Explore 17 Must-See Kuala Lumpur Attractions for Your First Visit!

Written by Katherine

December 27, 2023
Last Updated on February 29, 2024

Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant city with a lot you can see and do. If you are wondering what attractions you must see on your first trip to Kuala Lumpur, I have the answer! Join me as I share 17 must-see places in Kuala Lumpur~! (@´ー`)ノ゙

BEFORE YOU GO

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Free Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

For you budget-savvy peeps, good news for you! There are a lot of places in Kuala Lumpur that are free for you to visit. Some of these places are walking streets, while others are famous landmarks. Whatever it is, if you are looking for some free places to visit while in Kuala Lumpur, let’s check out the list together! ☆ミ(o*・ω・)ノ

1. Brickfields (Little India of Kuala Lumpur)

Do you know how it got its name? Well, in the past, brick kilns and factories occupy this area. After making the bricks, they would be spread out to dry, forming a field of bricks. And that is how Brickfields for its name! Also, back then, Indian folks used to work in those brick kilns. And over time, they formed a tight-knit community here. Fast forward to today, their families still call this place home, turning Brickfields into the Little India of Kuala Lumpur. ⸜( *ˊᵕˋ* )⸝

Anyway, it was in our plan to explore Brickfields. But the weather was so hot we only had lunch at a famous South Indian restaurant called MTR 1924. Other than that, we didn’t see much of the area. (´-ω-`) Nevertheless, I encourage you to come here to experience the vibrant colours, traditional Indian decorations, and rich aromas of Indian spices!

📌 For more details, check out our experience at MTR 1924! (>ᴗ•)

2. Central Market

There are a lot of shops in Central Market, and it is obvious that the whole place is set up for tourists. (´・ᴗ・ ` ) But if you are looking for souvenirs to bring back home, I think this is a good place to get them. Central Market is fully air-conditioned, so you can shop in comfort! And if you are hungry, there are also some restaurants and a food court in the building for some local delights!

3. Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor comes alive when the sun sets, and it is known to be a food paradise in Kuala Lumpur. There are a lot of restaurants along Jalan Alor, with most of them being Chinese restaurants selling local delights such as grilled chicken wings, satay and sambal stingray. If sit-down restaurants are not your thing, there are also a lot of street food stalls that can help to fill your stomach. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

If you are thinking of sitting down for a meal, be sure to drop by as early as possible, as it gets really crowded the later it gets. Hubs and I were there around 8 PM, and it was so crowded that we wished we hadn’t walked into the street. (´-ω-`) Most restaurants were also full, and you might have to wait up to an hour for a table. We decided to have a takeaway at the famous Wong Ah Wah, and we heard some tourists complaining that food was not served after waiting an hour. So, do your homework, go there early and you will be guaranteed a better experience.

📌 For more details, check out our experience dining at Jalan Alor! (>ᴗ•)

4. Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is beside the Merdeka Square. The gallery mainly showcases the history of Kuala Lumpur. I am unsure how many people walk through the gallery for the history. But many people came for the “I ♥ KL” sign outside the building. Haha! (´・ᴗ・ ` )

If you are tired from all the walking, this place is also a good rest stop since there are washrooms and a food court inside. Oh, the air-conditioning in here was also quite good! So, if the weather gets too unbearable outside, this is really a good place to rest those legs, refuel and cool yourselves down. (´• ω •`)

5. National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara)

The National Mosque of Malaysia, or Masjid Negara, is one of the must-see attractions in Kuala Lumpur. Hubs and I have seen videos online on how grand the interior looks, and we are intrigued to see it for ourselves. But unfortunately, due to time constraints, we didn’t make it inside. But I still managed to capture some photos! (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

The mosque is only open to the public during certain hours of the day, so check the timing before coming! Anyway, I wore a tee and shorts that day, but that didn’t stop the staff from inviting me to enter the mosque to explore. So, if you are wearing clothes that show too much skin, be assured that there are robes at the entrance that you can rent before entering the mosque.

Note that you must remove your shoes at the entrance before entering. So wear something that can easily be taken off! The usual etiquette remains when visiting a place of worship: be respectful and do not make too much noise when exploring the mosque. (´• ω •`)ノ

6. Perdana Botanical Gardens

If you are a floral lover, Perdana Botanical Gardens might be the place to visit in Kuala Lumpur. The entrance is free of charge, and you can take your time to take in the sights and sounds of the place slowly. We didn’t visit this place since we are not big on nature walking in the hot weather. Haha! (*/ω\)

Reviews mention that this place pales compared to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I have been to our Botanic Gardens, and it was amazingly huge with so much to see. So, if you have been to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, you might have to lower your standards when visiting Perdana Botanical Gardens.

7. Petaling Street (Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur)

After visiting the Little India of Kuala Lumpur, how can you not check out the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur? The centre of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is at Jalan Petaling, with the Petaling Street Market being one of the must-visit attractions in the city. The Petaling Street Market comprises many shops selling food or touristy stuff such as bags, accessories, and perfumes.

The food selection is also quite good if you are not big on shopping. There are a lot of highly recommended food stalls along Petaling Street and the streets around the area. Unless you can eat a lot, you definitely cannot finish trying everything here in one go. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

I was slightly underwhelmed by this place, mainly because I felt like it didn’t give off the vibe that we were in Chinatown. It is pretty similar to Singapore’s Chinatown. But that is just my personal opinion. You might like it more than me! So I still think it is worth a visit as your first time in Kuala Lumpur. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

📌 For more details, check out what we ate and did at Petaling Street! (>ᴗ•)

8. Sultan Abdul Samad Building

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is one of the must-see attractions in Kuala Lumpur. Everyone will definitely come here to take a photo. The name might sound foreign, but you will know what I mean once I tell you what is there. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is where you find the iconic red brick building and its beautiful clock tower in front of the Merdeka Square~! (>ω^)

This place is a beautiful landmark in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and you should definitely check it out. Many often drop by to take a quick photo in front of the clock tower across the street. But since we had time that day, hubs and I decided to explore around the building. We didn’t go into the building but only walked around the surroundings.

There are some nice spots to chill at the back of the building. We even found a hidden place where you can go up a few levels to catch a glimpse of the River of Life from a vantage point! Hubs and I also took random photos in front of the wall and the rustic-looking metal grills. If you have time, I think the Sultan Abdul Samad Building definitely makes for some good photo spots, not just of the clock tower. ( ´ ω ` )

9. Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple, to me, is a must-visit attraction in Kuala Lumpur. You can skip everything I mentioned in this guide, but you MUST visit Thean Hou Temple. The temple is not near public transport, so the only way to get there is by car. Maybe that explains why it seems like there are not as many tourists.

Locals come here to make their offerings at the main hall. And what’s interesting is that the temple has a marriage registration office in the basement! So don’t be surprised to see many well-dressed people in the temple. We spotted a lot of wedding couples and their families when we were there. You can see many things in the temple, so take your time to check out the beautiful architecture and temple compounds. I wish we had more time here. ( ´ ω ` )

📌 For more details, check out what we did at Thean Hou Temple! (>ᴗ•)

Attractions for Photo-Taking Only in Kuala Lumpur

After checking out the free attractions, it is time to share about attractions in Kuala Lumpur that are only good as photo spots. Generally, these places I will talk about are free as well. But since they are really just a snap-and-go kind of place, I decided to separate them into their category. (´・ᴗ・ ` ) They are all pretty close to each other except for one. So, you can decide if you want to make the trip there just for those photos!

10. Istana Negara (King’s Palace)

The Istana Negara is the official residence of Malaysia’s royal family. The palace is not open to the public, so you can only take photos outside. While the exterior looks grand, I recommend this place only if you have a guide and a car. Otherwise, it is too inaccessible to make the trip worth it. Not especially when it is just a photo spot, and you learn nothing by standing outside the gate yourself. (´• ω •`)

11. Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is a historical landmark that has been around since the early 20th century. It is a short walking distance from the National Mosque of Malaysia. So you could drop by to check this place out after exploring the mosque. But make sure you don’t make the same mistake as hubs and I did!

Left: KL Railway Station | Right: KTM HQ

Since the railway station was only a drive-by during our private tour, we didn’t remember much about it. So, when walking over from the mosque, we thought the KTM Headquarters was the railway station. Haha! We only realised our mistake when we asked the staff where to take the train. He pointed us to the railway station opposite, and we were so embarrassed! I can’t believe we spent so much time taking photos at the wrong building. LOL. But the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station does look slightly less impressive than the KTM HQ, in our opinion. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

12. Merdeka Square

Merdeka Square holds a special place in Malaysia’s history. This is where the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time in 1957, marking the country’s independence. Even though this place is a photo spot, I think it is cool to come by and check out the site that holds such significant importance to the country. Oh, the flagpole is also the world’s tallest one, so remember to take a selfie with it! ( ´ ω ` )

13. River of Life

The River of Life is not just a photo spot; it is also a project that aims to improve the water quality and transform the area into a tourist attraction. From the photo spot, you can take a photo of Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad, which lies at the intersection of the Gombak and Klang rivers. If you come at night, there is also a light show at scheduled hours!

Paid Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Now that you have a list of free attractions to check out in Kuala Lumpur, it’s time to share some places you must pay to enter. These places are not a must to visit, in my opinion, but are worth checking out if you have some extra time on hand in Kuala Lumpur. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

14. KL Bird Park

The KL Bird Park is one of the largest free-flight aviaries in the world. This means that the birds are free to fly around while you are walking under them. If you are visiting Kuala Lumpur with your kids, this might be a good place to bring them as there are a lot of educational activities for them to do. I think it is quite cool that the birds can fly around freely in certain zones, but you might have to wear a hat or something in case you get poop on when checking out these zones. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

15. KL Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur)

The KL Tower offers a panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur from the observatory. And if you find this boring, like us, you might want to consider dining at Atmosphere 360, the revolving restaurant in KL Tower, instead. That was exactly what hubs and I did. We got a window seat that allowed us to enjoy a 360-degree view of Kuala Lumpur while enjoying food from up high. It was honestly quite a lovely experience to end our trip with. (´• ω •`)ノ

📌 For more details, check out our experience at KL Tower and dining at Atmosphere 360! (>ᴗ•)

16. Petronas Twin Towers

I have thought long and hard about which category to put this iconic attraction of Kuala Lumpur, as it can be a photo-taking spot and a paid attraction if you want to go up the tower. Hubs and I opted to take a selfie in front of the Petronas Twin Towers instead of going up since we will be getting a view of the city from KL Tower.

The best spot for taking a photo of the Petronas Twin Towers is at the entrance where the roads Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Ampang intersect. This is also where you will find A LOT of tourists since many tour buses will drop them here to take photos. If you have more time to spare and are with your kids, you might want to consider checking out the KLCC Park behind the Petronas Twin Towers. The area is HUGE, and there is even a pool area where we spotted many parents and kids having a good time there. ( ´ ω ` )

Bonus Attraction outside of Kuala Lumpur

Last but not least, there is an attraction that is outside Kuala Lumpur but is always seen in tour groups’ KL itineraries. And that place is none other than Batu Caves! (ᵔ◡ᵔ) It is one of the must-visit attractions in Kuala Lumpur, though hubs and I have not had the chance to visit it ourselves. The most well-known things to see are the massive golden statue at the entrance and the limestone caves. But before you can explore the caves, you must climb up those beautiful yet torturous stairs to the top. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

Anyway, I recommend visiting this place with a guide so you know what to see inside the caves. And since it is a religious site, you might also get helpful insights from the guide instead of just staring at all the limestone and shrines. Just remember to be in modest attire when visiting and be respectful always while exploring! (>ω^)

Map of Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

It is almost impossible to visit all the attractions I have mentioned in this post in one day unless you are thinking of doing a quick photo spot for most of them. But if you have the time, I highly recommend you take it slow to explore them. Anyway, I have pinned all the attractions on the map below. Since some places can be visited together, I have used different colours to group them, giving you a clearer idea of what can be explored together. I hope you will find this helpful for planning your Kuala Lumpur Itinerary!

If time is short for exploring Kuala Lumpur, you can also consider going for the Kuala Lumpur half-day city tour that we have tried before! You get to see some of the must-see attractions in Kuala Lumpur, and you get a guide to tell you about each place as well! ⸜(*ˊᗜˋ*)⸝

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Useful Travel Resources

Pack your wanderlust, and let’s set sail! I have prepared the following travel resources that you might find helpful to fuel your next adventure. This section will be ever-growing, and if you think there is anything that you want me to add to this list, drop me a message to let me know! ⸜( *ˊᵕˋ* )⸝

💰 BEST Cards to Use for Your Overseas Spending

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Kuala Lumpur-Related Posts

If you are looking for a place to stay, you might want to consider the luxurious Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur or a comfortable apartment at Swiss Garden Residences. And just in case you are interested, below are more articles about Kuala Lumpur for you to check out! (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

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