Are you visiting Malaysia? In this post I will take a closer look at some of the best things to see and do in Kuala Lumpur, so you can make the most of your time in this exciting metropolis.
Plus, I will highlight some of the best day trip opportunities from KL – some of them as close as an hour’s drive from the city, others a bit further away but still close enough to make a day trip feasible.
Kuala Lumpur is the bustling capital of Malaysia. The city has a diverse population consisting of Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and indigenous people and as such it also has a very diverse culture. KL, as it is fondly known among the locals, is spread over 200 sq km.
Because there is such a huge variety of attractions for visitors to choose from, ranging from the more traditional to super modern, tourism plays a central role in Kuala Lumpur.
Whatever your tastes, this city will undoubtedly have something that excites you. There are mosques and temples, skyscrapers, striking futuristic towers, local markets and street food, and just about everything else you can imagine.
Read also: Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
25 Best things to do in Kuala Lumpur
1. Petronas Twin Towers, one of the top things to see in Kuala Lumpur
The Petronas Twin Towers are an iconic landmark of the Malaysian capital and one of the top things to see in Kuala Lumpur and certainly one of the most photographed attractions.
Although it’s no longer the tallest building in the world, it remains the tallest twin towers on earth. Standing at 451.9 meters, these towers dominate KL’s skyline and offer breathtaking views of the city from the observation deck on the 86th floor.
The towers are connected by a sky bridge on the 41 and 42 floors that visitors can walk across to enjoy the great city views below.
The Petronas Twin Towers are particularly beautiful at night when they are lit up with thousands of lights.
I highly recommend that you book tickets well in advance to avoid the long queues. Besides, tickets are sold out many days in advance.
2. Malaysian Cuisine
One of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur is to experience its diverse culinary scene, which reflects the city’s multicultural population.
Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines are the most prominent, but you’ll also find international options such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Western food.
One must-try dish is nasi lemak, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and served with sambal, fried chicken, and peanuts.
Another one is laksa, a spicy noodle soup with fish or chicken. And don’t leave before trying satay, skewered and grilled meat served with peanut sauce.
Recommended tour: Street Food Tour with 15+ Tastings
3. Visit Merdeka Square
Merdeka Square is a major historical landmark in Kuala Lumpur. It was once the location of the Selangor Club cricket pitch. Nowadays it is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.
The surrounding area is home to several important buildings, including the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the National Textile Museum, and the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.
4. Bird watching at Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
If you are a nature lover, the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park should be high on your list of the city’s must-see attractions. This massive bird park is home to more than 3,000 birds from well over 300 different species.
Visitors can explore the park’s various zones, which include a flamingo pond, a peacock walk, and an aviary.
5. Marvel at the National Mosque
Looking for more things to see in Kuala Lumpur? The National Mosque of Malaysia, perhaps better known as Masjid Negara, is a beautiful structure that can accommodate as many as 15,000 worshippers.
The mosque’s design is a blend of modern and traditional Islamic architecture, and it features a 73-meter-high minaret and a large prayer hall.
Tourists are welcome to enter the mosque, provided they are appropriately dressed.
6. Learn about history and culture in the National Museum
The National Museum of Malaysia, also known as Muzium Negara, is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Malaysia.
The exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including prehistoric artifacts, traditional costumes, and musical instruments. It also has a beautiful outdoor garden that showcases traditional Malay houses and boats.
Put visiting this one high on your list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
7. Explore Thean Hou Temple
Among the things to see in Kuala Lumpur, this popular Chinese temple is well worth a visit. Located on a hill overlooking the city, it forms an impressive sight with its red pillars, ornate roof, and colorful lanterns.
Visitors can explore the temple’s multiple levels and gardens, from where one has stunning views of the city below.
8. Sky Bar, amazing views of the city and the Petronas
The Sky Bar, located on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, offers beautiful views of the city and the Petronas Twin Towers. It’s also known for its creative cocktails and delicious food. The bar has an open-air pool, which adds to the luxurious atmosphere.
Quite understandably, therefore, it’s a popular spot among both tourists and locals. Make sure you arrive early to secure a good spot, as it can get crowded during peak hours.
Watching the sunset from here while sipping a cocktail is high on my list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
9. Jalan Alor Food Street
Jalan Alor is a famous food street situated right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and delicious food.
The street is lined with hawker stalls and restaurants serving a variety of local dishes, such as char kway teow, a stir-fried noodle dish with seafood and bean sprouts, and oyster omelet, a crispy omelet with fresh oysters.
Jalan Alor is especially lively at night, with street performers and live music making the atmosphere even more festive. One of the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur if you want to explore the city’s amazing food scene.
10. Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
Readers who are interested in learning about traditional crafts should make a point of visiting the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. This center showcases the history and techniques of pewter-making, a craft that has been practiced in Malaysia for well over 100 years.
Visitors can watch demonstrations, take a tour of the factory, and even try their hand at making their own pewter item. Definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
11. Climb the Kuala Lumpur Tower
Climb the 421-metre-high Kuala Lumpur Tower, one of the tallest telecommunications towers in the world.
It has a 360º observation deck at 276 metres from which you have the best panoramic view of the entire city, restaurants, exhibition areas and, at the foot of the tower, even a small zoo.
You can buy your entry ticket here.
12. Islamic Arts Museum, one of the most interesting museum to visit in KL
The Islamic Arts Museum, located near Lake Gardens, houses a large collection of Islamic art from around the world. The museum has 12 galleries that showcase various aspects of Islamic art, including calligraphy, textiles, ceramics, and jewelry.
It also offers educational programs, such as guided tours and workshops, aimed at visitors of all ages.
13. Day trip to Malacca
Malacca is one of the most popular day trip destinations from the capital. This historic city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located about two hours from Kuala Lumpur. It has a rich cultural history and offers lots of things to see and do.
This city was an important trade post and a link between East and West for over 500 years before the colonial forces made contact with Malaysia. Malacca was controlled at different times by the Portuguese, Dutch and British.
Today, Malacca is a beautiful city with plenty of charm, heritage buildings, ancient landmarks and colonial structures. Whether you’re interested in museums, shopping, or just soaking up the atmosphere, there’s something for everyone in this charming town.
Recommended tour: Historical Melaka Day Tour with Lunch
14. Shop till you drop
Kuala Lumpur is a shopping paradise. It has enormous shopping malls. Some of the most spectacular are:
Suria KLCC is a high-end shopping mall located at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. It is home to a variety of luxury brands, such as Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, as well as many local brands.
There are also many restaurants and a food court. The mall also has a beautiful park outside, where you can relax and enjoy the view of the towers.
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
This is yet another one of KL”s popular shopping destinations. The Pavilion offers a mix of high-end and mid-range brands, such as Burberry, H&M, and Zara, as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes.
It is also known for its beautiful architecture, with a large glass canopy that covers the shopping area.
Mid Valley Megamall
With more than 400 stores and restaurants, Mid Valley Megamall is one of the largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, It offers a mix of local and international brands, as well as a variety of entertainment options, such as a cinema and an indoor theme park.
The mall also hosts a weekly farmers’ market, where you can buy everything from fresh produce to local delicacies.
15. Visit, eat, and bargain in Chinatown
Kuala Lumpur has a large Chinese population and Chinatown is worth a visit. Here you can visit temples such as the Buddhist Zin Sze Ya or the Hindu Sri Mahamariamman and shop in the Central Market.
If you want a more traditional shopping experience Chinatown is a great place. Here you will find rows of shops and street vendors selling everything from clothing to souvenirs to food. Bargaining is expected, so don’t be afraid to negotiate for a good deal.
Petaling Street is the main street where you will find the Flea Market, which gives access to the most characteristic area of the neighbourhood: alleys full of shops and bazaars, small lodgings and restaurants.
It is also a popular food destination in KL, you’ll find a wide range of Chinese delicacies, including dim sum, roast duck, and stir-fried noodles.
Don’t forget to sample this area’s amazing street food, which includes items such as curry puffs, fried banana fritters, and freshly squeezed fruit juices.
On top of all that, Petaling Street is also a great place to shop for souvenirs, clothing, and accessories.
16. Check out the Marine Life at the Aquaria KLCC
Visiting the Aquaria KLCC is one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur with children. Located in the City Centre, beneath the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, it houses over 250 species and over 5,000 land and aquatic animals worldwide.
Much of the aquarium consists of an underground glass tunnel more than 90 metres long, surrounded by tons of water and endless marine species such as sharks, groupers and other aquatic fauna.
17. KL Forest Eco Park
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head straight to the KL Forest Eco Park. Fortunately, you won’t have to travel very far because this forest reserve is located right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
It is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including monkeys, squirrels, and birds. Here as well visitors can take a guided tour of the reserve or, if they prefer, explore on their own.
It offers hiking trails, canopy walks, and even a treetop walkway. It’s a great place to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air.
18. Enjoy a night out at Spark Club KL
The Spark Club KL (previously Zouk Club) isn’t one of KL’s most popular nightclubs without a reason. It is renowned for its great music and lively atmosphere. It hosts local and international DJs and you can choose from multiple dance floors and bars.
19. Eat in Little India
Little India, located in the Brickfields neighborhood, is a vibrant and colorful area that showcases the Indian culture of this cosmopolitan city.
This is where you will find a variety of shops selling traditional Indian clothing, jewelry, and spices, as well as restaurants serving delicious Indian food.
Make sure not to miss the Sri Kandaswamy Kovil temple, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful Hindu temples in Kuala Lumpur and as such one of the things you absolutely have to see in Kuala Lumpur.
20. Stroll through the Perdana Botanical Gardens
This is another beautiful park right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It boasts several themed gardens, including a bamboo garden, a sunken garden, and a hibiscus garden.
Perdana is a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in a very central location. This one is also very high on my list of things to see in Kuala Lumpur.
21. Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, on of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids
If you have kids or are still young at heart, the Sunway Lagoon is another great destination in KL. This massive theme park has over 80 attractions, including water rides, roller coasters, and animal exhibits. It’s a great place to cool off on a hot day and just have some fun.
22. Batu Caves, one of the top attractions to visit in Kuala Lumpur
Batu Caves is one of the most popular attractions to see in Kuala Lumpur, and for good reason. These caves are located just outside the city and are home to a number of Hindu temples and shrines.
The main attraction, however, is the huge gold-painted statue of Murugan (42.7 metres in height) and the 272 steps leading up to the entrance. These are adorned with colorful statues and murals.
And once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
In my view this is one of the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Don’t miss it!!!
Recommended tour: Batu Caves Half-Day Tour
23. Kuala Selangor Fireflies
If you would like to go on a truly unique day trip experience, the Kuala Selangor Fireflies are a must. Situated around an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, this one-of-a-kind attraction allows you to view thousands of fireflies lighting up the mangrove trees at night.
The best option is to take a boat ride down the river so you can truly appreciate the magical sight of the fireflies dancing in the trees. If you are looking for something to do in Kuala Lumpur or the surrounding countryside, make sure this is on your list.
Recommended tour: Kuala Selangor Fireflies Tour with Dinner
24. Visit Putrajaya
Putrajaya is a modern city located about 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. It is perhaps best known for its lovely architecture and beautiful parks.
A few of the top attractions here include the Putra Mosque, which features pink granite and a massive dome, and the Putrajaya Botanical Garden, with its wide selection of exotic plants and flowers.
Recommended tour: Putrajaya Tour with Traditional Boat Cruise
25. Buy local handicrafts or a souvenir in the Central Market
Central Market, also known as Pasar Seni, is a historic market. Here you will find a variety of local handicrafts, such as batik textiles, wood carvings, and pewterware.
The market is a great place to shop for souvenirs, and it also hosts cultural performances and workshops, such as batik painting and traditional dances.
Final words on Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is a city that truly has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, food and drink, or shopping and entertainment, this vibrant city really has it all.
From the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to the colorful streets of Little India, and from the modern shopping malls to the quaint back streets of the historical parts of the city, there is always something new to discover in KL.
Whether you spend two days or two weeks in this city (like I did), you will never have to be bored. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of Asia’s most exciting cities.