20 Must-Visit Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Old Kuala Lumpur | (c) Zhi Lon / Flickr
Old Kuala Lumpur | (c) Zhi Lon / Flickr
Photo of Sarah Anne Lee
15 July 2019

Kuala Lumpur, the heart of Malaysia, is a constantly growing city full of history and culture. There is so much to see and do in this capital city, so we have compiled a list of some of the best for a truly memorable visit.

Kuala Lumpur Tower

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Kuala Lumpur International BASE Jump in KL Tower, Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur International BASE Jump in KL Tower | © Muslianshah Masrie / Alamy Stock Photo
The 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world, the KL Tower is a monument that every tourist should check out. With a revolving restaurant 282 meters high, it also formally functions as a communications tower, Islamic astronomy observatory and a base jump center.

Petronas Twin Towers

Bridge, Park, Building, Shop
Map View
The Sky Bridge of the Petronas Twin Towers | (c)David Berkowitz / Flickrhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/davidberkowitz/9048800175/in/photolist-eMBt38-nD3kLg-9g53iL-rp91YL-b9BM4H-fCdwA5-o93MsN-o93NcJ-nD2Rcq-rrqWtB-pyYNWo-56kKcQ-7JBYMN-4VPKkY-AXzPZ-5JrDvP-7Z41rp-gf9LkM-7QidiW-76vdGi-bqJwTW-bqJxhN-5JrEjB-2bzorC-bDDsCr-bqJwPG-fLF57-bDDtCa-ivK4M8-aJG7ra-3eVt8u-82xTNo-rdVyx6-eMBDr2-bqLGpz-82xTN5-bvyFeb-eMBp6i-e3Km4S-96ambX-bDDsG2-nAPwEZ-eMNuPS-662399-eMAYJK-7e99PL-5JvSxY-65WQhX-76ngbY-2t4dy>
Sharing the iconic and instantly identifiable skyline with the KL Tower, these sisters are proudly the tallest twins in the world. They are also on the list of the world’s top 20 tallest skyscrapers. Visit the Sky Bridge, a tendon between the two towers, to see the full extent of the KLCC Park, a green lung project dedicated to freshening up Kuala Lumpur’s urban atmosphere.

Merdeka Square

Building, Park
Map View
Merdeka Square | (c)Robert Nyman / Flickr
One for the history buffs, Merdeka Square encompasses the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the large field in front of it, and is the place Malaya declared itself independent from colonial forces in 1957, becoming Malaysia. Although the building is formally used for government offices, its neo-Mughal and Moorish Revival exterior makes a beautiful backdrop for pictures at any hour of the day.

Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

Art Gallery, Museum
Map View
Kuala Lumpur City Gallery | (c)Ben Garrett / Flickr
This fun little one-stop tourist center will tell you everything there is to know about KL, from its formation to its current glory. It offers dioramas and free maps, as well as guided bicycle and walking tours if you would like some company around town. Also take note of the re-purposed heritage site in which the gallery is housed; the structure itself dates back to 19th century, when neo-Renaissance architecture was favored by the British administration.

Thean Hou Temple

Map View
Thean Hou Temple | (c)Robert Wilson / Flickr
One of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, the Thean Hou Temple dates from 1894, when the Chinese Hainanese community made KL their home. A shrine to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, this temple is still a key place of worship. The large temple sits on top of a hill, offering a majestic view of the city in addition to its already breathtaking architecture centering on prosperity and luck.

Masjid Negara

Map View
Masjid Negara | (c)Adznee Abas / Flickr
The National Mosque of Malaysia is stunning not only for its gorgeous origami-like design but also for its surroundings. Enjoy the serenity of holy ground meeting beautiful landscape, full of flora and fauna in the greenest part of Kuala Lumpur.

Central Market

Market, Shopping Mall, Bazaar
Map View
Central Market, Kuala Lumpur
Central Market, Kuala Lumpur | Courtesy of Central Market
Pasar Seni, or the Art Market area, is a center for traditional and modern arts, housed in a beautiful blue Art Deco building. The Central Market has over 300 shops selling everything Malaysian, from the old style batik prints and weaves to more modern contemporary art. The area also hosts small theater outlets and weekly cultural events celebrating the diverse population of Malaysia.

Tugu Negara

Map View
The National Monument is a historical sculpture dedicated to the Malaysians who laid down their lives in the fight for Malaya’s independence. Surrounded by beautiful garden full of fountains and pavilions, the area has a cool and peaceful vibe. It is also one of the tallest freestanding bronze statues in Asia.

Berjaya Times Square

Park, Shopping Mall
Map View
Berjaya Times Square Theme Park | (c)Jeremy Thompson / Flickr
Berjaya Times Square is unique in that it combines theme park and shopping mall. It is the largest indoor theme park in Malaysia, with tons of family friendly rides and activities. The mall itself is quite popular for food and cheap shopping.

Zoo Negara

Map View
National Zoo of Malaysia, Ampang
National Zoo of Malaysia, Ampang | Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
Housing the most exciting collection of animals in the country, the National Zoo is always a fun place to visit. Making this place all the more special is the array of Asian rainforest wildlife, unique to this part of the world. The zoo also acts as a hub for foreign relations, the most recent example of which is the housing of two giant pandas from China, marking 40 years of goodwill.

KL Butterfly Park

Museum, Park, Zoo
Map View
KL Butterfly Park | (c)_TC Photography_ / Flickr
Adding to the greenery of Kuala Lumpur is the KL Butterfly Park, a lovely section of garden that functions as an insect greenhouse and museum. Like its neighbor the KL Bird Park, this specialized zoo utilizes an open-air method to allow its inhabitants to roam free in a naturalized habitat. Head to the bug museum at the end of the tour to see even more insects.

KL Bird Park

Park, Zoo
Map View
KL Bird Park
KL Bird Park | (c) Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
The largest walk-in aviary in Asia at 20.9 acres, the KL Bird Park is home to 200 species of birds from all over the world. Its free-flight concept allows the birds to fly around (which they do if the weather isn’t too hot). Favorites include the giant hornbill, dancing flamingos and chattering macaws.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Map View
Celebrating the national religion of Malaysia, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Showcasing beautiful artifacts and examples of Muslim patterns in print, handicraft and architecture, this museum is a must-visit to learn about beautiful Islamic arts in Asia. Drawing works from India, China, the ancient Ottoman Empire and Old Malaya, the quiet museum will educate you about one of the world’s largest religions and its effect on Malaysian art and architecture.

Bukit Bintang

This cluster of shopping malls sells everything from the interestingly cheap to the luxurious high end, and is an adventure all by itself. The name translates to Star Hill. Wine and dine and shop till you drop in this retail haven full of flagship stores and international brands.

Planetarium Negara

Map View
Planetarium Negara | (c)Sergey / Flickr
At the National Planetarium, get some insight into how Malaysia has participated in the mission to reach the stars through their satellite and astronautical achievements. Combining futuristic designs with Islamic architecture, this unassuming building is worth a visit.

Muzium Negara

The National Museum is the best place to learn about the whole of Malaysia. From the Neolithic era to World War 2, educate yourself on how this part of the world came to be as it is now, and grew from its ancient kingdoms.

KL Forest Eco Park

Forest, Park
Map View

Smack dab in the middle of the concrete jungle is an enclosure preserving a part of the oldest rainforest in the world, the only patch that has been deemed untouchable by urban development. What separates Kuala Lumpur from even the most progressive cities in the world is this treasured piece of land. Take some respite from the city and step into this patch of woods. Be sure to bring bug repellent, as urban mosquitoes can be quite aggressive.

These recommendations were updated on July 15, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.