The Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur is perhaps one of the most culturally diverse capital cities in not only Southeast Asia but the world. For the longest time, people from all over Asia have settled here, creating a multicultural society, and these changes are seen in traditions, food and culture. Since Malaysia is an Islamic nation, there are many mosques throughout the Kuala Lumpur but between these you will also see Chinese temples, Churches and Indian temples. And food is a huge (!) part of all three cultures; you will able to try many dishes, from Chinese stew to Nasi Lemak, the uniqueness in their cuisine shines through. So be sure to explore all three different colourful cultures in 3 days in Kuala Lumpur!
Day 1: Malay Essentials
During your 3 days in KL, you will firstly be getting acquainted with Malaysia by exploring the heart of KL. Today get acquainted with Malaysia’s history and nature by visiting the National Museum, the largest in the world free-flight walk-in aviary for birds and discovering the stunning Islamic architecture of Independence Square, Masjid Jamek and National Mosque.
Get acquainted with Malaysia’s history by visiting The National Museum
Start your Kuala Lumpur tour with the National Museum that was officially opened on 31 August 1963 and used to be called Selangor Museum. This museum encloses a variety of exhibitions that depicts the historical background of Malaysia like kampung lifestyle of life-sized dioramas of traditional Malaysian life (farming and fishermen), as well as ceremonial events such as weddings.
The timeline of Malaysia is also showcased really well in this museum: from ancient Malaysia with its 11,000 years old skeleton of Perak Man, to early Melayu Kingdom, Colonial era and most importantly the formation of modern Malaysia.
Join a free one hours guided tour available for visitors!
Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM
Ticket fee: RM5
Next, head to the National Mosque situated 10 minutes away from National museum.
Learn more about Islam at the National Mosque
Source: wikimedia commons
The National Mosque distinctively personifies a contemporary expression of traditional Islamic art.
The National Mosque is a favourite amongst visitors due to the exquisite architecture, its most outstanding feature is the umbrella-like roof which symbolises the yearning of an independent country.
The mosque is also easily accessible with it only being 1 kilometer away from Lake Gardens and 1.2 kilometers away from KLCC.
The National Mosque was actually built on the site of a church in 1965. However, it was seized by the Malaysian government to showcase their strength as an independent country and build a national symbol of Malaysia.
It might not look like it but this mosque can hold 15,000 people!
Explore the mosque freely; also, there are volunteers on hand to talk and answer any questions about Islam.
Opening hours: 06:30AM – 13:00PM, 14:30PM – 16:00PM, 17:30PM – 19:00PM.
Ticket fee: Free entry
Dress Code: Tourists are required to dress appropriately, nonetheless, a coverup is will be provided.
After exploring the National Mosque, make your way to the Islamic art Museum which is situated just up the hill from the mosque 2 minutes walk away.
Learn to appreciate art at the Islamic Art Museum
This museum is a hidden gem of Kuala Lumpur, rarely frequented by the tourists despite being so close to the National Mosque. The Islamic Art Museum exhibits whopping 7000 artefacts making this museum a must visit not only for Islamic art buffs but also tourists who want to learn more about this branch of art.
This museum showcases a collection that is truly symbolic of the Islamic world. It covers an incredible breadth from scale models of mosques around the world to calligraphy, jewellery and so much more.
The museum provides visitors with stunning and extensive view of Islamic art, culture and architecture. Explanations are also provided for visitors who may not have much knowledge on the subject.
It’s the only museum in the world that highlights Islamic arts from various parts of Asia.
They also have a library that is accessible to visitors accommodating 16,000 titles of Islamic arts and culture, as well as workshops.
Opening hours: 10AM – 6PM
Ticket fee: RM14
Dress Code: Tourists are required to dress appropriately.
After experiencing the history and culture that burrows deep in Islamic art, head to the Bird park which is located 15 minutes away from the Islamic Art Museum.
Get up close and personal with exotic birds at Bird Park
The Bird Park has around 3000 birds and around 200 different species. It has been split into a few sections, the most common are World of Parrots and Hornbill Park. Watch the birds in their natural habitat and feed ostriches, hornbills and peacocks which are well-known for being more friendly among the birds. Don’t be surprised when they walk up to you and eat the food from your palms.
It is also great place for families as the park does provide a playground area. An information centre is also available for those who want to learn more about the birds.
Did you know? The 871,200 square feet Bird Park in KL is claimed to be the World’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary.
Other than feeding the birds, enjoy bird shows at no additional cost.
Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM
Ticket fee: RM67
After getting acquainted with the birds, stop for lunch at Hornbill Restaurant which is just left of the Bird Park entrance before heading to your next destination. Observe and feed birds. If you’re lucky you might even spot the hornbill up close!
Ready to move on? Head to Perdana Lake garden which is a 7 minute walk from the Bird Park.
Chill out at Perdana Lake Gardens Park
Dating back to the 1880s, Lake gardens is Kuala Lumpur’s most popular park known for its outstanding botanical gardens where the air is fresh and view is pleasant. Now wonder it’s one of most favourite spots for tourists to visit.
Lake gardens are perfect for walks; both locals and visitors are often seen taking walks or exercising in the park to get away from the hectic city. For the best view, begin your walk from the north exit and stop by Herb and Oasis gardens.
During your stroll you must visit the Orchid garden with over 3000 varieties of orchids and a picturesque backdrop of the twin KLCC towers.
Believe it or not but the Lake garden is around 123 years old, making one it one of Malaysia’s oldest gardens.
If you have more time, explore the entire park using a Segway with a Segway Tour.
Opening hours: 7AM – 8PM
Ticket fee: Free
It must be the time for prayer, so grab a taxi at entrance of Lake Gardens for a 10 minute journey to Masjid Jamek.
Explore KL’s oldest mosque, Masjid Jamek
One of Kuala Lumpur’s oldest mosques, Masjid Jamek is situated right at the heart of KL. The name of the mosque ‘Jamek’ is the Malay equivalent of the Arabic word “جامع” which means a place where people come together to worship.
Masjid Jamek is known for its exotic architecture, a combination of Indo-Islamic, Moorish and Magul, allowing visitors to witness an architectural fusion of different cultures. White three white domes and two towers, this mosque truly stands out against the modern buildings in its neighbourhood.
Masjid Jamek is situated where both rivers the river Klang and the river Gombak meet thus giving it a floating on the water appearance.
Opening hours: 9am-12.30pm, 2.30-4pm Sat – Thu
Ticket fee: Free
Next visit the Merdeka (independence) Square and take a photo with “I love KL” sign, next to Kuala Lumpur city gallery.
Afterwards, head to iconic Petrona Towers in KLCC by taking the LRT from Masjid Jamek for a colourful evening fountain show and a mandatory selfie!
For dinner: Head to Suria KLCC Mall for a scrumptious Malay dinner at Madan Kwon’s.
Day 2 – An Insight of Indian Culture
There are more than 2 million Indians living in Malaysia, making up for 7 percent of Malaysia’s population. They have been migrating to Malaysia since the pre-colonial period and so their history and influence runs deep through the country.
Start the day earlier than usual as you want to be able to explore as much of the city as you can. A KTM train from KL Sentral will take you to Batu Caves, a limestone hill made up of three major caves and few smaller ones. The journey to cave should take around 45 minutes.
Climb the notorious 272 steps to Batu Caves
Batu Caves is one KL’s main attractions and immensely popular amongst visitors due its eye-catching appeal. Right at the entrance is a large statue of the Hindu God as well as a steep 272 climb up stairs that will lead to the main Hindu temple.
Some say that the Batu Caves have an incessant spooky ambiance that adds to the excitement of the visit. Go to Ramayana Cave for paintings of Hindu Gods .
Be aware as you will see monkeys frolicking around the caves as they are known to steal food and any items that spark their interest.
The tiresome but rewarding steps of Batu leading to the caves. When you get to the top, take a picture of your surroundings.
The mystical and intriguing scene of Ramayana Cave is the most popular amongst the other caves.
In case, ask assistance or help to understand the context of each scene.
Opening hours: 6AM – 9PM
Ticket fee: Free
After the fun adventure at Batu Caves, it’s time to head back to KL Sentral and then to the vibrant Brickfields which is also known as Little India.
Get transported to India
Just south of KL Sentral Station, Little India will strike you as a bustling area that deviates from the places that you have visited in KL. You will notice the striking colours of the streets, colourful sarees and sparkly jewelry sold there You will also be to find shops that sell Indian spices, delicious and sweet confectionery and so on. Little India will make you feel you’ve been transported to India.
Don’t forget to try the infamous banana leaf rice, a favourite amongst locals and tourists – only then you can say you got to truly experience Little India!
Opening hours: Depends on the stores
Ticket fee: Free
Next, make your way from the KL Sentral area to KLCC Aquarium which will take around 15-20 minutes by taxi.
Go underwater at KLCC Aquarium
Home to over 150 different species of fish, KLCC Aquaria is known to be the largest aquarium in the world. The highlight of this aquarium is the giant tank where you will be surrounded by stingrays, sharks and other specimen of marine life.
Opening hours: 10AM – 8PM
Ticket fee: RM69
Dinner: Head to the Pavilion mall for taste of Indian food at Spice of India restaurant; it’s just a 3 minute walk from KLCC Aquaria.
After dinner, continue your Indian experience by watching a Bollywood movie at Pavilion GSC cinema later in the evening.
Day 3 – Explore Chinese influence
After breakfast head to Thean Hou Temple to discover the chinese culture that is embedded in the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Explore the majestic Thean Hou Temple
Thean Hou temple, also known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven, is one the oldest temples in Southeast Asia, built in 1989. The temple is situated on a hill and so offers incredible views of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.
The beautiful lanterns are perfect for photography so you might want to come here in the evening to get that Instagram perfect shot.
Opening hours: 8AM – 9PM
Ticket fee: Free
Dress Code: Although there isn’t a strict dress code, visitors are reminded to dress appropriately at the religious site
After exploring, take a 7 minute taxi ride from Thean Hou temple to Petaling Street or as many refer to it as Chinatown.
Bargain hard at Petaling Street Chinatown
It is an area that never sleeps, day or night. Locals and tourists alike are roaming the street of Chinatown to either find some great bargains or dine at the famous street stalls.
Petaling Street is famous for selling replicated goods such as shoes, handbags, wallets, watches and makeup from brands like Chanel, Nike, Calvin Klein, Gucci and others. Also, be prepared to bargain hard and you will without a doubt get what you came for.
Stop at one of hundreds of different kind of restaurants and food stalls: from Chinese to Thai, they’ve got you covered at an affordable price.
Opening hours: 11AM – 10:30PM
Next head to Pasar Seni, the central market of Kuala Lumpur, for some traditional souvenirs and a roselle flower drink at Precious Old China cafe, located on the upper floor.
Shopping in KL
Spend the rest of the day shopping in the following malls:
- Suria Mall in KLCC where tourists can shop to their heart’s content and take more selfies with the twin towers
- Pavilion and Bukit Bintang street (https://goo.gl/maps/nyv9RmnHVs92)
- Midvalley & The Gardens mall (https://goo.gl/maps/1XGZfMAs4w92)
- Berjaya Times Square for budget shopping (https://goo.gl/maps/VQ71dUAQo712)
For dinner: Before your Kuala Lumpur city tour ends, grab one last bite! Located in Suria KLCC mall, is Mama San, a restaurant that creates delicious Southeast Asian cuisine, enjoy your meal whilst overlooking the verdant KLCC park. Then, take a stroll at KLCC park and enjoy the relaxing ambiance as it’s the best way to end your 2017 Malaysia Holiday.
Budget for KL trip
Food – spend no more than RM 30 per person per meal
Attractions – in total RM 156 per person
Total budget for this trip: RM 250 per person including transport
Getting Around and Transport in KL
Kuala Lumpur is fairly easy to get around:
- LRT – The trains are very cost effective, costing no more than RM5 to get to the desired location
- UBER and/or GRAB, a local car hailing app, – highly recommended as they are significantly less expensive than a taxi
- TAXI – Taking a taxi is not recommended as tourists are overcharged by drivers who don’t use meter, expect anything from double to fivefold illegal “tourist charge”
- FREE BUS – a free GoKL public bus service that travels around the heart of KL; find the latest map in https://www.gokl.com.my/
- HOP-ON HOP-OFF – a city tour bus that stops at attraction sites. It costs RM 55 for 24 hours.
Note: Special thanks to Zuzanna Chmielewska for the itinerary ideas!
Are you excited to visit these KL attractions during 3 days in Kuala Lumpur trip?
Let us know where you’re most excited to visit in the comments below.
If you’re visiting Malaysia and need to book a hotel, visit our Malaysia country guide for Muslim travelers that also has a Qibla map and a prayer time calendar so you don’t miss your prayer. Also check out these recommended boutique hotels in KL that are quirky and fun.
You can also check out these delicious halal delicious buffets in KL for under RM100.