I’m not a big fan of big cities but Kuala Lumpur keeps on getting me excited whenever I get to visit it. KL is not just the capital of Malaysia to me but also a hotspot in Asia that combines modern skyscrapers with amazing rooftop pool, nature with culture, and an abundance of different foods and religions. The Petronas Towers are by far the most known sight in the city but if you think that is all that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, get ready to be surprised. From the amazing National Mosque to countless night markets and some of the most amazing street food you’ll ever find, Kuala Lumpur has so much to offer than one (and with “one”, I’m talking about myself) would first expect. If you’re looking for my awesome secret tip on where to go for to potentially coolest place for close to nothing, make sure to continue reading to the end 😉 If not, enjoy this list as long as you want to and feel free to let me know what you think.
This one is kind of obvious but still needs to be part of this list. Honestly though, I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur 4 times now and the sight of the Petronas Towers just never gets old. I’m not a big fan of actually going up to the viewpoint on top of them (because you obviously can’t see the towers properly and it also costs about 20€ per person). I much rather like to enjoy the view from the bottom. There is a mall on the bottom floor that connects both “sides” of the towers and both are worth checking out. On the one side, you’ll find yourself in a beautiful garden (called KLCC park) that makes walking around really peaceful. You’ll also find a couple of bars and restaurants to hang out in and enjoy the view in. Just keep in mind that these are pretty expensive (western standards prices) as it’s one of the most touristic places in Kuala Lumpur. On the other side of the towers, you’ll get more of a view of other cool buildings (don’t know what they are though, sorry :D) and it’s the perfect spot to get one of those cool photos with the Petronas Towers in the back.
If you’ve done a little bit of research on what to do in Kuala Lumpur, I’m sure you’ve come across the Batu Caves pretty quickly. This place is basically a gigantic limestone hill that has numerous caves and temples inside of it that are just amazing to look at. According to Wikipedia (hahaha, yup I’m honestly getting some of my info from here 😛 don’t judge me :D) it’s even one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. The entrance to the caves is protected by a gigantic golden statue and is a super impressive sight. To get to the caves, you have to climb a looot of stairs where you will encounter a bunch of wild and greedy monkeys (that I personally love).
TIP: PLEASE do yourself a favor and get here as early as possible in the morning. This place gets super busy (and veeeery hot) around 10/11 am, so I always make sure to get here at 8 am/no later than 9 am.
One more Tip: Back in the day, it was common to take public transport to come here (and you can obviously still do that if you feel like going on a small extra adventure) but it takes about an hour and is just not worth the hassle. It’s super easy to get a taxi (through the Grab or Gojek app) and drive there in 15 minutes. Like most places in Asia, getting a regular taxi will be 3-4 times as expensive as a Grab, so make sure you have data on your phone to call a Grab or negotiate a fair price with one of the local taxi guys.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
The Sri Mahamariamman temple is located on the border to Chinatown(which makes it the perfect starting point to wander into the busy streets of Chinatown afterward) and is one of the main sights to check out in Kuala Lumpur. It was founded in 1873 and is the oldest Hindu temple in the city. The whole temple has so many details and is decorated with amazing stones and tiles and different statues that it’s a really cool sight that you don’t want to miss out on. Up until today, the temple is still a very important cultural, national and religious spot that should be on every visitor’s list in Kuala Lumpur.
Like in any big city, you will also find China Town in Kuala Lumpur. Depending on your previous travels and the amount of China Towns you’ve seen before, it’s up to you to decide if you want to come check out this corner of the city. I do recommend it if it’s one of your first times because it can actually be fun seeing the crazy amounts of literally anything that is being sold here. Plus: you can always expect to find all sorts of amazing street food somewhere in China Town and that alone makes it totally worth visiting.
National Mosque (Masjid Negara)
If you’re anything like me, your experiences with Mosques are probably limited, so this is the perfect chance for you to broaden your horizon and experience a different world. They offer tours through the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur that will actually enable you to see the inside of this beautiful and big place while getting background information as well. They will give you a purple “robe” to cover up (all the tourists get it) and while it may feel silly to wear it, it also adds to the experience. Make sure you don’t come during prayer hours though, otherwise you might not be able to visit the insides of this place.
Kuala Lumpur Eco Park
If the traffic and noise in Kuala Lumpur are getting a bit too much for you, you should definitely go check out the Kuala Lumpur Eco Park. It’s basically this nice jungle oasis in the middle of the city and is perfect if you just want to go for a nice stroll and cool down in the shade a bit. The park does have a pretty nice suspension bridge and can be the perfect break from the big city life. PLEASE make sure to bring MOSQUITO REPELLENT!!! If you know me at all, I’m very amendment when it comes to protecting yourself from those little assholes called mosquitos (if not, feel free to read up on my story about getting Dengue in the Philippines).
Jalan Alor/Night Street Food
If you’re looking for a typical Asian night food market experience, you should definitely come check out Jalan Alor. You will find Jalan Alor on the way up to Bukit Bintang (which is one of the most popular areas in Kuala Lumpur). This street is filled with all kinds of mouth-watering foods that you can watch being prepared before it is served to you on those very typical tiny plastic chairs in the middle of the street. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to zero or to 30 street food markets, this one is kind of a must-do in Kuala Lumpur to get a proper sense of Kuala Lumpur and the food scene.
Tapak Urban Street Dining
If you’re looking for some of the best food trucks in this big city, Tapak Urban Street Dining is THE place for you to check out. I loved coming here at night because not only is it super close to the Petronas Towers (and let’s be real, you do want to have a photo in front of the Petronas Towers at night) but you actually get to choose from 30+ food trucks that will have amazing food. On top of that, you also usually get live music while you eat and who doesn’t like that 😊
Merdeka Square/ Sultan Abdul Samad Building/Independent Square
There are so many different names for this location but they all describe the same awesome spot. Depending on if you’re interested in architecture or not, this might be a pretty cool place for you. It’s basically a big square with some really amazing looking buildings/one big palace. When I came to Kuala Lumpur the first time, I really enjoyed checking out this corner of the city which is why I still recommend having a quick look at it just to get a proper sense of the city.
Kuala Lumpur obviously offers some amazing nightlife too and while I had a short glance into it, I know nowhere enough for you to be confident enough about properly listening to my advice here haha. All I can and will say is that there is soo much for you to explore and one of the best spots to do so is by going to the Bukit Bintang area and just check out what’s happening there. Also, if you’re staying in a hostel, this aspect will be easily solved since hostels are notoriously known for being awesome in nightly activities.
Remember the secret tip I mentioned earlier? Well, here it is:
If you’ve been a backpacker long enough, you’ll get really good at finding awesome spots on a budget and this is definitely one of them. Kuala Lumpur has so many viewing platforms or infinity pools that charge waaaay too much to check out, so be ready to get excited about this one. (By the way, this is no way sponsored or anything but just a place that I really loved).
There is a hostel called Sky Society (I could only find them on Hostelworld) which is located in an apartment complex that’s made up of 3 different skyscrapers. A night in a 6 bed-dorm here costs 7€ (as of December 2019) and you’ll get two amazing perks when staying here:
- A dorm bed with a ridiculously amazing view. You’ll need a bit of luck for this one because some beds are just on the wrong side of the building but there is a chance for you to literally lay in your 7€ bed and not only see the Petronas Towers right there form your window but also to see the sunrise right behind them)
- You’ll get to use one of the most amazing infinity poos in Kuala Lumpur for FREE. Yup, you read that correctly. The infinity pool is located on the 34th floor and has THE most amazing view of the city and the Petronas Towers. There’s obviously also a bar up there so there’s nothing stopping you from not ever leaving this place.
AAAAnd that’s a wrap. If you have any questions, suggestions or ideas, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can.