Flag of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

Things to see and do

Museums

  • Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Muzium Kesenian Islam)
    4.5 stars

    KL has a number of decent museums and art galleries, but the undoubted star of the show is the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. The IAMM has more than 7,000 artefacts in its permanent collection, ranging from delicate pieces of jewellery through to large models of mosques. As well as the excellent ... read more

  • Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
    3.5 stars

    This small museum is dedicated to telling the story of KL. As well as a photographic record of the city, entitled "Memories of Kuala Lumpur", the ground floor has a scale model of Merdeka Square. The first floor has a viewing deck looking out onto the square, and a scale model of modern KL (still ... read more

  • Orang Asli Museum (Muzium Orang Asli)
    3.5 stars

    Split into three main groups, the Orang Asli are the original people of West Malaysia. They are the poorest, least healthy, worst educated, most marginalised community in the whole country. Their story is a fascinating one, but you will only get a sanitised version of it at the government-run ... read more

  • Heritage Centre (Badan Warisan)
    4 stars

    Housed in a restored 1920s colonial bungalow, Badan Warisan is one of Malaysia's most worthwhile, and unusual organisations. In a country where hundreds of historic buildings are demolished every year in the name of progress, Badan Warisan has for years fought a lonely battle to save what built ... read more

  • National Museum (Muzium Negara)
    3 stars

    The main building of the National Museum is split into four main rooms, moving from pre-history to modern times. In that journey, it shifts steadily from being an informative experience, to being a propaganda vehicle for Malay nationalism. The grounds of the museum contain a random collection ... read more

  • Petrosains Discovery Centre
    3.5 stars

    Who would have thought that science could be fun? Well, that's the stated aim of Petrosains, and it does a reasonable job of pulling off the trick. Part of this is down to its interactive approach, which will appeal most of all to kids. Highlights include the Dark Ride, a scientific journey ... read more

Interesting buildings

  • KL Tower (Menara KL)
    4 stars

    One of the tallest free-standing towers in the world, this is one of Kuala Lumpur's most recognisable landmarks, particularly when it is lit up at night. Its primary function was originally as a communications hub, but these days it has become a major tourist attraction, with attractions including ... read more

  • Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (Stesen Keretapi Kuala Lumpur)
    4 stars

    Say what you like about British colonials, but they certainly knew a thing or two about building train stations. Constructed in 1910, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is one of the city's architectural highlights. Approached from almost any angle, this building is an extraordinary blend of Eastern and ... read more

  • Petronas Twin Towers
    4 stars

    The city's most recognisable landmark, no photo album of KL is complete with at least one picture of the Twin Towers. Even if you are not a fan of massive skyscrapers, they are undoubtedly an impressive sight, particularly when lit up at night. The best place to take pictures (from ground level) ... read more

  • Sultan Abdul Samad Building
    3.5 stars

    Located on Merdeka Square, this building was once the administrative centre of British Malaya. It's named after the Sultan of Selangor at the time of its construction in the late 1890s. Apart from the name though, this structure took its influences from much further afield, mostly from the hybrid ... read more

Art Gallery or venues

  • National Art Gallery (Balai Seni Lukis Negara)
    4 stars

    The building may look like it's falling to pieces from the outside, but the quality of the artwork on the inside is anything but shoddy. As well as a permanent display of modern Malaysian art, the gallery also puts on regular special exhibitions. The gallery is open 09:00-17:00 every day, and ... read more

  • Petronas Art Gallery (Galeri Petronas)
    4 stars

    After the National Gallery, this is the best place to see contemporary art in KL. As well as offering a showcase for Malaysian and international artists, Galeri Petronas (10:00-18:00, Tues-Sun; free admission) also runs a wide range of educational programmes to boost the understanding and ... read more

  • Independent galleries
    4 stars

    KL has an incredible array of private art galleries catering to a full spectrum of artistic tastes. Among the best are the Annexe Gallery and the Art House Gallery, in the Central Market Annexe; the Wei-Ling Gallery, in a beautifully converted shophouse in Brickfields; Art Seni, on the Muse Floor ... read more

Mosques

  • Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek)
    4 stars

    Officially opened by the Sultan of Selangor in 1909, but designed by a (Christian) Englishman, this is without doubt the most attractive mosque in KL. No other mosque built since has come close to matching the charm and beauty of Masjid Jamek. The location too, at the confluence of the Klang and ... read more

  • National Mosque (Masjid Negara)
    3 stars

    One of the main rules of post-independence architecture in KL is that anything which has "negara" (national) in the title is likely to be extremely large, and rather ugly. With space for 15,000 worshippers, Masjid Negara is certainly very large. It completely dwarfs Masjid Jamek, which it replaced ... read more

Temples

  • Chan See Shu Yuen Temple
    4 stars

    Chan See Shu Yuen Temple is almost certainly KL's most attractive clan house, and well worth a visit. One of KL's oldest Chinese Buddhist temples, when the Chan See Shu Yuen Temple opened its doors in 1906, its main purpose was to provide help and support for newly arrived immigrants from China, ... read more

  • Sze Ya (Sin Sze Si Ya) Temple
    4 stars

    One of KL's oldest places of worship, the Sze Ya (Sin Sze Si Ya) Temple is also one of the most attractive. The Taoist temple was founded in 1864, but only moved to its present site two decades later. It is unique in Malaysia for being primarily dedicated to two local men who were deified after ... read more

  • Sri Kandaswamy Kovil
    4 stars

    Tucked away on a back street in Brickfields is one of KL's oldest and most characterful places of worship. It was founded just after the turn of the 20th century to serve the local community of Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) Tamil Hindus. It is dedicated primarily to Lord Murugan, the most popular deity ... read more

  • Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
    4 stars

    KL's most important Hindu temple, Sri Maha Mariamman, is located not in Little India or Brickfields, but in the heart of Chinatown. A temple of the same name has stood on this site since 1883, but the current structure dates largely from the late 1960s. It was a private family shrine until the ... read more

Churches

  • St John's Cathedral
    3.5 stars

    Although a Catholic church of the same name has stood on this site since the 1880s, the present twin-towered stone structure only dates back to the mid-20th century. After humble beginnings, serving a small congregation, over the years it has grown to be the seat of the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. ... read more

  • St Mary's Cathedral
    3 stars

    St Mary's Cathedral was built in 1894 to serve the needs of the small Anglican community in KL. Designed in the early Gothic style, it would not look out of place as a modest parish church in England. However, set on the edge of Merdeka Square, and flanked by traffic-clogged highways, St Mary's ... read more

Markets

  • Central Market (Pasar Seni)
    3.5 stars

    For decades KL's main wet market, Central Market or Pasar Seni was scheduled for demolition in the 1970s, before being saved by Badan Warisan (the Malaysian Heritage Society). It now houses a whole range of shops, offering a range of items such as antiques, Nyonya food, secondhand books and ... read more

  • Chow Kit Market (Bazaar Baru Chow Kit)
    4 stars

    KL's largest wet market, Chow Kit is a veritable warren of stalls, selling everything from fresh food to cheap clothes. For anyone who enjoys the sights and sounds of a busy bazaar, Chow Kit is a real blast. Just watch your feet on the slippery floors -- it's called a wet market for a reason. ... read more

  • Petaling Street Market (Pasar Jalan Petaling)
    3.5 stars

    Whatever international anti-piracy agreements Malaysia may have signed up to, stall after stall along Petaling Street Market openly sells counterfeit goods. Whatever you may want, from the latest Hollywood blockbusters on DVD, to fake designer handbags, this is the place to go. All that piracy ... read more

  • Craft Complex (Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur)
    2.5 stars

    The Craft Complex has a rather sad air about it, as befits any grandiose project that only attracts a trickle of visitors each day. In this case, a massive site has been turned over to the production and promotion of Malaysian handicrafts (for which read "Malay"). As well as various shops and ... read more

  • Bangsar Night Market (Pasar Malam Bangsar)
    4 stars

    Probably the best place to experience a night market in KL, Pasar Malam Bangsar takes place every Sunday from 17:30 to 23:00. Popular with both expats and Malaysians, the stalls offer a whole range of goods, such as fresh and cooked food, clothing and electrical products. The advantage of ... read more

Public Parks and Zoos

  • Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve
    4 stars

    A remarkable splash of greenery in the concrete jungle, this is the city's last remaining patch of tropical rainforest. Although it covers just 10 hectares, the reserve packs in an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, including two species of monkey, snakes, monitor lizards and numerous species ... read more

  • KLCC Park
    3.5 stars

    KLCC Park is a pleasant resource right in the commercial heart of the city. As well as a paddling pool, a jogging track, water fountain displays and a children's playground, it has a number of shady spots to sit down and chill out. Last but not least, the park has nearly 2,000 trees, breathing ... read more

  • KL Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana)
    4 stars

    The largest and most pleasant of the city's public open spaces is KL Lake Gardens. The 92-hectare area includes a deer park, a butterfly park and an orchid garden, as well as the attractive lake itself. Although it can get mobbed at weekends, during the week it is a very peaceful spot and one of ... read more

  • Titiwangsa Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Titiwangsa)
    3.5 stars

    It may have a funny name, but Titiwangsa is well worth a visit, especially if you are travelling with kids. The gardens boast great views of central KL, as well as having boats for hire and a small equestrian track (Sat-Sun/public holidays only) where you can go horseriding or take a ride in a ... read more

Performing Arts

  • KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre)
    4.5 stars

    Housed in a former railway warehouse, it is hard to find fault with this superb venue. A sister organisation to The Actors Studio, the city's artistic life would be infinitely poorer without KLPAC. One of the most refreshing features of the centre is how varied its programme of performance arts ... read more

  • Petronas Philharmonic Hall (Dewan Filharmonik Petronas)
    4 stars

    Officially opened in 1998, this is KL's leading venue for classical music, built with money from the national oil corporation, Petronas. The 885-seat concert hall is the home of the well-regarded Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Apart from the MPO, the hall also hosts numerous artists and ... read more

  • Temple of Fine Arts
    4 stars

    An odd name perhaps, but this is the best venue to see classical Indian performing arts in KL. Tucked away on a Brickfields back street, the Temple of Fine Arts puts on a range of shows, focusing primarily on dance, but also concerts and plays. Apart from public performances, TFA runs dance and ... read more

  • The Annexe Gallery
    4 stars

    Most visitors to Central Market are probably unaware that they are close to one of the city's most subversive (dis)organisations. It might not look much from the outside, but the Annexe Gallery plays an important role in the fight to make Malaysia a more free, equal and democratic society. As ... read more

  • The Actors Studio
    4.5 stars

    A sister organisation to KLPAC, this is a superb artistic resource, right in the heart of Bukit Bintang. While its principal focus is on theatre, The Actors Studio puts on an eclectic programme of other performance arts, such as classical Chinese opera and gigs by local indie bands. Although ... read more

Cinema

  • Cinema in KL
    3.5 stars

    For the most part, KL provides rather slim pickings for film buffs, despite having a huge number of cinemas. Unless you are happy with the most mainstream of Hollywood fare, and the occasional Asian martial arts movie, the choice on offer at the city's many multiplexes will be deeply ... read more

Yoga

  • Yoga and meditation in KL
    4 stars

    Yoga is a popular activity in KL, with dozens of places offering classes around the city. Unfortunately, the vast majority require long-term memberships, so are not suitable for visitors. One of the exceptions is Inner Glow Yoga, which allows payment by class (25 ringgit), after a one-off ... read more

General Activites

  • Gyms in Kuala Lumpur
    4 stars

    KL has umpteen gyms, most of which belong to large international or local chains. Outlets include Fitness First, which has a convenient outlet in KLCC, and Celebrity Fitness, which has one in Bukit Bintang. The problem is that their whole business model is based around long-term memberships. These ... read more

  • Swimming in KL
    4 stars

    Given KL's year-round hot and humid climate, there are few more pleasant activities than taking a dip in an open-air pool. Unfortunately, unless you are lucky enough to be staying somewhere with a pool, the city has very few public facilities. The most convenient one for travellers is at the ... read more

  • Climbing, martial arts and paintball
    3 stars

    As with other capital cities, there are a range of other activities available -- perhaps it is time to rustle the hostel together for a paintball session. Rather than heading down into the deep blue, those with loftier aspirations can try their hand at indoor rock climbing at Camp 5 in One Utama ... read more

  • Golf in KL
    3 stars

    It is possible to do virtually any leisure activity you can think of in KL, including playing a round of golf. The problem is it is so expensive and requires jumping through so many hoops that it's not really worth the effort. For golf, almost without exception you need to have your own clubs and ... read more

Diving

  • Learn to dive in KL
    3 stars

    Oddly enough, given its inland location, KL has several good places to learn scuba diving. For the most part, the early practical work is done in the city, in a swimming pool, with the open water elements done in the sea. Two of the most experienced outfits are Planet Scuba in Bangsar, and Scuba ... read more

Shopping

  • Shopping in KL
    4 stars

    Roughly a quarter of all the money tourists spend in Malaysia every year goes on shopping -- that's second only to accommodation. The vast majority of that cash is spent in KL, which Tourism Malaysia is keen to promote as one of Asia's leading shopping destinations. But however important the ... read more

Day trips

  • Batu Caves
    4.5 stars

    The Hindu temple complex of Batu Caves is one of the easiest and most rewarding day-trips from central KL The first sight that hits you when you approach the site (07:00-21:00, free admission) is the massive statue of Lord Murugan, a particularly important deity for Malaysia's Hindu ... read more

  • Fraser's Hill
    4 stars

    Named after a somewhat shady fortune hunter, Louis James Fraser, this is one of Malaysia's most charming colonial hill stations. Fraser's Hill (Bukit Fraser) was officially opened to visitors in 1922. It was never meant to be a huge attraction, and outside public holidays, the tourists still come ... read more

  • FRIM (Forestry Research Institute Malaysia)
    4 stars

    Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) oversees the country's largest secondary forest -- a living museum with six distinct types of woodland and abundant bird, animal and insect life. FRIM (5 ringgit, non-Malaysians) has four main walking trails, as well as jogging and mountain biking tracks, ... read more

  • Kuala Kubu Baru
    4 stars

    KKB, as it is generally known, was founded in 1883 after the original town of Kuala Kubu was swept away by a massive flood. Many people died in the tragedy, including the British district officer, Cecil Ranking. Virtually the only surviving building from the original town is a Buddhist temple, ... read more

  • Resorts World Genting (Genting Highlands)
    3.5 stars

    Most independent travellers coming to Kuala Lumpur are probably unaware that one of Asia's largest entertainment and gambling complexes is less than a hour by bus. Located at about 1,700 metres above sea level, Resorts World Genting is all about having loud, brash, fun, whether that be a ... read more

  • National Zoo (Zoo Negara)
    3.5 stars

    This is one of Southeast Asia's better-run zoos, with the vast majority of its more than 5,000 animals living in as "open" a setting as possible. The zoo was established in 1963, just six years after Malaysian independence, and soon became one of the country's biggest tourist attractions. The ... read more

  • Kuala Selangor
    4 stars

    Most visitors come to Kuala Selangor to see Bukit Malawati (Malawati Hill), but there is more on offer than a hill with views. Bukit Malawati boasts great views of the straits of Malacca, but there is also two small museums, resident silver-leaf langurs, and a British-era lighthouse. Malaysians ... read more

  • Putrajaya
    3 stars

    Like most planned capital cities, Putrajaya has a strange, unreal air about it. The vast, empty roads and quasi-Stalinist public buildings contrast strongly to the hustle and bustle of KL, the city it replaced as Malaysia's federal administrative hub in 1999. Foreign embassies were meant to move ... read more

  • Pulau Ketam
    3.5 stars

    Pulau Ketam has two (predominantly Chinese) fishing villages built on stilts, the main one being Kampung Pulau Ketam, and the far smaller one being Kampung Sungai Lima. The former can be slightly disappointing at first glance, particularly if the tide is out. But move beyond the cluster of seafood ... read more


    Photo gallery

    Photo for Kuala Lumpur

    Jump to a destination


    Most popular sights in Kuala Lumpur



    Newsletter signup

    Sign up for Travelfish Burp!

    Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
    Click here to see a recent newsletter.

    We respect your email privacy