What to see in Kuala Lumpur?

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You can never see an entire capital city in less than 24 hours. There’s always some other hidden gem to be discovered, be it an interesting cultural site to a restaurant that does the best bao buns imaginable. But we only had seven hours to see as much of Kuala Lumpur as possible. We’ve written down all that we did in the little time we had in Malaysia’s capital, mentioning the places worth your time and those less so. You can thank us later.

Goes without saying that we all have different preferences, so what we think is worth stopping to see may not be the case for others, and vice versa.

Kuala Lumpur: 5 Landmarks in 7 Hours

#1 Batu Caves

We didn’t bother to set an alarm and so started off the day later than we usually would. A quick sleep on the plane was impossible thanks to the relentless verbal dribble from not one, not two, but three different toddlers.

Fuelled by a passable budget breakfast, we kick-started with our first stop: Batu Caves.

Was it worth the little time we had? Yes.

We went in blind and had no idea what to expect. We hadn’t anticipated that these caves would be the home to Hindu temples. We’ve had our fair share of temples but this was something else entirely with a monumental-sized statue of Lord Murugan standing entrance and 272 steps leading up the cave itself.

In places, it was as if the temples were fused into the rocks, that they had been there just as long as the caves themselves. The vibrant temple colours clashed with one another, but in a complimentary kind of way. Definitely not the kind of colour pallet we would’ve thought to pick when playing the Sims and building our homes.

Forty-five minutes was all that we could afford here, and was enough time for us. True to form, we’d managed to reach Batu relatively early which meant we had free rein of the caves. It was only us, the monkeys, and the hens (yep, there are hens casually strolling around). On the subject of what we could afford – if you want to go inside the temples then it will cost a small entrance fee.

Personally, we don’t think it’s necessary to go inside. Braving all 272 stairs and venturing inside the cave is enough, and doesn’t cost anything. You’ll have the feel of the temples – the smell of incense and the melodic sound of prayers.

If you don’t have any dietary requirements, then we’d suggest not settling for a budget breakfast like we did. There are dozens of food stalls scattered about (far nicer than a bite from 7/11)

Getting To the Batu Caves

Train was the cheapest option and easy for us to do from our hostel: a quick and easy trip from KL Sentral to Batu Caves. For us, a ticket came to 8 MYR (1.60 euro), whereas a Grab would’ve cost 20 MYR (4 euros).

One thing to note – if you’re travelling via the LRT, then some search engines may still refer to it as the KJL.

#2 Thean Hou Temple

We lived in China for four years and thought that we’d had our temple fix. How wrong we were. Thean Hou felt like a throwback to our China days – like a long awaited hug. Located at the top of Robson Heights, this Chinese temple has an incredible view of the entire city – well worth the sweat (there was a lot of it) on our walk up.

One of the largest Buddhist temples in all of Southeast Asia, it was worth the little time we had. Oh, and it didn’t cost us a cent either as entrance is free.

Getting to Thean Hou Temple

We were travelling from Batu Cave Station and went to KL Sentral. Then we walked for the remaining part of the journey which was around forty minutes. If you’ve got the energy, we’d recommend you walking too. The route takes you through Little India, which has a cool energy about it (enough to make us want to visit India).

By this point, we’d realised that walking around without a SIM card would be a bit problematic and it promised to be. Our beloved Google Maps and handy Apps were lost to us. Thankfully, our saviour came in the form of Amy, who happened to be staying at the same hostel and noticed our lost faces at KL Sentral. And who, most importantly, had a Malaysian SIM card. (See, Amy – we promised we’d mention you by name and here you have it – so you better be reading this).

#3 Merdeka Square and #4 the Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Yes, yes, yes. Another spot that did not disappoint and with so much to see.

You have the huge Malaysian flag; raised for the first time in August 1957. Doesn’t sound significant but it is. This flag replaced the Union Jack and therefore signified the end of British rule in the country. If you’ve ever been to England, then you may feel like you’re back there when walking around the Merdeka Square. Built in 1884, it was deliberately made to resemble their homeland. The British even went as far as to play games of cricket on the field.

Opposite the Merdeka Square is the Sultan Abdul Samad building. Information signs nearby will tell you that the ‘Islamic look’ was consciously decided on by the architect, E. Spooner. We can’t deny that the architecture is certainly something to be marveled at.

Getting To Merdeka Square

From Thean Hou we walked along the river to Merdeka Square, swinging by Petaling Street (Chinatown) on the way. It took us around 50 minutes. Again, it can easily be done by train. The stop you’ll need to get off at is Masjid Jamek.

#5 Petronas Twin Towers

When travelling from KL airport to our accommodation our Grab drive suggested to give this one a swerve. Bit of a surprise seeing as Google told us that it was one of the most popular sights in Kuala Lumpur.

‘Once you’ve seen one tall glass skyscraper, you’ve seen them all’.

Truer words had never been said. We’ll amend Caesar’s famous words to: “we came, we saw, we took a picture, we said ‘that’s it?’, and then we left”. Our Grab driver was right. Once you’ve seen a tall skyscraper, then you have seen them all. What sets the Petronas Twin Towers apart from the rest? Well, at the time of writing, they are the tallest twin towers in the world and have been since 1996.

Maybe we’d be saying differently if we’d bought tickets to the Observation Deck at Level 86. They certainly make for an iconic skyline, especially when they’re lit up at night.

Getting to the Petronas Twin Towers

Amy, still wielding the power of GPS (which we’ll never take for granted again) led the way, and we walked to Petronas Twin Towers. From Merdeka, it was around 40 minutes walking.

Or you can utilise KL’s young and new train system, and buy yourself a ticket. The station you’ll need to get off at is KLCC Station.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur

We landed late into KL and took a Grab from the airport to our accommodation. It was the most convenient option and cost us 65 MYR (13.10 euros). And it wasn’t your standard Grab ride either. Not only did we get a free-driven tour around the Chinatown area, our driver also sat us down and talked out some of her suggested places to visit over a beer.

Chinatown Hostel by Mingle is a hostel that we’d recommend, especially if you’re only spending a night there. A bed in a dorm is cheap and situated in (you guessed it) Chinatown which is a walking distance from all of the major landmarks. We booked ourselves a bed using the hostelworld site.

Getting Around Kuala Lumpur

As you can see, we travelled around KL by train and foot – but most of it was spent walking. Obviously, walking isn’t the quickest way to get around a city. But the good thing about walking? It doesn’t cost a cent. Seeing as we have more trips planned and the same budget as a high school gap year student – we try to save where we can. Even if it does mean that we’ll have calves the same size as Dwayne Johnson’s by the end of it.

Wrap Up

And that concludes all that we saw in the seven hours we had in Kuala Lumpur. To be honest, there was probably time to see more, but a well-earned mug of coffee and a chance to put our feet up was calling.


  1. Oretha Thrapp

    I enjoyed reading this post. It’s concise yet packed with useful information. Thanks!

    1. sarameetsworld@hotmail.com

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Hope you enjoy your time in KL 🙂

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