The Time Out DO list is where we handpick the best things to do in our city.
This is the ultimate list, the list that defines KL as one of the great cities of the world. What you're reading now is an extensive guide of all the recommended activities, sights and experiences that make our city so unique – from messy street eats and rooftop bars to heritage tours and an independent arts and research centre. We're also home to one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.
So go out, explore and make the best of the city with this handy guide. Here is the best of Kuala Lumpur.
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You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.
The best things to do in KL
What is it? Come dusk, this street becomes a cacophony of aromas, noise and food. Hawker stalls and roadside restaurants clamour for your attention offering all kinds of local and regional cuisines.
Why go? For the sheer variety of local food from moreish salted egg cab and spicy grilled fish to noodles in rich broths and typical local hawker dishes, Jalan Alor’s reputation as a red-light area has been diminished by the fact that there so much food cold beer to be had.
Don’t miss: Smoky barbecued chicken wings from Wong Ah Wah, the most famous of Jalan Alor’s eateries, plus they close at 4am.
What is it? From small burger stalls to food trucks, the ubiquitous Ramly burger is found in every neighbourhood usually near a petrol station or 7-11.
Why go? This is a Malaysian culinary icon comprising mystery meat smothered in mayo, chilli sauce, processed cheese and egg wrapped in the kind white bun that absorbs everything. It’s messy and oozing with post-clubbing and hangover goodness.
Don’t miss: Brother John Burger’s famous Master burger – two Ramly beef/chicken patties with egg and cheese. They open at 10pm and there’s always a queue but it’s worth it.
What is it? Bak Kut Teh or BKT is a traditional soup made with various cuts of pork from soft and spare ribs, lean meat and ‘spare parts’ (innards). It’s cooked in a rich broth of Chinese herbs and can have mushrooms and tofu puffs added.
Why go? For a bowl of awesome comfort food where every food group is represented. The soup rich broth is the star, full of porky goodness and herbal oomph. The addition of tofu puffs, lettuce, shitake mushrooms and char kueh is just the icing on the cake.
Don’t miss: Under The Bridge Bak Kut The (Restoran Seng Huat) is as old school as it gets and one of the Klang originals. It’s all about the pork soup and rice here so don’t expect fancy enoki mushrooms and vegetables.
What is it? A perpetually bustling eatery, Sri Nirwana is the go-to for banana leaf rice, and where locals and tourists sit side-by-side digging into curried banana leaf rice.
Why go? Sri Nirwana has been around for over ten years, but the constant crowds bear testament to the quality and resilience of the place. The winning combination of generous servings and consistently good banana leaf rice with top-notch curries and sides make it worth any wait (and price). Remember to order a side of fried chicken or squid.
Don’t miss: The deep-fried bitter gourd. They come with the meal, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself asking for more of these addictive munchies.
What is it? A famed family-run heritage restaurant where the same dishes have been served for generations.
Why go? If a restaurant has been serving the same dishes for nine decades, they must know what they’re doing. Dine off marble-topped coffee shop tables, observe the quirkily efficient way the long queues of diners are managed and add Lea & Perrins sauce to everything!
Don’t miss: Signature dishes – kaya toast, chicken / pork chops, roti babi (translates to ‘pig bread’, but is really a deep-fried pork sandwich), Hailam noodles, buttery marble cake.
What is it? A cosy specialist bar focusing on all things gin, and brainchild of CK Kho, the award-winning bartender behind popular Bangsar watering hole Coley.
Why go? A favourite among KLites, Pahit offers a calm and cosy space in the city to enjoy after-work or weekend drinks. The menu boasts an impressive list of gins from around the world, and the fruit-infused G&Ts are refreshing. Pahit often hosts guest shifts by award-winning bartenders from around the world, alongside various workshops, masterclasses and talks.
Don’t miss: The house specialty, Gin Pahit #2 – the bar’s take on the classic Pink Gin, made with London dry gin, orange bitters, lime and homemade falernum syrup.
What is it? The city’s tallest hotel rooftop bar, Vertigo is perched on Level 59 of the stylish Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur.
Why go? The year 2018 was the year of the rooftop bar, elevating the city drinking experience to new heights, literally. The iconic KL skyline became the backdrop to many a night out, and Vertigo ticks all the boxes - uninterrupted panoramas, and a good selection of wine, beer and cocktails.
Don’t miss: Snag a seat in front of the bar, where the view includes both the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower.
What is it? A bustling street lined with various bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants – great for a night out from dinner to partying and bar hopping.
Why go? From crowded dance floors and noisy pubs to stylish bars and eateries with food that hits the spot after (or in the middle of) a night of partying, alongside old favourites (Pisco Bar, No Black Tie) and newer additions (The Rum Bar, Cielo KL), Changkat Bukit Bintang is an enduring district in KL’s nightlife scene.
Don’t miss: The fantastic deals on drinks. Most bars have great weekday promotions (especially for ladies), so if you’re looking for a mid-week pick-me-up, head here.
What is it? A mamak restaurant is the pillar of Malaysian after-hours dining and an integral part of our food culture. They serve a type of Indian cuisine unique to Malaysia – rotis, banana leaf, tandoor dishes.
Why go? Three simple reasons: ambience, affordability and the food. Is there anything more satisfying than roti canai and Milo ais after a pub crawl? We think not. Except maybe Maggi Mee goreng… The cool Devi’s Corner in Bangsar has all that, plus the advantages of being open round the clock and its location in the centre of Bangsar’s nightlife.
Don’t miss: This outlet in particular is synonymous with midnight carb loading especially with the tandoori oven that stays fired up till the wee hours.
What is it? The most famous field in Malaysia where independence was declared on 31 August 1957. The world’s tallest flagpole is here too at 95m proudly flying the Jalur Gemilang.
Why go? Surrounding the square are colonial-era landmark buildings depicting various styles of architecture including Moorish, Moghul, Colonial and Straits Chinese. Follow the heritage walking trail and take in the sights like the Sultan Abdul Samad building and the Queen Victoria Fountain.
Don’t miss: Take the KL Night Walk (similar to the Heritage Walk) which will lead you to lively night markets, street bazaars and the Panggung Bandaraya, the oldest theatre in the country.
What is it? A cooking school with a difference, Lazat offers cooking classes focusing on authentic Malaysian dishes including nasi lemak, beef rendang, curry laksa and roti canai.
Why go? Recipes are family favourites and the instructors are passionate about local cuisine. Classes are hands-on and begin with a trip to a local market to familiarise participants with ingredients. After cooking, everyone sits down for meal. The school is in a lovely house in the Penchala hills just outside the city.
Don’t miss: The chance to choose from courses and menus covering different Malaysian cultures – Malay, Nyonya, Chinese and Indian. You prepare all the courses while the dessert course is a demo.
What is it? A limestone cave complex in Gombak that is one of the most famous Hindu temples outside India. The 272 steps leading to the top were painted in vibrant rainbow shades this year.
Why go? The temple was built in 1891 in honour of Lord Murugan, and the first Thaipusam celebrated in 1892. It has the tallest (42.7m) statue of Lord Murugan in the world, nonchalant (cheeky) monkeys roaming about and is the best place to experience Thaipusam in all its glory.
Don’t miss: Climb the 272 colourful steps to the Temple Cave – the largest in the complex – then visit the Ramayana Cave (named after the Hindu epic) watched over by Hanuman.
What is it? Arguably Malaysia’s most iconic symbol, the Petronas Twin Towers are a magnificent sight, and is one picture everyone should have of the city.
Why go? KL’s claim to fame is these Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world. While there is a two-storey Sky Bridge and an Observation Deck that opens up to stunning views of the city, it’s often the view of the Towers themselves that are the most impressive.
Don’t miss: Don’t join the throngs right in front of the Towers. Instead, cross the road for a different angle. But be careful crossing the busy street, and don’t disrupt traffic.
What is it? A pre-1950s building rejuvenated into an independent creative arts and research hub, housing arts, cultural and retail spaces.
Why go? This community space is home to various art galleries, exhibition spaces, live music bars, record shops and bookstores that champion local artists and writers. There’s almost always something going on here – whether it’s an exhibition by local artists, a talk on how literature has developed in the country or a gig by underground musicians, there’s rarely an event-free weekend here.
Don’t miss: Malaysia Design Archive – an initiative that preserves and maps the country’s visual history and culture and helps cultivate a sense of appreciation through various talks and workshops.
What is it? A classic Art Deco building housing a warren of arts, crafts and antique shops.
Why go? Constructed in 1888 as a wet market for the then bustling town, the building went through major refurbishment in the 1930s and was transformed to what it is today. Now, it’s filled with shops selling everything from tourist tat to some fantastic local handicraft.
Don’t miss: The Annexe Gallery located on the second floor is an arts space where local artists and performers stage art exhibitions, gigs, film screenings and theatre productions.
What is it? A public art gallery that has a well curated gift shop carrying more than 50 unique, quirky Malaysian brands.
Why go? The range of gifts and souvenirs are sourced from artisans, designers and craftspeople from all over Malaysia. Brands like Nala, Loka Made and Bingka. This is a great place for gifts as you can pick up coffee table art books, limited edition prints, unique stationery and card games with a distinct Malaysian feel.
Don’t miss: After visiting the gallery and shopping, sit down for coffee and cake baked by a social enterprise called Bake With Dignity.
What is it? Malaysia’s official venue for all things art, including galleries that host both local and international artworks.
Why go? As the country’s premier art venue, the National Art Gallery strives to cultivate a sense of appreciation for the arts through showcasing works by Malaysia’s leading artists, hosting shows that feature local up-and-coming talents alongside international artists, as well as organising art talks and workshops. Permanent displays and touring international exhibitions span photography, paintings, sculptures and more.
Don’t miss: The permanent collection of art, which comprises over 2,000 pieces by renowned local and international artists.
What is it? Every Wednesday sees one of the largest night markets in the city swing into hectic action at Taman Connaught in Cheras.
Why go? Almost 700 stalls stretching over offering a vast array of hawker food, local snacks, questionable tech gadgets, household items and provisions at a cheaper price than the shops. This is a KL night market at its busiest – go hungry and nibble your way through.
Don’t miss: There’s all kinds of intriguing food here but stinky tofu is the clear winner. The smell is obviously an acquired taste but it’s pretty good!
What is it? A suburb officially recognised as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, and not to be missed when in KL.
Why go? This suburb (also known as Bukit Damansara) has everything you need and want for a full day (or two) of exploration. It was primarily a residential and office area, but recent years have seen plenty of swanky restaurants (Sitka, Birch), cool bars (Skullduggery, JungleBird) and trendy live music spaces (The Gaslight KL) popping up in the neighbourhood.
Don’t miss: Plaza Batai – a group of shophouses that comprise modern eateries, an upscale grocer, kitschy boutiques and more.
What is it? KL’s Chinatown revolves around Petaling Street – one of the most historical parts of the city. Discover a profusion of temples showcasing a microcosm of different cultures and religions.
Why go? Being a multi-cultural country means embracing different religions and beliefs, and a wander through Chinatown will bring you to Sri Mahamariamman temple, the oldest Hindu temple in KL. There’s also a succession of Taoist temples honouring Guan Di (God of War), Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) and Chan See Shu Yuen, a former clan house.
Don’t miss: The Sin Sze Si Ya temple is the oldest Taoist temple in KL and was built by Yap Ah Loy, the third Kapitan Cina in 1864. Get your fortune told by the temple caretaker after rattling the kao chim (fortune telling sticks).
What is it? The MPO is a symphony orchestra made up of musicians from 25 nations including Malaysia.
Why go? The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is the resident orchestra at the Dewan Filharmonik Orchestra (DFP), which has hosted world famous singers and musicians including Branford Marsalis, Andrea Bocelli and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. They have a vibrant weekly programme including family orientated afternoons and perform across genres from classical to pop and jazz.
Don’t miss: Seasonal specials and performances by visiting orchestras and performers.
What is it? One of the more popular Ramadhan bazaars located in the suburb of Taman Tun Dr. Ismail.
Why go? This bazaar is known for having the best Malay food during the fasting month. It may not be the largest, but the variety of food available is fantastic. From traditional fare like lemang, roti john and murtabak to halal mojitos and salted caramel pisang goreng!
Don’t miss: The best food! Get there early – 4pm is ideal. It gets very crowded after office hours and weekends, so parking is non-existent if you come at the wrong time.
What is it? KL’s most popular park – 50 acres of lush greenery set in the busy city centre and home to over 1,000 indigenous trees and plants.
Why go? This deceptively large urban park was designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, and houses a children’s playground with fantastic play equipment, fountains and jogging tracks. There are gazebos and benches scattered about the park as well, which make for great picnic spots.
Don’t miss: Lake Symphony – the daily light and music show set at the fountains in front of Suria KLCC. It’s a fun and simple way to wind down after a family day out.
What is it? Pulau Carey (or Carey Island) is home to the indigenous Mah Meri tribe and the Mah Meri Cultural Village, a space where the tribe share and pass on their cultural heritage.
Why go? This tribe has a distinctive culture that’s over a hundred years old, and they’re internationally renowned for their intricate wooden masks and carvings. The Cultural Village houses a museum and a traditional house, and organises workshops that teach the Mah Meri art of wood carving, leaf origami and pandanus weaving. Visitors can also catch traditional dances and ritual demonstrations that showcase their rich cultural heritage.
Don’t miss: Hari Moyang – or Spirit’s Day – is an annual festival that honours and pays respect the guardian of the villages. Visitors are welcomed to join and participate in selected parts of the ceremonial activities.
What is it? Located a short ways from the city is Broga Hill, a popular hiking trail suitable for casual hikers, nature lovers and trail runners.
Why go? Hiking is having a renaissance and the Broga Hill trail is easily accessible and suitable even for beginners as long as you are fit(ish). The hike takes about an hour and most people head up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise. Remember to go prepared – water, hat, sunscreen, bug repellent and proper shoes.
Don’t miss: Outbac Broga, an adventure campsite near the hill offering outdoor activities like rock climbing and mountain biking.
What is it? The best aquarium in the country housing over 5,000 aquatic species.
Why go? A great way to spend a fun educational afternoon with the kids. They’ll see aquatic animals they may not get a chance to in the wild and learn about the different bodies of water on the planet like mangroves, deep oceans and streams.
Don’t miss: The regular feeding sessions and special sessions where divers hand feed the larger fishes.
What is it? The country’s impressive national mosque with contemporary designs and an open layout that allows in plenty of natural light.
Why go? Its stunning architecture was designed by Malaysian architects Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim and British Howard Ashley, who veered away from traditional dome tops and gave Masjid Negara a grand star-shaped dome and a 73m high minaret. It’s set within 13 acres of lush landscaped gardens with pools and fountains.
Don’t miss: Looking up at the majestic roof and walking around the grounds. Remember to dress appropriately when visiting this place of worship.