Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Travel Guide

This is the ultimate first timer’s travel guide for preparing a vacation to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Welcome to the heart of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, a bustling city rich with heritage, culture, and food. It is the perfect destination if you are looking for a taste of Asia without breaking the bank!

You can visit Kuala Lumpur over and over during your travels and always found something new to explore in this unique capital city.

Exploring Kuala Lumpur may seem daunting but trust me, you will get around easily. For starters, most of the locals can communicate in English and are hospitable, which is why Malaysia is touted as one of the friendliest countries in the world.

In this article, I will explore everything you need to know about Kuala Lumpur and the fantastic things you can do in this vibrant city.

Ultimate Travel Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Table of Contents

You can read every single Kuala Lumpur tip here (highly recommended) or use the navigation links here to skip to the tips that are most valuable to you.

Top Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Batu Caves

Located 8 miles from the city, Batu Caves (“Batu” means Rock in Malay) is a standalone limestone hill with a series of caves and several cave temples. 

The most popular attraction here is the 140-feet-high golden statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity, that is built at the entrance of an internationally-recognized Hindu place of worship, the Temple Cave

To enter, you will need to endure a steep flight of colored concrete stairs, 272 steps in total. The views are, however, rewarding. Like every place of worship, you will need to dress modestly: sleeved tops and beyond knee-length bottoms. They also rent shawls at the entrance for RM 12 (USD 3)

Some parts of Batu Caves are open to the public, such as the Ramayana Cave, a serene cave dedicated to Hindu gods that costs RM 5 (USD 1) to enter.

If you are looking for something adventurous, there are some rock climbing walls around the area, most notably, Gua Damai Extreme Park. Do note that there is an entrance fee of RM 5 (USD 1) excluding rentals and guided instruction. 

Watch out for the monkeys in this area, they can be cheeky and steal your things. My friend almost lost her wallet to them! 

Note: The Dark Cave is closed indefinitely. 

Location: Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor


  • Temple Cave: Free
  • Ramayana Cave: RM 5 (USD 1)
  • Gua Damai Extreme Park: RM 5 (USD 1)

Opening Hours: 

  • Temple Cave: 6:00 am to 9:00 pm
  • Ramayana Cave: 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
  • Gua Damai Extreme Park: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

KLCC & Petronas Towers

KLCC is a “mini-city” within Kuala Lumpur that consists of a few commercialized iconic properties such as the famous Petronas Towers, Suria KLCC shopping mall, and KLCC park. Witness the sights and sounds of the symphonic water fountains by the park or shop ‘til you drop by some of the branded stores.

The Petronas Towers, known as KLCC Twin Towers, is the most iconic building of the city, standing out in the KL skyline as the tallest twin towers in the world at 1,483 feet. Perched on top of Suria KLCC, this 88-floor tower is worth a snapshot both during the night and day.  

Although it is mainly an office building, parts of the tower are open to the public via a 45-minute guided tour where you can experience a majestic view of the city at three different high points. 

Tickets are available on the same day, although they sell out fast due to limited space (they allocate only 10 pax per session). You can purchase the tickets from their Ticketing Counter which opens at 9:00 am, located at the Concourse Level, one floor below the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. 

If you prefer to book in advance, you can do so on their website, however, the only overseas payment options available are Discover and Diners Club International cards and Alipay e-wallet.

Location: Petronas Twin Towers Lower Ground (Concourse) Level, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur


  • Suria KLCC & KLCC Park: Free
  • Petronas Twin Towers: Aged 60+: RM 42 (USD 10), Aged 13 – 60: RM 80 (USD 18), aged 3 – 12: RM 33 (USD 8), Below 3 years of age: Free

Opening Hours:

  • Suria KLCC & KLCC Park: 10 am to 10 pm daily
  • Petronas Twin Towers: 10 am to 6 pm daily

Jalan Alor Food Street

If you do not know where to eat in Kuala Lumpur, let Jalan Alor be your guide. Jalan Alor is an open-aired food street located a block away from Bukit Bintang MRT Door A station. You can quickly identify this street with its long stretch of terra cotta-colored pavements and a series of red lanterns hanging above.

Most of the food stalls serve Chinese cuisine, although in recent years it has expanded to Thai, Vietnamese, and Halal cuisine to cater to a wide palate. You can also purchase durian here! I recommend coming with an empty stomach as you will be spoilt for choices. 

If you appreciate street art, spot a collection of colorful mural art at the back alley between Jalan Alor and Changkat Bukit Bintang. 

Must-try dishes: Fried durian (USD 2), Dim Sum (one piece is USD 0.30), Satay (10 sticks is USD 3), Coconut Ice-Cream (USD 3)

Location: Jln Alor, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Fee: There is no entrance fee

Opening Hours: 4 pm to 3 am daily

Changkat Bukit Bintang

Just a 2-minute walk from Jalan Alor Food Street and the MRT Bukit Bintang Station, Changkat Bukit Bintang is the perfect location to bar-hop all night. Considered Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife strip, the night is always young here with vibrant crowds and bars that stay open until 3 am (4 am if the crowd is good). 

Most of these bars serve pub food so you can wine and dine before you party hard. If you visit during their happy hour session (usually before 8 pm), you can get beer as cheap as RM 13 (USD 3). My go-to favorites for a good nightlife experience are The Whisky Bar KL, Gypsy Bar, and Pisco Bar. 

There are also many unique restaurants on this strip such as Dining In The Dark KL (you will be served by visually impaired waiters in a pitch-black room) and El Cerdo (a Spanish restaurant that practices a tradition to break plates for good luck).

Location: Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Fee: There is no entrance fee 

Opening Hours: some restaurants open as early as 10 am. Bars will open from 4 pm onwards.

Thean Hou Temple

Admire the architecture of one of the most breathtaking Chinese temples in Malaysia. Thean Hou Temple is the largest temple in Kuala Lumpur and a popular location for photoshoots as well as registration of marriages so expect this place to be crowded most of the time! 

An 8-minute drive from Tun Sambanthan MRT, this 35-year-old place of worship is very well-maintained and combines intricate elements of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism within its six levels. The first and fourth levels are accessible to the public.

It is hard to pinpoint the best places to visit in the temple as every hall is unique and there are many photo spots available to get the best view of the KL skyline. Thean Hou Temple is actively used for cultural events, kung fu training, prayers, and fortune tellers. Although there is no dress code imposed, it is best to dress modestly. 

Location: 65, Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Fee: There is no entrance fee

Opening Hours: 8 am to 10 pm daily

Chinatown / Central Market / Kwai Chai Hong

Chinatown is a two-minute walk from Pasar Seni MRT station and Central Market. 

Also known as Petaling Street Market, it was once the old Business District of Kuala Lumpur where mom-and-pop stores populated the streets, ranging from stationery stores to hawker stalls. It is now mainly filled with Malaysian souvenir vendor stalls.

At the intersection of Chinatown is where most of Malaysia’s local food favorites are strategically located. Here are some delicious goods to look out for: 

  • “Air Mata Kucing” (a sweet and cooling longan drink)
  • “Muah Chee” (a glutinous rice dessert with peanut flakes, sold by a loud lady named Madam Tang)
  • “Apam Balik” (a fluffy coconut pancake that costs USD 0.30 made by a kind-looking uncle)

There is also a refurbished theatre located near there called REXKL that is becoming a hipster spot for millennials for its social events that are LGBTQ+ friendly.

Central Market is known as Pasar Seni in Malay and is the best place to shop for local handicrafts and snacks. Seek refuge from the occasionally unpredictable here as it is air-conditioned with a decent number of restaurants. You can find batik prints, durian toffee, Malay apparel, postcards, and local art. 

If you have time: Kwai Chai Hong is a unique location with Chinese art hidden behind the back alley near Chinatown. It may seem pretty small but it is worth a (photo) shot!

Location: 37, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Fee: There is no entrance fee

Opening Hours: 10 am to 9 pm daily

Merdeka Square

Also known as Independence Square, this historical landmark is home to one of the tallest flag poles in the world at 312 feet and the national Independence parade that occurs every 31st August. 

The Merdeka Square is within walking distance from Chinatown and is surrounded by British colonial buildings and unique water features such as the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad Building, a water curtain countdown clock exhibit, and the River of Life.  

It is also the signature spot for running events and car-free morning events (that happen every Sunday from 7:00 am to 10:00 am). I suggest visiting Merdeka Square in the early morning or evening as it can get extremely hot in that area. Make sure you get a photo with the “I LOVE KL” sign!

Location:  Jln Raja, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Fee: There is no entrance fee

Opening Hours: open 24/7

What to eat in KL

When it comes to Malaysian food, the list is endless. It is impossible to leave Malaysian without gaining a few pounds with the number of local delicacies you can try. Most of the dishes are packed with spices so be warned, it can get pretty spicy for your liking!

Here are my top must-try foods to eat in Kuala Lumpur:

Nasi Lemak

On the top of our list is “Nasi Lemak” which loosely translates to fat rice. That is because the rice is cooked with coconut milk, giving it a fragrant and fluffy texture. The nasi lemak is also the national dish of Malaysia and a breakfast staple in many restaurant outlets. 

The nasi lemak dish is not complete without its chili paste known as sambal, cucumbers, fried anchovies, egg, and a side of fried or stewed meat.

Restaurants To Try: 

Opening Hours: 6:30 am to 1:00 am daily

  • Nasi Lemak Alor Corner

Location: Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 7:30 am to 11:30 am daily (Closed on Mondays)


Your food trip is never complete without tasting this unusual fruit, durian. There are only two ways to go about it: either you love it or you hate it. 

The durian is a seasonal fruit that has a thorny outer shell and a pungent smell that can deter your enemies. On the inside, it has numerous seeds, with each one enveloped by an edible creamy yellow pulp that is usually sweet with a tinge of bitterness.

The peak season for durian is between June to September. The most popular durian variants are the Musang King and Black Thorn variants as they have a much creamier texture and can cost up to USD 10 per pound!

Durian also has a high sulfur content, hence, I do not recommend pairing this fruit with any kind of alcohol, seafood, or meat. Make sure you drink plenty of water after consuming it!

Restaurants To Try:

  • Durian BB Park

Location: 15, Jalan Kamuning, Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 12 pm to 10 pm daily

  • Durian King TTDI

Location: Lot 3053, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Kampung Sungai Penchala, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 3 pm to 12 am daily

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is a Hokkien slow-cooked pork ribs dish that is served with rice. Although it translates to “meat bone tea”, the ribs are not boiled with tea but with a variety of herbs and spices to make up its rich flavor. 

To order Bak Kut Teh, you will need to choose the kind of meat you will like with your broth. The most common parts offered are the belly, ribs, soft rib bones, lean meat, and intestines. It is the perfect meal for a rainy day in Kuala Lumpur and is decently affordable at USD 5 per pax.

Restaurants To Try:

  • Sum Hou Express Bak Kut Teh

Location: Lot 1.33 1st Floor, Cosway Guesthouse, 88, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 10:30 am to 3:30 pm daily (closed on Sundays)

  • Yu Yi Bak Kut Teh 

Location: 53-6, Jalan Barat, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 9:00 pm daily (Closed on Mondays)

Roti Canai

There are no late-night diners like Denny’s but there are late-night Indian Muslim restaurants known as “mamak”. Roti canai can be found in these “mamak” stalls and are extremely affordable at RM 1.70 per piece (USD 0.40). Do not be fooled by the price, this simple dish will keep you full throughout the night! 

This Indian flatbread is served with a side of curry and is a common supper meal. Try it when you are in Malaysia (instead of paying USD 5.95 for the same dish at Asian restaurants in the United States!)

Restaurants To Try:

  • Valentine Roti

Location: Stor No. 1, Jalan Semarak Opposite Menara Celcom, 54000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours: 8 am to 11:45 pm daily

  • Yam Cornerz Roti Canai

Location: 17, Jalan E, Kampung Pandan Dalam, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Selangor
Opening Hours: 7 am to 10 am daily (opens 5 pm to 7 pm as well on weekdays)

Nasi Kandar

This flavorful Tamil Muslim mixed rice dish will keep you full throughout the day! To order, you will need to choose your side dishes with your rice at the counter, consisting of curries, meat, seafood, and vegetables. 

Most locals will opt for a piece of spiced fried chicken (known as Ayam Rempah), some vegetables, and an egg, and finally douse it with curry. If you are unsure what to order (dishes are not labeled), just ask the waiter for some recommendations!

Restaurants To Try:

  • Nasi Kalut Jitra Mai (KL)

Location: 2, Jalan Yap Ah Shak, Chow Kit, 50300 Wilayah Persekutuan, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 10:30 am to 10 pm (closed on Fridays)

Opening Hours: 6 am to 2 am

Where is Kuala Lumpur located?

Kuala Lumpur is located on the central west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula. Although situated within the Selangor state, it is a Federal Territory and part of the state (similar to Washington D.C. in the United States). 

Kuala Lumpur has two international airports, KLIA1 and KLIA2. You can either take a KLIA Express train, bus, taxi, or Grab (similar to Lyft / Uber) to get into the city which is 36 miles away.

Brief History of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a Malay translation of “muddy confluence” as it is an area that intersects Klang and Gombak Rivers. In the 19th century, it became a flourishing tin mining location pioneered by settlers from Guangdong, China which is why Cantonese is the most commonly spoken Chinese dialect in Kuala Lumpur. 

It was later colonized by the British administration, who rebuilt the city to include railway stations that are still in operation today.

Malaysia gained its Independence on 31st August 1957. Kuala Lumpur remained as its capital city, becoming one of the fastest-growing cities in Asia and a popular tourist destination to date. 

What languages are spoken prominently in Malaysia?

The main languages spoken in Malaysia are Malay, English, Mandarin, and Tamil. As English is taught as a second language in schools, many locals can converse in English fluently. 

In Kuala Lumpur, you can still get around with just English, although learning basic Malay will be a great advantage when dealing with street vendors and asking for directions. 

What currency is used in Malaysia?

The Malaysian Ringgit, also known as RM or MYR in abbreviation, is used as a Malaysian currency. If you are carrying US Dollars, you will certainly get a better rate exchanging in any of the money changer booths in Kuala Lumpur so don’t jump the gun before you fly! 

Many of these booths can be found in shopping malls, banks, and on crowded streets like Bukit Bintang.

What is Kuala Lumpur known for?

Kuala Lumpur is a developing city known for its iconic twin towers, unique flavors, and cultural heritage. It is also Malaysia’s cultural, financial, and retail development hub and the most populous city in the country. 

Most of the local attractions are also budget-friendly, making it one of the most affordable destinations for backpackers around the world.

Kuala Lumpur holds the record for having some of the world’s biggest shopping malls, the tallest twin skyscrapers (Petronas Towers), and the second-tallest tower in the world (Merdeka 118).