The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL in short) is an excellent hub to travel throughout the country or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Home to Petronas Towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world, delicious cuisine, and diverse ethnic groups, Kuala Lumpur fascinates many. And to maximize your experience in the city here’s the ideal 3-day Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
Day 1: Places to visit in Kuala Lumpur city center
Kuala Lumpur boasts a good mixture of authentic, modern, and green spaces. The city itself is an unusual place of sorts. Besides the street food aroma filling every corner, KL has an exotic vibe to it. The city is surprisingly cosmopolitan with an intriguing and varied demographic of residents consisting mainly of Malay, Indians, and Chinese. This multicultural society is highly visible in its center resulting in great places to worship and tasty food combinations.
Start your 3 day Kuala Lumpur itinerary with wandering through the Merdeka Square, a historically important spot for the city. In 1957, the country declared its independence (Merdeka) at this exact place. On August 31, the British flag was lowered to give space to the Malaysian one on one of the world’s tallest (95m) flagpoles. There are plenty of interesting landmarks surrounding the square for you to explore, such as:
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building – late 19th-century building housing government offices and Tourist Information Center
- Kuala Lumpur City Gallery – showcasing the city’s past, present, and future via miniatures
- Cop’s Fountain – a memorial to a popular police inspector Steve Harper
- Kuala Lumpur Railway Station – an original and still operation station
Central Market is one of the go-to destinations for souvenir shopping full of diverse boutiques and handicraft stalls. If you are looking for local merchandise like authentic local batik prints, this is the place to buy them.
However, do note that the market is quite large. It’s divided into various zones based on race to enable visitors to get a glimpse into the cultural differences of these races in Malaysia.
Petaling Street also referred to as Chinatown gets quite crowded with tourists and locals. The area offers dozens of food stalls, restaurants, and clothing stalls to name just a few. Come here for tasty lunch or snack, or just to simply wander through the stalls.
Visiting Chinatown during the day is completely different from the night time visit. When the sun sets, the street turns into a vibrant area offering some of the best clubs in the capital. Make sure to add the renowned Reggae Bar and a little offbeat PS150 Speakeasy Bar to your Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
Temples, churches, and mosques
The city center is also home to diverse religious buildings to cater to its ethnic groups. Therefore, your Kuala Lumpur itinerary should definitely include visiting some of its iconic and gorgeous worship landmarks:
- Sin Sze Si Ya Temple – Chinese temple close to the Central Market. It’s also the oldest Taoist temple in KL
- St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral
- Sri Maha Mariamman Temple – the oldest Hindu temple at the edge of Chinatown with ornate ‘Raja Gopuram’ tower in South Indian temple style.
- Masjid Jamek of Kuala Lumpur – one of the oldest mosques constructed in 1909
This 421m high tower offers the highest views over the capital. With an observation deck, 360-degree restaurant Revolving Atmosphere, and sky deck, it’s one of the places that shouldn’t be missed on your Kuala Lumpur Itinerary. You can go on any level, but the prices do vary:
- Observation deck: 49 MYR
- Observation Deck + Sky Deck + Sky Box: 99 MYR
- Buy tickets here
Even though views from KL Tower are magnificent at any time of the day, watching the sunset and sparkling city lights turn on from here is an absolutely different experience.
Apart from this KL Tower also offers various attractions such as Upside Down House, Blue Coral Aquarium, and KL Forest Eco Park surrounding the tower.
Day 2: Skyscraper, park, and street art
Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Towers, along with KL Tower, are the iconic and most notable landmarks of Kuala Lumpur. Therefore, no Kuala Lumpur itinerary will be complete without visiting this majestic building that used to be the world’s tallest construction until 2004 when Taipei 101 surpassed it.
Sadly, the top of the tower is inaccessible, but you can still walk on the bridge between the towers for a fee for gorgeous skyline views.
- Entrance fee: 80 MYR
- Buy tickets here
Tip: Petronas Twin Towers are also quite stunning during sunset, so if your budget doesn’t allow you to go up the KL Tower, come here to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and colorful sky behind the towers.
Right behind Petronas Towers, you’ll find KLCC Park an ideal destination to escape crowds, heat, and hustle and bustle of the capital. Apart from the beautiful design of the park, it features 66 species of palms and 1900 indigenous trees to improve biodiversity. Those trees were specifically selected to attract migratory and local birds.
Bukit Bintang district
If Bukit Bintang district had a sketchy reputation with dirty alleyways, today it’s home to some of the most beautiful street art in Kuala Lumpur. This colorful and happy neighborhood presents art in various forms and shapes. You can find various paintings not only on buildings but on the pavements too.
However, the district also features shopping and entertainment areas, theme parks, Museum of Illusion of Kuala Lumpur, and Miniature Malaysia to name a few.
Pre-book a private Instagram tour of Kuala Lumpur’s most famous spots
When you get hungry, make sure to stop by Jalan Alor street full of KL’s most famous and delicious street food stalls. Frequented by both locals and tourists, the abundance of choice will leave your head spinning. Trust me, you’ll want to try everything! Therefore, come here VERY HUNGRY!
Day 3: Day trips, botanical garden, and religious buildings
Start your third day in Kuala Lumpur with a day trip to famous Batu Caves, a limestone hill featuring several cave temples and caves. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, Batu Caves are the most famous Hindu shrines outside of India.
Nestled at almost 100 m above the ground, this caves complex includes three main and a few smaller caves. The biggest one, Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave, is the most significant one accessible by colorful 272 steps.
How to get there: The easiest way to get to the caves is via train from KL Sentral. The trains leave every 30 minutes and take around 26 minutes to reach the destination. The ticket for the train will cost only 2.6 MYR one way.
There is no entrance fee to explore the caves. The only time you’ll be paying is if you’d like to do rock climbing or visit a dark cave and the art gallery.
Perdana Botanical Gardens
Once you get back to Kuala Lumpur, visit the Perdana Botanical Gardens, also referred to as the Lake Gardens. Your Kuala Lumpur itinerary should include this gorgeous and peaceful hidden gem spanning on 91.6 ha of land right in the heart of the city. With its butterfly and bird parks along with Hibiscus and Orchid gardens to name just a few won’t leave you unsatisfied.
Note: some of the attractions within the park might charge a small fee to enter
Islamic Art Museum
Located within the territory of the Perdana Botanical Gardens, the Islamic Arts Museum is the largest of its kind in the whole Southeast Asia. Here, you can see more than 7,000 artifacts from the Islamic world divided into 12 galleries classified according to the artifact types.
- Entrance fee: 14 MYR
National Mosque of Malaysia
The National Mosque of Malaysia is also within the premises of the Botanical Gardens. Considered one of the crown jewels of the country, this grandeur mosque can accommodate more than 15,000 people. The key elements of the mosque are the 73m high minaret and the main roof shaped in a 16-pointed star.
Thean Hou Temple
This extraordinary 6-tier Buddhist temple is one of the most significant places to visit in Kuala Lumpur. According to common belief, Thean Hou Temple is one of the largest and oldest of its kind across Southeast Asia.
The magnificent design of the temple is absolutely mind-blowing with its intricate carvings, bold colors, grandiose structure, and ornate details. You’ll find ponds, gardens, prayer halls, shrines, and sacred trees inside its territory. And the hilltop location guarantees splendid city views.
How to get around Kuala Lumpur
Public transport is the most convenient way to get around the tourist hotspots and even do day trips. Besides being reliable and comfortable, it’s also quite affordable. KL offers an extensive network of KL Light Rail Transit (LRT), KL monorail, buses, and Kuala Lumpur MRT SBK Line connecting almost every district of Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings.
To avoid the hustle of buying tickets to each line and means of transport, purchase a Touch ‘n Go (TnG) card costing 10.60 MYR. This prepaid smartcard allows travelers to pre-load money that will be automatically deducted as you tap in and out of buses and trains. The card allows you to avoid long lines at ticket counters and machines, as well as offers cheaper prices than single-use tickets. TnG is available at the airports and major train stations. Pre-loading it with credit is not an issue either, you can do that at most of the convenience stores and retail outlets can do that for you.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Malaysia travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Book affordable flights on Kiwi.com, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Malaysia, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda, or find a cool apartment on Airbnb and get $34 off on your first stay (my invite expires in 30 days after you sign up!
– Pre-book a private transfer from Kuala Lumpur Airport to your hotel
– Buy Kuala Lumpur City Pass to skip the lines for admission and save money on various attractions
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
– Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here