12 Incredible Things to Do in KL (Kuala Lumpur): Tours, Restaurants & More
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and one of the most interesting destinations in South East Asia. If you’re planning a trip or a short layover there soon, you need to make a list of the best things to do in KL for your trip! This is exactly why I created this complete Kuala Lumpur travel guide which includes the best Kuala Lumpur attractions as well as the best hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, tours and more!
I made the mistake that so many do and only booked our trip to Kuala Lumpur as a stopover, leaving us with only a short three-day trip to explore. We quickly realised that there were A LOT of things to do in KL that we just didn’t have time to fit in. For our first trip to KL, we wanted to focus on seeing all the most iconic sights. Luckily, Malaysia is one of the main flight connection points between Europe and Asia, so we’ll surely be back for more!
Without further ado, scroll down to find my first-timers guide with 12 unmissable places to visit in Kuala Lumpur!
NOTE: You’ll see that I’ll use KL and KLCC frequently in this article. KL stands for Kuala Lumpur and KLCC is Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It’s the way both locals and internationals abbreviate these words.
But first - why visit Kuala Lumpur?
Ah, for SO many reasons! Kuala Lumpur is a very interesting place full of incredible attractions. High towers with unique observation decks and revolving restaurants, lots of animal parks where you can see anything from birds to bigger wildlife and butterflies, mosques, temples, cultural neighbourhoods. And of course, delicious local food and endless shopping opportunities. Kuala Lumpur is a destination that definitely deserves more than 3 days if you want to explore all the main attractions.
What to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
My list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur is long and wide, but below you’ll find 12 attractions that I consider to be essential if you’re visiting for the first time. I also prepared a bonus list for you with extra sights to see in case you’re not on your first visit and want something new. You can find it below.
1 - Petronas Towers
Of course, I’m starting this list with THE most iconic landmark in the city! The world-famous Petronas Towers are the first thing that pops into mind when we hear the words Kuala Lumpur – and with good reason! The Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and they were considered to be, until 2004, the tallest towers ever. Needless to say they’re the symbol of the capital and one of the fun things to do in KL!
The towers are 88 floors high and 452 meters tall and they have a bridge connecting them between the 41st and 42nd floors.
What’s there to do here? First, you can admire the towers from KLCC Park, especially in the evening when the buildings are beautifully lit up. You can also go up the towers and visit the Sky Bridge (that connects the two buildings) and the Observation Deck (at the 88th floor) as well.
TIP: This is THE most famous attraction in the city so tickets sell out fast. This, combined with the fact that there’s a strict 1.000 person limit per day brings me to my recommendation: make sure you buy your tickets IN ADVANCE. And I mean at least 1-2 weeks in advance, especially if you want to visit the towers on a certain date and time.
PRICE: 80 MYR/person for tourists (19 US$). You can buy your tickets online in advance here on the official website. Or you can test your luck and go to the ticket counter early in the morning (8:30 AM) but I really wouldn’t advise that! You can also buy the skip-the-line ticket with a one-way transfer for 27.55 US$. By the way, all tickets include access to the Sky Bridge and Observation Deck as well.
2 - KLCC Park
Now that I told you about the Petronas Twin Towers, I have to mention KLCC Park right away. This green landscaped park is located right behind the towers and it’s a great place to relax, unwind and get a great view of the towers from afar. Don’t get me wrong, the park is quite large – it has over 20 hectares, so you’ll have plenty of space to find a good spot for you.
3 - The Batu Caves
RELATED READ: If you want to read more info about this awesome place, I recommend checking out my dedicated article where I’m telling you about my experience and lots of useful info: Kuala Lumpur: A Complete Guide to the Batu Caves.
Okay, I admit it: I cheated a bit by inserting this attraction here, as it’s not exactly inside the city. But it’s still one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur – and a famous one, too.
The Batu Caves are actually a Hindu Temple built inside a cave and it is said to be around 400 years old. You should definitely pay a visit to this place – and while you’re here, I recommend checking out the Dark Cave as well.
PRICE: Free. The Dark Cave is 35 MYR/person (8.50 US$). I recommend taking a group tour or a private tour if you want to visit this place and also benefit from hotel pick-up and lots of fun info from a local guide.
4 - Menara KL Tower / KL Tower Sky Box
RELATED READ: Sky Box KL Tower Guide – Is It Really Worth It?
Did you expect to find an even taller tower than the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur? Heh, enter Menara KL Tower, also known as the place with the most beautiful views of the city! The viewing deck of Menara is around 100m taller than the Petronas – and you can actually see the famous twin towers from here. And yes, this tower has its cool viewpoint too (the Sky Box) and it’s completely made of glass. Just think of THAT view and the endless photo opportunities!
You have 3 different spots to visit here, each with its own price: the Observation Deck (indoor), the SkyDeck (outdoor) and the SkyBox (the glass box I was telling you about above). You can also buy combo tickets for these in case you can’t choose.
TIP #1: The best time to visit is in the morning or during the evening, preferably at sunset if you want to get the most beautiful view of the city.
TIP #2: If you’re looking for a unique experience with fewer tourists, I recommend going to Atmosphere 360, a revolving restaurant that offers an equally awesome view as any viewing platform here. You can grab an afternoon tea for 75 MYR/person (18 US$) or a lunch set meal for 95 MYR (23 US$) and just enjoy the vibe.
PRICE: The Observation Deck is 49 MYR (12 US$) and the combo with all 3 is 99 MYR (24 US$) per person. I found way cheaper tickets on Klook right here – 9.65 US$ for the Observation and 21.25 US$ for the combo ticket. 100% recommended!
5 - Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple is also known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven and it’s famous for being one of the oldest Chinese temples not only in Malaysia, but in this entire part of the world as well! It’s massive and its six tier architecture is simply stunning: a red roof, hundreds of hanging Chinese lanterns and intricate carvings painted in endless colours. If you only visit one temple in KL, Thean Hou should be it; it is surely high on my list of beautiful tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur for some incredible photos!
RELATED READ: Want to check out the best photo ops around the city? I recommend reading my dedicated post > Kuala Lumpur: 10 Most Instagrammable Spots.
6 - Merdeka Square and Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) is one of the most important spots in the city, as this is where Malaysia declared its independence! Along with the Petronas, this should be on top of your cultural Kuala Lumpur itinerary. Although the square itself is pretty nice, with green lawns and a massive flagpole, the most unmissable spot here is definitely Sultan Abdul Samad Building. This Moorish and Gothic-style building made entirely of bricks was built in 1897 and it has a superb, intricate design. Seriously, it’s something to witness!
If you want to find out more about the city’s colonial past and these historical buildings, I recommend taking a guided tour. I recommend this half-day tour that will take you to Merdeka Square, Petronas, Istana Negara and more.
7 - Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Chinatown
Sri Mahamariamman Temple (well that’s a fun name to pronounce!), dating from the 19th century, is the oldest Hindu temple around and it’s the best place to visit in KL if you want to learn more about the numerous religions and cultures that this place encompasses. The Hindu architecture is simply stunning – vibrant colours on the façade, sculptures and well-known legends.
This temple (along with the Toaist Sin Sze Si Ya temple) is located in the Chinatown neighborhood, a unique place to visit while you’re in Kuala Lumpur. Chinatown revolves around Petaling Street – it’s the place where you’ll find endless shops with extremely cheap prices and lots of restaurants with traditional dumplings, noodles and more. Make sure you pay Chinatown a visit, day or night!
8 - KL Forest Eco Park
Hanging bridges, lots of nature and endless rows of trees – the KL Forest Eco Park is a real jungle in the middle of the city! The canopy walk is a well-known activity in the park and seeing a monkey or two is to be expected. Sounds fun, right?
The canopy walk (200m long) is the most popular route, made of hanging bridges among lush trees. It takes around 30 to 40 minutes to complete, photos included. It’s not hard at all, trust me, even kids can do this!
TIP: The Eco Park is located very close to the Menara KL Tower, so you can visit both in one day.
9 - Jamek Mosque and Wilayah Mosque
Jamek Mosque is one of the most important mosques in all of Malaysia and it’s around 100 years old. It has beautiful architecture and it’s located at the intersection of two rivers – Klang and Gombak. The setting is simply amazing and you can also visit the inside of the mosque!
Wilayah Mosque is very pretty mosque in KL hosted in one of the most striking buildings in the city of Kuala Lumpur and it’s open for anyone to visit. There are volunteers offering free guided tours of the mosque at the entrance. They’re very eager to share the interesting facts they know with tourists, so I definitely recommend this experience!
10 - Try some durian and the local dishes
Have you heard of durian before? I’m pretty sure you have! If not, let me tell you a few words about this weird and wonderful fruit. Durian is a pretty common fruit in Southeast Asia. It’s big, spiky and interesting-looking but, most of all, it’s know for being extremely smelly. Yep, you read that right! Durian is only for the brave! Some say it has a strong smelly socks aroma, but if you can ignore the initial wiff, you’ll discover a world of flavour. Tasting durian should be in every Kuala Lumpur guide. Or you can at least TRY to taste it! You can do it in one of the local markets or during a food tour such as this chef-designed small group food tour.
Talking about food tours… I hope you know that tasting as much street food as possible is a MUST while you’re in KL, right? One of the best places to go to enjoy some amazing street food dishes is definitely Jalan Alor Food Street, also known as the best open-air night market, but I’ll tell you about some other cool places in the “Where to eat” section below!
11 - Sip a drink on a rooftop bar
Just like in Bangkok, the Kuala Lumpur nightlife is pretty vibrant and one of the most popular activities here is going to a sky-high rooftop bar. There are so many good ones in KL that you simply have to try at least one! Here are my best recommendations:
- Heli Lounge Bar – 360° view and a cool location on a helipad. Make sure you reserve a spot beforehand, otherwise you’ll have to sip your drink while standing – or go early, at 5 or 6 PM. More information here.
- Sky Bar at Traders Hotel – cute and cool, located at the 33rd floor of a hotel! I recommend going on Wednesdays for Ladies Night so you can enjoy free cocktails from 6 – 11 PM. Plus, they have new DJs daily so you can enjoy some good music while you’re there. More information here.
- Marini’s on 75 – This is the rooftop bar to go to for close up views of the Petronas Towers. They also have an Italian restaurant on-site and a whiskey lounge. More information here.
TIP: Tight budget? Two words: happy hour! Most bars have them in their schedule, so remember to check ahead and you shouldn’t miss them.
12 - Do some shopping
Wondering where to shop in KL for the best experience? Oh, there are so many places worth noting! Here are some of the best shopping places in Kuala Lumpur below:
PETALING STREET. The well-known street in Chinatown I mentioned before. There are countless stalls here with VERY cheap items and souvenirs, anything from electronics to clothes and accessories. There’s also tons of street food options to try.
SURIA KLCC. Located in the city center, this huge six-story shopping complex has anything from shops, supermarkets, a cinema and a food court with Malaysian and International dishes as well.
PAVILLION. A more modern approach to shopping, this mall is located in Bukit Bintang area and it hosts more than 700 shops. Probably the coolest mall in town!
CENTRAL MARKET. Also called Pasar Seni, this place is divided in different sections such as Malay, Indian and Chinese, each of them with numerous stalls where you can find different souvenirs. There’s also a food court at the upper floor of the Central Market with local dishes as well. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll also get to witness a street performance!
KAMPUNG BARU SUNDAY MARKET. A local night market where you can find all kinds of items, from clothes to jewellery. It’s open on Saturday night until Sunday morning so yes, the name is a bit… misleading.
BUKIT BINTANG. For all pockets. You’ll find everything here from luxury shops (at Starhill Gallery especially) to local brands, from clothes to electronics.
LITTLE INDIA. Just like Chinatown, Little India is the perfect place for affordable souvenirs and TONS of Indian spices. The only downside is that the neighbourhood is located at the outskirts of the city.
BONUS: Extra places to visit in KL
If you still have some time to spend here and you’re out of KL attractions, don’t worry, I got you! Here’s an extra list of exciting things and places to add to your itinerary:
- KL Bird Park – 21 acres and more than 200 species of birds! There are 4 different areas that you can explore and it’s a great place to unwind and see the local birds. Entrance fee to the bird park is 63 MYR / 15 US$ per adult on the official website.
- Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park – with over 120 species, this place is perfect for some relaxation while admiring the colourful butterflies! Entrance fee is 25 MYR (6 US$) and you can buy it at the entrance. If you want to visit both the bird park and the butterfly park with a combo guided tour, I found this one.
- Little India neighbourhood – for those of you that want to learn more about the Indian culture or just to taste an amazing tikka masala!
- Perdana Botanical Gardens – formerly known as the Lake Gardens, this place hosts the largest collection of flowers in KL for sure. And the Orchid Garden is surely the most beautiful site there. Entrance fee is 6 MYR / 1.50 US$.
- Aquaria KLCC – not just an aquarium, but an entire underwater world with more than 5.000 aquatic specimens! They call themselves an “oceanarium” and I think it’s pretty cool. Entrance fee to Aquaria KLCC is 71 MYR (17 US$) on the official website but I found cheaper prices on Klook here – 54 MYR (13 US$) per person!
- Negara National Zoo of Malaysia – with almost 500 species of animals, this is the place to go, especially with the little ones! Entrance fee is 88 MYR (21.20 US$) on the official website but I found cheaper tickets on Klook here for 73 MYR (17.60 US$) that include access to the Panda Center as well.
- Sunway Lagoon Theme Park – both a theme park and a water park with lots of fun activities for the entire family. Both relaxation and adventure await here! Entrance fee is 202 MYR (48.60 US$) for one adult on the official website, but I found way cheaper tickets on Klook here for 172 MYR (41.40 US$).
- National Museum – the National Museum is a traditional house where you can learn about the history and culture of Malaysia. Entrance fee is 5 MYR / 1.20 US$.
- National Mosque – visit the National Mosque if you want to be in awe of a superb Islamic building!
- Kuala Lumpur Railway Station – once the main train station (now dethroned by KL Sentral), this building is super pretty and worthy of at least a quick look.
- Royal Selangor Visitor Centre – an underrated pewter museum where you can learn about the history and the way the Royal Selangor products were made. Free entrance and free guided tours available! More information here.
- Istana Negara – the former palace where Malaysian kings lived; nowadays it’s the best place to learn about royal life in KL. Entrance fee is 10 MYR (2.40 US$).
- Dine in the Dark experience – Dining in the Dark is exactly what you expect it to be – a total sense experience during which you’ll eat in complete darkness. Sounds pretty cool to me!
RELATED READ: Complete Guide: Visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Best Kuala Lumpur city tour options by type of traveller
I know, I know, my list of places to go in KL can be a bit overwhelming, to say the least! If you need a little bit of help organising your itinerary, my recommendation is to book some organised tours of the city. This way, you can tour Kuala Lumpur and see its main highlights without the timing and transportation stress!
Here are some of my best recommendations for tours of Kuala Lumpur by type of traveller:
- Private Kuala Lumpur City Tour & Batu Caves – combo-wombo for tourists that want a local guide just for themselves – a private tour with Batu Caves included!
- Kuala Lumpur: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local – if you want to make your own itinerary but enjoy the knowledge of a local;
- Hop On Hop Off Kuala Lumpur sightseeing bus – a great way to navigate the city, stop close to the most important attractions for you and then hop back on the bus! Available for 24 or 48 hours;
- Hidden Kuala Lumpur: 4-Hour Bike Tour – for active travellers;
- Kuala Lumpur Private Night Tour with Buffet Meal – for all night owls out there!
- Sightseeing by Private Vehicle with Driver – if you want to see the main attractions in 4 or 8 hours, fast and efficient without dealing with private transportation;
- Kuala Lumpur Food Tour: 10 Tastings – if you’re a foodie with a desire to taste as many local dishes as possible!
Best day trips from Kuala Lumpur
Below you’ll find some amazing options for a cool day trip from KL if you’re interested in exploring the most interesting places near the city!
- Batu Caves Half-Day Tour – a must!
- From Kuala Lumpur: Private Full Day Tour to Malacca
- From Kuala Lumpur: Cameron Highlands Private Full Day Tour – Cameron Highlands are one of the most well-known day trips from KL!
- From Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Selangor Fireflies & Wildlife Tour
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wondering where to stay in KL? Luckily for us travellers, Kuala Lumpur’s hotel scene is full of TONS of amazing places to stay for the best experience! A rooftop pool, city views, clean rooms but also nice hostels and affordable apartments – you can find all these in KL and more!
For more details and excellent hotel recommendations, check out my dedicated article here: Complete Guide: Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur.
The best areas I can recommend are KLCC, Bukit Bintang and Chinatown, especially if you want to be close to all the most important landmarks such as the Petronas Towers.
And here’s a short roundup below where you can find the top hotels in Kuala Lumpur I’m recommending, all sorted by budget:
COMPLETE SPLURGE. The RuMa Hotel and Residences
BOUTIQUE HOTEL. Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur
MID-RANGE. Meliá Kuala Lumpur
BUDGET HOTEL. Komune Living
HOSTEL. The Bed KLCC
APARTMENT. Ascott Kuala Lumpur
Where to eat in KL and what dishes to try
Everyone knows that you can’t visit any place in Asia without trying the local food – Malaysia included! And trust me, the local dishes in Kuala Lumpur are pretty much unforgettable. Here are some unmissable dishes to try as well as some excellent foodie spots out there:
Mixed rice – one of the most common foods in Malaysia. You basically receive a portion of plain rice and you can mix and match your favourite ‘toppings’ (seafood, meat, veggies etc.). I recommend trying it at the street stalls or at Nasi Kandar Bestari.
The national dish of Malaysia, usually served for breakfast. It’s coconut rice mixed with fried chicken, chili paste, fried eggs and anchovies – and it’s delicious! I know, they take breakfast seriously for sure. I, again, recommend the street stalls or Village Park Restaurant.
Indian-style flatbread, also known as a “flying bead”. It goes wonderfully with stews and spicy curries and you can find it pretty much everywhere you look. Try roti canai banjir if you want to taste the bread with just curry sauce.
High tea is a world-famous British tradition. And because Malaysia was colonised by the British, this tradition is well-known around these lands as well – and there are plenty of nice places to sip a good tea in Kuala Lumpur and to enjoy some quality time. I recommend The Orchid Conservatory at Majestic Hotel, Atmosphere 360 or Newens Tea House for this.
VISIT THE CUTE CAFES
You know how much I love brunches and cafes – and Kuala Lumpur is the perfect place to stop by some cute cafes to start your day right. Merchant’s Lane is a great place in Chinatown that serves an Asian fusion menu and The Husky Cafe Kuala Lumpur (Huskiss) does not disappoint: it’s a cafe with perfect coffee and DOGS!
RELATED READ: By the way, if you’re interested in the subject, I recommend reading my dedicated post 10 Best local foods in Kuala Lumpur to find out more about the best local dishes you need to try while in the city.
WHERE CAN I EAT THE BEST STREET FOOD IN KL?
JALAN ALOR STREET FOOD MARKET. This is literally foodie heaven and one of the most famous places in KL for tasting authentic dishes. You can find tons of cheap (and delicious) Malaysian food stalls here serving anything from barbecue meat to soups and desserts and the best part is that it’s open 24/7. It’s in the Golden Triangle area and it’s the REAL deal.
TAMAN CONNAUGHT MARKET. Another notable place; the good thing is that it’s not as touristy as the first one, so you’ll find more locals here. There are also stalls selling clothes, electronics and more.
If you want to taste ALLLL the best food that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, I recommend joining a food tour. A local guide will take you to all the best food places in KL and will show you exactly what to try and how. I recommend this Kuala Lumpur Street Food Tour with 10 tastings or this Local Street Food Night Tour.
Or, even better, you can join a cooking class. It’s a wonderful opportunity to not only learn about the local dishes, but also find out how to properly cook them using authentic ingredients and techniques. For this, I recommend this New Malaysian Kitchen Cooking Class and Garden Tour.
RELATED READ: If you’re a brunch fanatic (like me!), check out Kuala Lumpur: Best Brunch and Coffee Spots.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The good news is that the local transportation system in KL is very well-connected and pocket-friendly too. The downside is that you’ll have so many options, it can be a bit hard to choose. I don’t recommend you simply walk around the streets, as KL is pretty massive and the landmarks are not that close to each other (unless we’re talking about Petronas Towers and KLCC Park).
But I’ll elucidate all the transportation mysteries for you below:
MRT and LRT. These are the local trains and they connect the centre to numerous other neighbourhoods. One ride is 1.20 MYR (0.30 US$) and you can buy your ticket from the vending machines at the stations.
KL MONORAIL. Connects KL Sentral (main train station) to KLCC. One ride is 1.30 MYR (0.30 US$ as well) and it works with tokens that can be bought at the station and validated before you enter the train.
RAPIDKL BUS. Local buses that work with a digital TnGo Card. You charge it with at least 3 MYR (0.25 to 1.20 US$) and you can use it on all lines. Fees for one ride range from 1 to 5 MYR depending on where you’re going.
GO KL CITY BUS. Free local bus that takes you to the most frequented train stations, areas and attractions. It has a pretty lilac colour and you can board it for free.
TAXI. They’re a fast and convenient way of navigating the city, although I’d recommend avoiding them. If you HAVE to use them, make sure the driver uses the meter. If he refuses, just find another one. Alternatively, there’s also Grab in KL (Asian version of Uber). Also, it is said that red taxis are better than blue taxis.
TIP: If you plan on using the public transportation system a lot while you’re in KL (LRT, MRT and KL Monorail, I recommend a MyCity Pass, which is a well-known transportation card. It offers unlimited rides on all three of them for 1 and 3 days and the prices range from 20 MYR to 35 MYR. You can buy it at all stations and I think it’s a great deal.
This was my complete guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! I hope you found this article useful, as I did my best to include EVERYTHING you might need here, from the best things to do to the best tours, hotels, restaurants, dishes, transportation methods and everything else in-between!
When it comes to it, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is an incredible destination and people from all around the world flock here to discover its secrets and see its attractions. If you’re one of them, I hope this article was useful in planning your itinerary!
In case you want to read more about Malaysia, I recommend clicking here to find out everything about my adventures in this amazing country.