I spent three weeks in Kuala Lumpur for work this January and I loved this city. It’s vibrant and diverse, with rich history, beautiful temples, and amazing food! I was definitely at an advantage having the recommendations of my coworkers to go off of, and I’m excited to share all I learned and experienced here! Keep reading for my ultimate guide for visiting this wonderful place.
What to Do
Probably my highlight of visiting Kuala Lumpur was a trip out to Batu Caves. This Hindu temple is an active site of practice, so please be respectful when visiting! If you forget a shawl they have them available to rent.
It’s hard not to feel joyful when you’re walking around this colorful complex. Be sure to come prepared for a little workout! I highly recommend going in the morning to avoid both the crowds and the heat. Hiking up the steps brings you to the main temple location, in a huge granite cave! The entire experience was simply awesome.
There are also many monkeys running around the space. Be careful to come without food in your purses, as they will try and get it from you! Always watch the animals from afar!
Batu caves is easy to get to via Grab or train.
Petronas Towers and KLCC Park
KLCC Park is a man made park right in the center of the city! There are running paths, ponds and lakes, playgrounds, and this all leads up to the famous Petronas Twin Towers. Every night, they do a fountain show in front of the Twin Towers as well, which is definitely something you can’t miss!
Menara Kuala Lumpur
The Menara in Kuala Lumpur is not an activity for the faint of heart! Standing over 1600 M tall, there are two glass box overlooks at the top of this daunting structure. This is by far the best view you can get of the city, if you’re willing to brave it!
Upside Down House
This fun little stop is located just at the bottom of the hill from the Menara. Step on in and see everything in the world turn upside down! The staff is super friendly to help you capture the perfect pictures.
KL Forest Eco Park
Keep walking down the hill from the Menara, and you’ll reach the back entrance of the KL Forest Eco Park. This small natural reserve right in the city center is a serene get away from the hustle and bustle. With bridges suspended through the treetops, you’ll get a little taste of nature without having to go far. This route will take you backwards through the park, but moving downhill the entire time which in the humidity is a great reprieve.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the most diverse cities I have ever experienced. One of the most obvious ways to notice this is the wide variety of temples and places of worship throughout the city (the other way is how many types of food you can get!). There is the incredible Buddhist complex of Theon Hou, the Hindu temple Sri Mahamariamman as well as Batu Caves, and mosques throughout the city, the most famous being Jamek Mosque. Each of these locations is beautiful and a great learning experience for these differing cultures.
Perdana Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Garden, and Bird Park
I absolutely love botanical gardens! The Perdana gardens are sprawling and have a wide variety of smaller parks inside including a Hibiscus Garden, Butterfly Garden, and Bird Park. I LOVED the bird park and I hated the butterfly park. I didn’t realize that butterflies can be terrifying until I was in a room with hundreds of them, and after that there is an entire exhibit about other bugs around the world. The bird park also has peacocks and other large birds roaming around, but these you could see coming from farther away! It was cool to see the huge variety of birds in the park.
National Museum of Malaysia
This museum blew me away. It was so well organized and engaging, and I felt after my two hours there I had a really broad understanding of the entire history of Malaysia. The museum is separated into four sections and had just the right amount of information to understand the different phases this nation has gone through. It’s definitely worth a visit to get your history fix!
Obviously no trip is complete without a few souvenirs to bring home! There is truly something for everyone, from the most upscale stores (I could see an Omega watch store from my hotel window) to street vendors selling homemade knickknacks. My two favorites shopping locations were Pavillion Mall and the Central Market. The Pavillion has every store I’ve ever been to across a huge variety of countries. It’s 5 or 6 stories, and just walking back and forth is a great (air conditioned!!!!) workout. It was also fun to have some of my favorite treats from France like ham and butter sandwiches from Paul and macarons from Laduree! Central Market was a little less upscale, but this is where you’ll want to go for all your gifts for back home including local candies, art, and trinkets!
Where to Stay
Normally I’m not one for fancy hotels, but on a work trip I was lucky enough to stay at the JW Marriott. This was a perfect home base being close to one of the largest shopping malls I have ever seen, and many of the sites and attractions.
Any hotel near Bukit Bintang would be a perfect choice! There are tons of options and you’ll be walking distance to many of the sites you’ll want to see!
Where to Eat
I honestly couldn’t fit everywhere to eat in one blog post, so check out my separate post about all the amazing places I tried over three weeks staying here! I will say here, you must get a good variety of food. The Chinese, Malay, Malay-Chinese, and Arabic foods are some of the best you’ll get in the world, so be open to a wide selection!
Your can’t miss meals while you’re in KL would have to be: Nasi Lemak, any noodle dish, and chili crab!!!
What to Wear
For a majority of activities, you’ll be fine in anything comfortable. Keep in mind Malaysia’s official religion is Islam, so it doesn’t hurt to be respectful and stay a bit more covered. You’ll also want to keep a shawl or pashmina in your bag in case you’re wearing a tank top and want to stop in any of the temples or religious locations, where coverage is a must.
It’s also HOT in Malaysia, so breathable fabrics will be your friend. My go to here was lightweight cotton jump suits and maxi dresses! You’ll also want to pack your comfiest shoes to walk as much as possible.
How to Get Around
A majority of the location I outlined above are walking distance from each other, or you can hit at least a couple in one round of walking. Many people told me the train system is really efficient and cheap, however I found using Grab (the Uber of SEA) the easiest option. The rides are cheap and convenient. My biggest challenge was getting a credit card to work with the app (only AMEX would work for me!) so be sure to try a few, or be prepared to pay the driver cash.
I hope this helps you plan out your next adventure to Kuala Lumpur, and you add this rich, diverse, beautiful city to your list for your next SEA adventure! Comment below with any additional questions, and check out my separate post listing out all my favorite meals in KL!
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