THE ULTIMATE KUALA LUMPUR GUIDE
Kuala Lumpur is not only the capital of Malaysia, it’s a melting pot of culture with a vibrant mix of Malay, Indian, Thai, and Chinese people. Planning a visit to Malaysia, a stopover, or just curious about what this metropolitan has to offer? This is the guide you need!
If you have a few days in Kuala Lumpur, this guide will probably come in handy! From Shopping, history, culture, and nature, to of course food, it’s all here.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Parkroyal Collection KL
We stayed here on our first trip back to KL since the pandemic and our only complaint was that the stay was too short. This five star hotel is located in the heart of the city centre, with KL Sentral, Jalan Alor and Petronas Twin Towers, all being within walking distance. The breakfast buffet was impressive but what we enjoyed the most was the outdoor pool on the 6th floor. This is the perfect spot to wind-down and escape the hustling and bustling of the city. And even though you’re still in the middle of KL, the surrounding greenery will make you feel like you’re somewhere further away and more serene. Rooms are available from €97.
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
We stayed here when we arrived and can really recommend it. Why? This hotel has rooms starting from 85 Euro, so it’s affordable for everyone. It’s located at a very convenient spot if you arrive at the international airport. The main train station KL Sentral is located only a few minutes walk away and the train takes about 28 minutes from the airport. There is a rooftop pool, a gym, 2 restaurants, and the staff is really lovely. The dinner and breakfast buffet is outstanding. A great place to start from. Wanna do some shopping? Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is connected to the Nu Sentral Shopping Centre via an air-conditioned link bridge. Book your stay here.
W-Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Oh how we love the W hotels. It’s luxurious, but not in a awkward kind of way. It’s hip and happening and it’s always located at a central place. The W hotel in Kuala Lumpur is located right across the Petronas Towers, and from the rooftop pool, you have the perfect view. There is a lovely outside pool bar, 3 restaurants, a gym and spa. The only downside is, that there is a club downstairs and it can be noisy during the weekends. However, if you are looking for a good time, the W is your hotel!
Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa
This hotel is really the best place to escape the concrete buildings and relax before heading back home. Elke stayed here during her last day of her Malaysia trip and we can’t even begin to tell you why it’s so good. First of all, it’s not located in the middle of KL. It’s about a 25 minute taxi drive from the airport, and the resort is surrounded by lush palmtrees and plants, giving it a real tropical feel. There are 3 restaurants, of which the buffet restaurant was Elke’s favourite. And if you want to re-charge yourself before your long flight back home, you should go for a 2,5 hour spa treatment in their luxurious spa. Rooms are available from around €58,- which is great value for money!
Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur
Keep one thing in mind, locals love to eat, so you will see everybody eating all day. From street food to fancy restaurants, in KL you don’t have to worry about food. All is fresh and very tasty!
Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail
If you’re looking for authentic traditional Malay kampung meals, look no further than Restoran Rebung Dato Chef Ismail. As the name suggests, this restaurant was opened by the renowned chef, Chef Ismail (who, by the way, was there to greet us and is one of the most down to earth and funny people we met in Malaysia). The restaurant is super colourful and the staff were very inviting. The buffet spread in the middle is the perfect introduction to this style of food. There’s also an outdoor terrace for extra seating. Definitely leave some space for desserts and teh tarik (aka pulled tea)!
If you visit KL and you like food you should definitely go to Jalan Alor at night – located in the north of Jalan Bukit Bintang. During the day the Jalan Alor area is relatively quiet, but in the late afternoon it turns into a vibrant area. Jalan Alor is famous for its diverse street stalls with tasty and fresh street food, known as the ‘hawker stalls’. It attracts a lot of tourists but you will also find a lot of locals. From Malay, Indian, Chinese to Thai and Indonesian food, every Asian country is present and all stalls offer the best from its local cuisine. From 5PM-11.30PM
A coconut stall in Kuala Lumpur
In addition to many diverse stores with Indian goods and food, at nights the streets are busy, noisy, full with tables and chairs where food is the most important for everyone. You will smell the Indian dishes from a distance. So if you love the Indian cuisine, then this is the place to be for you. So for the best Malay and Indian food you will need to go to Little India, Jalan Masjid India. The colourful and vibrant street offer fresh tasty Indian snacks where everyone eats with their hands. Seriously, one of the best Indian food we’ve ever had.
Kuala Lumpur is a city build around food
This little village exists in a small corner of downtown Kuala Lumpur. Kampung Baru, or “new village,” a Malay enclave, located just a short hike away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre next to the Petronas Twin Towers. This is a very nice place to visit! On Saturday there’s a weekly night market where you can try delicious and healthy Malay, Chinese and Thai food.
What to see & do
The very popular tourist attraction located in the north of Kuala Lumpur in Selangor are the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves have three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines with lots of monkeys surrounded. Watch the monkeys, they can be aggressive. With 272 steps, many tourists and heat its best to arrive early in the morning before 10AM during the weekday to avoid this. That said, also avoid weekends and the Thaipusam festival – two months a year with changing dates – where many tourists will visit this attraction. Watch out for slippery stairs due the rain. Despite the hustle and bustle, its definitely worth visiting. If you get there early, you can take some good shots.
Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas towers are a big tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. People go in to see the impressive skyline from the top. If you only have a view days in KL and you need to wait, I recommend you to see the Petronas towers at night. Beautiful lightning as you can see in this picture.
Central Market (Pasar Seni)
You cannot miss this beautiful blue building. The Central Market used to be a wet market back in the 19th century. Nowadays, it is not only a heritage site but also an indoor bazaar where you can find loads of handmade crafts and various Malaysian souvenirs. Despite its function having evolved over the years, The Central Market has retained its colonial facade. It is also only a 4-minute walk from the oldest Hindu temple in KL, Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
Petaling Street (Chinatown)
If you’re an adventurous shopper or someone who simply appreciates the art of haggling, you’ll need to visit Petaling Street, also known as Chinatown. Here, you’ll find everything from textiles to knockoffs, herbal products to exotic fruits (hint: durian). The only way to navigate this is to bargain. Do not accept the seller’s initial offer, it’s more often than not double what they’re actually willing to accept. Having said that, remember to be courteous.
Thean Hou Temple
Located on Robson Hill, Thean Hou Temple is one of the oldest and largest Buddist temples in not just Malaysia, but the whole of Southeast Asia! This temple is not the easiest to get to by public transport, however, we highly recommend you to check it out as it is stunningly decorated. This six-stories high temple is built by the Hainanese community as a dedication to the goddess who watches over fishermen. Unlike most religious venues, there is no dress code to abide by when visiting the Temple. Having said that, we would still recommend dressing modestly as a sign of respect.
River of Life
This is one of the newer landmarks in KL where you can get a panoramic view of the oldest mosque in town, Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad and the Klang River running on each side of the mosque. The location is so beautiful, you’ll see couples getting their wedding photos taken in front of it.
Pineapple Hill “Bukit Nanas”
The entrance is quite difficult to find, but if you want to escape the concrete jungle and trade it for a real one, you should go for a stroll through this tropical forest.There are jungle trails, a visitors centre, and a forestry museum. Some trees are over a 100 years old! Take the metro to Bukit Nanas station and bring mosquito repellent because you will need it.
Shopping Malls in Kuala Lumpur
Like most Asian capitals, you can find some of the biggest shopping malls in the capital of Malaysia. From high end brands, to cheap stores and foodcourts. These are our favourites:
- Suria KLCC (more luxury and high end brands, located next to Petronas Towers)
- The Gardens (many shops, food and cinema)
- Sungei Wang Plaza (small shops, very affordable, great for souvenirs)
- Lot10 (mid/upper class stores, looks great!)
- Nu Sentral Shopping Centre (located next to the Sentral Train Station)
Extra Tips for Kuala Lumpur
» Take a walk, there’s too much to miss if you take a train or a bus in KL
» You don’t have to tip unless stated otherwise
» Eat the street food, it’s amazing!
» Talk with locals, they can all speak a bit English and they love to help you out