One of the most vibrant cities in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur or as it is lovingly known, KL, is a fascinating place to spend a few days. World renowned for its fragrant food scene, towering high rises and abundance of shiny shopping malls, you’d be surprised to find that there is so much more than this waiting to be explored in the city. We’ve condensed it all for you in a very achievable 2 days in Kuala Lumpur itinerary, along with heaps of bonus activities if you have made time to dedicate to the ‘Muddy City’ of Malaysia.
Why go to Kuala Lumpur?
First up, did you know that Kuala Lumpur is translated as ‘Muddy Confluence’? It’s because the bustling city was founded where the murky Klang and Gombak rivers unite. But the city is far from grimy! While it might have new buildings spouting out on what feels like every second corner (and, with them, a lot of construction sites), Kuala Lumpur has a bit of an aspiration to be a very modern, clean and functional metropolis, why is one of the reasons you should absolutely visit.
However, if you’re still a bit unsure on why you should give Malaysia’s capital city a visit, here are our reasons why it should make your Asia bucket list:
- You can’t talk about KL without talking about shopping. They are practically synonymous. Shopaholics will absolutely salivate over all the options available to them in Kuala Lumpur, from bargain bins and informal markets to the many (many!) malls across the city’s centre and suburbs.
- More than shopping, KL is also known for its food. Many a conversation with a Malay local will steer towards the topic, as you debate where to get the best nasi lemak, or a steaming bowl of char kuey teow noodles, or a curry mee or even chicken rice. Your belly will thank you for visiting the city.
- Those who love a nature walk will surprisingly find this in easy reach of what seems like quite a concrete jungle. Kuala Lumpur is surrounded by lush, dense rainforest and it’s easy to escape to these if you need a break from the heat. The city is also dotted with fantastic parks like the KLCC and the Eco Park, which we explore in this article for you.
- The temples. From the multi-coloured Batu Caves to the incredibly instagrammable Thean Hou Chinese temple, you can find many iconic landmarks around the city to visit plus, of course mosques like the very famous (and exquisitely beautiful) Jamek Mosque.
- Lastly, it’s super convenient. As the regional hub for no frills provider, Air Asia, Kuala Lumpur is an affordable stop and a great place to then ‘jump off’ from into another Asian city or, like us, to travel up into the rest of Malaysia.
Read next: The perfect Singapore and Malaysia itinerary – everything you need to know!
The perfect 2 days in Kuala Lumpur itinerary
- Day 1 | Thean Hou Temple, KL Eco Forest, Petronas Towers, Shopping, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Jamek Mosque and Changkat Bukit Bintang
- Day 2 | Batu Caves, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, National Mosque of Malaysia, National Museum of Malaysia, Perdana Botanical Gardens & Jalan Alor
Getting around Kuala Lumpur
Unless you are staying in one specific location, and happy to hang around that area you’ll want to know the best way to get around town and unfortunately there is no way that you’ll just be able to walk from attraction to attraction – the must-see places are in general pretty far from each other. And add to that, the city really doesn’t have a layout that is conducive to walking. Luckily, there are a few other ways to get around town, and even better news is that it’s really very cost effective. Even taking taxis won’t badly dent a budget traveller’s pocket.
Grab: If you’re looking for the easiest way to get around, look to download South East Asia’s equivalent to Uber – Grab. It works in exactly the same way as Uber, connect up a credit card and away you go. It’s really efficient, easy to use, cheap and the drivers (in general) are like all Malaysians – super friendly and will give you some tips for when you’re in town.
Tip: Always allow a bit of extra time when taking a Grab, the traffic can be slow, especially around rush hour.
Metro: One of the most popular and quickest ways to get around the city, using the metro (or LRT as it’s called in KL). Have a look at the official site to find out the lines that they operate to get around the city. They also have a very useful journey planner that will give you the route and prices. In general it’ll only be a few RM for any journey.
Bus: So unless you are the most adventurous of traveller, or up for a very interesting experience, we’d suggest that you steer clear of the buses. These can be a little confusing, even to those who live in KL. The main operator (MyRapid, who also operates the metro), have their routes here – but timetables and exact routes are almost impossible to decipher even which bus stop to go to. But just in case you are up for it… check it out here.
If you’re looking to head on to other places around Malaysia after your time in Kuala Lumpur, check out the best routes and ticket prices on Bookaway. They have amazing 24 hour support!
Getting from Kuala Lumpur International Airport
By KLIA train: The fastest way between KL International Airport and the city (well KL Sentral) is by the KLIA Express train, departing every 15 to 20 minutes, the train takes around 30 minutes but will set you back 55 RM (13.50 USD/10.30 GBP). In our opinion, if you’re staying anywhere near KL Sentral it is the best balance of convenience and cost.
By shuttle bus: The cheapest way into Kuala Lumpur city center is by the Shuttle Bus. Again, running from the airport directly into KL Sentral, the journey will take you around an hour (a bit longer during peak traffic times), but only costs you 15 RM (3.70 USD/2.80 GBP). The buses depart every 30 minutes or so depending on the time of the day.
By Grab: Our favourite, because you’re guaranteed an easy pick up, and door to door experience in your own space. And let’s be honest, after a long flight, the last thing that you want to do is cram into a bus or train with others. However, it’s the most expensive options – you’re looking at around 80+ RM (19.70 USD/15.00 GBP).
Still need to get your flights to Kuala Lumpur? Check out the latest flight details with Skyscanner here!
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Check out the latest travel insurance prices with Safety Wing here.
It’s time to kickstart your Kuala Lumpur itinerary and we’d highly suggest you do it early, by heading to the Thean Hou Temple as early as you can stomach it.
This Chinese temple is one of the oldest (and biggest) in all of Southeast Asia, and one of the most beautiful and photogenic temples we’ve ever visited. And we have visited a LOT of temples!
This exquisite six tiered temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Chinese sea goddess, and has elements of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, with a breath-takingly beautiful roof, intricate carvings and so many gorgeous details to see. You can also find some sweeping views of the city, since its set on Robson Hill.
We suggest you get there at 9.00am when it opens (sometimes they open the doors even earlier), to be able to beat the tour busses.
Opening hours: 09.00am – 6.00pm daily
Address: 65 Persiaran Endah, Off Jalan Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur, 50460
KL Eco Forest Park
Set in the middle of the busy city is this absolute oasis of a park, the KL Eco Forest Park. Think suspended bridges and very photogenic walkways that you can traverse while seeing some of KL’s key sights like the Menara KL Tower.
The park, which was previously known as the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, actually dates back to 1906, where an area of about 11, 000 square metres was cordoned off for a tropical rainforest. Now it’s one of the only ‘natural’ green spaces remaining in the concrete capital, KL.
We really liked this one – you wander the slightly muddy paths to see a huge variety of trees, herbs and different creepers, all well signposted. The highlight, though, is undoubtedly the Canopy Walk, a large steel and wood aerial suspension bridge which winds through the forest itself.
Insider tip: Don’t be like us – make sure you use the right entrance! Go to the Lower Hill main entrance, not the one by the Bukit Nanas MRT station where the paths were a little too muddy (and unkept) for our liking.
Opening hours: 7.00 – 18.00 daily
Address: Bukit Nanas, Jalan Puncak, Off Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Twin Towers
Your morning is over and you have waited long enough – you need to see that iconic landmark from the Kuala Lumpur skyline: the Petronas Twin Towers.
Soaring to over 450 metres high, the 88 storey Twin Towers is unchallenged as the tallest twin towers in the world and – trust us – they are beautiful to behold, day or night. The towers are symbolic of Malaysia’s vision to be a global power player and a bold statement of this ambition, with a stunning steel and glass exterior that is meant to look like Islamic art motifs.
But, more than just a spectacular building, the Twin Towers offer a lot to do once you walk into the front door. That includes an interactive look at the history of the building before a dazzlingly quick elevator ride up to the Skybridge.
Connecting the two towers (it’s the world’s highest two storey bridge as well!) the Skybridge is on the 41st floor and you inevitably have about ten minutes or so to take your pictures. From there, you’re whisked up again to the Observation Deck on the 86th level, to get panoramic views of the city.
Let’s be honest – the ticket prices for the Towers are steep (130 RM or 32 USD/24.50 GBP for skip the line ) and, if you’re on a budget, we’d probably suggest you view the Towers from outside and then spend your money on the Menara KL Tower. More on that shortly…
That said, if you want to go up the Twin Towers we highly recommend you buy skip-the-line tickets in advance. Get Your Guide has these tickets along with delivery to your hotel – book them here. (Note: These sell out in advance so buy them early).
Opening hours: 9.00am – 9.00pm Tuesdays to Sundays (closed 1.00pm – 2.30pm on Fridays)
Address: Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
Considering you’re at Petronas Twin Towers, you might as well do a stroll through the KLCC Park which is next door to the Towers. Another green space within the city, the KLCC Park is a 50-acre urban sanctuary that is well worth a trip around, especially since you are in the area!
What we liked about the park is that they have very cool signage showing you where to take the perfect photographs! Just follow the signs and you’ll get some unique viewpoints of the Towers themselves.
Next to the park is the Suria KLCC shopping mall which is great if you feel like a quick coffee but we’d suggest you save any shopping for your next stop…
Shopping at The Pavilion
Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s paradise. Honestly, we have never been to a city that loves a shopping excursion more than KL and has more skyscraper malls sprouting from the pavements.
Probably the best pick of the bunch is The Pavilion, a shopping centre we really enjoyed and is known as Malaysia’s ‘premier shopping destination’.
With over 550 stores, this seven-story centre has all the big international brands – Coach and D&G rubbing shoulders with Versace and MaxMara – but also accessible department stores and ‘cheaper’ brands like Armani Jeans and Jo Malone in their ‘Fashion Avenue’. You’ll find cinemas, exhibitions (we were lucky enough to see the epic Marvel display there) and lots (and lots) of food.
While it’s not Malaysian, we are fans of the Din Tai Fung branch at The Pavilion. This premium Taiwanese dim sum chain has a great restaurant in the mall, and we could sit there and eat xiao long bao, the insanely good soup dumplings, for days!
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm
Address: 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100
Menara KL Tower
The only skyscraper to really rival the Petronas Twin Towers in it’s renown, the KL Tower (also known as the Menara Tower) can be seen from across the city. At over 450 metres high it’s one of the globe’s tallest telecommunications towers but, more than that, one of the best places for a tourist or traveller to see the city views.
It’s a fair bit cheaper than Petronas Twin Towers (at approx. 50 RM per adult – 12.30 USD/9.40 GBP) and you’ll also find an Observation Deck that is 270 metres above ground.
You can buy your tickets in advance here.
Opening hours: 9.00am – 10.00pm daily
Address: No. 2 Jalan Punchak off Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur 50250
Last, but definitely not least, a day in Kuala Lumpur isn’t complete with a stroll to the Jamek Mosque.
Its official name is the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque but it’s also known as the ‘Jamek Mosque’ or the Friday Mosque because it hosts the special Friday noon prayers, jumu’ah.
The oldest place of worship in KL, it was built back in 1907 and was the primary place of worship until the National Mosque (that you’ll see tomorrow!) was constructed.
It’s a beautiful place to visit later in the day, to get some sunset tones in your photographs as this building, which includes Moorish, Islam and Mughal styles.
Opening hours: Saturday – Thursday, 08.30am – 12.30pm and 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Address: Jalan Tun Perak, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur
That takes you to the end of Day 1 of this Kuala Lumpur itinerary. We haven’t included any activities for the evening beyond the mosque since we imagine you’ll want to go and have dinner (and explore the nightlife) at one of the many fantastic restaurants.
Our personal favourite for western food is Strato, the Italian dining restaurant at the top of the Troika building but KL does have a ‘Dining in the Dark’ restaurant concept that many swear by. This includes literally eating your entire meal in the dark, mimicking how it feels to be blind as many of the servers are either blind or sight-impaired.
It’s possibly the most colourful temple you’ll ever lay eyes on and, of course, a veritable feast for photographers and Instagrammers. The Sri Subramanair Swamy Temple (known by most simply as the ‘Batu Caves’) boasts 272 steps painted in rainbow hues of red, blue, yellow, orange and green. It was a smart move by the temple’s trustees – by painting the formerly white and red stairs in lollipop-infused hues, it has attracted a legion of visitors and brought in a heap of tourist dollars to the temple complex.
So, what are the Batu Caves other than the famous steps, you might ask? Other than your first stop on Day 2 of your Kuala Lumpur itinerary, this is a temple complex set within limestone caves said to be about 400 million years old. The complex has three main caves and a few smaller ones. The largest, Cathedral Cave (some call it the Temple Cave) is the one at the top of the steps and is home to a number of exquisite Hindu shrines. The other two main cave temples – the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave – are at the bottom of the hill and, to be honest, aren’t really visited by many tourists who just skip on by.
One of the defining features of the temple (other than the stairs of course) is the 43 metre high (140 feet) golden statue, that has a watchful eye over the caves and the city below. This is of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war, and was erected in 2006 – it’s the largest of its kind in the world.
In terms of visiting Batu Caves from the city, you can either hail a Grab taxi or take the train from KL Sentral station, which costs 2.60 RM (0.60 USD/0.50 GBP) each way. We’ve done both, and found them equally convenient; both take between 20 and 30 minutes to get there. Keep in mind that most of our itinerary for today is walking, so a Grab might be the best thing to rest your legs!
Opening hours: Daily, 06.00am – 9.00pm
Address: Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
We suggest making your way back into town (here the taxi might come in handy) and making a stop at the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Merdeka Square, to snap a picture or two. This beautiful old building is part of what is known as KL’s ‘Colonial Core’, a set of buildings that are really in stark contrast to the many glass-fronted skyscrapers that surround it, like the Petronas Towers.
The building, which used to house some of the important government departments during British rule, was built between 1894 and 1897, and now is home to Malaysia’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture. It’s a lovely Moorish style building with a 41-metre clock tower which you might recognize from the country’s Independence Day parades.
Address: Jalan Raja, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50050
Masjid Negara Mosque
About a 15 minute walk from the Sultan Abdul Building is the gorgeous National Mosque of Malaysia, Masjid Negara. While it might not be as beautiful as perhaps the Jamek Mosque, this is an incredibly important Malaysian landmark, as the national ‘seat’ of the Muslim faith.
Photo Credit: Shafraz Nasser / Flickr
This huge estate can house up to 15,000 people for prayers and is like a ‘Mecca’ for Malaysia. Designed in a modern style, the main dome is shaped like a star with 18 points: 13 for Malaysia’s states and 5 for the pillars of Islam. It also has a beautiful minaret that you might recognize from pictures or drawings of KL’s skyline.
You can actually go inside the mosque, and we recommend that you do – the inside has a particular beauty that you wouldn’t expect from taking in the exterior. Intricate lattices and ironwork, beautiful colouring and verses from the Koran on the walls are just some of the items to look out for. This is only possible when prayers are over and, of course, you must be properly dressed – think long trousers, long sleeved shirts etc. That said, they do have robes and headscarves at the entrance for you to lend.
Opening hours: Saturdays to Thursdays, 9.00am – 11.00pm; Fridays 2.45am – 6.00pm
Address: Jalan Perdana, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
National Museum of Malaysia
It’s another 15 minutes on foot via Jalan Damansara (Damansara Street) and you’ll find yourself at the National Museum, Muzium Negara.
Photo Credit: Marufish / Flickr
The museum really is what it says on the tin: a museum space showcasing the history and contemporary features of Malaysian life.
First opened back in 1963, this imposing building has three floors, showcasing the best of Malaysian culture, craft, music, wildlife and traditions.
You’ll find ritual weddings, exhibitions around fishing and farming, an entire section about ‘wayang kulit’, which is like a wooden puppet theatre, a pretty remarkable display of weapons, a history of Malaysian musical instruments and a massive area dedicated to stuffed animals which we thought was a little creepy, but cool.
They do free guided tours at 11.00am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (English only) or of course you can saunter around at your own pace.
Opening hours: 9.00 – 6.00pm daily
Address: Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, 50566
Perdana Botanical Gardens
You can take a lovely walkway from the museum into the Abdul Razak Heritage Park which includes the Perdana Botanical Gardens, previously known as the Lake Gardens.
The larger park is over 227 acres and you can actually use a shuttle to get around it, costing you about 6 RM (1.50 USD/1.10 GBP) and operating between 09.00am and 6.00pm daily. Your destination, though, is the Perdana Botanical Garden within it, which makes up about 91 acres of the grounds.
Perdana has the largest collection of gardens in Kuala Lumpur and you could really spend hours just strolling around, just as the locals do on weekend to relax. Highlights include the Orchid Garden, a massive garden featuring over 800 species of impressive orchids, plus relaxing fountains and many a bench to relax on; as well as the Hibiscus Garden. Hibiscus is actually the national flower of Malaysia and there is no better place to see it flourishing than within this landscaped garden.
If you need to take a seat, the Laman Perdana is smack bang in the middle of the two gardens and you’ll find a glistening lake but – more importantly – a number of bustling cafes overlooking the square and the gardens.
Still not tired and keen for more of a walk? A stone’s throw from the gardens (or even within the park itself) are the following other attractions you could visit:
- Butterfly Park (see more below)
- Bird Park
- ASEAN Sculpture Garden
- Islamic Arts Museum
- National Monument
- National Planetarium
Try the street food at night
Hopefully you’ve had time to go back to your hotel or hostel and put your feet up for a while? Or you’ve just worked up an absolutely cracking appetite?
It’s time then to get your fix of Kuala Lumpur’s world-renowned street food. Here you have a lot of options.
First up, Jalan Alor. It’s the most famous lane for street food in Kuala Lumpur and you’ll find thousands of tourists flocking there every night to try something from the myriad of hawker stalls flanking the street. The street is loud, hot and brash but you’ll undoubtedly love the atmosphere.
Set near Changkat Bukit Bintang (easily accessible with a Grab taxi or via monorail), Jalan Alor is the place to try mixed satay, oyster omelettes or the grilled chicken wings, available from Restoran Meng Kee Grill Fish.
If you are looking to get off the tourist trail, you could try one of the other markets in KL. Like Taman Connaught, a night market on Wednesdays with over 700 stalls over nearly two kilometres; or Hutong 10, a foodie’s heaven nestled in the basement of Lot 10 shopping centre known for its char kway teow.
You could also meander to Chinatown which might not have a specific ‘street’, but you’ll find heaps of hawkers selling everything from salted roast duck to Chinese-infused dishes.
Interactive Map for your 2 days in Kuala Lumpur Itinerary
Bonus activities to add to your Kuala Lumpur itinerary
Perhaps you have more than two days to dedicate to Kuala Lumpur (lucky you!) or you want to swap out some of the activities we’ve suggested? No problem – read on for more things you could add to your 2 day Kuala Lumpur schedule!
It’s neatly positioned within the Perdana Botanical Gardens so you can easily slot this in. One of the largest butterfly parks in the world, the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park is a wonderful place to spend a bit of time. You’ll find over 80,000 square feet worth of gardens and more than 5,000 butterflies flitting about, as well as butterfly-friendly flora like fringed gardens ferns. If you’re more interested in butterfly biology and etymology, they also have a museum to walk around.
Opening hours: Daily 9.00am – 6.00pm
Address: Jalan Cenderasari, Taman Tasik Perdana (in the garden complex)
Siimilarly, the KL Bird Park is adjacent to the butterflies. Also known as Taman Burung Kuala Lumpur this one also boasts a claim to fame: it’s supposed to be the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary.
There are around 3,000 birds to see, many of them in these free flight zones that you can amble through. It’s a cool experience to see the birds up close and, over time, since they are used to humans, they’ll definitely come and say hello.
What we liked is that this is not just a ‘zoo’ – it has prominent breeding programs for birds like African greys, silver pheasants and the Malay peacock.
They have free bird shows at 12.30pm and 3.30pm daily, plus eagle feeding at 2.30pm each day. If you have kids, head to the Bird Nursery in Zone 4 to learn about eggs and, if you’re lucky, hold a small chick or two.
Opening hours: 9.00am – 6.00pm daily
Address: Jalan Cenderawasih, Perdana Botanical Gardens, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Shopping at Berjaya Times Square
One of the original ‘mega malls’ in KL, Berjaya is a little worn around the edges. That said, nothing compares to the attractions within this shopping centre, including a full bowling alley and the main feature: an indoor rollercoaster!
The Supersonic Odyssey is Asia’s longest multiple-inverted rollercoaster and is 800 metres long, running at up to 80 km/h. It’s a strange experience doing a rollercoaster inside a building but even if you don’t ride it, definitely go up to see it – you’ll feel the ground moving beneath your feet as it rumbles past you…
Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
Address: 1 Jalan Imbi; Kuala Lumpur
A big tourist hotspot in the city, the market is a great place to look for souvenirs, arts and crafts, or just walk around window-shopping. Also known as Pasar Seni, this is primarily a handicrafts market (rather than a food one), which was built back in 1928.
That said, there are restaurants and food stalls to frequent where you can tuck into chicken rice or putu bamboo (pandan cakes steamed in bamboo pipes) or ais kacang, a local delicacy made of shaved ice, jelly, sweetcorn and red beans.
Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
Address: Jalan Hang Kasturi, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur Train Station
We’ll tell it to you straight: we were disappointed by this one. While its beautiful in pictures, this iconic colonial building is not much in person – quite run down and not much to see. But don’t let us put you off. If you’re a fan of seeing old colonial architecture, you could still give it a whirl.
The station was built in 1910, intended to mix Eastern and Western styles to create what was, at the time, KL’s third but most prominent railway hub. It’s meant to look like a fusion of Islamic influences and Victorian-era features.
Interesting fact: The original roof design was rejected by the Brits, as it didn’t support the weight of snow! Which made us giggle – if you’ve been to KL you’ll know its quite impossible to snow there….
Address: Bangunan Stesen Keretapi, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Not to be confused with the temple of the same name in Penang, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur is named after the Hindu goddess, Mariamman, who is meant to look after you when travelling and to protect you against illness.
Photo Credit: Jorge Lascar / Flickr
Interesting, this large Hindu temple (the oldest one in KL) was built by Tamil immigrants from India who came to Malaysia to build the railways, roads and rubber plantations. So the choice of the goddess was particularly apt.
It was first built in 1873 but later extensively renovated in 1968 to include the beautiful (and impressive) ‘Raja Gopuram’ tower that stands 75 feet tall and almost acts like a gateway between the hectic bustle outside and the serenity within the temple.
Opening hours: 6.00am – 8.30pm daily (open until 9.00pm on Saturdays)
Address: Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50000
Note: The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is very close to Chinatown and so if visiting, it’s great to also pop along and check out the Petaling Street Market.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
So there are loads of great accommodation options in Kuala Lumpur – compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, we found the hotel prices far cheaper than anywhere else – think 5* for the price of 3* and not to mention the staff are super helpful and friendly. Here are two of our favourite hotels and hostels:
Mid-range: Top of our recommendations would be to stay at the VE Hotel & Residence. It’s in a really great location in Bangsar South, where you can easily access many of the major sites, and also has a train line that takes next to no time to get into the city centre. This 4* hotel has really spacious, super comfy rooms, they have an excellent gym and great swimming pool. What more could you want?
Backpackers: Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Rooma @ Hostels KLCC should be your choice if you’re on a tight budget. It essentially offers dorm accommodation with all the luxury of a high end hotel. Think pool and gym facilities… not what you’d normally excpect at a backpackers.
Day trips from Kuala Lumpur
So, we may be a little bit biased on this one – it’s our favourite city in Malaysia and for some reason off the usual traveller’s trail. You’ll need an early start to get to Ipoh and back in a day, with it being around 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur – but Ipoh is an absolute must on any Malaysia itinerary and a perfect day trip from the capital.
Make sure you take in all the amazing Ipoh Street Art, it’s as good as the more famous ones in Penang, but without the crowds. We wandered around searching the artwork for a full morning and bumped into just two other travellers. When in Ipoh, make sure you try out some of the fantastic food and white coffee (it’s where it was invented). The food is so good there that Singaporeans fly in just to get it, and they’re some of the most passionate foodies you’ll find.
Check out the heritage trail, a good 2 hour walking route that takes in the beautiful colonial buildings. Explore the wonderful cave temples like Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Tong. And on your return journey head to Kellie’s Castle – an unexpected delight that makes you think you’re more likely to be in the Scottish Highlands, than the wonderful Perak.
Related: Check out the amazing street art in Penang with our guide!
If you’re looking to get away from the heat, then you should definitely look at a day trip to the Cameron Highlands. The Cameron Highlands (named after Geologist William Cameron) is actually a district made up of beautiful tea plantations, stunning waterfalls and the enchanting mossy forest – the oldest cloud forest on the planet).
Located around 200km from Kuala Lumpur, there are some brilliant day trips from the capital, that will showcase one of the oldest tourist spots in Malaysia.
Check out this one with Get Your Guide that gets great reviews.
Only 30 minutes drive south of Kuala Lumpur is the planned city, and seat of the government, Putrajaya. Without doubt the most famous, and picture perfect place is the stunning Putra Mosque, made of pink granite sitting on lake Putrajaya, and also next to the equally impressive Perdana Putra, the offices of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The purpose built city has a number of other really beautiful structures and building to visit, make sure that the Moroccan Pavillion, National Heroes Square, Palace of Justice, Istana Darul Ehsan, the Seri Wawasan Bridge, the Millennium Monument and Seri Perdana are all on your itinerary.
For you nature lovers, the Putrajaya Wetlands and the Putrajaya Botanical Garden are definitely worth including on your day trip.
Check out this day trip from Get Your Guide.
Melaka (or Malacca)
Just two hours out of Kuala Lumpur is the colourful and historic town of Malacca (or, in Malay, Melaka). Its known as the Historic State as it is almost the birthplace of Malaysia – the place of the earliest Malay sultanates, a hotspot for Portuguese colonisers and a huge trade port for traders from Arabia, China and India.
It’s full of gorgeous old colonial buildings that are beautifully preserved, wonderful museums and – of course – lots and lots of hawker stalls selling local food. Highlights include St Pauls Church and the Red Square, the Malacca museum, Jonker Street and trying out that authentic fare, called ‘Peranakan’.
If you’re not keen on a self-drive or bus, you can book a day tour out of Kuala Lumpur – we recommend this one.
Also just a two hour stint from KL is Fraser’s Hill, a mountain village that used to play host to the British during their vacations and weekends.
It can be compared to the Cameron or Genting Highlands but without the tourism and commercialism – Fraser’s Hill is still relatively off the map for tourists. But, what can you do there?
Other than just relax at your hotel, or head to the old village square, the main attraction to do in one day is bird watching! There are over 250 species of bird in the village and even the World Wildlife Fund travels to the town to run classes and outings to document them all.
Want to head to the beach? Langkawi has to be one of the most beautiful islands to visit…
When is the best time to go to Kuala Lumpur?
Whenever you’re visiting KL, you’ll always be guaranteed hot weather – in fact the locals say that they have two seasons, the hot, humid and rainy season, and then also the hot and dry season. In reality, the average temperature doesn’t really fluctuate too much across the year, with average highs around the 30 mark. However, KL is affected by two different monsoons, one approaching from the east bring the heaviest rains and then the other from the west, guaranteeing heavy afternoon downpours (these occur between March and April and October to early January). So better to avoid those months.
The months of January and February provide the driest and coolest time to visit, but also May through to August and you’re almost guaranteed bright blue skies and is probably our favourite time to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
Read next: Things to do in Port Dickson, only 90 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.
Useful tips for travelling to Malaysia
What to pack for Kuala Lumpur?
So alongside your normal holiday clothes (don’t forget that if you’re planning a trip to the Cameron Highlands it can get cool at night), we’d suggest that you look at including the following:
- Comfortable footwear for walking, we love the ON Running Cloud, they are so light and comfortable, we don’t go on any trip without them
- If you’re planning on any hiking, check out the Salomon 3D XA Pro – they also cross over as comfy walking shoes for exploring the city
- A decent umbrella – depending on the time of year, KL can get some pretty decent rain, think monsoon
- Sunglasses and suntan cream
- Tissues and hand sanitizer if important, although the toilets are good from a SE Asia perspective, there’s always the chance that there won’t be any loo roll!
- Mosquito repellent, it can be a lifesaver, not literally – no need to worry about Malaria.
- The plugs in Malaysia are actually based on the same as the UK, so no need for an adapter if travelling from there. Otherwise don’t forget to pack one. We’d recommend this adapter.
What are the must see destinations in Kuala Lumpur?
There are so many must see destinations and iconic landmarks in Kuala Lumpur, but here are our top 10!
- Petronas Twin Towers
- Batu Caves
- Jamek Mosque
- Thean Hou Temple
- Menara KL Tower
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building
- The National Mosque of Malaysia, Masjid Negara
- Perdana Botanical Gardens
- Jalan Alor
- Sri Mahamariamman Temple
What did you think of our 2 day itinerary for KL? If you think there is something missing from our Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide, please do get in touch or let us know in the comments!
What camera equipment and other gear do we use?
We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.
- Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
- Drone: DJI Mavic Air – Fly More Combo
- GoPro: Hero 7 Black
- GoPro Dive Case: Go Pro Housing
- GoPro Case: Smatree GoPro Carry Case – Small
- Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Packing case
- Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 70
- Powerbank: Anker Powercore
- Phone: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Hard drive: Transcend Slim Storejet 2TB
- Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 720s
- Headphones: Bose Quiet Comfort 35
- Wifi Hotspot: GlocalMe G4
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