Kuala Lumpur is the fast growing city in Malaysia, and is also the country’s bustling capital. Like most other areas in Southeast Asia, the temperatures generally hover around the high 80’s to low 90’s (Fahrenheit) and can supposedly get as low as the low 70’s (though we saw none of that during our stay). The summer months (June through August) are typically the driest times of year to visit.
Getting Around in Kuala Lumpur
If you are only spending a few days in Kuala Lumpur, we recommend purchasing a KL TravelPass when you arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The TravelPass we bought included roundtrip airport transfer on the KLIA Ekspres train (non-stop service from KLIA to KL Sentral in 30 minutes) and two days of unlimited rides on city trains (LRT, MRT and KL Monorail). We were also able to upload more value to our TravelPass for the KMUTER train fare to the Batu Caves.
Petronas Twin Towers
Kuala Lumpur’s most iconic landmark are the Petronas Twin Towers. With 88 floors and a height of 452 m (1,483 ft), the Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world and combine modern and traditional Islamic architectural elements. At the ground level, there’s an upscale mall (and a nice relief from the heat). Outside on the north side, there is a reflecting pool while there is a man-made lake with fountain (Lake Symphony) and KLCC Park on the south side. Every night, there is a light and fountain show — not quite as spectacular as the Spectra Light Show in Singapore, but still worth checking out. For exact show times check out the mall’s website.
While the Petronas Twin Towers and nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower represent modern Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, the Dataran Merdeka Square and surrounding neighborhood represent Malaysia’s colonial past. Known as Independence Square, this area is home to a former cricket field in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building which housed the offices of the British colonial administration.
In Merdeka Square there is also a 95 m (312 ft) tall flagpole where on August 30th, 1957, the British flag was lowered and the Malayan flag was raised for the first time. Other notable colonial period buildings around Merdeka Square include St. Mary’s Cathedral and Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
Behind the Sultan Abdul Samad Building sits the Masjid Jamek of Kuala Lumpur, a mosque built in 1909 that stands at the intersection of Klang and Gombak River and served as the city’s main mosque until 1965.
Across the street from the giant flag pole in Merdeka Square is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, also housed in one of the heritage buildings. The city gallery is both a museum and a tourist information spot, and one of its main attractions is actually on the street right next to the entrance. The iconic I ♥ KL sign is one of the most photographed structures in Kuala Lumpur. There is no charge to take pictures of the I ♥ KL sign, but you might have to wait a few minutes in line until it is your turn.
Another big attraction lies at the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves. The caves are Hindu cave temples with 272 rainbow colored steps leading up to the caves. At the bottom of the steps stands the world’s tallest statue of Murugan (43 m / 140 ft), a Hindu deity. A word of caution when visiting the caves: be on the lookout for monkeys. They are very accustomed to tourists and area always trying to snatch open food or shiny objects (so be careful not to bring any of these unless you want it stolen by a furry friend). Also note, that proper attire for a Hindu temple is required in order to climb the steps, meaning no shorts and no exposed shoulders. Entrance to the Batu Caves is free.
The easiest way to reach the Batu Caves is by taking the KMUTER train from the KL Sentral station in downtown to the Batu Caves Station. The train ride takes about 40 minutes and from the station it is an easy 5-10 minute walk to the Batu Caves entrance. Check the train schedule to make sure you know how much time you can spend at the caves.
That’s a summary of how we spent two days in Kuala Lumpur. If you’ve been, let us know your favorite sights in the comments below.