Kuala Lumpur is more than just a layover city! Thousands of flights land and go via Kuala Lumpur Malaysia every day and many travellers ignore the opportunity to add a day or two to visit this metropolitan city in Asia.
In this article, I share why I love Kuala Lumpur, my favourite things to do in the city, the best places to stay and enjoy the skyline view on a visit to Malaysia’s capital.
Why Visit Kuala Lumpur
Most likely Kuala Lumpur is not on your bucketlist, it doesn’t have the allure of nearby cities of Bangkok or Singapore and is often overlooked when travellers are booking their holidays.
But I highly recommend making a stop in Kuala Lumpur for a few days if you are planning to spend more time in Malaysia or for a one to two-night layover when heading to another destination.
Kuala Lumpur is a unique city where the skyline is punctuated by both skyscrapers and minarets. Its history brings together a mix of Malay, Chinese, British and Indian cultures that sit side by side around the city creating a colourful and vibrant atmosphere mixed with old colonial architecture.
This blend makes Kuala Lumpur a truly unique and exciting city to visit!
When To Visit Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is relative wet and humid year round, with the high season being December to February. However, this year end time is also the most crowded, so we recommend visiting Kuala Lumpur between May and August when the weather is mostly dry and the humidity is a little lower.
Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur
There are plenty of things to do in Kuala Lumpur. I have visited the city three times and still find something new to do each time I go, but I do have my favourite activities and must-see recommendations which I have listed below:
1) Visit Thean Hou Temple
The Thean Hou Temple situated atop Robson Heights is my number 1 place to visit in the city. The temple is originally a Chinese temple that was dedicated to Thean Hou and now sees worshippers and a handful of tourist visitors coming every day.
The temple is a sanctuary away from the city, it is quiet with spectacular views and beautiful design that makes you want to stay all day at one of the many spots where you can sit and look out over Kuala Lumpur.
2) Take In The Petronas Towers
A visit to Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t be complete without seeing the world famous Petronas Towers! There are plenty of different times and ways to see them.
Either come very early morning to avoid the crowds and capture the photos you want around sunrise or you can come later in the day towards sunset or after the sun goes down to see the towers lit up and glowing against the night sky, but you will find crowds at this time.
If you want to head up to the towers to the Skybridge, 1500 tickets are available per day with half sold in advance online so be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment. If you haven’t booked online arrive early in the day to secure one of 750 tickets sold on the day.
3) Shop Till You Drop
If shopping is your thing you can head to one of the many air-conditioned malls all over the city. Kuala Lumpur is known for it’s amazing number of options for shopping.
To find trinkets and souvenirs head to the central market and if you look hard enough you may find a few antique shops and some old artisan shops in and around Chinatown.
4) Eat Your Way Through China Town
Chinatowns shophouse lined streets reveal the history of Kuala Lumpur. Head here to enjoy some traditional Chinese food and just wander aimlessly. You can also make a stop at Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, the oldest temple in Kuala Lumpur whilst you are in this area.
5) Climb Up To Batu Caves
Another famous landmark in Kuala Lumpur is the Batu Caves, recognised by the 140ft statue of Murugan (a Hindu deity) at the foot of the 272 steps leading up to the caves. The Batu Caves are a 400 million-year-old limestone hill with three major caves and many smaller ones that are considered an important religious landmark for Hindus.
Cathedral Cave is the largest and most popular one for visitors and houses many Hindu shrines. If you time your visit around the end of January, you can join thousands of visitors and devotees that head to the caves for the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam.
6) Visit The Masjid Jamek
On your city tour, you should make a stop at Masjid Jamek, the first brick mosque in Malaysia when it was completed in 1907. The mosque was the city’s centre of Islamic worship until the opening of the National Mosque in 1965.
7) Take A Break At Merdeka Square
Besides the Petronas Towers, Merdeka Square (also known as Dataran Merdeka) is one of Kuala Lumpur’s best-known landmarks.
Essentially just a big green lawn, the square is set in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (the former State Secretariat) and is also home to the Royal Selangor Club and to the north, you will see St. Mary’s Church, one of Malaysia’s oldest Anglican churches.
Stop here for a casual walk around the square and to take in what remains of some of the old British empires.
Other Things To See in Kuala Lumpur:
- Menara Kuala Lumpur
- Bukit Bintang – High-End Shopping Mall
- Central Market Kuala Lumpur
- National Mosque of Malaysia
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building
- KLCC Park
- Jamek Mosque
- Sri Mahamariamman Temple
- Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
- Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
- Petaling Street Market
- Taman Tasik Titiwangsa City Park
- Planetarium Negara
- Sin Sze Si Ya Temple
- Bukit Tabur Trail with views over the city
- Federal Territory Mosque
Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur
My favourite place to stay in Kuala Lumpur is the Grand Hyatt hotel. The Hyatt brand is synonymous with luxury, but the real reason that I love this hotel in Kuala Lumpur is the view!
Set in the heart of the golden triangle the hotel offers its guests one of the best views of the Petronas Towers in the city – right from your bed! The Hyatt has 412 rooms, but make sure to book a Tower View Room if you want to recreate my photograph below!
The Grand Hyatt is situated in the KLCC area where you find the Petronas Towers and Menara KL Tower. There are plenty of hotel options in this area, many with similarly impressive views to the Hyatt.
If you prefer to be in the heart of the shopping, nightlife and restaurants then you can book a hotel in the Bukit Bintang area. For those looking for a budget or hostel option then you should look at Chinatown where more affordable accommodations can be found.
Bars & Hangouts In Kuala Lumpur
As with any city filled with tall buildings, it’s always advised to try and get to the top of one of those so that you can take in the view and Kuala Lumpur is no exception! There are countless bars and restaurants that offer cocktails and dining with a view.
Here are a few of the best rooftop bars in Kuala Lumpur:
- Mantra Rooftop Bar
- View Rooftop Bar, G-Tower
- Marinis On 57 – also an Italian restaurant
- Sky Bar – on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel
- Luna Bar – offering 360 degree views from Pacific Regency Suites
- Bridge Bar Kuala Lumpur – an exclusive nightclub suspended between two blocks of G-Tower Hotel. You can also a glass platform for the brave ones!
- Heli Lounge Bar
Where To Go From Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia is a beautiful country and whilst there is a lot of tourism, it still seems to feel like you are in on a little-known secret when you visit Malaysia.
If you plan to spend more than a few days in Malaysia, you should consider trips to the island of Langkawi to explore beautiful beaches, head up to the Cameron Highlands to see the tea plantations, Penang to explore all of the street art and if you want to venture to the East coast I highly suggest a trip to the Perhentian Islands.
What To Know For Visiting Kuala Lumpur
The typical visa to visit Malaysia allows you a free 90 day stay depending on your country of nationality. Be sure to check the official Malaysia visa website for the latest information.
The currency used in Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 4 MYR. You can check the latest IDR exchange rate on Google.
While traveling, our number one tip is to use a free Charles Schwab Debit Card which gives unlimited worldwide ATM Fee Refunds and the true exchange rate.
Best Tours In Kuala Lumpur
Some of the best tours and things to do in Kuala Lumpur are:
- Best of Kuala Lumpur Tour with Petronas Towers & Batu Caves
- Cameron Highlands Private Full Day Tour
- Private Full Day Tour to Malacca
Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) is our recommended area to stay when visiting Kuala Lumpur. We recommend booking your hotels on Booking.com to get the best rate and many hotels offer free cancellation in case your plans change.
Some of our favorite hotels in Kuala Lumpur are:
- The Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur: Perfect location with rooms overlooking the Petronas Towers like my image above. No need to fight the tourists when you can get your own Instagram shot from the comfort of your own room!
- Shangri La: Luxury hotel 5 minutes from the Petronas towers with outdoor pool and 6 on site restaurants
- Double Tree: Cheaper hotel in the Golden Triangle good for a quick stay.
AirBnB is also a great option in Kuala Lumpur and you can save up to $44 on your first booking with that link!
Best Books About Kuala Lumpur
Read more about Malaysia before you go! Some of the best books about Kuala Lumpur are:
What Power Adapters Do You Need
Malaysia uses standard 3 prong Type G adapters also commonly used in the United Kingdom.
You can buy a universal adapter that will work in any country and has extra ports for USB cables to charge your phone and other devices.
We also always travel with a portable battery pack which is great to keep your phone charged on long journies.
Transportation In Kuala Lumpur
- Public Transportation: There is very good public transportation in Kuala Lumpur. There are trains within the city as well as long distance buses to other areas like the Cameron Highlands. You can check transportation options by using a website like Bookaway.
- Rental Cars: It is possible to rent a car at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, though driving might be challenging due to road congestion and local rules.
- Uber: Uber availability has been mixed in Kuala Lumpur, with the service frequently being banned. Instead, we recommend you use a similar Uber alternative called Grab which is readily available.
Our top recommended travel insurance companies for Kuala Lumpur are:
- World Nomads: Comprehensive coverage for medical, travel delays, and electronics.
- SafetyWing: Cheaper monthly coverage primarily for medical.
More Articles About Malaysia
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