Things to do in Kuala Lumpur • The best restaurants, attractions and more

Time Out’s KL team offer their insider’s tips on things to do in Kuala Lumpur - for the perfect holiday in the Malaysian capital

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur • The best restaurants, attractions and more Putrajaya
By Time Out KL

Restaurants and cafés  |  Museums, sites and attractions  |  Music, theatre and art | Bars, clubs and nightlife | Shopping and style  |  The best KL hotels  |  Kuala Lumpur overview

Malaysia's vivacious capital is bursting with things to do; whether you fancy hitting the stylish shopping centres and luxury boutiques, visiting KL's many historical sites, museums and attractions or taking in the sights from the dizzying heights of the city's sauve sky-high bars and clubs. In this guide, the Time Out Kuala Lumpur team offer their insider's tips on where to find fantastic theatres, music venues and art galleries, mouth-watering food stalls, cafes and restaurants, and, of course, the perfect hotel to return to after a great night out.  

Kuala Lumpur Overview

Like many Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur appears to be quite a haphazard city, and as such it might not look all that exciting on the surface. Yes, we have the gleaming Petronas Twin Towers, but after an hour of trying to fit them within the frame of your camera, you want something more authentically local, something gritty, something a little bit more street. And KL (as the locals call it) has that in spades.
The Merdeka Square is bordered by beautiful Moorish architecture built during the colonial times. Though it has and will never snow in Malaysia, it is believed that the British colonialist built these dome roofs to withstand several feet of snow. Away from these well-kept buildings, but still within the old part of KL where Chinatown is, the scenes may look a tad dilapidated, but this bustling area is a treasure trove of local eats, souvenir shops and graffiti art (check out the river banks beneath the Pasar Seni LRT station). So is Brickfields. Tourism authorities like to market this historical area (where the brick kilns used to be, hence the name) as the city's Little India, but in reality, it's more of a microcosm of Malaysia where you'll experience the identities of the three major ethnicities that make up multi-cultural Malaysia - Malay, Chinese and Indian.
Contrast your Brickfields experience with the cool 'hood of Bangsar, which is just a train stop away. This city suburb is the model of successful gentrification, where independent boutiques and spas sit side by side with some of KL's best cafés and restaurants. A day here will round off your KL experience quite comfortably.

Around Town

Steps to the Batu Caves

A close-up gander of KL will reveal towering skyscrapers, snaking highways and a capital girdled by pockets of green. But this busy metropolis isn't always about excess. Get some green at the National Garden Shah Alam where you can partake in SkyTrex, an aerial obstacle course that allows thrill-seekers to glide, swing, crawl (and curse) from one vertiginous tree bridge to another.

Ask for a map of KL and you'll be sure to hit all the major parks. But the ones that truly command awe are in Putrajaya - Malaysia's federal administrative centre. Cycle, watch birds, jog, go boating or stroll down the 4.2km boulevard flanked by government buildings with modern Moorish designs.

One immediately slows their pace upon entering the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM). A paragon of KL's distinctive architecture, the grandiose museum features travelling world exhibitions and contemporary Islamic artworks. You'll also like the honed elegance of Sasana Kijang's Numismatic Museum - an interactive gallery set in an imposing structure of glass, steel and concrete on a hill.

Heritage walks (gratis) are the best way to experience the gritty side of old KL. Rakan KL's walkabout reveals the city's secret gems (Fancy a traditional trim in the back lanes of Petaling Street?), rich art deco, street graffiti and hidden eateries. Then tap into the nostalgic charms of Brickfields through the KL City Hall guided tour, where locals bring you to see the century-old Sri Kandaswamy Temple, Vivekananda Ashram and famed Wei-Ling Gallery in a pre-war shophouse.

When the sky recedes to darkness, ascend to the giddy heights of the Petronas Twin Tower Observation Deck on the 86th floor, which offers a stunning wraparound view of the city's skyline. For one night at least, head to a pasar malam (weekly night market) for a smorgasbord of hawker food, knickknacks and souvenirs. Go to Taman Connaught on Wednesday for stinky tofu, Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman on Saturday for cheap textiles, and Taman Tun Dr Ismail on Sunday (TTDI) for variety.

Batu Caves is the poster attraction of Kuala Lumpur, and rightly it's worth a visit, even if just to climb the 272 steps up to the rather Spartan cave temples. But time your visit to coincide with the annual Thaipusam festival, where the grounds transform into a loud, vibrant, exciting, kitschy, spiritual and extremely crowded affair. Be prepared for culture shock.

KL museums, sites and attractions details

SkyTrex Adventure Park Taman Pertanian Malaysia
013 276 9841.

03 8000 8000.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Jalan Lembah Perdana
03 2274 2020

Numismatic Museum Sasana Kijang, 2 Jalan Dato Onn
03 9179 2888.

Rakan KL walkabout

Brickfields KL City Hall guided tour

Petronas Twin Towers Observation Deck KL City Centre.
03 2331 8080.

Pasar Malam

03 2617 9000.

More things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Restaurants and cafés in Kuala Lumpur
Museums, sights and attractions in Kuala Lumpur
Music, theatre and art in Kuala Lumpur
Bars, clubs and nightlife in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping and style in Kuala Lumpur
Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur overview

And for the full KL experience…

See our Time Out Kuala Lumpur edition – for full and up-to-date coverage of restaurants, bars, art, nightlife, shows and events in KL.

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By Eva - Feb 12 2014


I’m Eva and I’m working from Adenue.

Our company, Adenue is digital concierge company serving affluent locals, expatriates and globe trotters. We are head quartered in London with offices in KLCC. We help our customers discover and book extraordinary experiences around the corner, around the world.

Our main goal is offering unique and exclusive experiences to our customers and show them other way to discover Malaysia and its culture. We want to promote our website and let people know about our experiences in order to help them to look for something innovative and special. We have already some important partners as The Grand Hyatt or Impiana Hotel, and we are offering unique experiences as Batik lessons, cooking lessons, pilot for a day and other different and amazing experiences that you can check on our website:

We have discovered your blog, and we think it’s really connected with our content and activity. As you talk about travelling and promote local culture and your point of view about the best places to visit and discover, I would like to have a chat with you in order to talk about your blog with more detail and the possibility to work together.

I would welcome the privilege of speaking with you further and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Eva del Rio
Business Development