Bintang precinct includes:
- Bukit Bintang Plaza
- Lot 10
- Pavilion KL
- Fahrenheit 88
- Sungei Wang Plaza
- Berjaya Times Square
- Low Yat Plaza
The train station that is closest to this shopping hub is the Bukit Bintang station on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT line.
The Pavilion is one of the new shopping malls situated in the entertainment and shopping district of Bukit Bintang. This multi-storey complex has over 450 retail outlets offering the latest fashion labels, entertainment, home furnishings, a fitness centre, food courts, cafes, a karaoke centre and cinema.
Other shopping centres worth visiting include Sunway Velocity Mall (alight at Maluri MRT station), Mytown Shopping Centre (alight at Cochrane MRT station), NU Sentral (KL Sentral LRT station) and Melawati Shopping Centre. Kuala Lumpur has a vast network of public transportation that is fast and reliable. Most shopping centres are located within the vicinity of the train stations and bus terminals.
11. Petaling Street
Many tourists make their way to Petaling Street to experience the traditional and local foods that are available here. Even the locals are attracted to Petaling Street which seems to draw crowds of people especially in the evenings. Lots of bargains on fake goods, fashion items, accessories, souvenirs and gadgets. This place is also notorious for pickpockets and snatch thieves!
12. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
Similar to Petaling Street, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Chow Kit areas offer bargain shopping and food. Some of the streets are transformed into night markets on weekends.
13. Chan See Shu Yuen Temple
There is a temple at the end of Petaling Street called Chan See Shu Yuen Temple which was built in the early 1900s. The exterior of the temple is decorated with ceramic sculptures while carvings and paintings can be seen in the interior.
A word of caution!
Watch out for pickpockets and snatch thieves!
Hold on tight to your wallets, handbags and other personal belongings. It is such a shame that pickpockets are plenty in this beautiful country. They are everywhere especially in crowded places like markets, trains, buses, shopping centres, etc. Pickpocketing is like a national crime here, no kidding!
Snatch thieves are as common as pickpockets. They usually come riding on motorbikes and they choose their victims who are walking casually along the streets/roads. Handbags, laptop bags and necklaces are easy targets for these snatch thieves to grab at and then make a quick getaway with the items.
What's your favorite place for shopping in Kuala Lumpur?
14. Durian Station
The durian fruit, despite its strong odour and rough thorny shell, is still the king of all fruits in Malaysia. Over the years, many varieties of the fruit has emerged in the markets and there is a growing demand for durians from many countries where the fruit is not available.
Durian lovers can find a great selection of the best durians or have a durian buffet at the Durian Station in Petaling Jaya. The best time of the day to visit is in the evening. There are many stalls selling different varieties of durians, from the most popular and highest priced Musang King to Tracka, D24, D101, XO,D88 etc.
15. National Monument
This bronze monument was built to commemorate those who died for Malaysia during its struggle for freedom, and during World War II and the Malayan Emergency. The monument was sculpted by Felix de Weldon in 1966. A memorial of Malaysia's second Prime Minister, The Tun Razak Memorial, is next to the National Monument.
16. Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
Not far from Petaling Street is an Indian Temple called Sri Maha Mariamman which was built in 1873. Like most Indian temples, the Sri Maha Mariamman is decorated with carvings of Hindu dieties, embellishments, motifs and precious stones. There are many small stalls outside the temple selling sweet smelling garlands and flowers.
17. Muzium Negara (National Museum)
This was the site of the old Selangor Museum which was established in 1898. The Muzium Negara was built after Malaysia gained independence and it was officially opened on 31 August 1963. Exhibits of Malaysia and its historical background are on display at Muzium Negara. A number of attractions can be found in the museum grounds, including Istana Satu which was the palace of one of the sultans of Malaysia, the bust of Sir Francis Light and a pioneer cable car.
18. Kuala Lumpur Tower
The KL Tower stands at 94 metres and is a prominent feature in Kuala Lumpur. The architectural designs of the building include Arabic and Islamic scripts. It is a communications tower for television transmissions and broadcasts.The tower offers a panaromic view of the city and its surroundings. It is also the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public.
19. KL Forest Eco Park
Formerly known as Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, this is a small patch of original rainforest that still remains in the city. Trees over a hundred years old still grows in the forest reserve. The KL Tower stands above this eco park. There are several trails in the forest reserve for the public to explore.
Visitors can get to the eco park by taking the LRT to Dang Wangi station and walk towards the Bukit Nanas monorail station. A long flight of stairs up the hill leads to the forest reserve where there will be large tall trees, clumps of bamboos and banana plants. A limited number of wildlife animals can be found in the rainforest. There is also an information centre and herbal garden in the vicinity. A long walkway 20 metres above the ground called The Bukit Nanas Skywalk links between the information centre and the entrance of the KL Tower.
In 2006, teams on the Amazing Race Asia Season 1 had to follow a trail in the KL Forest Eco Park and make their way to the KL Tower that was the first pit-stop in the race.
20. Sultan Abdul Samad Building
This building with Moorish designs is located along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Constructed in 1897, it was used by the British administration in Malaya to house government departments. Today, it is used by the Supreme Court and High Court.
21. Merdeka Square
In front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the Merdeka Square, which means Independence Square. The locals call it the Padang. In 1957, the Malayan flag was raised for the first time at Merdeka Square after the British flag was lowered. That marked the end of the British rule in Malaya.
Thousands of people gather at Merdeka Square annually for the National Day Parade and other events.
In 2006, the first leg of the Amazing Race Asia Season 1 kicked off at Merdeka Square.
22. National Mosque
The National Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the region, with a capacity of 15,000 people. It was built in 1965 and underwent major renovations in 1987 to include claddings on the concrete roof. The mosque is well decorated with Islamic calligraphy, traditional artwork and ornaments.
23. Jamek Mosque
This is the oldest mosque in the city. It was built in 1909 and situated at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers where Kuala Lumpur derived its name.
24. P. Ramlee Memorial
P. Ramlee was a famous Malaysian singer, actor and composer. This former residence of P.Ramlee is now a national heritage and memorial dedicated to him and his late wife, Saloma who was a former singer and actress.
25. Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque in Shah Alam is one of the most spectacular structures in Malaysia. Its real name is Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque but is often referred to as the Blue Mosque because of its blue dome. The main prayer hall and dome is decorated with Islamic calligraphy and ethnic designs.
26. Little India Brickfields
Brickfields was a brick-making centre in the late nineteenth century. This area is now a busy place rich in Indian culture. There are many buildings for spiritual worship and prayers, like temples, mosques and even churches. The smell of curries makes it a must to stop for lunch in this place.
27. Istana Budaya
Istana Budaya is the national theatre that has the most sophisticated decorations. The interior was made from marble and wood which was handcrafted. The building holds annual events, concerts and performances from both local and international performing groups.
28. Old Istana Negara
This was the residence of the King of Malaysia (Yang Di Pertuan Agung) until 2011. Formerly known as Istana Negara, it stands on the slopes of Petaling Hill on a 13 acre land on Jalan Istana. The building has been converted to a royal museum.
The current residence of the Yang Di Pertuan Agung is now at the new Istana Negara (National Palace), located on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim (formerly Jalan Duta).
29. Upside Down House
There are a number of upside down houses in other states of Malaysia, including Melaka, George Town (Penang), Kuching (Sarawak), Port Dickson (Negri Sembilan) and Tamparuli (Sabah). This small Upside Down House in Kuala Lumpur is located in the heart of the city near the KL Tower. It has two storeys of upside down exhibits where visitors can spend a few minutes taking pictures. Compared to other upside down houses in Malaysia, this one is not as impressive as the rest.
30. Zoo Negara
The Zoo Negara was opened in 1963 by Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Many species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds are displayed at the zoo. There is also a night zoo that operates after sunset.
Animals to See at Zoo Negara
31. Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
The Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park is the largest landscaped garden in the world that houses over 5,000 butterflies together with exotic plants, turtles, insects and fish. The museum onsite has a large collection of the world's butterflies and insects. This place is definitely worth a visit.
32. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
The KL Bird Park is located in the Perdana Botanical Gardens. There are displays of more than 3,000 birds in the bird park, with exotic species of ducks, eagles and hornbills.
33. Perdana Botanical Gardens
This is the oldest and most popular park in Kuala Lumpur. The old name for Perdana Botanical Gardens was Lake Gardens. The area was used by the British to build their homes during the colonial times. The park is now landscaped and has trails for people who frequent the place for jogging and exercise activities.
34. National Science Centre ( Pusat Sains Negara)
Located in Bukit Kiara, the National Science Centre was opened in 1996 to provide hands-on learning for students. The concept of the centre is to provide the facilities for children to learn in a fun environment. The exhibits and exploration areas are both indoors and outdoors. It has an underwater walk-through aquarium and several galleries containing different exhibits on scientific themes including:
- Aquatic House Quarantine Center
- Marine Life Aquarium
- Freshwater Aquarium
- Water Plaza
- Herbal Garden
- Prehistoric Garden
- Garden of Nature
- Subterranean Journey Gallery
- Flights Information Center
35. Batu Caves
Take the KTM Komuter Train from KL Sentral station to go to Batu Caves.
The Batu Caves is located in Gombak outside Kuala Lumpur city. This 400 million-year-old limestone hill is a popular attraction in the state of Selangor. At the Batu Caves, there is a series of Hindu cave temples and caves. At the main entrance to the caves is a large statue of the Hindu God. There is a steep climb of 272 steps before one can get to the caves and be greeted by a troop of wild monkeys in the area!
36. Genting Highlands
Even though Genting lies in the neighbouring state of Pahang, most visitors in Kuala Lumpur will spend a day or two at this cool highland attraction which sits at an altitude of 2000 metres above sea level. Genting Highlands is about an hour's drive from the city. For a more breathtaking ride over the rainforests and into the clouds, visitors can take the Genting and Awana Skyways cable cars at the foot of the highlands. The main attractions include the casinos, fun rides, theme parks, arcades, restaurants, shopping complexes, cinemas and other entertainment activities.
37. Sepang International Circuit
Another pride of Malaysia is the Sepang International Circuit which began hosting the Formula One in 1999. This Formula One Circuit is not far from the KL International Airport (also known as KLIA).
Places to see in Kuala Lumpur
Bonus Sights Near Kuala Lumpur
Just 15 minutes from Kuala Lumpur is the Sunway Lagoon, an amusement park which was opened in 1993 in Petaling Jaya. There are more than 80 rides and attractions from several different theme parks in the area. Other activities include surfing, bungee jumping, wall climbing and mountain biking.
For visitors who couldn't get enough of shopping in Kuala Lumpur, head over to the nearby Sunway Pyramid shopping mall in Selangor, which can be easily identified by its Egyptian pyramid shape. The monumental Sphinx welcomes shoppers at the entrance of the mall. There are shops and restaurants at the mall, as well as a bowling alley, an ice-skating rink, a digital centre for electronic savvy shoppers, and much more.
Another place of interest in the state of Pahang is the Cameron Highlands which is about 3.5 hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur. This is Malaysia's largest highland resort which offers relaxing activities at 1500 metres above sea level. Holiday makers can visit the little villages, a strawberry farm, a butterfly farm, honey bee farm and tea plantations in this highland region.
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