If planning a trip to Southeast Asia or the South Pacific, then a visit to Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a must. There are many direct flights into Kuala Lumpur from surrounding cities. In addition, you only need a long weekend there to see all of the main sights. That being said, there are plenty of things to do in Kuala Lumpur even during a short stay.
To begin, when planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur:
What To Keep In Mind
The Kuala Lumpur airport flows from the arrival hall to a mall. There is airport WiFi available, but that disappears in the mall. If booking a car service for pick-up or your phone does not work abroad without WiFi, then be aware that you will lose the ability to communicate.
As a result, it is better to take a taxi to the city. It will cut down complications, and it is easy to get one after exiting the building.
The drive into the city takes about 40 minutes and is worse during rush hour. Take this into consideration when booking flights and try to avoid those peak traffic times.
It rains almost every day in Kuala Lumpur (think tropical thunderstorms). The advantage is that it occurs in random pockets across the city and does not last very long. Be prepared for unpredictable weather so that you do not get stuck in it!
Navigating the City
Getting around Kuala Lumpur is relatively simple. Uber or taxi is readily available without issue. Prices, for the most part, are fair. The easiest way to see some of the more popular sights is probably via a tour.
Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur
We did a half-day Kuala Lumpur cultural tour that involved the following:
The Batu Caves are millions of years old, and the Hindu temple inside is over 100 years old. It is colorful, beautiful, and a major tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. Getting inside the temple requires climbing over 200 steps in heat and humidity. Be sure to take a water bottle and stay hydrated!
The city is known for its temples, and it is one of the most unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur. They are gorgeous to see, and you get so much learning out of the experience.
Make sure to check the times for this place. At noon they closed off entry to non-Muslim visitors. We got lucky and arrived about 5 minutes before, so they let us run in and look around. If this interests you, definitely put it on your list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas is an oil company, and its twin towers are an iconic part of the downtown Kuala Lumpur skyline. It is also the tallest skyscraper in the south Pacific. There is a mall inside with a huge food court and tons of shopping.
One can also purchase tickets to the Petronas Towers sky bridge or observation deck. We received feedback that it was an “ok” thing to do, in other words, not worth the price because the observation deck is on the bridge and not at the top. As a result, we opted out. Instead, we took amazing pictures from the outside.
Asian culture has a significant influence on food in Kuala Lumpur. The best way to experience the food culture is to visit the night market called Alor Street Food night market. This market is THE thing to do in Kuala Lumpur to experience the best street food and authentic cuisine and glimpse local culture.
As you wander up and down, there are vendors, restaurants with outdoor seating, live music, and souvenir stands.
Speaking of local cuisine and flavor, Pelita Nasi Kandar is a popular spot amongst locals.
A Local Favorite Thing to Do In Kuala Lumpur: Shopping
A lot of fake handbags, so if you are looking for one, this is the place to be.
The Central Market is an indoor/outdoor market in Kuala Lumpur with a food court and shopping stalls selling everything from souvenirs to authentic jewelry to clothes and accessories. What is nice is that if it starts raining, it is easy to quickly get inside and stay dry.
Some of the stalls carry a variety of exotic fruits and dishes, so do not forget to try those!
On the left is pink dragonfruit and on the right is lemon-flavored finely shaved ice, which was surprisingly creamy. Both were amazing! Unique fruits and dishes such as these are difficult to find in the States, so definitely take advantage and add them to the things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
If you’re looking for more shopping and nightlife then the Bukin Bintang neighborhood will have everything you need. Also known as “the heart of the city”, this is popular with both tourists and locals.
Costs in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian Currency
If you are interested in high-end shopping and nightlife, the Bukit Bintang neighborhood will have everything you need. Also known as “the heart of the city,” this is popular with tourists and locals.
If you are planning on visiting Malaysia, then Kuala Lumpur is a must-see stop during your travels. With plenty to see and do and ease of getting around, the city is well worth the time. While you are there, consider a stop by Singapore as well! A short flight away, Singapore is another city where only a long weekend is needed to explore.