SD › Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide
Updated: December 30, 2021
The 99 best hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, shows, tours, places, and things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- Best Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur Hotels for Families
- Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
- Where to Go in Malaysia
- Singapore Travel Guide
1. St. Regis • Sentral • $$$$
Ultra-luxurious and uber-chic, with the largest standard rooms in the city. Adding enormously to the appeal are the gorgeous rooftop pool, sun terrace, and proximity to major attractions and the transport hub at Sentral. • +60 3 2727 1111
2. Ritz-Carlton • Bukit Bintang • $$$$
Renovated extensively and located in the heart of KL’s premier shopping district. Combines old-world charm and modern luxuries, and with a children’s pool, kids club, and large suites featuring kitchenettes, it’s also ideal for families. • +60 3 2142 8000
3. The Majestic • Sentral • $$$$
Blends colonial-era elegance with contemporary opulence. Guests can stay in the original 1932 Heritage Wing, complete with butler service, or the modern Tower Wing. Other attractions include the Colonial Café (ideal for afternoon tea), orchid conservatory, and proximity to numerous attractions. • +60 3 2785 8000
4. Renaissance • Golden Triangle • $$$$
Much more elegant, graceful, and spacious than its overbuilt and charmless rivals. The views throughout both wings are outstanding, and the rooms are oh-so sleek and inviting. Within a brief walk of many amenities and sights. • +60 3 2162 2233
5. Shangri-La • Golden Triangle • $$$$
Known for its stunning skyline views, dazzling pool, and decadent suites popular among royalty and celebrities. Prime position and walkable to the Menara Tower, Forest Eco Park, and PETRONAS Towers. • +60 3 2032 2388
6. Mandarin Oriental • KLCC • $$$$
Nestled between the PETRONAS Towers and expansive KLCC Park, the opulence is immediately obvious and extremely appealing. Family-friendly amenities include indoor golf, outdoor tennis, and a rooftop infinity pool with sublime views. • +60 3 2380 8888
7. InterContinental • KLCC • $$$$
Stupendous range of rooms and amenities for families, couples, and business people. Featuring a glam design, like mirrored columns and crystal chandeliers, it’s very convenient for public transport, first-class shopping, and major attractions. • +60 3 2782 6000
8. Le Méridien • Sentral • $$$$
With the city’s largest hotel pool (and a waterslide), hosts of enjoyable amenities, and special deals, it’s one of KL’s very finest for families. Conveniently attached to Sentral, the city’s major transport hub. • +60 3 2263 7888
9. Traders Hotel • KLCC • $$$
Long-time favorite hotel that still oozes a rarely-found charm. Inner-city convenience and vast views (including PETRONAS Towers), but more affordable than glitzier rivals. The rooftop Skybar is absolutely one of the city’s best. • +60 3 2332 9888
10. Pullman City Centre Hotel & Residences • KLCC • $$$$
So elegant yet pleasingly understated. Wide variety of rooms and huge apartments (some with two bedrooms and all with a full-size kitchen), so they’re ideal for families and long-stayers. Chic design, impressive service, and short stroll to all the amenities and attractions in downtown. • +60 3 2170 8888
11. Grand Millennium • Bukit Bintang • $$$$
Wonderfully mingles old-fashioned charm with modern-day luxuries like a rooftop pool. Rooms are particularly spacious and well soundproofed, and suites include butler service. Shopaholics’ paradise, with four top-notch malls very close by. • +60 3 2117 4888
12. Impiana KLCC • KLCC • $$$$
So delightfully different to the international-brand mega-hotels nearby. Exquisite rooms, infinity pool, and walkable to world-class malls, must-see sights, and public transport. Uniquely, it also offers the ladies-only Orchid Floor, where no men (including staff) are allowed. • +60 3 2147 1111
13. Maison Boutique Theme Hotel • Pudu • $$
Along a quiet street in a less touristy area, yet still convenient to transport and malls. The 18 rooms feature an individual décor and theme from Fairy Tale to Space Odyssey and James Bond to Marilyn Monroe. Certainly unique and more charming than motel-style competitors.
14. Ceria • Bukit Bintang • $
One of the finest and newest along the quiet backstreets of this upmarket suburb. Ticks all the right boxes for décor, value, location, service, and convenience to malls, eateries, and other amenities. • +60 3 2143 1111
Kuala Lumpur Restaurants
15. Bijan Bar & Restaurant • Golden Triangle • $$$$
Renowned even among locals as THE place for Malaysian food, Bijan’s extended menu is as inviting as its elegant setting. Tables inside and within a tropical garden. Mouth-watering options include beef rendang (see #29). • +60 3 2031 3575
16. Madam Kwan’s Suria KLCC • KLCC • $$$
Renowned chain of laidback Chinese cafés offering classy versions of street food, including arguably the city’s tastiest nasi lemak (see #28). Outlet at the Suria KLCC mall (see #33) is convenient, while another is in the Pavilion mall (see #35) at Bukit Bintang. • +60 3 2026 2297
17. Dining in the Dark • Bukit Bintang • $$$
Totally unique experience: visually-impaired staff leads guests to tables and brings out the set menu (which can include ‘surprise’ dishes)… in complete darkness. The idea is that without light, the sense of taste and smell is greatly enhanced. Guests won’t know what they’ve eaten until finished. • +60 3 2110 0431
18. Hornbill Restaurant & Café • Lake Gardens • $$
Deep inside the KL Bird Park (see #92), it serves Malaysian food, such as laksa soup, as well as western delights that include lots of French fries. Pleasing prices and attractive location. And don’t be surprised if a cheeky hornbill hops onto the table. • +60 3 2693 8086
19. Coliseum Café • Masjid India (inner northern suburbs) • $$
With clunky fans and waiters in starch-white uniforms, this delightful eatery has barely changed since it first opened in 1921. Come for a drink, soak up the ambience, admire the hundreds of photos on the walls, or devour a steak for which luminaries, such as novelist W Somerset Maugham, often visited. • +60 3 2692 6270
20. Old China Café • Chinatown • $
The 1930s-era history and charm is evident as soon as guests push through the swinging doors. Quiet position, beautiful old-fashioned décor, including antique furniture and fascinating knick-knacks, and a menu of primarily Peranakan cuisine (mix of Chinese and Malay). • +60 3 2072 5915
21. Atmosphere 360 • Golden Triangle • $$$
One level above the observation deck at the Menara Tower (see #66), which is higher than the PETRONAS Towers. KL’s only revolving restaurant provides the city’s finest views. Popular for buffets at lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea, but book ahead for window-side tables, especially at night when there’s also live music. • +60 3 2020 2121
22. Petaling Street Heritage House • Chinatown • $
Along the bustling main street in Chinatown, this striking old building offers two attractions: an authentic Chinese restaurant mostly packed with ravenous locals at ground level and a small museum about local history upstairs. • +60 3 2858 4455
23. Annalakshmi • Brickfields • $$
Award-winning Indian vegetarian cuisine, especially popular for its lunchtime buffet. First opened in 1984 and relocated to The Temple of Fine Arts (see #52). Reasonable prices considering the setting and quality, but dress appropriately given the hallowed location. • +60 3 2274 0799
24. Songket Restaurant • KLCC • $$$
Long-time favorite among locals for its extended menu of traditional food with modern influences and décor (e.g. walls plastered with the namesake fabric). Unusually, it also features live cultural dances on most nights. Reservations recommended. • +60 3 2161 3331
25. Food Stalls in Jalan Alor • Bukit Bintang • $
KL’s largest and most diverse collection of food stalls is set up along Alor street each evening. Every possible choice of Malaysian, Chinese, and other Asian cuisine is available, as well as some western meals (and beer). Easy to reach by public transport.
26. Glutton Street Night Market (Jalan Sayur Food Street) • Pudu • $
Less touristy than others, this market is along ‘Vegetable Road’ near Pudu Market (see #42). Open every evening for a broad range of mostly Chinese cuisine, it’s an experience in culture as much as food.
Best Malaysian Food
27. Nasi Lemak
Virtually the national dish of Malaysia, this popular street food is also served in posh bistros. Meaning ‘rich rice’, the plate is loaded with rice flavored with coconut milk (so it’s more tasty than normal), a hard-boiled egg, sambal chilli sauce, peanuts, and ikan bilis (dried anchovies).
The meat (usually beef) is slow-cooked for hours, sometimes often overnight, in a coconut sauce with lemongrass, ginger, and coriander, and served with rice. Should be so tender that the meat needs little chewing. Locals scour the city for the finest examples.
29. Sate (Satay)
Although popular throughout Southeast Asia, these are also synonymous with Malaysia. Morsels of meat (including pork), seafood, and/or vegetables are skewered on bamboo sticks and then (normally) marinated, grilled over charcoal, and served with chunky peanut sauce.
30. Ikan Bakar
The fish (ikan), or other seafood like squid, is marinated with various spices, wrapped in banana leaves, and grilled over coals. Should be cooked to perfection and crumble off the fork. Served with rice and a spicy soy sauce concoction.
31. Roti Canai
Tasty and cheap street food ideal for breakfast. Watching the cooking is half the appeal: the doughy roti (bread) is moulded, spread across the hotplate, and twirled many times to become thin and flaky. The roti can include eggs (telur), onions (bawang), or bananas (pisang), and is dipped in curry sauce. Best washed down with a mug of steaming teh tarik (traditional milky tea).
Kuala Lumpur Shopping
32. Suria KLCC • KLCC
Part of an extraordinary inner-city complex that includes the PETRONAS Towers (see #65) and KLCC Park (see #90). Mall packed with internationally-known fashion brands, and also popular for its cinema complex, food court, art gallery, and science center (see #78). • +60 3 2382 2828
33. Starhill Gallery • Bukit Bintang
More appealing than the usual Western-style malls. Usual brand-name boutiques, but an attraction for many is Feast Village, a marvellous collection of classy bistros and bars, and the entire floor dedicated to art/craft galleries and exhibitions. Worth a look, even if not shopping. • +60 3 2782 3800
34. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur • Bukit Bintang
In the heart of KL’s major shopping precinct with seemingly endless outlets selling fashion, furniture, and appliances. Outstanding array of places to and eat drink (including a fantastic food court); some are al fresco and ideal for people-watching. Also, a cinema and, um, karaoke center. • +60 3 2118 8833
35. Bangsar Shopping Centre • Bangsar (inner western suburbs)
Smaller, quieter, and more enticing than most major malls, the BSC (as it’s known) is as popular for its food-hall as the variety of boutiques, tailors, and jewelers. In a modern suburb just west of the Lake Gardens and easily accessible by light rail. • +60 3 2094 7700
36. Royal Selangor • Setapak Jaya (northeast suburbs)
No finer place to appreciate or buy pewter, which Malaysia is renowned for, than this chain of citywide stores operating since the 1890s. Attached to the award-winning Visitor Centre are a factory, museum, café, and workshop offering classes. Accessible by free shuttle bus from many major hotels (whether staying there or not). • +60 3 4145 6122
37. British India • all over the city
Popular chain of boutiques found across the country (and elsewhere in Southeast Asia), with outlets in major malls around KL. Specializes in saris, shirts, sarongs, and other garments handcrafted from silk and cotton. Traditional designs and contemporary influences. • +60 3 6145 6888
38. Popular Souvenirs
Numerous malls and markets offer an abundant choice of things to take home. As well as silk shirts and sarongs from British India (see above) and pewter by Royal Selangor (see above), other fabulous souvenirs include clothes and bags created using the traditional method of batik, woodcarvings from indigenous people known as orang asli, pottery and ceramic products from across the provinces, and mats woven from pandan leaves.
Kuala Lumpur Markets
39. Central Market Kuala Lumpur • near Chinatown
Within a baby-blue Art Deco building, hundreds of inviting shops sell clothes, crafts, and souvenirs (but not fruits and vegetables). Indoors and air-conditioned, it’s convenient and pleasingly priced, and the food court is ideal for trying street food. Look out for exhibitions and performances. • +60 3 2031 0399
Narrow alleys throughout this frenetic district (see #67) are packed with tiny stalls selling meats, fruits, and foods probably unfamiliar to many tourists. And the extraordinary Petaling Street Market springs up along a major road (Jalan Petaling) each afternoon and comes down again around midnight. • +60 3 2032 5988
41. Pasar Besar Pudu (Pudu Wet Market) • Pudu
KL’s largest is also the city’s most fascinating. All sorts of fruit, vegetables, fish, and freshly-slaughtered animals. Open most days until early afternoon, it peaks before some tourists have even started breakfast.
42. Bazaar Baru Chow Kit • Chow Kit (northern suburbs)
More authentic and, therefore, more frenzied than others. Overwhelmingly Chinese, the enormous area offers live chickens, pigs’ heads, clothes, books, and unrecognizable fruits. The experience is enhanced by a meal (frog porridge?) or drink at a stall. Also, more agreeable opening hours: weekdays from about 10 am to 8 pm.
Kuala Lumpur Bars
43. Heli Lounge Bar • Bukit Bintang
A helicopter pad on the 37th floor morphs into a restaurant/bar each night. Though overpriced and a bit gimmicky, it’s certainly unique. The 360-degree views are vast, sunsets indescribable, and happy hours, extra-long. • +60 3 2110 5034
44. Mantra Bar & Lounge • Bangsar (inner western suburbs)
Arguably the finest among numerous rooftop bars. Prime time is during sunset happy hours, while well-heeled locals pack the dance floor until the early hours. Bangsar Village II mall. • +60 17 344 8299
45. The Smoke House • Sentral
Inside the historic Majestic Hotel (see #3), this lounge bar oozes a colonial-era charm. Adorable 1930’s vibe, complete with leather lounges and cigar room. Even a tailor and barber on-site. Also popular for its pool table, extended list of whiskies, and cocktail tastings. • +60 3 2785 8000
Kuala Lumpur Nightlife
46. TREC Kuala Lumpur • Bukit Bintang
Gigantic new entertainment complex with over 20 places to taste, relish, experience, and celebrate. Along with fabulous bars with all-night happy hours and bistros offering views over the golf course are a comedy club, Irish pub, darts bar, fun zones, and a Starbucks. • +60 3 2110 5095
47. Changkat Bukit Bintang • Bukit Bintang
Perfect for a pub crawl, this street is packed with bars and clubs that also offer movies, open mic nights, and comedy shows. Competition is fierce: as music blasts from doorways, the staff entices patrons with promises of the trendiest DJs, loudest bands, and happiest happy hours.
48. No Black Tie • Bukit Bintang
Award-winning, cozy, and always packed with patrons toe-tapping to an outstanding range of jazz, soul, and blues bands. Drinks and entry charges can be hefty, but the setting is world-class. NBT also serves meals. • +60 3 2142 3737
49. Hard Rock Café Kuala Lumpur • Golden Triangle
As well as the usual array of musical memorabilia and oversized burgers, decent rock bands play here every night. • +60 3 2715 5555
50. KL Live at Life Centre • Golden Triangle
Most other bars and clubs are undersized, but there’s plenty of space here for dancing and band-watching. Best range in the city for local and well-known international bands. In a new entertainment center – Life Centre – which also offers cafés, workshops, and classes. • +60 3 2162 2570
51. Cultural Events
Check out events at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, such as opera, classical recitals, and theater; the high-tech Istana Budaya (Cultural Palace), home to contemporary performances, including those by the national orchestra and choir; and The Temple of Fine Arts, which focuses on traditional Indian music and dance and is conveniently located in Brickfields.
Most major malls (see ‘Shopping’ earlier) have a cinema complex, usually showing a few western films in the original language. Indian movies are shown in old-fashioned cinemas, such as the Coliseum Theatre, a 1920s Art Deco building next to the namesake café (see #20). These won’t have English subtitles, but watching a Bollywood blockbuster and the reaction of the audience is fascinating, and worth the very cheap admission.
Kuala Lumpur Tours & Classes
A superior way to see the sights without battling public transport is on these double-decker buses. With guides, open-air seating upstairs, and air-conditioning on the lower deck, buses stop at 60 inner-city attractions and pass by every 20-30 minutes. • +60 011 1230 5350
54. Free Guided Walking Tours
The KL tourism authority organizes ad hoc tours (2-3 hours) with informative and English-speaking guides several times a week. These include the major museums, galleries, and colonial-era sights on the Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trail, and the Kuala Lumpur Night Walk around Chinatown Saturday evenings. Ask at the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery (see #72) • +60 3 2698 3333
55. KL Sky Tour • Subang Airport (western suburbs) & Titiwangsa Lake (northern suburbs)
Unique among regional cities is the sort of birds’-eye view of KL not remotely possible from street level. Helicopter tours range from 6 to 45 minutes and include the city center, and as far as Batu Caves (see #62) and Genting Highlands (see #84). • +60 16 201 6069
Well-regarded and long-established company offering a range of tours across the city and country. Around KL, popular daytrips include Batu Caves and a pewter factory. Night tours of the market finish with dinner and a show. Private tours also available. • +60 4 899 8833
These half-day tours are designed with the traffic and hills in mind and include major sights in and around Merdeka Square (see #61) and Chinatown (see #67). Other trips are run at night; one is called the Pitstop Foodie Tour. • +60 17 673 7322
58. MyBatik • Kampung Berebang (inner eastern suburbs)
Guests can learn the delicate batik method of designing clothes and bags, or just creating art. Lessons (in English) for as little as one hour and some designed for children, while classes in tie-dying, cooking, and even making teh tarik (milky tea) are also offered. Conveniently close to KLCC Park. • +60 122 579 775
59. Lazat Cooking Classes • Penchala (western suburbs)
The biggest and best of its kind, lazat means ‘delicious’ in Malay. Classes (in English) are held daily at a converted home within a hillside village on the city fringe. Guests create a three-course meal (which changes daily) and devour their efforts at lunchtime. • +60 19 238 1198
Things to See in Kuala Lumpur
(Also see ‘Family Fun’ and ‘Parks & Gardens’ below.)
The real center of KL is where Malaysia’s independence was declared in 1957. Based around a padang (field) where cricket was played are the Tudor-style and members-only Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur City Gallery (see #72), State Library, and modest St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral. Can also be visited on guided tours by foot (see #55) or bicycle (see #58). Food stalls are set up on the first and third weekends of each month.
61. Batu Caves • outer northern suburbs
Home to a massive gold-embossed statue and eerie cave accessible by nearly 300 steps, this is the most sacred Hindu site in Malaysia. Most impressive during one of many annual festivals, it’s also a must-do for the train trip, watching Indian visitors, and exploring the elaborate temples and caves packed with monkeys.
62. Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia • Lake Gardens
Worth visiting for the majestic building, as well as the 7,000+ artifacts from across the Islamic world and models of the most famous mosques on the planet. Beautifully positioned alongside the Lake Gardens and surrounded by other museums. The gift shop is one of the city’s finest, and the excellent restaurant specializes in Arabic food. • +60 3 2092 7070
63. Muzium Negara (National Museum) • Lake Gardens
Provides an outstanding overview of the country’s ancient history, remarkable multi-culturalism, and colonial-era heritage. The gardens are also worth exploring for the replicas of traditional houses. Free tours available in several languages (including English), and the café is worth a visit. • +60 3 2267 1000
64. PETRONAS Twin Towers • KLCC
At almost 500m, this iconic twin-towered building is the tallest of its kind in the world. Synonymous with Malaysia, the excellent Suria KLCC mall (see #33) is below and KLCC Park (see #90) behind. Brief tours include the Skybridge linking both towers on the 41st floor and the even more spectacular Observation Deck on the 80th level. Best to pre-book tours online. • +60 3 2331 8080
65. Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower) • Golden Triangle
Not visited as often as the more-fancied PETRONAS Towers (see above), entry is far cheaper and the views are superior because it’s on a hill. Accessible on foot through the fabulous Forest Eco Park (see #94) or free shuttle bus from the carpark. Also home to KL’s only revolving restaurant (see #22), two observation decks, small aquarium, and mini-zoo. • +60 3 2020 5444
Similar to others across the globe: narrow alleys of stalls selling medicinal herbs, modern minimarts, and oodles of places selling noodles. Every afternoon, the main road, Jalan Petaling, transforms into a pedestrian mall-cum-market. Visit the 19th-century Sin Sze Si Ya temple (the city’s oldest) and quaint eateries like the Old China Café (see #21).
67. Little India • Brickfields
Conveniently located across the train tracks from the Sentral transport hub, this area is teeming with authentic eateries and shops playing Hindi music. Based around the iconic Little India Fountain which is designed with elephants and swans, the streets are easy to get around and are most vibrant on Saturday evenings when they are lined with food stalls.
68. Tugu Negara (National Monument) • Lake Gardens
Often ignored is this striking sculpture based on the Iwo Jima Monument (from WWII) and facing a reflective pool on a hillside. Dedicated to Malaysia’s fallen soldiers, it’s also worth visiting for the pristine forest and views over the adjoining Lake Gardens. • +60 12 235 6023
69. Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad • near Merdeka Square
Dominating the inner city, this magnificent mosque was built during the colonial era with evident Moorish and Mughal influences. Unusually, non-Muslims can enter the building and gardens outside of prayer times, but, of course, dress appropriately (or rent a sarong there). • +60 3 2691 2829
70. Thean Hou Temple • Robson Hill (near Brickfields)
KL’s premier Chinese temple is ornate, bordering on garish, but the hilltop position and city views are very nice. Always vibrant, especially during major festivals. Foreigners won’t feel intrusive and can enjoy simple meals at the food court. • +60 3 2274 7088
71. Kuala Lumpur City Gallery • Merdeka Square
Not as renowned as the city’s other museums, but worth visiting for a snapshot of KL’s history and culture. Innovative and interactive displays, including a huge model of the city, a film in English, and an excellent gift shop. Under the 100m-high flagpole at the colonial-era hub, Merdeka Square (see #61). • +60 3 2698 3333
Family Fun in Kuala Lumpur
72. Berjaya Times Square • Bukit Bintang
KL’s largest mall is as popular for its indoor theme park as anything else. Packed with family fun, including bowling alley, cinema with Western films and IMAX screen, and rides from the scary to the sedate. Ideal if the heat, rain, or humidity become unpleasant. • +60 3 2117 3111
73. Aquaria KLCC • KLCC
So much to admire, including 5,000 creatures and an almost 100m long tunnel offering close-ups of sharks and stingrays. Young ones may squeal with delight at the antics of the otters and more adventurous adults can ‘dive with the sharks’. • +60 3 2333 1888
74. Sunway Lagoon Malaysia • Bandar Sunway (southwest suburbs)
Winning awards year after year, this extraordinary theme park is crammed with stuff to keep everyone entertained for days. The sections are well named: Amusement Park, Water Park, Wildlife Park, Scream Park (with scary rides), and Extreme Park (for go-karts, flying fox, and bungee jump). Check the website for ways to get there. • +60 3 5639 0000
75. Titiwangsa Lake Gardens • Titiwangsa (northern suburbs)
Easily accessible by monorail, this is where locals (rather than tourists) gather to enjoy the gardens, fish-filled lakes (accessible by paddleboat), and city views. Always quiet, often empty, and ideal for a picnic (although a couple of simple cafés are onsite.)
76. Planetarium Negara (National Planetarium) • Lake Gardens
One of numerous attractions in and around the Lake Gardens, featuring displays and educational programs designed for children that would enthrall the whole family. What’s more, there’s an observation deck and a large, space-themed picnic area. • +60 3 2273 4303
77. Petrosains, The Discovery Centre • KLCC
Within the Suria KLCC mall (see #33), kids love the interactive displays designed to entertain and educate all visitors about sains (science). While much is about the sponsor (PETRONAS, the national oil company), there is still plenty for the whole clan to enjoy. • +60 3 2331 8787
Festivals & Events in Kuala Lumpur
78. Chinese New Year • changeable, late January/early February
Extremely busy time for travel and hotels, but an extraordinarily vibrant time to visit. Expect plenty of fireworks, parades, and traditional performances. Best around Chinatown, of course. National public holiday.
79. Federal Territory Day • 1st February
All sorts of enjoyable activities for families at the Lake Gardens in the city center and Titiwangsa Gardens in the northern suburbs to celebrate when Kuala Lumpur became a separate federal territory. Local public holiday.
80. Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) • 31st August
Commemorating independence from Britain in 1957, this day is celebrated more in the capital. The fun starts the previous evening at Dataran Merdeka square (see #61) and continues throughout the main day with parades, concerts, and food stalls. National public holiday.
81. KL International Jazz Festival • late September
One of the most impressive of its kind anywhere on the planet. Held over three days at several venues across the city, including the Lake Gardens.
82. Deepavali/Diwali • changeable, September/October
Major Hindu festival celebrated passionately by Indians all over the world. For at least five days, lights and candles decorate homes, streets, and temples, and fireworks explode through the night. Most noticeable at Little India and Brickfields. National public holiday.
Short Trips from Kuala Lumpur
83. Genting Highlands – about 50km north by bus (from Sentral) and cable car
Cool respite from the sticky capital, it’s implausibly overcrowded during weekends and school holidays, but eerily quiet at other times, when rates are slashed in the numerous multi-star hotels. Primarily a casino, but also theme parks, walking trails, and a hilltop temple. Easy daytrip, but worthy saying overnight during the week.
84. Putrajaya – 20 minutes south by express train
The administrative capital of Malaysia is a purpose-built city/suburb halfway between downtown and the airport. Broad boulevards lined with colossal buildings and vast parks. Also, botanical gardens, lake with boat trips, and wetland full of wildlife, but everything is spread out so it’s difficult to explore on foot.
85. Seremban – about 80 minutes south by light rail
This likable capital of the Negeri Sembilan state provides a compact selection of colonial-era buildings near the pretty lake gardens. Closer to the airport than KL, Seremban is a worthy alternative first-night option, especially for exploration of southern Malaysia.
86. Shah Alam – about 45 minutes southwest by light rail
The sleek new capital of Selangor state is virtually a suburb of KL. Easier to explore on foot than Putrajaya (see above), it’s home to impressive lake gardens, several museums, and the wonderful ‘Blue Mosque’ (which can be admired on a free guided tour).
87. Klang – about 60 minutes southwest by light rail
A few stops past Shah Alam (see above). The former capital of Selangor offers a colonial-era museum and compact slice of Malaysian life, including a Little India more pulsating than KL’s. The train finishes at Port Klang, the terminal for boats to Indonesia.
88. Kuala Selangor – about 90 minutes northwest by bus
Another former royal capital, this laidback coastal town has a renovated lighthouse and remains of a hilltop fort to explore. The main attraction – the remarkable fireflies admired by traditional boat – is a reason to stay overnight.
Kuala Lumpur Parks & Gardens
89. KLCC Park • KLCC
One of the largest parks in any city, it backs on to the PETRONAS Towers (see #65) and Suria KLCC mall (see #33). Superbly landscaped, and popular for its jogging tracks, playground, and wading pool with waterfall. Numerous lakes and fountains add greatly to the appeal.
Remarkable oasis of greenery large enough for shuttlebuses. Spend a day exploring the Perdana Botanical Park, deer park, orchid garden, and lakes by boat. Also, home to an adventure playground and bird and butterfly parks (see below). On the fringes are the Islamic Arts Museum (see #63) and National Museum (see #64). • +60 3 2617 6404
91. KL Bird Park • Lake Gardens
One of the world’s largest, with thousands of birds from pink flamingos and enormous ostriches to colorful hornbills that lend their name to the excellent café (see #19). Most fun during feeding times and various shows held several times a day. • +60 3 2272 1010
92. Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park • Lake Gardens
Home to more than 5,000 insects from pretty swallowtail butterflies to scary spiders. Over 100 species within a natural environment of tropical gardens. • +60 3 2693 4799
93. Kuala Lumpur Forest Eco Park/Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve • Golden Triangle
Claims to be the only rainforest within any city on the planet. Packed with ancient trees and popular for its elevated swinging walkways and nature trails. Also, check out the Menara Tower (see #66) and educational information centre. • +60 3 2020 1606
Kuala Lumpur Neighborhoods
94. Bukit Bintang
Trendy neighborhood and KL’s prime shopping and nightlife district. Convenient to inner-city attractions and amenities, and well-connected by public transport.
Best Stuff: Ritz-Carlton • Grand Millennium • Ceria • Dining in the Dark restaurant • Food Stalls in Jalan Alor • Feast Village food court • Starhill Gallery mall • Pavilion Kuala Lumpur mall • British India boutiques • Heli Lounge Bar • TREC Kuala Lumpur entertainment complex • Changkat Bukit Bintang (street of pubs and clubs) • No Black Tie jazz club • KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours • Berjaya Times Square mall and theme park
95. KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre)
Not really the center of the city, KLCC is, in fact, the main business district. Also, home to numerous 5-star hotels and sophisticated places to eat, drink, and shop. Family-friendly attractions nearby and walking distance to the city’s prime entertainment district, Bukit Bintang (see above).
Best Stuff: Mandarin Oriental • Traders Hotel • InterContinental • Pullman City Centre Hotel & Residences • Impiana KLCC • Madam Kwan’s Suria KLCC bistro • Songket Restaurant • Little Penang Café (reliably authentic and always popular) • Suria KLCC mall • British India boutiques • SkyBar (sublime views and exquisite cocktails) • Fuego bar (Latin-style and amazing views) • KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours • MikeBikes bicycle tours • PETRONAS Twin Towers • Aquaria KLCC aquarium • Petrosains, The Discovery Centre • KLCC Park
96. Golden Triangle
Vast area between Chinatown, Bukit Bintang, and KLCC and, therefore, close to all their attractions and amenities. Some hotels can be a bit distant from other areas in the city, but are well connected by public transport.
Best Stuff: Renaissance • Shangri-La • E&O Residences (opulent and ideal for long stays) • Bijan Bar & Restaurant • Atmosphere 360 restaurant • Pampas Reserve grill & bar (affordable, casual, and well regarded) • British India boutiques • Hard Rock Café Kuala Lumpur • KL Live at Life Centre club and entertainment complex • KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours • MikeBikes bicycle tours • Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower) • Kuala Lumpur Forest Eco Park
97. Sentral and Lake Gardens
Most convenient area in KL for every type of public transport and for so many sights, particularly those in and around the remarkable Lake Gardens. The Sentral train/monorail station has its own mall and just over the railway tracks is Little India (see below).
Best Stuff: St. Regis • The Majestic • Le Méridien • Hornbill Restaurant & Café • Colonial Café (colonial-era gem) • The Smoke House lounge bar • KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours • MikeBikes bicycle tours • Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia • Muzium Negara (National Museum) • Tugu Negara (National Monument) • Planetarium Negara (National Planetarium) • Lake Gardens (Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park) • Perdana Botanical Park • KL Bird Park • Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
98. Brickfields and Little India
Just across the railway tracks from Sentral, KL’s major transport hub. Convenient to the city’s attractions, and a more authentic, atmospheric, and affordable area than Sentral, Bukit Bintang, or KLCC. Renowned for its Indian eateries and shops, especially around Little India. Mostly budget-priced guesthouses.
Best Stuff: Aloft Sentral (classy, convenient, and chic) • Ascott Sentral (wonderful serviced apartments) • Hotel Summer View (cozy, central, and good value) • Annalakshmi restaurant • Jassal Tandoori Restaurant (tasty and well-priced) • Moghul Mahal Restaurant (classy and extra-long menu) • Nu Sentral mall • The Temple of Fine Arts • Little India Fountain • Buddhist Maha Vihara temple • Sri Kandaswamy Kovil temple
99. Chinatown and Pudu
With bustling markets and centuries-old temples, this is not just a district but a tourist attraction in its own right (see #67). Wide range of budget-priced guesthouses and mid-range hotels, and convenient to many inner-city attractions by foot or public transport. Nearby is the quieter, less-touristy suburb of Pudu.
Best Stuff: Maison Boutique Theme Hotel • Pacific Express (boutique-style, good-value, and convenient) • Old China Café • Petaling Street Heritage House restaurant • Glutton Street Night Market (Jalan Sayur Food Street) • Central Market Kuala Lumpur • Petaling Street Market • Pasar Besar Pudu (Pudu Wet Market) • Kuala Lumpur Night Walk • KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours • MikeBikes bicycle tours • Sin Sze Si Ya temple
- Kuala Lumpur Hotel Map
- Best Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Best Hotels in Kuala Lumpur for Families
- Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
- Where to Go in Malaysia
- Best Hotels for Families in Penang