The price is right!
Published/Last edited or updated: 6th January, 2018
While there are plenty of options for exploring Kuala Lumpur on a paid walking tour, VisitKL, the city’s tourism bureau, runs a series of free walking tours which are well worth considering—especially at this price!
VisitKL offers four free walking tours of Kuala Lumpur which are outlined on a quiet hard to find (unless you do a tour), but good foldout brochure. The tours run on different days of the week and are limited to 25 people, so it pays to get there a little early for pre-registration. You can call ahead and book a place but we’re not sure that is really necessary—the walk we did had less than ten people on it. The four walks are Dataran Merdeka Walk, Old KL and Nature Walk, Jalan-Jalan at Kampung Baru and Kuala Lumpur Night Walk and each runs for about 2.5 hours.
The Dataran Merdeka Walk runs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday starting at 09:15 (registration from 09:00 at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery). The tour essentially walks you around Merdeka Square detailing the history of each of the buildings and attractions surrounding the square. If your prime area of interest is the British involvement with (then) Malaya, then this is the walk for you. Expect a lot of talking and not too much walking.
The Old KL and Nature Walk runs on Tuesday and Thursday starting at 09:15 (registration from 09:00 at the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau). This is a long walk which takes you via Jamek Mosque down into Chinatown, then up, circumventing Little India to the Telekom Museum before finishing at KL Forest Eco Park. Compared to the Dataran Merdeka Walk, this one involves a lot of walking and it is a shame it doesn’t take you through Little India to reach the museum and the Forest Eco walk.
Jalan-Jalan at Kampung Baru was the walk we did. It runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday starting at 16:30 (registration from 16:15 at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman in Kampung Baru). The walk isn’t all that onerous but there is a lot of information delivered as you wander the mix of old houses, food halls, schools, mosques and markets which make up Kampung Baru. We enjoyed the walk a lot, but it seemed a missed opportunity to finish very close to Chow Kit Market without going into the market. You can of course visit the market by yourself, but a guide is often useful.
The last walk, the Kuala Lumpur Night Walk runs on Saturday only starting at 18:45 (registration from 18:30 at Arch Cafe at the Old Market Square). It covers some of the same territory as the Dataran Merdeka Walk and Old KL and Nature Walk but doing it at night allows you to see the city under lights—Jamek Mosque and Merdeka Square at night really are quite impressive. Note this is not an entertainment walk—don’t expect free beers along the way!
While we did only the one walk (the Jalan-Jalan at Kampung Baru one) we’d expect all of these to be operated to the same standard. Expect an English-speaking guide well versed in the official and approved for public consumption versions of history and goings on. We found our guide to be quite heavy on the cultural and racial harmony angle (common in Malaysian government tourism material, but not really reflective of reality on the street) but very light on other issues—questions involving social disquiet related to the rate of ongoing development in Kuala Lumpur for example.
Nevertheless the price is right and we found the tour to be well worth the few hours of our time. So if you’re baulking at spending $60 to $100 on a walking tour, perhaps just try a free one first.
T: (03) 2698 0332; F: (03) 2698 3819;
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º41'31.03" E, 3º8'59.63" N
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Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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