Featuring a smorgasbord of heritage and a continent’s worth of excellent cuisine, Kuala Lumpur is a manageable metropolis that expertly blends history with modernity. Forward thinking and proudly Malaysian, there’s plenty of things to do over three days in Kuala Lumpur.
Relatively young compared to other major cities in south east Asia, Kuala Lumpur’s colonial past is still visible between the glitzy skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Today, Kuala Lumpur is a dynamic and colourful city of organised chaos. Over the last few decades Kuala Lumpur has burst into life.
A city with a vast array of history has also massively embraced modernity with the iconic Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower dominating Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.
Kuala Lumpur is served by Kuala Lumpur International Airport, about a half hour train ride from the centre of the city via the KLIA Express train or about an hour by coach.
→ Find the best deals on flights to Kuala Lumpur on Skyscanner here.
If your spending three days in Kuala Lumpur you’re going to need somewhere to stay. Kuala Lumpur is one of the best cities in the world for very affordable accommodation. Your money goes a long way here and it’s often quite easy to find a great deal at a high end hotel.
You can search for a wide range of accommodation in Kuala Lumpur on Booking.com here.
If you need some suggestions here are a few places to stay in Kuala Lumpur that we recommend:
The super-stylish Bed KLCC is perfect for every kind of budget traveler, offering a range of pods, dorms, and private rooms. Rooms come with a huge range of amenities and breakfast included, all just a few minutes’ walk from the Petronas Towers.
Top of the Range
There’s plenty to see and do to fill three days in Kuala Lumpur, and there’s a lot to see within easy reach of the city, too.
The Batu Caves, Putrajaya and Melaka are all popular day trips from Kuala Lumpur. Here’s our round up of the best things to see and do with our 3 day Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
Kuala Lumpur’s most instantly recognisable landmark is without doubt the Petronas Twin Towers. The tallest twin towers in the world, the Petronas Towers are the ultimate symbol of the Kuala Lumpur’s drive into the 21st century.
The Petronas Towers are one of the most popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur. A viewing platform connects the two towers at the 41st floor from where there are incredible views of the entire city.
From the observation deck on the 86th floor the views are even more spectacular. At 370 meters up from the ground there are mesmerising views for miles around Kuala Lumpur.
At the base of the Petronas Towers is the enormous Suria KLCC Shopping Mall, home to a huge number of high end shops, great restaurants and a world class aquarium.
Alternatively, for a stunning view of the city that includes the Petronas Twin Towers, head over to Kuala Lumpur’s other iconic landmark, the KL Tower. With the highest public vantage point in the city you get to see a complete 365 degree view out over Kuala Lumpur (including the Petronas Towers) and far beyond from the observation deck and open air sky deck.
KL Tower also features two solid glass viewing boxes perilously perched over the edge over 1300 meters above the ground for those who can stomach it.
The view of Petronas Twin Towers and the glass viewing box at Kuala Lumpur Tower
Medeka Square is the historical heart of Kuala Lumpur. It’s here that the annual Independence Day parade takes place every 31st August, commemorating the date in 1957 that Malaysia became a sovereign state. Merdeka Square is surrounded by some of the most inspired architecture in the city.
The majestic Sultan Abdul Samad Building, now home to a number of Malaysia’s government departments, is a stunning building of beautiful design, exquisite brickwork, symmetrical arches and bronze domes.
The neighbouring Textile Museum, Music Museum and Kuala Lumpur City Gallery along the south side of Merdeka Square all occupy similarly design and equally beautiful buildings.
Left: Relaxing in Merdeka Square; Right: The Malaysian flag flying over Merdeka Square
On the west side of Merdaka Square stands the colonial mock Tudor buildings of the Royal Selangor Social Club, originally built for high ranking members of British society, now frequented by high ranking members of Malaysian society.
At the north end of the square is the unmissable bright white elegance of St Mary’s Cathedral, a church that is unmistakably English.
Crossing the river past the equally impressive Panggung Bandaraya Theatre brings you to the awe-inspiring Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque. Numerous minarets rise above the Moorish influenced mosque, and three main white domes gloriously crowning the building.
A short walk from Merdeka Square is Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Chinatown is full of colour and character, and also typifies the Kuala Lumpur’s diversity.
The perfect example is the crimson red Taoist Guan Di Temple, dedicated to the ancient warrior God of War, that stands just a few doors down from the even more elaborate and remarkable Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple.
The Hindu temple’s entrance is marked by a staggeringly beautiful tower covered in ornate statues of Hindu deities in the south Indian style.
The spectacular shrines continue inside the temple, surrounding the decorative colours of the main hall. Recently refreshed the colours of this incredible temple are simply stunning.
The entrance to Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple and Kuala Lumpur’s colourful Chinatown
One of the main tourist spots in Kuala Lumpur is the Petaling Street Market. Unless you’re particularly fond of being repeatedly accosted by traders trying to harass you into buying fake watches and sunglasses you won’t miss much if you decide to give it a pass.
Instead head to the excellent Central Market a few streets away. Housed in a beautiful pale blue and white Art Deco building the Central Market features a number of shops and stores selling excellent local gifts, local foods, clothes, handicrafts and a handful of very interesting antiques stores.
There’s also a fine food court on the first floor, including the excellent Peranakan restaurant Precious Old China.
One of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur is to watch the sunset over the city’s skyline, and one of it’s better kept secrets, is the Heli Lounge Bar.
Every night a helipad on the roof of a fairly nondescript office block is a is converted into an al fresco bar with stunning views over the city.
Head to the 34th floor of the Menara KH tower block on Jalan Sultan Ismail for some of the best views of Kuala Lumpur anywhere in the city. The bar on the 34th floor opens at 5.00pm, the helipad bar opens at 6.00pm.
Aim to arrive before 6.00pm in order to secure a table and a seat and to savour the incredible sunsets as Kuala Lumpur begins to light up.
A beautiful start to the second of three days in Kuala Lumpur is a peaceful stroll around Kuala Lumpur’s Botanical Gardens. This huge green oasis in the middle of Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful place to take a break from the hectic urban throb of the city.
Not far from the Negara Mosque, the Botanical Gardens are home to deer, a bird park, and various flower gardens and is a popular place to relax.
The gardens are also a lovely place to come in the evening once the temperature and humidity starts to drop towards the end of the day.
Left: Relaxing in Kuala Lumpur’s Botanical Gardens; Right: The Sri Kandaswamy Kovil Hindu Temple
Just outside Kuala Lumpur’s Central Station is Brickfields. Known as Kuala Lumpur’s Little India there is much to explore in this historic area, most notably the magnificent Sri Kandaswamy Kovil Hindu Temple. Hidden behind pale modern apartment buildings the Sri Kandaswamy temple bursts into view in a cornucopia of colour.
A huge entrance tower bedecked with Hindu gods, figures and more detail than can be easily processed is flanked by a number of equally ornate statues of Hindu deities. The interior is just as colourful and used by followers for prayer and reflection at all times of the day.
About a 15 minute taxi ride from the centre of Kuala Lumpur is Thean Hou Temple, a vast and beautifully designed Chinese temple that overlooks the city. The temple is a flurry of red, white and gold and features a typically high level of decorative detail.
The beautifully elaborate prayer hall is dedicated to three deities and features huge gold statues of each. Dragons and phoenixes perch on the tiles of the ornate roofs above and from the top tiers there are views back across the city with the Petronas Towers clearly visible in the distance.
The entrance to Thean Hou Temple and a statue opposite the Thean Hou Temple
Just to the east of the city centre is Bukit Bintang, where the city becomes a modern metropolis. The area is popular with, and at times geared towards, western tourists, and the streets are a hodgepodge of international restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs.
Jalan Alor street food market is a chaotic cacophony of street food stalls and restaurants, a thousand aromas converging as vendors thrust menus at passers-by.
Everything from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Thai food is served up along bustling Jalan Alor market. There’s also a number of Middle Eastern restaurants in the surrounding area around Jalan Bukit Bintang.
To discover the best food in Bukit Batang, take a street-food tour of the night market’s hawker stalls with a local foodie.
Many people choose to spend the last of their three days in Kuala Lumpur exploring a little further afield.
There are plenty of options for quick day trips out of the city, with two of the most popular choices being a visit to either the Batu Caves or the garden city of Putrajaya. The historic port city of Melaka, about two hours south of Kuala Lumpur, is also a popular day trip.
The entrance to Batu Caves and one of the resident macaque monkeys
The Batu Caves are the most popular out of town day trip from Kuala Lumpur and it’s easy to see why.
The Batu Caves have been a Hindu place of worship for over a century and is a popular pilgrimage site. The numerous cave temples are reached by climbing 272 steps, passing the enormous shining gold statue of Lord Murugan, as well as a lot of cheeky monkeys, on the way.
An alternative day trip from Kuala Lumpur is a visit to the city of Putrajaya. A planned garden city, Putrajaya is now the administrative capital of Malaysia and is a 20 minute train ride from Kuala Lumpur’s Sentral station. Alternatively you can book a private tour including pickup from Kuala Lumpur here.
In development since the 1990s, Putrajaya is home to a number of landmark buildings designed in an Islamic architectural style. Inspired by the grandeur of Paris, Putrajaya doesn’t yet have the population to match its wide stately boulevards, but it is clearly intended to eventually become a statement piece.
The stunning exterior and interior of Putra Mosque in Putrajaya
The incredible Putra Mosque on the banks of Putrajaya Lake is a modern marvel. A magnificent example of modern Islamic architecture, it’s pale pink exterior and huge dome have been designed to amaze.
The exterior is only surpassed by the truly mesmerising beauty of the interior; the red and pink patterned carpets and walls, the decoration around the arches and the alcoves, the stunning stained glass windows and the mighty dome are a work of art.
Many of the other grandiose buildings in Putrajaya are government buildings also designed in the Islamic style. The huge Prime Ministerial office stands overlooking the Putra Mosque, with its dark green dome counterbalancing the mosque’s enormous red top.
Many of the ornate buildings sit overlooking Lake Putrajaya and alongside huge open swathes of greenery and lakeside walking paths.
There are riverboat tours of the lake that last around 45 minutes throughout the day that offers a better chance to fully appreciate the architecture of this modern city.
Around 90 miles south of Kuala Lumpur is the beautiful city of Melaka. A historic port city, Melaka was once part of a vital international trading route.
As a result the city is packed with beautiful streets that boast an array of architectural styles and a wealth of history and heritage. In 2008 the city was even granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Melaka can be reached by train from Kuala Lumpur by a combination of train and bus in around two hours. You can also book a day trip from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka here, which includes pick up and drop off at your hotel.
There’s an endless amount of choice when dining in Kuala Lumpur, and here are a couple of our suggestions to check out in Kuala Lumpur:
The Coliseum Cafe is a Kuala Lumpur institution whose main branch on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman has been serving colonial style dishes since 1921. It looks as though it’s hardly been touched since the day it opened and is famous for their eastern take on western dishes.
For something a little more traditional, try Precious Old China located upstairs in Central Market. Serving traditional Peranakan food this restaurant is a big hit with locals. With a beautiful interior Precious Old China offers a wide variety of traditional Chinese Nyonya cuisine.
→ For a full list of restaurant recommendations in Kuala Lumpur based on TripAdvisor’s reviewers click here.
Kuala Lumpur is a manageable size and getting around is pretty simple. There’s a very good and cheap metro, LRT and monorail system that serves all of the major sights in the town. There is also an extensive but confusing and slightly unreliable bus service that is quite difficult to navigate for the first time visitor to Kuala Lumpur.
Taxis are relatively cheap in Kuala Lumpur, especially compared with other major cities, but taxi drivers are notorious for ignoring their meters and charging a set price.
If you hail a taxi ask the driver how much the cost will be for the journey before you set off. If they do use the meter – and some do – then you won’t have any problems.
Uber is no longer available in Malaysia, having recently merged with Grab in South East Asia. Grab essentially works in the same way as Uber and is a very good alternative to regular taxis, with drivers available in most areas in the city.
Grab’s fares are much cheaper than regular taxis too. Download the Grab app before arriving in Kuala Lumpur, load in your payment details and you’re good to go.
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