Things to see in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur (KL) is the capital city of Malaysia and one of Asia’s most colorful and vibrant cities. KL, as it is popularly known, is a heaven for shoppers and a hive of exciting tourism activities and events, besides banking and finance, manufacturing, and telecommunications. It offers a fusion of old and new, where numerous pre-war heritage buildings that reflect its rich past stand amongst the many modern, state-of-the-art skyscrapers.
Here are some of the top places to visit while in Kuala Lumpur:
Petronas Twin Tower
The world-famous Petronas Twin Towers are certainly the pride of Malaysia. The 451.9 meters high towers were the tallest building from 1998 to 2004 and remain the world’s tallest twin towers. The 88-story skyscraper was designed by Argentine-American architect, César Pelli, to resemble motifs inspired by Islamic art.
Built on the site of Kuala Lumpur’s race track, the Selangor Turf Club, the construction of the towers began on 1 April 1994, and on 31 August 1999, the building was officially opened.
The iconic towers are connected by the world’s highest double-decker sky bridge on levels 41 and 42. This 58.4 meters long bridge is open to all visitors to have a view of the surrounding area, at a height of 170 meters. However, admission tickets are limited and it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Kuala Lumpur Tower
The award-winning Kuala Lumpur Tower (KL Tower) is located at the peak of Bukit Nanas, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. At a height of 421 meters, it is the tallest tower in Southeast Asia and the seventh tallest telecommunication tower in the world. One of the most iconic landmarks in the country’s capital city, KL Tower offers a unique blend of cultural, adventure, and nature experiences.
Opened to the public in July 1996, this magnificent tower is built atop the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, the oldest gazetted forest reserve in Malaysia that shelters age-old trees and floras and faunas indigenous to Malaysia’s tropical climate.
The architectural design of the tower is based on Islamic architecture, reflecting Malaysia’s vibrant Islamic heritage with Arabic calligraphy, geometric-patterned tiles, and Islamic abstract patterns.
The tower’s indoor Observation Deck, at 276 meters above ground level, offers visitors a magnificent view of the metropolitan city, while the outdoor Sky Deck, at 300 meters above ground level, offers a greater vantage point of the city. The Sky Box, paneled with a glass facade all around including the floor, extends out from the Sky Deck’s ledge, providing never-before-seen views of the city.
KL Bird Park
Opened in November 1991, the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is a popular ecotourism destination in the country, as it boasts an amazing collection of 3,000 colorful birds of various sizes from more than 200 species, from both local and foreign countries. Sprawling across 20.9 acres of land, KL Bird Park is located adjacent to the serene and scenic Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens.
The KL Bird Park boasts a free-flight concept, reputed to be the largest free-flight walk-in aviary in the world, which offers visitors a rare chance to be surrounded by free-flying birds roaming throughout the park. The free-flight concept and the lush greenery facilitate numerous nesting sites, making the Park a conducive breeding site for the birds.
KL Forest Eco Park
The KL Forest Eco Park is one of the oldest permanent forest reserves in Malaysia. Formerly known as the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, the park is conveniently located beside the KL Tower and can be easily accessed via various modes of transportation, making it a popular ecotourism attraction.
Founded in 1906, the park covers an area of around 9 ha and is home to more than 200 tree species, including herbs, ferns, creepers, bamboos, and other tropical floras, and also 12 animal species, such as silver leaf monkeys and long-tailed macaques, as well as 25 species of birds. You can learn more about the various unique species of fauna here by visiting the herbal garden, situated near the park’s entrance.
One of its main attractions is the spectacular 200 m Canopy Walk, an aerial bridge that is 21 m above the ground, providing a precious eye-level view of some of the oldest trees in the city, including Jelutong trees and Merawan Batu.
Sunway Lagoon is a famous multi-award-winning theme park located in Sunway City, within the district of Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Opened in 1992, it spans an area of 88 acres and boasts over 90 attractions that are spread across six adventure zones – Water Park, Amusement Park, Wildlife Park, Extreme Park, Scream Park, and the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon.
Built alongside Sunway Pyramid, a shopping and leisure complex, and the Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Sunway Lagoon features a diverse mix of entertainment, retail, and hospitality, and interconnects adventurous rides, fun games, and water activities to create a wholesome theme park experience for every visitor.
At the Water Park, adventure-seekers can slide their way down from an 11-story slide tower and plunge through turbulent waters with twists and turns of the Vuvuzela water ride. The 5D Waterplexx, the first in Malaysia, offers an amazing cinematic ride with multi-sensory thrills of wind, fog, mist, sprays, lasers, and more to give you a close-to-real water adventure. The FlowRider, another first in the country, offers the best waves for surfing.
If you don’t want to get wet, head over to the Amusement Park to take a plunge from the roller coaster ride at the Lost City of Gold Scream Coaster, or get a vantage view from Malaysia’s longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge.
Central Market Kuala Lumpur
Central Market began life as a wet market in 1888, built by Yap Ah Loy, the city’s Chinese Kapitan. It served as a prominent landmark in colonial and modern-day Kuala Lumpur. When the wet market was relocated in the 1980s, the Malaysian Heritage Society successfully petitioned against the demolition of the building. Now, Central Market Kuala Lumpur is an iconic attraction and a delightful destination for tourists, shoppers, and art lovers.
Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square)
Independence Square (Malay: Dataran Merdeka) is a square located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It was formerly known as the Selangor Club Padang or simply the Padang (meaning "field" in Malay) and was used as the cricket green of the Selangor Club (now the Royal Selangor Club). It was here that the Union Flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on 31 August 1957. Since then, Independence Square has been the usual venue for the annual Independence Day Parade.
A 95-meter flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, is located at the southern end of the square. A flat, round black marble plaque marks the location where the Malayan flag was raised for the first time. Near the flagpole at the corner of the Padang is a fountain, the Cop's Fountain, built-in 1897 as a memorial to Steve Harper, a popular police inspector. A car park and retail area, the Plaza Putra which was later renamed Plaza Dataran Merdeka, was built beneath Independence Square; however, the location had been affected by flooding.
Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest. Just beside the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building currently the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Culture of Malaysia. Opposite the square is the Royal Selangor Club which was first founded in 1884 as a meeting place for high-ranking members of the British colonial society. To the South is the former National History Museum which used to house a vast collection of historical items. The collection has recently been moved to Muzium Negara. Next to it is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery which tells the story of Kuala Lumpur through miniature models and The Spectacular City Model Show. To the North is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia and the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia. Not far from the square is also the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which is still operational. However, the main hub has recently been moved to KL Sentral in 2001.
Petaling Street Market
Petaling Street or Jalan Petaling is a bustling shopping district in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.
Chinatown is the name given to the original commercial heart of Old Kuala Lumpur. The area surrounds the Jalan Petaling market and is one of the most popular tourist destinations for any visitor to Kuala Lumpur.
Bargaining is a must here. You will need to practice your bargaining skills to avoid being overcharged. You will need to practice your bargaining skills to avoid being overcharged. But if you pay RM50 for a 'Rolex' watch don't expect it to work for very long! You get what you pay for. There are lots of shops selling Chinese tea on the side streets and the staff will often demonstrate the correct method of preparing tea and let you sample some of their brews. There is no obligation to purchase anything but most people end up walking away with a tea-related souvenir.
Kampung Baru, also known as ‘new village’, is a traditional Malay residential area that was established about more than a hundred years ago in Kuala Lumpur. Although it is located in the heart of KL, Kampung Baru still retains its village lifestyle and feel within the city. Here, visitors can not only look at the historical landmarks and visit night markets but can also experience a wide variety of mouth-watering food.
Jalan Alor - A Taste of Malaysian Street Food
Malaysia is well-known for having a mind-boggling array of delicious foods, thanks to its multicultural communities – the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, as well as the many ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak. Some dishes are even unique to a specific part of the country; for instance, the original nasi kerabu and nasi dagang are from the east coast region of Peninsular Malaysia, and mee kolok is from Sarawak.
For foreign tourists, exploring and discovering the endless variety of Malaysian street food available around the country’s many street stalls and hawker outfits is truly an adventure. If you are planning to try Malaysian street food, Jalan Alor is a good start for beginners. Located near the ever-bustling area of Bukit Bintang, the whole stretch of Jalan Alor is designated for hawker stalls, offering the best of the best dishes in Malaysia.
Tip: Don’t hesitate to ask the vendors if you want a more detailed explanation of the dish.
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is an award-winning shopping mall located in the heart of Bukit Bintang, Malaysia’s shopping paradise. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur brings the best of retail with a net lettable area of over 1.7 million square feet, 700 stores, and 8 themed precincts.
The Pavilion Crystal Fountain, a symbol of Malaysia’s diverse culture welcomes visitors to this tourist-friendly destination, surrounded by upmarket hotels and a 10-minute walk from KLCC. Enjoy tourist-centric services such as money changers, ATM machines, and currency exchange kiosks, as well as specially curated tours for large groups.
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Malay: Muzium Kesenian Islam Malaysia) is a museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was officially opened on 12 December 1998. The museum is the largest museum of Islamic arts in South East Asia with more than seven thousand artifacts from the Islamic world.
The museum consists of twelve gallery spaces, spread over two levels. Level one contains galleries devoted to Architecture, the Qur’an, and other Mmanuscripts, and one each for the art of India, China and the Malay Peninsula. Level two houses galleries devoted to Arms & Armor, Textiles, Jewelry and Coins, with the remaining three galleries consisting of art works categorized by their materials – Metal, Wood and Ceramics. The museum is also known for their collection of ancient Islamic glassware.
The museum also houses educational, research, and extensive conservation facilities. One of the most famous permanent exhibitions is a faithfully restored and complete early-nineteenth century "Ottoman Room" dating back to the 19th century. Conservators used data born out of the restoration of this room to collaborate frequently with international colleagues, add to the wider conversation about conserving Islamic vernacular architecture, and to draw attention to the effects on “painted woods in tropical climates such as Southeast Asia.”