24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur: Travel Tips on Where to Go and What to Eat
Kuala Lumpur is a city that is often overlooked amongst its more touristy neighboring Southeast Asian cities. But it has a lot more to offer than its reputation as a transportation hub. Even if you only have 24 hours in KL, there are many places to hit up to change your perception of the city. Here are some things you should jot down on your list for what to see, eat, and do in KL!
(Temple Cave & Dark Cave)
The best way to start the day is with a little bit of exercise. In this case, the steep 272 steps of stairs up the Batu Caves! The Batu Caves are conveniently located close to the city, about 30 minutes to an hour away depending on the mode of transportation.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes to climb up the stairs. It was raining pretty hard the day I was there so it would help if your shoes have some grip. And even though 272 steps sound like quite a lot, you’ll be distracted by the monkeys who are climbing alongside you, so the hike isn’t too bad.
The limestone forming the caves are said to be older than 400 million years.
We decided to go up to the Temple Cave first, which houses many Hindu shrines inside the spacious cave. Some parts of the Temple Cave were under construction when I visited, so we didn’t see as many shrines as I expected. But it was really cool to see how a religious site integrates into nature.
After the Temple Cave, we decided to check out the Dark Cave, which is known to house insects, rock formations, and bats that are found nowhere else. Oh, and it is pitch dark inside. I am not huge on insects (who is?) so I was a bit hesitant to try it out, but I was curious and intrigued by what I might experience in the cave. So we signed up for a tour (you’re not allowed to enter individually). The tour guide was knowledgeable and taught us many things about the ecology of the cave and pointed out several interesting things along the way.
One thing to note, women need to wear bottoms with hems past their knees. So if you’re wearing shorts, you can ask to borrow a cover-up while you’re there. Or you can just wear leggings like I did.
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Bak Kut Teh
I’ve been obsessed with Bak Kut Teh since my last trip to Singapore. The pork that melts in your mouth plus the savory soup……I can still taste it in my mouth! So when I found that there are several good Bak Kut Teh places in KL, I was thrilled. After doing some research, I decided on Sun Fong Bak Kut Teh, which is located in the heart of KL but is known to be one of the best in the city.
On the menu, you’ll see that there are many variations to choose from depending on what type of pork you want and how it’s cooked. I decided on the “special version,” which I’m told is just an upgrade of the classic Bak Kut Teh. I was not disappointed. Let’s just say the soup (and my bowl of rice) disappeared quickly after it was served.
Compared to the restaurants in Singapore, the Sun Fong version contains soup that has a stronger herbal taste, and the pork is chewier.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll see many celebrities that have visited in the photographs on the wall.
One of my favorite things I did on my recent trip to Abu Dhabi was the visit to the Grand Mosque (you can read it about it in my post here.) So I had no reason to miss the National Mosque in KL, which is a grand symbol of the Islamic country of Malaysia.
On the way to the National Mosque, the car drove by the Bird Park, Orchid Garden, and Butterfly Garden, which are also popular destinations for tourists. Then you’ll notice the building of the mosque in white, blue and gold. The roof looks like an open umbrella, and in the center is the main prayer hall.
Note that you’ll be given a robe before entering the mosque to be respectful.
Petronas Towers + KLCC
You can’t miss the Petronas Towers on your trip to KL. It’s the most iconic landmark of the city, hands down! Since I’ve already been to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa (read more here), I did not plan to go up to the top of the Petronas Towers.
From the front and back of the KLCC mall, you can snap great pictures of the Petronas Towers.
If you come here during the day, check out the KLCC park at the back of the mall. It’s a nice urban hideout with lots of greenery.
Heli Lounge Bar
Have you ever sipped on a cocktail on a helipad? If the answer is no, then make sure you plan a trip to the Heli Lounge Bar. You get a 360-degree view of the city, and the sunset is spectacular. Make sure you go early at 5:30 or 6 to grab a table since the bar fills up quickly.
Seafood at Jalan Alor Street
If you’re looking for legit seafood and authentic Malay flavors, you have to drop by the Jalan Alor street for dinner or late-night eats. Once you step onto the street, you feel like you’re in another time in Malaysia. Gone are the tall buildings and swanky establishments, here you get a taste (literally) of the real Malaysia.
Restaurants and food stalls line up the street, while locals and tourists devour the dishes that are placed in front of them. The best is Wong Ah Wah (WAW) Restaurant. Even though it’s known for its chicken wings, all the other dishes we ordered were all so good and so unique. I’ve had many types of food around the world, but some of these flavors are really a first-time for me. The dishes are so fresh and flavorful. I would go back to KL again just to have them!
You have to walk it off after having all the seafood, so head over to Pavilion for some quick shopping. Pavilion KL is a big mall in the Bukit Bintang district. From luxury shopping to mass consumer brands, it’s got plenty of shops for you to choose from.
My favorite is the M Pavilion, a buyer shop that practically saved my life. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but hear me out. My main purpose of visiting KL this time is to attend a friend’s wedding. My boyfriend totally misread the wedding invitation and missed the evening gown dress code for dinner. So after landing in KL, I rushed to Pavilion and had two hours to get myself an evening gown. I found a gorgeous gown from C/Meo Collective at M Pavilion. There were actually quite a lot of dresses to choose from, too. So here’s a photo of me in my last-minute gown:
Another way to get a great view of the Petronas Towers is from the SkyBar, located on top of the Traders Hotel. Make sure you reserve in advance if you want a table next to the window.
Transportation: metro is convenient but if in a rush to get to places, just take Uber, Grab or taxi. Uber/Grab is generally cheaper than taxi. Also, taxi drivers sometimes insist on a price. Don’t cave. Tell them you want to go by meter.
Malaysia is a Muslim country. Although a dress code is not enforced on tourists, try to be respectful and wear bottoms with slightly longer hem.
Shangri-La. It’s located in the center of KL in the Bukit Bintang district, very close to the Pavilion, KLCC, and Jalan Alor Street.