Kuala Lumpur sets an example of how a city embraces “superdiveristy.”
Traveling throughout Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful celebration of multiculturalism. From Hindu caves, Buddhist temples, to the National Mosque; Malaysia’s capital city, or KL, as the locals say, is a true melting pot of religions, cultures and ethnicities. The so-called “superdiversity” can be tasted through its food and colorfully painted by artists. Here are some of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur, it’s a great reminder to always keep an open mind.
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Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
The 400 million years old Batu Caves, literally translates to “rock,” and is one of the most popular landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. After climbing 272 steps painted in rainbow colors, visitors will reach a series of three main limestone caves, Hindu temples and shrines. It takes about 10-15 minutes to climb the steps. Beware of monkeys, wet grounds and narrow steps. For Hindus, it has become one of the most significant sites of pilgrimage.
Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Tower, Lower Ground (Concourse) Level, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The ultimate icon of Kuala Lumpur has to be the Petronas Twin Towers, often also referred to as KLCC Twin Towers. The 88-floor skyscrapers was considered the tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004. At 558 feet tall, Petronas Twin Towers offers a panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur in its entirety. Inside, there are shopping malls, an oceanarium, an urban curated green-lung project and a Symphony Lake.
Chinatown Kuala Lumpur
Chinatown is a wild circus in Kuala Lumpur but also a delicious place to try local fares and do some shopping during the day! Chinatown centers around Petaling Street, where numerous vendors sell faux designer handbags and clothing, electronic gadgets, spices, fruits and local street foods. At night, there are some fun bars and cafés in this neighborhood.
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur. Situated next to Chinatown, the temple features a 5-tiered gopuram (tower) that colorfully depicts 228 Hindu gods sculpted by Southern Indian artisans. For Indian immigrants, the temple has been a sacred place of worship since the beginning despite that today, it has become a touristic stop.
National Mosque of Malaysia
Jalan Perdana, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Before entering the National Mosque of Malaysia, women will be given purple robes to wear. When it was built in 1965, the mosque symbolized elements of modern architecture. The expansive sanctuary can hold up to 15,000 devotees and displays a unique open umbrella dome. The mosque also features several fountains and pool.
The Zhongshan Building
Jalan Kampung Attap, 80 - 84, Jalan Rotan, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Zhongshan Building is a great spot for shopping and admiring artisanal arts and crafts. It is “an urban rejuvenation project, energised by a close-knit community of artists, researchers, designers, artisans, and musicians.” There are three floors of research labs, ateliers, vintage music shops, art gallery, independent cafés…and many more. This is the hub of independent artists showcasing their work through music, design and culture.
One of the best food markets in KL has to be Jalan Alor, even for locals. It’s a 500-meter long street of barbecue, seafood, durian, snacks…and much more. The market is a fine example of multicultural cuisines that exist in Malaysia. One can taste anything from Southeast Asian fruits, Chinese desserts, and Indian quick bites. The night market might be crowded with travelers, but come here at night when it’s lively and tasty.
Thean Hou Temple
65, Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thean Hou Temple is a sprawling beauty on top of Robson Heights, it majestically overlooks Jalan Syed Putra. The six-tiered Buddhist temple pays homage to the Chinese Goddess of the Sea: Mazu. The architectural elements combine symbols from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Lines of lanterns, red pillars and ornate roofs carry traditional meanings for the Chinese communities that immigrated to Malaysia early on.
National Art Gallery
Lembaga Pembangunan Seni Visual Negara, 2, Jalan Temerloh, off, Jln Tun Razak, 53200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The National Art Gallery of Malaysia is a beautiful space spotlighting Malaysian artists that depict life, history, political and social climates in the country. Many artworks narrate the region’s sordid history of colonization and migration, at times, the difficulties of a nation built on “superdiversity.” The building encompasses a circular ramp that connects various floors, allowing visitors to view art from different angles.
Levels 3 and 5, Ilham Tower, 8, Lrg Binjai, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ilham Gallery is a stylish but industrial space promoting Malaysian modern and contemporary art. There are numerous exhibitions and events that reveal artists’ perspectives on gender inequality, children during war, female empowerment…just to name a few. In additional to thought-provoking pieces of art displayed throughout a single floor of the building, there’s another wing on a different floor where the gift shop sells charming arts and crafts.
The gift shop showcases a range of souvenirs carefully sourced from artisans, designers and craftspeople from all over the country.
Sultan Abdul Samad Mosque
Jalan Tun Perak, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jamek Mosque or Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosqueis sometimes also called: Friday Mosque. Jamek means “a place where people gather to worship” in Arabic, the architecture combines Moorish, Mughal and Indo-Saracenic design elements. The mosque features two main minarets, three domes that cover the sacred prayer halls. There’s a dress code for women, so be sure to cover up prior to entering.
The National Museum of Malaysia
Jabatan Muzium Malaysia, Jln Damansara, Perdana Botanical Gardens, 50566 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The National Museum of Malaysia celebrates Malaysia’s complicated but rich culture and history. The museum spans from prehistory to modern-day Malaysia. Your visit will begin with ethnology, geology and natural history that explain festivals, clothing, weddings, traditions, ceramics and musical instruments.