Kuala Lumpur is known as the eclectic and cultural hub of Malaysia. It is an incredibly diverse city with a mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay people and English is very commonly spoken. It is visually defined by the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, sky-scrapers and shopping malls.
We stayed in Kuala Lumpur for 3 days and found it was the perfect amount of time. Although it is a very large city, I felt as though you could explore it fully in 2-3 days.
We actually booked Kuala Lumpur on a complete whim. We already had plans to travel Singapore and a few weeks before we left, I thought it’d be great to add on KL as it’s only a short (and usually inexpensive) flight from Singapore. I had heard very mixed things about the city. I know many people who love it and have moved there as expats, being a super affordable city, but also many who really dislike it.
I found the locals to be the most kindhearted people I’ve met. Everyone was so welcoming and warm. Then there’s the food… where do I even start? Everywhere you look there is so much food and it’s all so delicious and cheap!
There were only three things that I didn’t love about Malaysia… 1. for such moderately modern city, it is very dirty, run down and has quite bad air pollution. A lot of places felt like they were stuck in time or left behind. Also, a lot of main attractions were not well maintained either and always smelt of sewage (the Batu Caves were bad). 2. The drop toilets. I just don’t think I can ever get onboard. 3. The prices of alcohol were no fun (so! much! tax!) – haha. Although being a muslim country, this is to be completely expected and I understand it.
But of course, the pros definitely outweigh all the cons, and none of these things should stop you from discovering this city! I just thought I should point these out as it’s important to share some more ‘real’ things about each destination.
Things to do
The Batu Caves are a Hindu temple and one of the main reasons why we booked Kuala Lumpur! The rainbow steps at the Batu Caves are so stunning. They were only recently painted in colour late last year and since then have attracted lots of attention. We arrived when the gates opened at 7am as it packs out during the day and I’d definitely urge you to do the same. Plus it can get incredibly hot and humid during the day, I’m not sure I would’ve survived all 272 steps!
When I discovered the pink Putra Mosque I knew we had to visit! What’s really cool is it is located next door to the Perdana Putra, which houses the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office and man-made Putrajaya Lake. Technically this place is in Putrajaya, another state in Malaysia, but only a 1 hour (dependant on traffic) drive from KL city. You are also given a pink robe on entry which everyone is required to wear whilst you are in the mosque.
There is so much shopping in Kuala Lumpur with a never ending list of malls. The biggest are Pavilion, Suria KLCC, Midvalley and The Garden. You’ll also find some of the best food within the food courts at these shopping centres!
Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou Temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. Sitting atop leafy Robson Heights, this vibrantly decorated multistorey Chinese temple has wonderful views of Kuala Lumpur. Opened in 1989 by the Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association, it serves as both a house of worship and a functional space for events such as weddings.
Visit the Petronas Towers
Soaring to a height of 451.9 metres, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. You can purchase tickets to visit the top at the Skydeck and observation bridge but we decided we preferred seeing them from below. Head to KLCC park instead to get that iconic shot (for free too!)
Tucked away in the middle of the city, you will find hanging bridges where you can embark on a beautiful walk through the forest. It’s free to enter and a short 200m canopy walk, providing visitors with a wonderful aerial view of the treetops and the city beyond.
Vibrant Brickfields is home to Little India, a colorful maze of textile shops and jewelry stores, plus low-key restaurants serving dosa pancakes and banana-leaf curries. If you love Indian food, this will be a real treat for you!
The Wilayah Mosque, also known as the Federal Territory Mosque, was inspired by the BLue Mosque in Turkey. Not many tourists venture here so you will most likely have the place to yourself if you come in the morning. The architecture and attention to detail in the mosque is simply stunning. Entrance is free.
Helipad Rooftop bar
One of the things I loved most in Kuala Lumpur was the Helipad rooftop bar! The Helipad Lounge is actually an active helicopter landing platform but it’s used as a bar after 6pm. It has some of the best views of the city!
Where to Stay
So many people who visit Kuala Lumpur end up staying at the same hotel, which also hosts many private apartments and airbnbs. It has the very iconic rooftop infinity pool which you can see above.
We actually booked one of the premium suites (other apartments available here & here) which act as an apartment/airbnb. I’m not sure if I would stay in one again as we would’ve preferred to have some room service and reception staff as it was our first time. The check-in process was also not so great as we had to call the owner of the apartment, who was no where to be seen, as they’re privately owned. I would highly recommend staying at The FACE Suites instead. It’s the same building, so you will also get access to the pool and rooftop bar, but it acts as a hotel and felt more comfortable. The only reason we didn’t stay there was because it was sold out!
Where (and what) to Eat
Local food favourites:
Mee goreng mamak
Madam Kwan’s – went here twice, it was so good! highly recommend the Nasi Lemak
Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock Kopitiam
Bijan Bar & Restaurant
Leaf & Co.
Merchant’s Lane Cafe
Other food favourites:
Jalan Alor Night Market
Also, don’t underestimate the food courts for some of the best local food! Super affordable too.