Kuala Lumpur’s city skyline is the face of Malaysia’s tourism industry, featuring the iconic Petronas Towers and the Menara KL Tower. Beyond the city, you’ll find colonial architecture, colourful buildings, and some of the best food you’ll ever taste!
We had originally booked a holiday in Singapore, but since KL is just around the corner (a 45-minute flight), we decided to make a short trip to Kuala Lumpur for a few days to check out this amazing city.
Sure, we wanted to tick off the tourist spots, but we also wanted to wander around the local neighbourhoods and eat as much hawker food as possible.
After booking your flights and accommodation, the next thing on your itinerary will be to figure out fun activities to do in KL. Here is our list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur during your 2020 trip. You could easily fit all these activities into a 3-day Kuala Lumpur Itinerary.
1. KL Forest Eco Park
KL has a permanent forest right in the middle of the city, the KL Forest Eco Park. View the canopy from above with over 200 meters of bridges and towers via the canopy walk. The treetop view allows you to see the forest from a different perspective, but it might not be the best idea for those afraid of heights!
The park is open from 8 am – 6 pm and the canopy walk will cost you 12 RM per adult, or 4 RM per child. It’s easy to find as it’s situated right next to Menara Kuala Lumpur, or KL Tower.
Other than entering from near the KL Tower, you can also enter the park from Jalan Ampang, Dang Wangi LRT station, and Jalan Raja Chulan.
2. Aquaria KLCC
Aquaria KLCC is a huge aquarium located right next to KLCC Park. The aquarium boasts over 5000 animals, both marine and land. Check out their website for feeding times for piranhas, jellyfish, seahorses, and otters.
Visiting the aquarium is the best thing to do in KLCC. One amazing thing about Aquaria KLCC is their efforts in conservation. They have set up programs focussing on the conservation of many species.
It is located 1.5 km from KL Forest Eco Park which can be a bit of a difficult feat in the heat, so you can also get there by taking the purple bus line for free which will save around 10 mins of walking.
Tickets are 69 RM for adults and 59 RM for children 12 and under. You can sometimes get good deals on Klook for your tickets. They’re open from 10 am – 8 pm. To get there, just take a bus to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. The KL Hop-on Hop-off Bus will stop you right there, otherwise, it’s less than 10 minutes from Suria KLCC Mall.
Funnily enough, you can actually book one of their marriage proposal packages. Propose while diving with the sharks. It’s such a unique option for the marine biologist or water activity lover in your life.
3. Petronas Towers and Menara KL Tower
The Petronas Towers is the most well-known building in Kuala Lumpur. It was actually the tallest building in the world for six years until 2004 when the Taipei 101 finished construction.
The vast majority of the towers are offices. At the bottom of the towers, you’ll find both Suria KLCC, a well-known shopping mall featuring upscale brands, and the Petronas Philharmonic Concert Hall.
The observation deck lies on floor 86. Visitors can also access the Skybridge that connects the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors. It’s right by KLCC Park so make a stop here before or after heading to Aquaria KLCC, whereas the Menara KL Tower is right next to KL Forest Eco Park. So, if you’re planning on heading there as well, head there after visiting the eco-park to save you travelling back and forth.
The towers are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 am – 9 pm. Note they’re also closed between 1 pm – 2:30 pm on Fridays. Adult tickets are 80 RM and children 12 and under are 33 RM. We’d highly recommend booking online in advance as the Petronas Towers is a popular attraction. There are also tickets you can buy to skip the lines, but this will come at a higher cost.
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4. Rooftop Bars
When the night falls, the best way to see the city come to life is from a rooftop bar, of which, KL has many! The best time to visit a rooftop bar is just before sunset. This way, you get to see the views of the city at dusk and nighttime, as well as get to watch the sunset. Visiting before dark gives you a higher chance of getting a seat to enjoy the nightlife.
SkyBar at Trader’s Hotel
The 33d floor of Trader’s Hotel gives you the best view of the Petronas Towers. That’s if you’re able to get a seat on the right side of the bar. When we went here, all of the booths on the right-hand-side were reserved, so it’s best to book ahead. Otherwise, if having a view of the Petronas Towers doesn’t phase you, there should be plenty of seats available nearer to the bar.
The bar also features a swimming pool and funky interior. One downside of the bar is that it’s completely indoors, but this makes for a great option during wet weather.
Cocktails start at 55 RM, and mocktails at 29 RM. A select few drinks are cheaper during happy hour at 5 pm – 9 pm, including beer and wine as well. During happy hour, cocktails are 38 RM and beers start at 25 RM.
Marini’s on 57
As its name suggests, Marini’s is perched up high on level 57. Marini’s on 57 isn’t just a rooftop bar. It’s also an upscale Italian restaurant and whiskey lounge. All three parts of the 57th floor interconnect
This rooftop bar does give you views of the Petronas Towers, one of which being very close to the bar. It’s a great way to see the towers from a different angle.
Happy hour here is also from 5 pm – 9 pm and gets you some good deals. A Tiger Beer is only 15 RM and cocktails start at 33 RM. Following happy hour, cocktails can be as much as 60 RM.
If you’re interested in fine dining, Marini’s on 57 is the place to be. Apparently, many international celebrities have dined here. The amazing food does come with a hefty price tag. A 5-course meal will cost you 458 RM, whereas a 10-course meal will cost you 628 RM.
Heli Lounge Bar
This helicopter pad turned lounge bar is the best rooftop bar in KL to give 360-degree views, especially that of the KL Tower. The indoor lounge is located on the 34th floor, but the 36th-floor rooftop is where you want to visit. There are no railings or barriers to stop you, so stay clear from the edge.
The interior is uniquely designed with a plane turbine as the DJ console, and the DJ booth made from part of a Boeing 737. If you arrive before 9 pm, you’ll avoid the entrance fee. If you’re into jazz, all the more reason to come early. Later on in the evening, the lounge turns into more of a nightclub with house music. This is the place to be for great Kuala Lumpur nightlife.
Heli Lounge Bar has incredibly reasonable drink prices compared to its competitors. Alcoholic drinks start from 20 RM.
Vertigo at Banyan Tree
Vertigo only recently opened in KL in 2018, but it has already sparked popularity. It’s the highest rooftop bar in KL, being on the 59th floor of Banyan Tree. The sophistication and amazing atmosphere at the bar is similar to that of Vertigo in Bangkok.
The view of the KL skyline features both the Petronas and KL Towers.
Beers start at 30 RM, and cocktails at 44 RM. Happy hour from 6 pm – 9 pm comes with extraordinary drink prices. Get two selected cocktails for 55 RM, as well as other great deals.
5. Batu Caves
Made famous by Instagram, visiting Batu Caves is one of the best things to do in Malaysia. There is no doubt it will continue to be such a sensation in 2020 and beyond.
Batu Caves is accessed by the iconic brightly-painted steps. All 272 of them! The stairs have only been bright colours since August 2018, and since then, it has significantly increased the number of visitors into KL.
The limestone caves and Hindu Temple are guarded by the golden Lord Muragan, the 42-metre high statue. The sheer size of the statue will likely catch your eye before you see the staircase.
It’ll be tempting not to visit Batu Caves the second you touch down in KL. The reason this is listed on the second day is that you will need to get there super early to beat the crowds. For any photography enthusiasts (or those who hate crowds), I cannot stress this enough.
Batu Caves are open from 6 am – 9 pm. Since it’ll still be dark at 6 am, it’s not necessary to get there that early. We’d recommend getting there at 7 am, as the sun will have just risen. We got there at 6:45 am on a weekday, and there were a couple of other photographers there, as well as locals bringing offerings into the temple inside the caves.
Bear in mind that if you go early, you’ll have to take a taxi or a Grab as the trains don’t start running until after 7 am. The 15-minute Grab ride should only cost you 17 RM. There is no entrance fee to enter the caves, so walk on in. Ladies, just be sure to cover your shoulders and knees. For men, shorts are fine, but they need to be long enough to cover your knees.
Many tourists just grab their Instagram shots at the stairs then turn around and go back. Don’t follow in their footsteps! Make your way into the caves, inhabited by shrines.
6. Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple is one of my favourite activities to do in Kuala Lumpur. The white Taoist temple is accented with red and gold, and is dedicated to the God of heaven. Featuring six tiers and a prayer hall with three altars, Thean Hou Temple is architecturally extravagant. Weave your way around the temple, up stairs, and to multiple viewing platforms. Find your way to the wishing well, medicinal herb garden, and turtle pond within the temple grounds.
This is one of the best historical places in Kuala Lumpur.
Since you can’t reach the temple by public transport, it makes sense to take a taxi or Grab straight there from Batu Caves. A Grab cost us 21 RM. The temple opens from 8 am – 10 pm. Try to arrive before 11 am, as this is when it starts to get busy. The crowds don’t compare with Batu Caves, but the earlier you go, the easier it will be to get photos without any other tourists in them.
Fun fact: you can also register your marriage here. We saw many couples and their families dressed to impress and taking photos on the temple grounds.
7. Little India
Stopover at Little India in a suburb called Brickfields on your way back to KL city. Little India is a great place to browse the stalls, especially in their main street, Jalan Tun Sambanthan. Look out for the gold jewellery, flower garlands, saris, and henna tattoo artists.
Activate all your senses. Admire the coloured archways, smell the fragrant spices, and listen to the Bollywood music playing in the streets around you.
One of the best places in KL to get tasty food is Little India, of course. You’ll never run out of things to eat in KL there. The two dishes not to be missed at Brickfields are nasi campur and banana leaf rice. The Indonesian dish, nasi campur, consists of white rice accompanying an array of meats, vegetables, shrimp and eggs.
Banana leaf rice dishes are characteristic of South India. Wrapping rice in banana leaves is a traditional method of serving the rice – the leaf itself is not consumed.
The dish is traditionally vegetarian, so the rice is served with vegetables and a papadum. The accompanying condiments give the banana leaf rice a burst of flavours, from sour to salty and spicy. Some shops may sell a modernised version with eggs, meat, seafood, and curry.
8. Masjid Jamek
Take the 821 bus from Brickfields to Central Market for only 1 RM. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to Masjid Jamek.
Built in the early 1900s, the Masjid Jamek is the oldest mosque in KL. The mosque overlooks the Klang River and features Moorish architecture. The mosque is adorned with white domes and patterned archways.
The mosque is open from 10 am – 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm – 4 pm daily, except for Fridays when the mosque is closed to tourists. Following the day 2 itinerary, you should be able to reach the mosque around 2:30 pm when it reopens for the afternoon. It’s best to get there as close to the opening as possible, as staff will be freely available to give you an overview of the Mosque’s history and an insight into Islamism. They’re very friendly and will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Females will be given a coverup for the mosque, and men should have their knees covered. T-shirts are suitable for men, as long as the sleeves aren’t too short.
9. Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Just a few minutes walk from Masjid Zamek is Merdeka Square, or Dataran Merdeka in Malay. Merdeka Square is where the National Parade is held each year. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building sits in front of Merdeka Square.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building was built in the late 19th century, making this building over 100 years old. During its early days, the building served as government offices of the British colonial administration. Nowadays, the building is used for Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture and Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.
The building surrounds a central clock tower, and also features spiral staircases, red domes, and Moorish arches.
The architecture contrasts the skyscrapers that backdrop the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
10. Central Market
When you’ve built up an appetite, or just feel like doing a bit of shopping, head to Central Market. The walk will only take you around five minutes and the market is open until 10 pm. The handicrafts outlet is a must-see, even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of shopping. You’ll find intricate embroidery, paintings, Batik, and prints. Central Market is also a great place to find souvenirs to take back home with you.
In the Central Market you’ll find a food court and restaurants upstairs on the second floor. Delicious dishes you have to try include chicken rice, kuih pie tee, putu bamboo and ais kacang.
Chicken rice includes poached chicken paired with fragrant, seasoned rice. Kuih pie tee is a savoury, crispy shell filled with spicy vegetables and prawns. Putu bambu originates from Indonesia. It is a rice flour-based dish with coconut and palm sugar, steamed in bamboo. Last but not least, ais kacang. This is a shaved ice dessert, topped with sweet ingredients. Try red bean or grass jelly as the more traditional flavours, or the popular mango or strawberry.
If a shopping mall is more what you are after, head to KL Sentral instead.
11. Perdana Botanical Gardens
The Perdana Botanical Gardens are KL’s oldest gardens, right in the heart of the city. The well-maintained gardens have many photo opportunities with a variety of sights, including carefully-manicured trees, a geometric Garden Pavillion roof sculpture, arched bridges, and water features.
The gardens are open from 7 am – 8 pm. We’d recommend starting the day here as the weather can get very hot, making it a somewhat unpleasant and sticky experience.
Strolling through the gardens is one of the great things to do in KL for couples.
If possible, try to time your visit on a weekday as it is both busier and more costly on a weekend. On a weekday, the Perdana Botanical Gardens is a great free thing to do in Kuala Lumpur. However, on weekends, the Orchid and Hibiscus Gardens will cost you 1 RM entry.
12. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
Visiting Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is convenient once you’re at the Perdana Botanical Gardens. It is located inside the Perdana Botanical Gardens and is one of the few places within the gardens that will cost an entry fee. The park is open from 9 am – 6 pm.
Tickets are 63 RM for adults and 42 RM for children.
Watch daily feedings for the lorry, ostrich, hornbill, eagle, and milky stork, as well as a bird show and a chance to snap a picture with the magnificent creatures. A timetable is available on their website.
The highlights include the Flamingo Pond in Zone 1, Walk-in Aviary in Zone 2, and Bird Show at the Amphitheater at Zone 4. Performances occur daily at 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm, so tailor your visit around this so you don’t miss out!
If birds aren’t quite up your alley, perhaps you’d like to pay a visit to Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park, at the edge of the Perdana Botanical Gardens. Tickets will cost you 25 RM for adults and children over 12 years, and 14 RM for those three years and up. Please note tripods are not permitted at the park.
13. National Mosque of Malaysia
KL is home to the National Mosque of Malaysia or Masjid Negara. It’s extravagant, to say the least, accommodating up to 15,000 people with a minaret that extends 73 metres tall!
The mosque a star dome with 18 points; 13 representing the states of Malaysia and five representing the Five Pillars of Islam. The design of the mosque takes a very modern approach, featuring white, angular designs, gold accents, and a pool with water fountains.
Like all mosques around the world, it is polite to dress appropriately. Robes are provided for the women, and men may be given a cover-up if their shorts are too short.
The National Mosque is located right next to the architecturally fabulous old railway station, and just a short walk to the sprawling Lake Gardens and National Monument. If you have the energy, make a walking tour of it by stringing these attractions together.
The National Mosque is situated only 10 minutes from the KL Bird Park. There are a few places to eat around the area, especially near KL Railway Station. There are also a few food trucks outside the National Mosque where you can grab a bite to eat. Try the chicken burgers which are super cheap for 4 RM and an ice-cold drink.
14. Petaling Street & Chinatown
Chinatown is one of the most exciting, bustling spots in Kuala Lumpur. Stalls selling everything you could wish for, restaurants selling delectable Chinese cuisine, and hidden bars line Petaling St.
Via public transport, walk to opposite the Public Bank then take either bus 640 or 772 to Chinatown. The ride should only cost you 1 RM.
For food, our top pick is Kim Lian Kee Restaurant for Hokkien mee, stir-fried beef, and tofu. For bars, check out Reggae Bar for Reggae music (you guessed it) with other tourists. Other bars tend to be quite expensive and exclusive.
Chinatown is the best place in Kuala Lumpur to shop, and a very popular place to visit for tourists in KL in 2020. There are Fjallraven Kankens as far as the eye can see. Replica street shoes, jewellery, printed t-shirts – you name it. Make sure you inspect the products before purchasing and look around at a few different stalls to compare the quality (as this will vary from stall to stall), as well as ask about their prices.
Don’t forget to barter with the stall owners as they will inflate their prices if they can tell you’re not from around here. If you can get the product for 30-40% of the original price, you’ve done well.
15. Jalan Alor
Jalan Alor is KL’s acclaimed food street. This is definitely the main street in Kuala Lumpur to visit for the best food. Watch sugar cane juice being squeezed and satay being cooked right on the street, and be enticed by enthusiastic vendors and the tantalising smells of freshly-cooked Malay and Chinese foods.
From Chinatown, catching the train is the easiest way to get there. Take the MSBK train from Pasar Seni to Bukit Bintang. Make your way through the markets in Bukit Bintang to build up an appetite for some of the best food in KL.
Vendors set up their stalls from 5 pm with their plastic chairs extending out to the street shared with pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cars. It’s one of the best places in 2020 for backpackers to dine as the food is super cheap and close to the nightlife. The best time to visit Jalan Alor is around 6 pm, when vendors have set up stalls, but before restaurants have gotten too busy.
Restoran Wong Ah Wah is the best place for satay, Restoran Meng Kee Grill Fish does seafood well, and Best Original Sze Chuan Food is the place to go for stir-fried spicy noodles.