Eight Awesome Free Activities in the Capital City of Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur: a big modern city that never seems to sleep! Due to its central location, chances are that you will come to Kuala Lumpur when you travel through Asia. The city is not as expensive as Singapore, another mayor flight hub in Asia, but also Kuala Lumpur is certainly not cheap. To ensure that you won’t exceed your budget, here are eight fun things to do in Kuala Lumpur that are completely free!
Eight free sights and things to do in Kuala Lumpur!
We visited Kuala Lumpur twice. With its beautiful skyline, cool shopping malls and delicious food, it is a nice place to spend a few days. Unfortunately, it is not cheap there compared to the rest of Southeast Asia. Luckily for us, we soon discovered that there are more than enough activities and fun things to do and see in Kuala Lumpur that do not cost a penny. Read on to plan your trip to Kuala Lumpur!
1. Climb the colourful stairs to the Batu Caves
Just outside of Kuala Lumpur are the Batu Caves. Large limestone caves that are more than 400 million years old. Several cave temples have been made here since the 19th century. The large cave can be visited free of charge via the Rainbow Stairs: brightly coloured stairs that lead you all the way up to the caves.
These coloured staircases are perhaps even more popular and well-known than the Batu Caves themselves. It is always busy here. If you want a photo without tourists on the stairs, you have to be there early (on weekdays before 7 a.m.).
Not free: a tour of the Batu Caves, the central market and a number of cultural highlights in Kuala Lumpur. Click here for more information.
2. Walkthrough the KLCC park and admire the impressive Petronas Towers
The Petronas Twin Towers are the iconic image of Kuala Lumpur. The two silver towers are more than 450 meters high and connected to a walkway. At the foot of the Petronas Towers is a green park where you can escape the busy city life while enjoying the view of these beautiful towers. This is the KLCC park, completely free.
Walkthrough the green garden, cool off by dipping your feet in the paddling pool or do a workout on the green grass. Ready to relax? Inside the Petronas Towers, you will find a huge shopping centre (Suria Mall) where you can marvel at the most beautiful designer clothing!
3. Admire the beautiful Sultan Abdul Samad and Merdeka Square
The Sultan Abdul Samad building is impressive to see. You have the idea of being in the Middle East instead of Kuala Lumpur. The British colonial government used to be in the building, nowadays you can find several Malaysian ministries here.
In front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building is the Merdeka Square, a large square that is translated as Independence Square. In the past cricket was played here, nowadays the National Day parade takes place here every year.
Bonus tip: looking for a budget restaurant near the Sultan Abdul Samad Building? Then go eat at the popular and inexpensive Kafe Old Market Square where Malaysian dishes are prepared.
4. Visit the markets in China Town
The Petaling Street Market in China Town is a place that you really must see when you go to Kuala Lumpur. The colours, smells and sounds, it can feel overwhelming, but this is definitely a part of Kuala Lumpur too. Walk around this uncovered market, view the people and stalls and if your budget allows it, buy souvenirs, spices and cheap electronics here. You will also find many imitation shoes, bags and T-shirts here as well.
Another big market, also in China Town, is the Central Market. This looks more like a large flea market with all kinds of small stalls.
Bonus tip: Another nice little market is the hip “The Sunny Side Up” market that takes place every weekend in The Row. You will find jewellery, bags and clothing here. It is reminiscent of the halls in Amsterdam but then smaller. The Row is a street full of hip restaurants. You will find here Common Grind coffee shop, a nice place to work for a few hours. The nice restaurant Limapulo Baba Can Cook is also located here.
5. Walk along the KL Forest Eco Park walkways
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, then visit the KL Forest Eco Park that is close to the Kuala Lumpur Tower. This free park* has mapped out a route via walkways and a few other walking routes. You can spot all kinds of insects and birds here, but perhaps even more beautiful is the skyline that you see from the walkways.
The entrance to the KL Forest Eco Park is hard to find, click here for the correct location on Google Maps.
* The KL Forest Eco Park is unfortunately no longer free since 01-01-2020.
Tip: The KL Forest Eco Park is next to the KL Tower. This 421-meter high communication tower has a sky deck and restaurant from which you can see all over Kuala Lumpur. Going up is certainly not free, but it is a special experience.
6. Admire the architecture of the Wilayah Mosque (Federal Territory Mosque)
Inspired by the Blue Mosque in Turkey and Taj Mahal, the Wilayah Mosquee is a place that we really wanted to see. And wow, this mosque is beautiful! Both outside and inside you will find beautiful architecture with mosaics, Moroccan arches and blue domes that brought us back to Turkey. Strangely enough, you will hardly find any other tourists here!
Another reason why you should definitely visit this place is the free tours that you can do here daily. You can just walk in and a volunteer then walks you through the entire building, meanwhile telling about the architecture, customs in the mosque and history of Islam. The religious discussion that we had with our guide was also very special. The mosque is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided tours are not possible during prayer hours on Friday.
7. Walkthrough the Perdana Botanical Gardens
Need some rest around you? Then go to the Perdana Botanical Gardens. This free park is located west of China Town and what a contrast to the crowds that you find in China Town. We enjoyed the beautiful art that resembles the Singapore Botanical Gardens. In addition, you will find all kinds of insects, birds and, with good luck, even deer.
Tip: The Butterfly Garden, part of the Perdana Botanical Garden, is not free but beautiful. What we definitely do not recommend is the Bird Garden that you will also find here. We found the living conditions of the birds very bad. They didn’t look good and the lofts were downright dirty. Click here for more information about a tour through the gardens.
8. Visit the Thean Hou Temple and see the skyline of Kuala Lumpur
The Thean Hou Temple is one of the largest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia. It is located just outside the city centre, on a small hill that gives you a nice view of the city skyline. Admission is free for the temple and the best time to come here is early in the morning. We visited this place after a few days of rain so all the lanterns were killed on the roof, so normally this place is even more beautiful!
Tip: not free but a place with a beautiful view is in the Thrityeight restaurant/wine bar of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. We drank a drink here to celebrate Ries’ birthday and looked straight out at the Petronas Twin Towers and the rest of the KL skyline!
Extra budget tips for Kuala Lumpur
Cheap transportation in Kuala Lumpur City
Part of the public transportation of Kuala Lumpur is free. Yes, you read that right: free! These are the GO KL City Bus buses that run four different routes along with the most popular areas. You can easily recognize the buses: they are bright pink. Click here for the exact routes.
Bonus tip: in addition to the bus and metro, you can also use cheap(er) taxi companies Grab and MyCar. Never used MyCar before? Then we have a nice introduction discount for you. Click here to install MyCar with a discount.
Cheap food in Kuala Lumpur
You can eat cheaply and eat out in Kuala Lumpur at one of the food stalls on the street or in a food court. Our favourite food markets are Jalan Alor and Tapak Urban Street Dining. In every shopping centre, you will find a food court where you can eat well for a few euros.
Tip: Not cheap but a fun activity to get to
know Kuala Lumpur’s street food: a food tour. Click here for a tour that we can absolutely recommend!
Cheap transport from and to the airport
The airport of Kuala Lumpur is quite far from the centre. For € 15- € 20 you are in the centre by taxi. The Express train is also not cheap at € 11.50 per person. What is a cheap way to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur City is by taking the bus. There are four different bus companies that bring you to the centre for € 2.50 per person in an hour. The buses are waiting for the indicated bus stop in front of the terminals, you can buy tickets inside the airport.
The best budget hotels in Kuala Lumpur
One of the biggest expenses during a trip to Kuala Lumpur is undoubtedly your accommodation. Hotels are not cheap in Kuala Lumpur. We have done our best to find the best budget hotels and hostels. If you want to sleep in one of the hotels below, book on time and get a good price, as the rooms are quickly sold out!