Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant and cultural city and there are a lot of attractions from national monuments to skyscrapers that will keep you entertain. So whether you are just passing through or staying a week, here are the top things to do while in the city, from wandering around admiring the architecture to getting lost in one of their mega-sized shopping malls, to having fun checking out their top attractions.
When to go? Kuala Lumpur weather is generally hot and humid most months, meaning Malaysia’s capital city is ideal for visits all year round. Just be prepared for the odd rain shower as it is a tropical climate. The city can also be busy during Chinese New Year as well as Ramadan.
If you love architecture, you’ll love Kuala Lumpur as it is packed full of beautiful buildings. Like the culture it’s a really blend, there are Malay Islamic inspirations, Asian traditions, old colonial influences, as well modern buildings mixed in. You, of course, have the skyscrapers, the Petronas Towers and the KL Tower, but it’s the Islamic-influenced buildings like the Dayabumi Complex adorned with patterns of eight-pointed stars that really take your breath away.
Other architectural beauties you have to see is the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, it is grand and has an Indian temple vibe to it, and the Central Market has some beautiful Art Deco features that have to be admired. The city also has a number of Chinese temples and other religious buildings that are worth tracking down.
The Batu Caves is worth a visit to see the impressive golden structure of Lord Murugan, standing tall at 140 feet. Make sure you are wearing a comfortable pair of shoes as there are 272 steps to clamber up to reach the Hindu shrines for Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. Take plenty of water, you will need it, and don’t keep any food on you as the monkeys that run wild are vicious and very clever.
You can either join one of the many tours, they generally cost around £20 and sometimes include a tag on trip to the elephant sanctuary or a tour of the city, or you can take the train, which to be honest is so simple and cheap. The KTM Komuter train from the main KL Sentral station goes right to Batu Caves for less than a £1 return. It was regular, quick and not crowded, and has female only carriages.
I don’t think any other city in the world loves shopping more than Kuala Lumpur, I know what you are thinking what about London, New York and Paris, but in KL the monster mall is king – there are so many of them, they are everywhere and each one is huge with a mix of both designer and high street names, most of which we have here. The big malls are quite nice to escape the heat, air conditioning is your friend while in KL, and there are some bargains to be had.
However, it was the independent shops, away from the malls that offer something a little different, from the lifestyle emporium Peter Hoe that offers a little bit of everything, fashion, accessories, homeware, and stationery, to the quirky Snackfood that if you didn’t know it was there you would walk by, it stocks emerging designers, homeware pieces, fashion magazines and books, and has a very chilled out feel. Trust me tracking it down will be worth it.
One of the tallest freestanding towers in the world, the KL Tower gives you a 360-degree view of the city, and it only takes you 54 seconds to get up to the observation deck. I have to warn you the view isn’t New York, but it is still beautiful being that high up, and it was amazing to see the mountains in the distance.
KL Bird Park
One of the most popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur has to be the bird park, a 20.9-acre free-flight walk-in aviary, which allows you to get super close to all the birds. The Bird Park houses more than 3000 birds representing more than 200 species with the majority of them being from the local region. There are peacocks, flamingos, hornbills, pigeons, Brahminy Kites, Bulbuls, and parrots. But as well as having a beautiful array of birds the place is idyllic and so relaxing, you literally walk around thinking you are in the jungle.
Kuala Lumpur has a whole garden filled with more than 800 species of orchids, in all colours and sizes and it is fascinating and beautiful. The gardens are pretty, actually, all the open green spaces in KL are beautifully maintained, the heat just gets in your way a little, it’s hard going too far from the air conditioning!! The gardens though are tranquil, you will probably find yourself being the only one admiring the flowers in the heat.
Also, look out for the free shuttle that can drop you off around the Perdana Botanical Garden’s that the Orchid Garden is inside, other highlights include the waterfall, the deer park, the sunken garden, and the wetlands garden.
You can’t visit Kuala Lumpur without going to see Petronas Towers, the shimmering towers are simply beautiful, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have a view from your hotel you should certainly visit the park surround the architectural beauty. The towers really are a statement of the city, they look incredible during the day, but they really come alive at night, especially when accompanied by the amazing light and music show on the now famous Lake Symphony. OK, so it is very Vegas, but hey it sure is entertaining. You can get a great view over Kuala Lumpur from the walkway, but tickets sell out quickly, and, to be honest, the KL Tower is just easier as there is generally no queue.