7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Jul 22, 2021

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city, has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its fascinating blend of Islamic architecture and postmodern buildings.

There are so many great attractions, especially for shopping, eating, and drinking, that it's hard to choose where to start your trip here. One of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur is to head out of the city on a three- to five-day trip to experience the real Malaysia. The country offers breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural diversity, delicious food, and fascinating traditions. You'll see a different world away from the hectic, modern metropolis.

Whether you're looking for coffee shops, markets, parks, museums, nightlife, or just a quiet place to reflect, Kuala Lumpur has something for everyone.

See the best things to do and places to visit in Kuala Lumpur with our guide to the top attractions in Malaysia.

Lake Gardens

Photo of Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanical Gardens: en.wikipedia.org

With some of the most magnificent scenery in the country, Lake Gardens, in northern Malaysia, is the ultimate example of the country's lush, tropical rainforest. Founded in 1982, the Lake Gardens Garden Resort now has 250 plant species in its tropical gardens, planted on terraced land overlooking picturesque, 18-meter-deep lakes. The lush garden settings provide a protected environment for its residents, who can enjoy plenty of water activities, such as sailing, rowing and kayaking. Visitors can also get to the garden by car via a scenic route that winds through dense vegetation past lakes and mountains.

National Mosque

Photo of National Mosque of Malaysia
National Mosque of Malaysia: en.wikipedia.org

The National Mosque (Masjid Negara) is an imposing, octagonal, Spanish-Mediterranean structure that dominates the heart of the capital city of Malaysia. Designed by a French architect, Jules Mastalozzi, it was built between 1924 and 1926 and has been praised for its striking concrete architecture and decorations. As well as the wonderful octagonal interior, the building also has a small courtyard with a fountain at the base of its main entry, which visitors can visit. In front of the mosque are flags and pictures of the nation's founder, Abdullah bin Ahmad, and it is said that they were used as shields for the local community during the anti-colonial revolution. Inside, there are three ablutions areas, as well as a well-preserved minaret that is also open to the public.

Merdeka Square

Photo of Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur
Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur: en.wikipedia.org

Known as “Istana Budaya” or “Ascot Gardens”, the iconic Merdeka Square in the heart of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a celebration of the nation's culture and history. The European-style fountain was built in 1879. Malaysia celebrates independence day (which is always held on August 31) with an elaborate ceremony that includes cultural performances and dancing. However, the country also celebrates other events, such as Chinese New Year. The National Mosque, or Masjid Negara, was built in 1964.

National Museum

Photo of National Museum (Malaysia)
National Museum (Malaysia): en.wikipedia.org

The National Museum in Kuala Lumpur is the largest museum in Southeast Asia and possibly in the world. The collection includes everything from cultural artifacts to everyday household items to weaponry and equipment from the Bronze Age to the 21st century. Some of the highlights include the 1,000-year-old Shao Lin Buddhist Temple of Penang and a collection of bamboo furniture from the Thien Hau Temple, one of the oldest surviving Chinese shrines in Southeast Asia. The museum features a planetarium, and kids will enjoy the special exhibitions for the babies and toddlers.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Photo of Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Sultan Abdul Samad Building: en.wikipedia.org

The former Sultan Abdul Samad Building is home to the Parliament of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. The main structure is a -high building in black-and-white checkered concrete that is symmetrical around a narrow axis. More than 6,000,000 square meters of space in the building (which is equivalent to about 150 football fields) house the Chamber of Parliament, the Prime Minister's office, various government departments and the Prime Minister's private quarters.

Istana Budaya

Photo of Istana Budaya
Istana Budaya: en.wikipedia.org

The symbol of the city, the Istana Budaya (or Dewan Istana Budaya), is a jewel-like building consisting of numerous art and cultural collections and a large atrium surrounded by a golden pattern of Chinese and Hindu carvings. The 22,000 square meters of collections, both art and antiquities, include the National Museum of Malaysia and Penyeranya Museum. Other collections are housed in converted Malay houses. Istana Budaya also houses the Istana Budaya Gallery which houses temporary art exhibitions by leading local and international artists, and displays works of the Royal Malay Art Museum.

Istana Negara

Photo of Istana Negara, Jalan Istana
Istana Negara, Jalan Istana: en.wikipedia.org

The imposing Istana Negara (Malaysian Presidential Palace) is the seat of the President of Malaysia. This awe-inspiring palace was built in 1911, and features elegant carved wood, magnificent gardens, and lavish rooms. It also has the one of the world's most famous porcelain collections, including the largest collection of Tang pottery in the world. You can see the royal residences, and the main palace, while touring the exhibitions on either of the palace's three floors. The impressive blue-and-gold entry hall is home to the Queen's State Crown. Other notable sights include the gardens of Istana Nurul Iman, Istana Yusof and Istana Kampong Glam, where you'll find the old Orang Kaya residence. Orang Kaya is the Malay equivalent of the British Peerage; the principal ruler of the state is an Orang Kaya. Once inside, head to the Malaysian Asian collections on the ground floor. These sections house historical pieces of Malaysian culture. The most interesting are the costume collection and the Royal Dental Museum. The next level of the exhibition is devoted to the royal families of Malaysia. The highlight of this level is the throne room. Like the other palace exhibits, the throne room was fashioned in Chinese and Japanese style and depicts the legends of the royalty of Malaya. You can get a glimpse of the grandeur of the Istana Negara in the bedchamber of the Istana Nurul Iman. You can also tour the lower palace, which houses traditional Malay and Islamic collections.