All there is to do in KL & Selangor that will make your visit worthwhile
For many reasons, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor remains the most liveliest and vibrant regions in Malaysia. The two states are often regarded as the most developed and modern among the 13 states, consistently drawing hordes of curious tourist each year. In 2019 alone, an estimated 13.8 million overnight visitors flocked to our nation’s capital, making it the third-highest visited city in Asia Pacific.
But what makes these regions so attractive? And what’s there to see in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor?
The short answer: they are regions bursting with diverse cultures and a myriad of attractions ranging from the traditional to the modern; all taking place on a location entrenched in deep-rooted and profound history.
The long answer: read on.
Here’s all you need to know about the places you must visit on your trip to Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
For the People and Place
1 – Mah Meri Cultural Village at Carey Island
Photo by TourMAB
The Mah Meri people are native to Peninsular Malaysia and are one of the few ethnic groups recognized by the Malaysian government. One of the most unique traits of these indigenous tribe is their expertise in wood carving. Their distinctive wooden masks depicting deities and ancestral spirits are admired and commended globally, with many of their works receiving the UNESCO Seal of Excellence.
Photo by New Straits Times
Today, the cultures and traditions of the Mah Meri people are preserved in the Mah Meri Cultural Village. Visitors who are interested in learning about the ‘jungle people of Malaysia’ can experience first-hand the rituals of this highly animistic culture, including witnessing the prancing dances of the traditional Tarian Jo’oh (Jo’oh Dance) and Tarian Topeng (Mask Dance).
Photo by Selangor.Travel
2 – Central Market, Chinatown, and Little India, Kuala Lumpur
Photo by Central Market
A trip to Malaysia is incomplete without a stroll through a bustling market. The Central Market is located at the heart of KL and boast more than 300 shops ranging from textiles, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Right outside Central Market itself is the fast-paced and perpetually in-motion avenue of Chinatown. This is the hub for all the knick-knacks and imitation goods you can lay eyes on; as well as a street food haven for all things sweet, fried, and delicious.
Streets of Chinatown
Just a little further down is the bazaar of Little India, the treasure trove of the Indian community. Here, the streets are splashed in a rainbow of colours from flowing Saree dresses and bright-coloured flower garlands; and the air is filled with pungent spices of all kinds.
Traditional garlands in Little India
3 – Pasar Malam Taman Connaught, Kuala Lumpur
Photo by SevenPie
Upon your trip to Malaysia, you may hear the words ‘Pasar Malam’. A Pasar Malam is a night market that’s prominent not just in KL and Selangor, but in many other parts of the country. But of all the night markets to visit, Pasar Malam Taman Connaught takes primary seat. At its peak, up to 700 vendors line the 2 kilometre road, making it the longest pasar malam in the country.
Photo by Tara Lets Anywhere
Everything is sold here. From the goods (clothes, gadgets, accessories) to the food (fried snacks, meals, drinks), it’s impossible to not find what you’re looking for.
The night market begins at 5PM and extends through the night till 1AM, and only opens on Wednesdays.
Photo by Tara Lets Anywhere
For a taste of the Modern Lifestyle
1 – Endless shopping streak at Asia’s finest malls
Whoever gave you the idea that Malaysians ‘live in trees’ should get their head out of their assets. Our country has some of the most luxurious malls in Southeast Asia.
For starters, the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur hosts the largest Coach store in Southeast Asia, amidst its other 500 flourishing outlets. The Suria KLCC Mall, attached to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world), houses almost 400 outlets comprising of luxury labels and high-street fashion brands, and mid-range retail chains.
Just out of Kuala Lumpur, residents of Selangor take pride in Sunway Pyramid – Malaysia’s first ever Egyption-themed shopping mall, cradling over 900 outlets in its 4,260,000 sq ft of shopaholic’s paradise. But it’s not all shop shop shop at Sunway Pyramid. Next to this giant complex is Sunway Lagoon, arguably the country’s biggest and most attractive theme parks.
Photo by Tourism Malaysia
Other places to fulfil your shopping thrills in KL and Selangor are (but not limited to) 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Berjaya Times Square, and Mid Valley Megamall.
2 – Genting Highlands
Escape to the cool highlands of Genting and find yourself in one of KL’s main entertainment district.
Genting Highlands is the prime spot for sweaty lowlanders to finally earn a respite from the heat and cool down. Among its infamous (but very frequented) past times for the less frugal with money is a visit to the casino to waste or win some cash. If that’s what you’re into, then there’s nothing stopping you except for how much is left in your pockets.
But if it isn’t, then there are other things you can do.
The stretch at the top of the hill has a good amount of pubs to carry the night away. Alternatively, the Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park offers some gut-churning rides to test your mettle.
3 – Cafe and Bar hopping at Bangsar Baru
PULP Cafe in Jalan Riong | Photo by Jonathan Lin
Bangsar is a developed urban city that lies on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Only recently has the area boomed into a thriving lifestyle location, particularly around Bangsar Baru.
The thing about Bangsar is that it takes on two different personas. In the day, the city is sophisticated and balanced. A well-mannered personality that opens its doors of the quaint eateries and minimalist café’s for the mingling residents. When appetites are satisfied, a trip to any of the abundant dessert places puts the cherry on top the cake.
Photo by Jaslyn Cakes
At night, Bangsar Baru’s nightlife unravels as the thumping music from bars, pubs, and clubs fill the air, and boisterous cheers of partygoers echo through the streets. The city awakens to a vibrant entertainment district set for a memorable night out. Bangsar is pretty big and bars are littered all over, but many have hailed Jalan Telawi 2 and Jalan Telawi 3 as the central spot for inebriation.
Photo by S I X Bangsar
For an escape to Mother Nature
1 – Hiking trails and Waterfalls
Despite being at the height of development, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor share some of the country’s best day hikes.
Perhaps the most famous of these is Broga Hill. Also known as ‘Bukit Lalang’, the hike up Broga Hill is not too strenuous and apt for all level of hikers. The 3 peaks atop Broga is a popular location to catch unparalleled sunrise views, though it may get a little crowded on the weekends. For those a little more enthusiastic, a night hike is something you can consider as this location doubles as a go-to spot for stargazing and observing cosmic events.
Photo by Andy Saiden
If you’re looking for more locations to stargaze, make sure to read our 8 Stellar Spots for Stargazing in Peninsular Malaysia.
Climbers seeking for something that’s new and challenging can attempt the quartz ridge of Bukit Tabur. The ridge is part of the Klang Gates Dam, and its highest point will give you a surreal view of the lake and the surrounding forest. The route up Bukit Tabur leans more towards something of a climb more so than a hike, and would require a level of experience and confidence to ensure your safe journey up.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are home to many other natural trails. If you’re still searching for hiking locations, check some of them out here.
Photo by @melongray
2 – Kuala Selangor
The Sky Mirror at Kuala Selangor Beach
Kuala Selangor is a district located right at edge of Selangor. The town sits on the coast of the Straits of Malacca and is known for a few very unique nature experiences.
The first, is the Sky Mirror. This is where the waters on the Kuala Selangor Beach are clear enough to reflect the sky like a mirror, hence the name. This ‘Mirror in the Sky’ is shallow enough for visitors to stand on the surface and strike up their best poses. It’s akin to the Salar de Uyuni lake in Bolivia, except the Sky Mirror is on a beach in Malaysia.
The next best thing to do is to watch the illuminating glow of fireflies in the evening. The Kuala Selangor firefly boat tour cruises through the Kuala Selangor River to an area inhabited by fireflies. In the evening, these thousands upon thousands of fireflies light up their bulbs to attract a potential mate, performing a natural lightshow in the process.
The same river is also where bioluminescent planktons emerge and causes a phenomenon known as ‘Blue Tears’. When agitated by movement, these planktons light up in a spectacular glowing blue that lights up the water temporarily. Make sure you don’t miss out on this! Tickets to witness this phenomenon can bought at a cheaper rate with Wonderfly.
The Blue Tear phenomenon
3 – Recreational Parks
Photo by Teja on the Horizon
Cities can be overwhelming, and one can easily get sick of the heavy traffic and looming metallic skyscrapers. Thankfully, there are recreational parks that we can always escape to for a quiet respite.
Perdana Botanical Gardens KL is a large-scale recreational park established in 1888. Spanning 91.6 hectares, the ground is segmented into many different attractions, including an Orchird Garden and a Hibiscus Garden. Good news too for the social media crazy millennials: the Canopy at the Main Square has a lovely designed open space that’s very instagrammable.
Photo by @ayda_june
For another instagrammable place, we’d recommend the KL Forest Eco Park. This park is a green lung smack in the middle of the city, and is in very close proximity to the KL Towers. While it has a few hiking trails mazing around the park, the 200-metre canopy walk remains a favourite for leisure strolls and photos.
The canopy walk at KL Forest Eco Park | Photo by @katemeets
For a sense of History
1 – National Museum of Malaysia and Tugu Negara
The National Museum of Malaysia offers an insightful overview not just into the history of Malaysia, but of the prehistoric civilizations that thrived on the same lands aeons ago.
The museum features artefacts dating back to the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. The sculptures and statues unearthed includes those from the early civilizations of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Srivijaya and Majapahit (they sound familiar because they’re in your history textbooks).
The National Museum also covers the indelible impact of the colonial era, as well as the cultures and traditions of Malaysia.
Photo by Malaysia.Travel
In keeping with the history of Malaysia, we would also suggest making your way to the Tugu Negara. The Tugu Negara is a National Monument erected to commemorate those who fought for the country’s freedom, especially against the Japanese Occupation in World War 2 and the period of struggle during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 – 1960. The monument was unveiled in 1966 and depicts 7 men in battle, with the topmost figure holding the Malaysian flag upright.
Photo by Malaysia.Travel
2 – Royal Klang Heritage
Photo by Zain Abdullah
The royal town of Klang was the former capital of Selangor and is one of the oldest townships in Malaysia. It was an important centre of administration for the British during the colonial era.
In present day, despite the developments that have taken place, Klang is still interspersed with rustic colonial landmarks. Some of these include the Victorian-style Klang Selatan Fire Station established in the 1890’s and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes built in 1928.
Photo by ExpatGo
While gallivanting across the quaint town of Klang, make sure to visit the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Royal Gallery. The gallery is dedicated to the former Sultan of Selangor Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah and exhibits the heritage of the Sultanate of Selangor. The building itself was constructed in 1909 and served as the administration office of the British, before being utilized by the Japanese as the war headquarters during their invasion of Malaya.
Photo by TourMAB
3 – Century old places of worship
As a multicultural society blessed with various religions, it’s only natural that places of worship feature prominently in your itinerary. The churches, temples, and mosques that adorns Kuala Lumpur are a good century old, and it lays the foundation for peacekeeping and harmonious living amidst different belief systems.
Photo by Sham Hardy
The Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek) was completed in the year 1909 and is one of the oldest mosque in Malaysia. It is located right at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak River and is only a short walk away from Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square).
In the 1800’s, Kapitan China Yap Ah Loy – a prominent figure in the development of KL – built the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple dedicated to two deities that protected him during the civil war from 1870 – 1873. The temple was finally completed in 1883 and is the oldest Taoist temple in KL.
Photo by ExpatGo
Situated at the edge of Chinatown, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple has been standing proudly since 1873 – even before Chinatown became Chinatown. The most outstanding feature of KL’s oldest Hindu temple is the 5-tiered entrance tower known as the Gopuram, which depicts up to 228 Hindu deities and idols.
Photo by KLIA2
And finally, the oldest Anglican Church in KL – St. Mary’s Cathedral, was built in 1894. The church has a pipe organ that was installed in 1898, and despite the damage it was taken during the massive floods in 1925 and 1926, and the catastrophe of World War 2, the organ still functions.
Photo by Wikipedia
This is only a glimpse of what Kuala Lumpur and Selangor has to offer. And just in case you’re wondering why food doesn’t feature here – we’re saving that for another article. Don’t worry, we don’t intend for you to starve throughout the trip here. Food requires a special dedicated section which we promise we’ll get into.
In the meantime, start marking down those dates for your visit here, and we’ll see you when you land.