Photo: Prettier than you may have expected.

Walking tour: Historic KL

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Kuala Lumpur isn’t the most pedestrian friendly city in the region, but that’s not to say you should spend your entire time in taxis, buses and elevated trains and with a bit of effort (and patience ... and sweat) you can cover quite a bit on this historic Kuala Lumpur walking tour.

This walk starts and finishes at Masjid Jemak station and takes in most of Kuala Lumpur’s top shelf historic attractions. The station is well located between Chinatown (to the south) and Little India (to the north) and is easy to reach from anywhere in the city. Allow two or three hours to walk this one through.

Beautiful Jamek Mosque. Photo taken in or around Walking tour: Historic KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

Beautiful Jamek Mosque. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The train station overlooks one of the highlights of the area, the beautiful Jamek Mosque. Built on the site of a cemetery at the confluence of the two rivers, non-Muslim visitors are welcome outside prayer time between Saturday and Thursday. Please dress respectfully (robes are available for those who don’t). While some sections of the mosque are off limits to non-Muslims, there is still plenty to explore and staff doing a meet and greet offer complimentary guiding for those interested.

Leave the mosque and take the walkway which runs behind it (on the north of the mosque) and you’ll reach a walkway over the Gombak River to the centre of an urban beautification project which has drastically improved this area. Walk south along the broad wooden walkway shaded by large trees, with the Sultan Abdul Samab Building behind it (more on that below). You’ll eventually reach Leboh Pasar Besar, where you need to cross the road then turn right (west) to walk up to the southeast corner of Merdeka Square.

The fountain at Merdeka Square. Photo taken in or around Walking tour: Historic KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

The fountain at Merdeka Square. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Immediately to your south is the National Textile Museum and the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is across the road, while out to your right (north) is the expanse of Merdeka Square. Cross the road again, and walk over to where the field starts (the fountain will be on your left). Walk all the way to the north, along Jalan Raja, enjoying the view of the Sultan Abdul Samab Building on your right.

Eventually you’ll reach a bridge over the Gombak River and Jalan Raja splits. Take the right (east) split and continue along the flank of the theatre till you reach Jalan Tun Perak. This is a busy road, so exercise care in crossing it. Once across, turn right and walk one block, then take a left onto the narrow Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Follow this for a block, then turn right onto Jalan Melayu and continue one block, then on your left you’ll see Jalan Melayu Bazaar.

Step off the street and into Coliseum Cafe. Photo taken in or around Walking tour: Historic KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

Step off the street and into Coliseum Cafe. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Unlike the slightly smarter Kasturi Walk, Jalan Melayu Bazaar is a local-focused market selling everything from t-shirts and flip flops to microphones and call to prayer soundtracks. It is a short, but at times very congested street market. It empties out in front of Kuala Lumpur’s India Mosque (Masjid India) which dates to the late nineteenth century and caters primarily to Kuala Lumpur’s population of Indian Muslims—non-worshippers are not permitted inside.

Immediately after the mosque, take a left up Lorong Masjid India 4 then a right onto Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman, then the next left which will take you to the main thoroughfare, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Turn right and continue along this busy shopping strip packed with fabric outlets, sari shops and no shortage of eateries. Eventually, on the far side of the road, you’ll see the Coliseum cinema, and beside it, the Coliseum Cafe—Kuala Lumpur’s second oldest bar. Pop in here for an icy beer and a chat with the friendly bar staff. Also do check out the historic posters and photos on the wall.

Roti special at Selangor Mansion. Photo taken in or around Walking tour: Historic KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Stuart McDonald.

Roti special at Selangor Mansion. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Suitably refreshed, exit the Coliseum, cross the road and turn left, then take the first right, which takes you through two blocks to Jalan Masjid India. Turn right again and walk for a couple of blocks and you’ll have Selangor Mansion, a dated medium-density housing project rise on your left. Take the road which runs around its southern end to your left, then take another left when you reach the Klang River. From this corner overlooking the river you’ll be able to see a covered walkway over the river, which you will take, but first stop at the ground floor cafe in Selangor Mansion for their roti special. Once sated, take the walkway to cross the river.

Once back on the other side of the river, turn right and follow Jalan Ampang. When you reach a moderately sized public space, turn right again, walk for five minutes and you’ll be back at Masjid Jemak station.

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