This is the best of Kuala Lumpur – the ultimate list that defines KL as one of the great clients of the world. Neatly organised into four categories (Food & Drink, Attractions & Activities, Nightlife & Music and Arts & Culture), this extensive guide has all the critics recommended activities, sights and experiences that make this city so unique.
101 things to do in KL: The full list
From secret gems to critics’ picks, here’s the definitive guide to the best things KL has to offer. So start checking off this bumper list curated by local experts
Food & Drink
The chap fan counter overflows with at least 50 vegetarian standards such as stuffed tau fu pok, vegetable curry and ‘chicken’ drumsticks fashioned from fried beancurd skin. There are also stalls hawking wantan mee, curry mee and red bean pancakes. The temple is very serious about their food: No white sugar, preservatives or MSG. Don’t miss the excellent lei cha every Friday.
Eat a sloppy Ramly burger by the roadside
Music & Nightlife
The Roof opened to much fanfare last year, when it quickly became one of the city’s most exciting openings. This nightlife hub in PJ houses five outlets all under one roof – the only one of its kind in town. The best part is definitely Stratosphere. It’s the first and only bar on top of an infinity, grassed helipad in Asia. Needless to say, the views are spectacular.
Hush, don't tell anyone about these super cool speakeasy bars. We're not telling you how to locate the door, because it's all part of the fun. Once you get into Tate, the stylish, masculine design will put you right at home – for our money, Tate makes the best martini in town. At Omakase + Appreciate, indulge in the cocktails served by award-winning mixologists, Shawn Cheong and Karl Too. Since they practise a ‘omakase’ format, which means ‘I'll leave it to you’ in Japanese, the mixologists are more than happy to tailor-make a cocktail for you.
You'll be able to find both KTVs (establishments with private rooms) and 'karaoke jambans' (claustrophobia-inducing cubicles with single karaoke machines) scattered all over KL, but avoid the latter unless you're dead broke. Choose wisely; they all vary in price, song selection and language.
Changkat (as it's called) is the default go-to nightlife district in KL, with every type of bar at every loud corner - Irish, English, Thai, Japanese or German. Things can get pretty raunchy on weekends, but if you like to have a good time without (always) throwing up on pavements, here are our top three picks: Pisco Bar on Jalan Mesui (for band nights and a stylish vibe) and The Rabbit Hole (for an all-encompassing nightlife experience).
Attractions & Activities
Hang, literally, with Genting Skyway
Genting Skyway is the world’s fastest mono cable car system, making trips to Genting Highlands more interesting. After ‘takeoff’, lush greenery, cool highland mist and the audio guide make the ride strangely serene. On the way, you’ll notice decorative statues amidst the foliage that look as artificial as the hill resort above.
Genting Skyway Jalan Batang Kali, Batang Kali, Selangor (03 2718 1118). Daily, 7.30am–midnight; normal oneway ticket, RM6.
It's a culinary retreat where owner and chef Rohani Jelani has set up her cooking school amidst a Malay village in Kampung Sungai Penchala next to the rainforest. Classes are held in groups, and we recommend you book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Take a free walking tour of Brickfields
KL City Hall (03 2617 6273), every first and third Saturday of the month, 9.30am.
Take a period family portrait at the 60-year-old Pak Tai studio
An old studio now at the mercy of the MRT development, Pak Tai is merely surviving on business from police officers who need their passport photos taken. In the ’60s, it used to be the go-to place for wedding, graduation and family portraits. The backdrops – complete with doves and tacky embellishment – may not be your idea of cool, but throw owner Low Kok Kee an assignment like a period family portrait and he’ll recreate an artistic photo that looks like it was taken in the ’70s without Photoshop.
Foto Pak Tai 104 Jalan Petaling, KL (03 2078 5491).
Jalan Sin Chew Kee isn't necessarily strategic for a bar, but Barlai sneaks into the corner lot of Ng Seksan's Sekeping Sin Chew Kee with much charm. This watering hole preserves the heritage allure of Seksan's eco-friendly retreat with added flourishes like a 'secret' room with beanbags, air vents and archways, naked bulbs around tree branches and DIY-style furniture at the bar area. If Barlai aims to make patrons feel comfortable and intimate in what feels like a hidden gem, it has succeeded.
See KL in 360 at the Grand Hyatt
The newest addition to KL’s skyline is also, ironically, the best place from which to view KL’s skyline (sorry, Skybridge). Head up to the circular lobby on the 39th floor to get a 360-degree view of KL, including an incredible shot of the Twin Towers as you step out of the lift. This experience comes complete with cushy sofas and very polite porters.
Grand Hyatt KL, Jalan Pinang, KL (03 2182 1234)
Arts & Culture
Decipher social commentary from the graffiti in KL
Retrace our colonial history through the city's architecture
Channel your inner artsy fartsy at Urbanscapes
Get into the 'spirit' of the Hungry Ghost Festival
Catch the shows at Lucky Garden in Bangsar, Taman Cheras and Kepong Baru.