Discovering Kuala Lumpur: The Best Restaurants, Hotels & Must-See Attractions

Last summer I spent three weeks in Malaysia and I completely fell in love with it. My parents are currently living in Kuala Lumpur and I spent a total of 8 days there. Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant capital city of Malaysia, is a melting pot of cultures and modernity. This city, known as KL, boasts a unique character shaped by its multiracial population. From its towering skyscrapers, like the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, to its colorful street markets, Kuala Lumpur offers a dynamic blend of new and old. Its strategic location near the equator ensures a warm, tropical climate year-round, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking both urban excitement and cultural richness. Let me guide you through the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur, where to eat, where to stay and everything you need to know about how to get here and get around.

The Best Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

Discover the vibrant and diverse city of Kuala Lumpur with this comprehensive list of the best attractions and activities to make the most of your visit.

Chinatown

One of the highlights of my trip to Kuala Lumpur was the Chinatown cultural walk with Jane Rai. My mom organized this tour for us and it was a delightful and insightful journey through the bustling streets of Chinatown, also known as Petaling Street. While it doesn’t have the grandeur of Singapore’s Chinatown, KL’s version is rich in history and culture, which is exactly why having a guide like Jane made all the difference to uncover the true essence of this historic district. Our walking tour also included visiting the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, a traditional herbal store and a charming tea shop for a delightful tea tasting, making the whole experience deeply personal and memorable. The private tour, which cost 500RM (about €100), was from 9am to 12pm and worth every penny. It’s essential to have a guide like Jane in Chinatown to uncover the hidden gems that you might otherwise miss. We then stopped for lunch at Old China Cafè to taste authentic Nyonya cuisine. For souvenirs, Petaling Street is filled with cute things you can get. You can DM her on Instagram to see her availability.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

The River of Life

When you’re weaving through the busy streets of Chinatown, don’t miss the River of Life, the point in which the Gombak River converges with the Klang River, right in the heart of the city. Jane explained that this is where KL was founded. In fact, “Kuala Lumpur” in Malay literally translates to “muddy meeting point”. This name reflects the city’s geographical context, situated at the junction of these two rivers, which held historical significance in the early development of the region. The confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers played a pivotal role in the transportation of tin ores, which greatly contributed to Kuala Lumpur’s emergence as a prominent settlement during the late 19th century. This point has undergone a remarkable transformation into the “River of Life” project. This area now boasts an array of colorful street art, enchanting light shows, and a lively atmosphere, making it a focal point in the scenic and cultural landscape of Chinatown.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

The Heritage Area

Merdeka Square, or Dataran Merdeka, is a place of profound historical importance in Kuala Lumpur. It was here, on August 31, 1957, that Malaysia marked its independence from British rule. The square is dominated by a very tall flagpole, a symbolic reminder of the first Malaysian flag-raising ceremony. Surrounded by significant landmarks like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, often likened to Malaysia’s own “Big Ben,” and the Royal Selangor Club, the square is steeped in history. At the southern end of the square lies the National History Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts that narrate Malaysia’s storied past, including ancient geological specimens and significant archaeological finds.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Petronas Twin Towers

Visiting the Petronas Twin Towers was an awe-inspiring experience. Once the tallest buildings in the world, they still dominate Kuala Lumpur’s skyline with their majestic presence. Designed by César Pelli, an Argentine architect, these towers were completed in 1998 and have since been a symbol of Malaysia’s growth and innovation. What makes them really special is their design: each tower has this eight-lobed circular structure that goes up for 88 stories, topped with a pyramid-shaped pinnacle. This isn’t just for show; the design reflects Islamic art, paying tribute to Malaysia’s Muslim heritage. Standing at 1,483 feet (452m), including the spires, the towers are a feat of engineering. But the real highlight is the skybridge connecting the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors. It’s like this gateway in the sky, offering an incredible view of Kuala Lumpur from above 370 meters. I recommend booking the earliest or latest time slots for a more intimate experience, as these times typically have fewer visitors. Remember, tickets sell out fast, so book them in advance. I booked mine on headout.com on the 25th of July and the first available spot was on the 15th of August!! I was lucky that I was in KL for 8 days otherwise I would’ve missed it.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

KL Tower

Although I missed visiting the KL Tower during my trip, it stands as a marvel in Kuala Lumpur as the tallest telecommunication tower in Southeast Asia. Renowned for offering panoramic views of the city, the KL Tower presents a unique perspective unlike any other. This architectural wonder hosts an observation deck providing a 360-degree view of the city’s skyline. It’s a testament to Kuala Lumpur’s blend of modernity and tradition. On my next visit, the KL Tower is definitely on my must-see list. Like the Petronas Towers, advance booking is advised to secure a spot.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Thean Hou Temple

I had the chance to visit the Thean Hou Temple during my stay in Kuala Lumpur, and it was a beautiful and peaceful experience. But this time, we had no guide. This six-tiered temple, dedicated to Tian Hou Niang Niang or the goddess Mazu, is a stunning example of architectural beauty, blending Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism influences. Its location on Robson Heights provides a fantastic view of the city, making it a great spot for panoramic photos or just to enjoy the scenery. The prayer hall on Level Four is adorned with lanterns, adding to the temple’s serene ambiance. Additionally, the temple is a popular spot for weddings and cultural activities, including the grand birthday celebrations for the Goddesses and Buddhist chanting sessions. We spent less than an hour here and it was more than enough to absorb the beauty of the place. FYI, visit in the morning to get slightly cooler temperatures.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

KL Bird Park

The KL Bird Park is one of the world’s largest covered bird parks, home to over 3,000 birds of more than 200 species. Here, nature reigns supreme with free-flight zones where birds roam without barriers, creating a magical atmosphere. The park is divided into four areas: from zones where birds fly freely to sectors dedicated to colorful parrots, including lorikeets and cockatoos. The KL Bird Park also offers interactive experiences, such as feeding sessions and bird shows, making it the perfect place to discover nature in an urban setting.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Batu Caves

Heading out to the Batu Caves was a breeze – just a quick 20-30 minute Grab ride from Kuala Lumpur, and it only set us back about €3. It’s amazing how affordable rides are in Malaysia, thanks in part to the low fuel prices. When you go to the Batu Caves, dress right. You’ve got to cover your shoulders and knees – if you’re not prepared, they make you buy a sarong for 15RM. The climb up to the temple is a long, vibrant staircase leading right into the heart of a limestone cliff. It’s a bit of a workout, but totally worth it. Inside, you’ll find a Hindu temple carved into the cave. Watch out for the monkeys! They’re cute but cheeky, and they’re not shy about grabbing food right out of your hand – I saw one swipe ice cream from a little kid! A heads-up for when you’re inside the temple: you’ll need to take off your shoes. The floor inside is wet and pretty dirty, so you might want to bring along some foot covers. When you’re ready to head back, skip the taxis waiting outside. I heard they can overcharge. Your best bet is to grab another Grab ride. And try to visit the caves before 3pm to avoid the traffic jams that can build up later in the day.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Islamic Arts Museum

Kuala Lumpur’s Islamic Arts Museum is a treasure trove of Islamic art, artifacts, and manuscripts, drawing from diverse periods and regions. It’s a world where artistry meets history, showcasing intricate calligraphy, elegant textiles, detailed ceramics, and exquisite jewelry. The museum, with its serene setting and architectural beauty, isn’t just a display; it’s an immersive exploration into the rich and varied cultural heritage of the Islamic world.

National Museum of Malaysia

Muzium Negara, or the National Museum of Malaysia, provides a glimpse into the nation’s rich tapestry of history and culture. Its unique architecture and thoughtfully curated exhibits span from ancient civilizations to contemporary Malaysia. You can explore traditional houses and modes of transportation outdoors, while indoor galleries are brimming with artifacts that tell stories of Malaysia’s diverse heritage, offering an enriching educational experience.

Shopping Malls

Kuala Lumpur is filled with shopping malls. And trust me, they know how to make them. Check out Pavillion and Suria in KLCC. If instead you want to purchase some skincare souvenirs, check out Don Don Donki at Lot 10 — it’s a goldmine for Japanese and Korean skincare products. I found some really unique items that aren’t available back home, and the prices were surprisingly reasonable. If you’re looking for something authentically Malaysian, you’ve got to explore the world of Malaysian Batik. This traditional art form is stunning – intricate designs hand-drawn or printed on fabric. It’s not just clothing; you can find Batik artwork too. The craftsmanship is incredible, and it really reflects Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage. It’s perfect for gifts or as a personal memento from your trip. Just a head’s up: air-conditioning in Kuala Lumpur is INTENSE. While outside it’s very hot, inside is super chilly. Always bring something to cover yourself, you’re going to thank me!

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Malaysian Cooking Class

In Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian cooking class is a must-do to truly experience the country’s diverse and rich culinary culture. Depending on when you book, you could be delving into a range of Malaysian culinary styles – from the authentic Malay dishes that tell tales of the country’s heritage, to the intricate flavors of Nyonya cuisine, or the vibrant and bold tastes of Mamak street food. During your class, you might find yourself mastering the art of Nasi Lemak, rolling perfect Roti Canai, or simmering a tantalizing Curry Laksa. Each dish not only offers a new skill but also a story about Malaysia’s rich cultural tapestry. It’s an immersive experience that goes beyond the kitchen, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s diverse food heritage. This is an opportunity to take a culinary journey through Malaysia, all in one cooking class.


Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur: the best accommodations

Kuala Lumpur offers a variety of accommodations to suit every taste and budget, often at prices more affordable than in many European cities. You can find excellent rooms ranging from €50 to €150 euros per night, offering great value for the quality and amenities provided. Here are the places I’d recommend staying at in KL, especially for first-time visitors.

KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre)

KLCC is right in the heart of all the action, with easy access to public transport, making sightseeing a breeze. You’ll be in the shadow of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and surrounded by some of the city’s best shopping malls. Accommodation options here are on the high-end side, offering top-notch amenities that provide great value for money. This is probably the most expensive area in KL to get accommodation.

Ascott Star KLCC

Average price: €112 – €130 per night

Ascott Star KLCC is like your home away from home, but with a touch of luxury. Picture yourself relaxing in their chic pool or sipping drinks at the rooftop bar – yes, they have one and it’s amazing! The style is a blend of comfort and elegance, making it perfect for families or business travelers. What guests really love here is the spacious rooms and the central location – you’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from KL’s top attractions.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

The RuMa Hotel and Residences

Average price: €134 – €144 per night

The RuMa is where traditional Malaysian charm meets modern luxury. They’ve got this gorgeous infinity pool that seems to blend right into the skyline, and their UR Spa is a haven for some serious relaxation. The hotel’s style has a warm, welcoming vibe, with a nod to local culture in its design. Guests can’t stop talking about how attentive the staff is and the incredible breakfast spread. Plus, its location in the heart of KL makes exploring the city a breeze.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

Average price: €99 – €140 per night

JW Marriott in KL is like a little slice of luxury right in the heart of the city. Picture yourself chilling by an amazing outdoor pool or exploring their delicious dining options. The place mixes modern comforts with a touch of local charm. Guests absolutely rave about its prime spot for shopping and sightseeing.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

Average price: €134 – €194 per night

The Grand Hyatt is all about those jaw-dropping views! It’s got this cool sky lobby where you can gaze out at the city, plus an awesome outdoor pool. The vibe is super sleek and modern. Trust me, you’ll be snapping pics of the Petronas Towers view and the top-notch food they serve.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

EQ Kuala Lumpur

Average price: €174 – €205 per night

Think chic and stylish when you think of EQ Kuala Lumpur. They’ve got an infinity pool that’s just perfect for those Instagram moments and a sky bar that’s a must-visit. The hotel nails the elegant look, and the spa is the ultimate spot to unwind. Guests can’t get enough of the city views and luxe feel.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Average price: €261 – €308 per night

The Four Seasons is where you go to feel pampered. It has a stunning outdoor pool, incredible wellness facilities, and a range of places to eat that are just wow. It’s a beautiful blend of modern luxury with a hint of Malaysian style. Guests love being next to the KLCC Park – it’s like having the best of both worlds.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Bukit Bintang

For those who love being in the middle of vibrant nightlife, entertainment, and endless shopping options, Bukit Bintang is your go-to area. It’s lively, colorful, and always buzzing with activity. The range of hotels here is quite broad, catering to luxury seekers as well as those looking for more moderately priced options. Staying in Bukit Bintang means you’re perfectly positioned to explore the city with ease. Here are a few hotel recommendations in Bukit Bintang:

KLoe Hotel

Average price: €76 – €100 per night

KLoe Hotel is this cool, artsy spot in Bukit Bintang that’s all about embracing creativity and comfort. They don’t just have a regular pool – they have a pool that’s like a lush urban oasis, perfect for a chill day under the sun. The style? Think modern meets creative, with cozy spaces that make you feel like you’re in a trendy art studio. Guests love how close to all the fun and buzz of Bukit Bintang.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Ceylonz Suites KLCC By Twin Tower View

Average price: €50 – 80 per night

For an incredible view of the Twin Towers, Ceylonz Suites is the spot. The rooftop pool here is a big hit for both the views and the vibe. The hotel is modern and ideal for a comfy stay, whether short or long. The central location is a huge plus for exploring KL.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

PARKROYAL COLLECTION Kuala Lumpur

price: €95 – 130 per night

PARKROYAL COLLECTION is a lovely mix of city life and greenery. Dive into their refreshing outdoor pool or hit the gym to keep up with your fitness routine. The design is contemporary with a touch of Asia, and you’re smack in the middle of KL’s action, which is super convenient.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Meliá Kuala Lumpur

Average price: €80 – 114 per night

Meliá is all about that comfy and welcoming feel. It’s got a global, modern style, and you’re super close to some cool local attractions.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Capri by Freser

Average price: €88 – €111 per night

Capri by Fraser offers a unique, apartment-style experience complete with a rooftop pool and a great fitness center. It’s vibrant, modern, and just the place for both work and play. The spacious rooms and diverse breakfast options are a big hit with guests.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

The Ritz-Carlton

Average price: from €128 per night

For a touch of elegance, The Ritz-Carlton is your go-to. It’s all about luxury here, from the plush spa to the fine dining. The style is classic and lavish, and the personal service is top-notch. Plus, you’re right in the middle of all the KL action.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Chinatown

If you’re traveling on a budget or just want to dive deep into the local culture, Chinatown is an ideal choice. This area offers some of the most wallet-friendly accommodation options in the city, including hostels. You’ll be right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s rich history and heritage, surrounded by traditional markets, local eateries, and vibrant street life. Here are two high-end accommodation recommendations in Chinatown:

Else

Average price: €113 – 156 per night

Else is a cool, artsy spot in Chinatown. The style is eclectic and super modern, focusing on local art. It’s got a great vibe and is perfectly located for exploring Chinatown’s vibrant streets.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown

Average price: €66 – 126 per night

Four Points in Chinatown has an outdoor pool and a rooftop bar with amazing views. The style is fresh and contemporary with some local twists. Guests love hanging out at the rooftop bar and find the rooms super comfy for a city stay.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com
Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from booking.com

Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur

From upscale dining at renowned establishments to the bustling atmosphere of street food havens, Kuala Lumpur’s food scene is a vibrant mix of experiences. Here, you’ll find a variety of restaurants reflecting the city’s multicultural heritage, ranging from authentic Malay, tantalizing Chinese, and flavorful Indian, to exquisite Japanese and Italian fare.

Frangipaani – Indian Cuisine

Frangipaani is where the aromas and flavors of India come to life in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Damansara. The restaurant’s setting is elegant yet cozy, making it an ideal spot for both casual and special occasions. Their legendary butter chicken is a must-try, offering a rich and creamy taste that perfectly balances spices and flavors. Alongside this iconic dish, the menu features a variety of Indian specialties, each prepared with a depth of flavor that is characteristic of Indian cuisine. Of course, since it’s an Indian restaurant, expect the dishes to be spicy! Lovely service too, super recommended.

Neighborhood: Bukit Damansara
Average price: €35+ p.p.
Reservations: through WhatsApp

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Beta – contemporary Malaysian Cuisine

Situated in Kuala Lumpur’s city center, Beta offers a chic and contemporary environment. The restaurant’s modern decor complements its innovative approach to Malaysian cuisine. Expect to find a fusion of traditional Malaysian flavors with a modern twist, with flavors and ingredients that are very different from what you’re used to. There is no a la carte menu —you have to choose from two tasting menus, the Taste of Beta (360RM) or the Tour of Malaysia (450RM). You can also opt for a cocktail pairing for an extra 230RM. The menu here is a celebration of Malaysia’s diverse culinary heritage, presented with a contemporary edge and the restaurant has one Michelin star. I loved the intimate ambiance, the presentation and explanation of the dishes. A true foodie experience.

Neighborhood: KLCC
Average price: €140+ p.p.
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Old China Cafe – Nyonya Cuisine

When you step into Old China Cafe, you’re transported to a different era. Don’t expect anything fancy. This quaint and charming cafe, nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, is a treasure trove of Nyonya cuisine, aka a delightful blend of Chinese and Malay culinary traditions. The ambiance, with its vintage decor, evokes the rich heritage of the Peranakan culture. Must-try dishes include their laksa noodles, a spicy and creamy delight, and the beef rendang, a slow-cooked, flavorful dish that perfectly represents the fusion of cultures in Malaysian cuisine. I’d recommend this spot for lunch right after visiting Chinatown.

Neighborhood: Chinatown
Average price: €12 – €15
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Osteria Gamberoni – Italian Cuisine

Osteria Gamberoni is a cozy Italian haven in the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. The restaurant’s warm and inviting ambiance offers a genuine and sophisticated Italian dining experience. From perfectly cooked pastas to delectable seafood dishes, the menu is a testament to authentic Italian flavors. The restaurant prides itself on creating dishes that are both comforting and sophisticated, capturing the essence of Italian culinary traditions. Trust me, the quality is so high I could definitely see this as a top restaurant in Rome. If you’re a meat-lover, head to its recently opened next-door grillhouse restaurant, La Bisteccheria, where you can taste Florentine cuisine including the world-famous Florentine steak. And don’t forget to stop by Crema Pasticceria to taste a bombolone!

Neighborhood: Chow Kit
Average price: €60+
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Dewakan – contemporary Malaysian cuisine

Dewakan is not just a restaurant; it’s two Michelin-starred experience nestled in the 48th floor of the sleek, modern confines of Kuala Lumpur’s Naza Tower. Its ambiance is a blend of elegance and simplicity, reflecting the innovative spirit of its cuisine. Here, modern Malaysian cuisine is an exploration of local flavors and ingredients, presented with artistic flair. Eac dish of Chef Darren Teoh’s innovative tasting menu (788RM) is a discovery of rare Malaysian ingredients, creatively fermented or dry-aged in-house. The experience is heightened by the option to tour the kitchen and lab, providing diners with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of their innovative dishes.

Neighborhood: KLCC
Average price: €160+
Reservations: on their website

Yun House – Cantonese cuisine

Yun House, situated in the Four Seasons Hotel, is a prime destination for Cantonese cuisine. Overlooking the KLCC park, its ambiance is both elegant and serene. The restaurant has one Michelin star and is renowned for its fresh and flavorful dim sum, including the unique steamed charcoal lava. Its diverse à la carte menu, featuring dishes like deep-fried eggplant with cereal and Peking duck, is a testament to the culinary richness of Cantonese cuisine. While it’s a bit pricey, it’s perfect for special occasions or indulging in a luxurious dining experience.

Neighborhood: KLCC
Average price: €80+
Reservations: on their website

A Li Yaa – Sri Lankan Cuisine

A Li Yaa provides a unique culinary experience, bringing the flavors of Sri Lanka to Kuala Lumpur. The restaurant’s ambiance is inviting and decorated to reflect Sri Lankan culture, creating an authentic dining environment. The cuisine here is a celebration of Sri Lankan spices and cooking techniques. From rich and hearty curries to spicy and tangy street food favorites, the menu at A Li Yaa offers a diverse range of dishes that showcase the complexity and richness of Sri Lankan food.

Neighborhood: Bukit Damansara
Average price: €25+
Reservations: on their website

Sushi Oribe – Japanese cuisine

Tucked away in Menara Keck Seng, Sushi Oribe is a Michelin Guide-featured restaurant offering an exquisite mino set (400+RM) or omakase experience (560+RM). The intimate setting, with only eight seats at the counter, ensures a personalized dining experience. The chef, using seasonal ingredients flown in from Japan, crafts sushi sets that are both traditional and innovative. Sushi Oribe is perfect for a special treat or romantic dinner, offering both lunch and dinner options.

Neighborhood: KLCC
Average price: €80+
Reservations: on their website

Passage Thru India – Indian cuisine

Located in Bukit Bintang, Passage Thru India is known for its authentic Indian cuisine. The restaurant offers a blend of spices and ingredients unique to Indian cooking. With a range of vegetarian, vegan, and halal options, it’s a great choice for diverse dietary preferences. The average meal cost is about $10 to $13, making it an affordable option for experiencing quality Indian cuisine.

Neighborhood: Bukit Bintang
Average price: €15+
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from Passage Thru India’s fb

Sushi Ori – Japanese cuisine

Also featured in the Michelin Guide, Sushi Ori is renowned for its exceptional omakase (512RM) dining experience. The chef’s expertise, combined with high-quality ingredients flown in from Japan, creates a unique dining experience. With a focus on traditional Japanese culinary techniques and innovative creations, it’s a must-visit for sushi enthusiasts in Kuala Lumpur.

Neighborhood: Bukit Bintang
Average price: €100+
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
photo from sushi-ori.com

DE.WAN 1958 by Chef Wan – Malaysian cuisine

Located at The LINC KL, DE.WAN 1958 offers a sunny and cheerful ambiance reflective of Chef Wan’s vibrant personality. It combines traditional Malay flavors from across Malaysia. The interior, with its tropical palette, creates a fresh and inviting atmosphere. The menu, featuring dishes like juicy charcoal-grilled chicken skewers and crispy prawn fritters, is an ode to the best of Malay cuisine. Recognized in the Michelin Guide, DE.WAN 1958 is ideal for an immersive Malay dining experience. I haven’t been personally but it was recommended by my mom’s Malaysian friend.

Neighborhood: Ampang
Average price: €30+
Reservations: on their website

Raw Kitchen Hall – Latin Asian cuisine

When we swung by the Raw Kitchen Hall during our Chinatown tour, I was instantly captivated by its vibrant atmosphere and majestic bar – it’s a real showstopper. Situated on the ground floor of Else Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, this restaurant offers a menu rich in Thai and Latin flavors, blending simplicity with boldness. The ambiance, enhanced by great music and a friendly team, makes it perfect for everything from boozy brunches to intimate dinners.

Neighborhood: Chinatown
Average price: €40+
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Marini’s on 57 – Italian cuisine

Perched high above the city, Marini’s 57 is located near the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, offering breathtaking views of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline. The ambiance here is upscale and luxurious, making it an ideal spot for special occasions or a romantic night out. The combination of exquisite Italian cuisine and the stunning backdrop of the city lights creates an unforgettable dining experience.

Neighborhood: KLCC
Average price: €80+
Reservations: on their website

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Food Courts in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s food courts are culinary landmarks in their own right, each offering a distinct taste of the city’s diverse flavors. At the Malaysia Boleh! Food Court in Four Seasons Place, a stone’s throw from the Petronas Twin Towers, you’ll find a street food paradise. Designed to evoke a 1970s Kopitiam atmosphere, it’s a hub for authentic Malaysian dishes like Penang Fried Carrot Cake and Yoko Chilly Pan Mee. The Suria Food Court in Suria KLCC is ideal for a quick, delicious meal amidst a day of shopping or sightseeing, offering a variety of options that cater to all tastes. In the bustling Bukit Bintang area, the Pavilion Food Court stands out with renowned outlets such as Din Tai Fung and Dragon-i, famous for their Xiao Long Bao and Peking Duck, respectively. It’s a lively spot for experiencing Kuala Lumpur’s vibrant dining scene. Lastly, the Lot 10 Food Court offers a blend of Malaysian and international cuisines, reflecting the city’s melting pot culture. It’s a vibrant destination, perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in Kuala Lumpur’s bustling street food atmosphere. If you really want to taste local cuisine, go on a street food tour in Kuala Lumpur!

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Bars & Rooftop Bars in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur offers a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to all tastes. While I didn’t dive deeply into KL’s nightlife, I did get to experience Sky51 at the EQ Hotel and Marini’s on 57. Both of these places are stunning rooftop bars, showcasing KL’s fantastic rooftop scene and offering great cocktails. Remember to reserve your spot at these popular venues.

Sky51 at the EQ Hotel: Perched high in the EQ Hotel, Sky51 offers breathtaking views of the city. It’s a place where you can enjoy a sophisticated evening out, with an impressive selection of cocktails and a chic ambiance. Remember to always reserve.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Marini’s on 57 Rooftop bar: Located on the 57th floor of the Petronas Tower 3, Marini’s combines an upscale Italian bar vibe with luxurious comfort. With its proximity to the Petronas Twin Towers, it offers one of the best night views in KL. Remember to always reserve here too.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife isn’t just about rooftop bars, though. The city’s speakeasy scene is thriving, offering hidden gems that range from bars behind toy stores in pre-war buildings in Chinatown to more secluded and exclusive spots. These speakeasies, like PS150 and The Berlin KL, offer an intimate and unique nightlife experience. Just like the rooftops, reservations are key for these exclusive spots.


Best day trips from Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s central location in Malaysia makes it an ideal starting point for several exciting day trips. Whether you’re interested in exploring tranquil countryside, historical cities or lush tea plantations, the surrounding regions offer a variety of experiences an acceptable drive away.

Melaka (Malacca)

Approximately a 2.5hr-drive from KL, Melaka is known for Malaysia’s rich history. Start by exploring the Dutch Square, visit the Christ Church, and climb up St. Paul’s Hill for a panoramic view. Don’t miss the iconic A’Famosa Fort and the Stadthuys for a peek into the past. For a unique view of the city, head to the Shore Sky Tower. You can also enjoy street art hunting and end your day with a relaxing river cruise along the Malacca River. Melaka is famous for its diverse food options, especially along Jonker Street, where you can savor local delicacies​​​​​​. My recommendation is you either get a bus or a private transfer to get there and then book a guided tour to explore the city with a local.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay
Photo by Photo So Beautiful su Unsplash

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is a refreshing getaway, but keep in mind that a day trip can be quite tiring due to the 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. I personally recommend an overnight stay to fully appreciate the area. If you’re keen to explore tea plantations, the BOH Tea Plantation is a must-visit for its breathtaking scenery and insightful tours (but guided tours from KL usually take you to the other tea plantation, not BOH). Another highlight is the Mossy Forest, known for its ethereal and ancient landscape. These spots are ideal for first-time visitors to the highlands. However, if you’ve previously experienced the sight of tea plantations, I wouldn’t recommend a day trip. If instead you’d like to spend the night at Cameron Highlands, check out my guide on what to do and where to stay in Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands: Cosa Fare, Consigli e Itinerari

Only Choose Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries

If you’re like me and dreaming of meeting elephants during your travels in Malaysia, you might be looking at elephant sanctuaries near Kuala Lumpur. I was super excited about seeing elephants in their natural habitat, until I did a bit of digging online. Turns out, many of the “sanctuaries” have practices like elephant riding, which is a big no-no for the elephant’s well-being. It’s so important to choose places that put the animals first, with no riding and lots of space for them to just be their awesome elephant selves! Bathing with elephants is also a red flag, unless the sanctuary doesn’t force the elephants into the water. Sadly, I couldn’t find sanctuaries nearby that ticked all the right boxes for ethical treatment. If you know of any in Malaysia, please let me know in the comments! So, I’ve decided to hold off on my elephant adventure until I can find a place that’s all about loving and respecting these magnificent creatures in the right way.

Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: See, Do, Eat, Stay

How Many Days Should You Stay in Kuala Lumpur?

While I spent a total of 8 days in KL, largely because my parents live there, for most travelers, I’d recommend 2-3 nights to truly experience the essence of the city. This duration allows you to explore the main attractions and indulge in the local cuisine. To enhance your stay, consider lodging at one of the recommended hotels I mentioned earlier, ensuring a comfortable and memorable visit.

How to Get to Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s airport is well-connected globally, making it an accessible destination for travelers. We flew with Emirates from Rome and had a layover in Dubai, splitting the flight into manageable segments of approximately 5 and 7 hours. There are also direct flights from cities like Istanbul (Turkish Airlines) and London (British Airways). While direct flights are convenient, they can be quite long, especially in coach and for taller individuals, so plan according to your comfort preference. To guarantee you get the most convenient flights, check out WayAway, it’s a great flight aggregator and shows you the best deals!

How to Move Around in Kuala Lumpur

In Kuala Lumpur, Grab is the go-to mode of transportation. It’s similar to Uber, incredibly affordable, and easy to use; most rides cost around €2-3. Just download the app and you’re set to go. However, be wary of traffic jams, particularly during rush hours in the morning and evening. Traffic can be quite heavy, and you could find yourself stuck for a long time. In Kuala Lumpur, the morning rush hour typically kicks off at about 7 am, stretching up to 9 or 10 am. This is when the city’s roads are busiest with commuters. For the evening rush, things start to get congested around 4 pm, with the peak often hitting at 6 pm. The evening traffic can continue to be heavy until about 8 pm. Do note that these timings can slightly vary depending on where in the city you are. Keeping these peak traffic periods in mind is crucial when scheduling your travel around Kuala Lumpur to sidestep the worst of the traffic. Another alternative is the metro. The metro system in KL is also efficient and a great option for getting around the city. It’s well-connected and offers a quick alternative to road travel.

How can I get Internet when traveling to Malaysia?

You don’t need to get a physical sim card! Make your life easier and get a virtual SIM. I used Airalo and I highly recommend it. Airalo is a virtual SIM service that allows you to easily obtain a local SIM card right from your smartphone. This service is a true lifesaver, giving an affordable and reliable mobile data access without the need for physical SIM cards. They have various plans based on the number of days you’re staying in the country. I purchased one for three weeks in Malaysia. Purchase it and just follow the instructions to activate it.

virtual SIM cards for travelers

When to Go to Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a year-round destination thanks to its equatorial climate, which maintains a consistently hot and humid environment. However, the best times to visit are during its two peak seasons — from December to February and May to July. These periods are drier with more comfortable temperatures, perfect for outdoor activities and exploring the city. The festive season in December brings holiday cheer, while May to July is ideal for bird watching and amusement parks. The shoulder season, between April and August, offers a slightly drier climate, suitable for indoor activities like shopping and visiting aquariums. However, the off-season months, from February to March and September to November, experience heavier rainfalls and higher humidity in the afternoon, which might be less comfortable for outdoor activities but can offer discounts on accommodation​​​​.

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I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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