Your go-to guide for where to stay, where to eat and things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Includes insider tips from locals for top dining and wellness experiences!
After 6 months in Bali we were pretty keen for some concrete jungle action. The cheap flights to -and accommodation in- Kuala Lumpur made it an easy decision for us. We stayed for 10 days and during this time fell in love with the diversity KL offers.
This guide is formatted in the following order:
- Where to stay
- Where to eat & drink
- Things to do
- KL travel tips
See also The Ultimate Travel Guide To Ubud
WHERE TO STAY
There’s an option for every budget, from high end hotels to budget backpacker accommodation. As KL is filled with so many great resort-style apartment buildings, we chose our stay via Airbnb. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, sign up here to get $50 off your first stay. Click here for a map view the areas mentioned below. I’ve also added Damansara as an additional area as it’s mentioned below several times for places to eat, drink and things to do.
- Bukit Bintang – Stay here if you’re only in KL for a few days and want to explore town, go shopping and tourist hot spots. From here you can walk to shopping malls, great cafes and restaurants, Jalan Alor and easily jump on the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus to do your site seeing.
- View this Airbnb accommodation in Bukit Bintang: Invito Suites.
- KLCC – Stay here if you don’t fancy your options in Bukit Bintang, it’s right next door (and home to the Petronas Towers and some of the best roof top bars).
- View this Airbnb accommodation in KLCC: Fraser Residence Hotel.
- Kampung Baru – Is like stepping into Malaysia’s past, within a ring of high-rise buildings (including Setia Sky Residents where we stayed). The views of the city from this vantage are unbeatable! Stay here if you want skyline views and are happy to get taxis/Ubers around.
- View this Airbnb accommodation in Kampung Baru: Setia Sky Residence.
- Bangsar Baru – Having visited and eaten in many hot spots in the centre, I think we’d stay here next, predominantly thanks to the local culture and abundance of cafes / fabulous food on offer.
- View this Airbnb accommodation in Bangsar: Capri by Fraser (in Bangsar South).
- Pudu – Is on the edge off Bukit Bintang. Like Kampung Baru, there is an abundance of luxury apartment accommodation with great city skyline views. Wai Sek Kai, one of the oldest and authentic food streets in KL is located here – about 20 hawker stalls provide some very interesting offerings (see here or here for more).
- To view Airbnb accommodation in Pudu, head here.
WHERE TO EAT
This is my favourite topic so I’ve got you well and truly covered! Keep reading for:
- Best cheap and street food
- Must-try restaurants & bars
- Best cafes
Best cheap food, street food & food markets:
- Jalan Alor – This KL’s most famous road for street food. Visit Changkat road for drinks beforehand.
- Chinatown – Home to Petaling St, this bustling area never sleeps. It’s narrow streets offer bargain shopping for imitation goods as well as an array of local food fare.
- Pavilion Mall – Located in Bukit Bintang, the food court is at the very base of the mall (lower ground level) has an abundance of delicious affordable and high-end options.
- Brickfields – Otherwise known as Little India, this area offers a strip of authentic Indian dining options. Visit Chat Masala for the best Indian vegetarian food ever, then Pisang Goreng for fried banana.
- Sri Nirwan Maju – Located in Bangsar, locals say it offers the best banana leaf rice in KL. We thought it was tasty and a fun experience.
Plus, if you’re in Kuala Lumpur on:
- Wednesday nights – Visit the Connaught Night Market. Try interesting offerings such as bbq oyster/squid, smelly tofu & plant pot ice cream, ah pan aka pan cake, coconut jelly, Japanese cheesecake and egg tarts.
- Sunday nights – Visit the Bangsar markets – they’re said to be a foodies haven.
In Bukit Bintang – view them on the map here.
- Dine in the dark – For the obvious experience.
- Din Tai Fung – For an international favourite after a burst of shopping.
In Bukit Damansara:
Don’t leave KL without visiting one of these restaurants! View their location on the map here.
- PLOY – Ploy means “gem” in Thai and let me tell you, each Japanese-Thai fusion dish that they offer looks like a true gem. Check this place out on Instagram to see for yourself (and drool all over your phone). The menu offers various sushi, sashimi and not-so-Asian dishes. Yum!
- Babe – Is about fun dining as opposed to fine dining. It’s modern Japanese tapas with divine ambiance and a view to die for. If you decide to visit, block a few hours from your day and fully enjoy the experience on offer here. Pick a bottle of wine and splash out on the degustation menu.
Note: Babe and PLOY are located in the same building as Be Urban Wellness (mentioned below), making them a great lunch or dinner option before or after your wellness experience.
Tip: Visit Skullduggery beforehand for an inventive cocktail in one of KL’s most unique bar offerings.
Popular high-rise cocktail bars:
The places below are all in Bukit Bintang & KLCC. View this map for the location of each bar.
- Mr Chews Chino Latino Bar – Go for the views, quality cocktails, ambiance and dessert degustation!
- Heli Lounge Bar – It’s an actual helicopter pad on the roof top.
- Sky Bar – It also has a pool that you may swim in.
- Marinis on 57 – A traditional cocktail bar right next to the Petronas Towers.
Best cafes & coffee:
Thanks to the locals penchant for socialising over a coffee and cake, the cafe scene is pretty good. The dishes are creative and many vibe that of happening cafe in Melbourne or Sydney.
In Bangsar (best area for cafes in my opinion) – view the cafes on the map here.
- VCR – Go for good coffee and unique, flavoursome food. Think magical hotcakes, shoft shell crab burgers, polenta and mushroom dishes and ah-mazing french toast!
- Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar – Make a stop to Alexis for cake with a coffee or vino – their cakes are amazing, seconded by my local (foodie) friend. Or go all out, enjoying dinner and dessert there!
- PULP – By Papa Palheta, coffee connoisseurs will appreciate this place. They also host workshops and sell beans and equipment so you can take your obsession home.
- Drip Loft – A combined coffee and vape shop, if this is your thing, it’s worth making a visit.
- Antipodean – A popular one for brunch or coffee and cake.
In Bukit Bintang – view the cafes on the map here.
- A • Toast Breakfast & Juice Bar – Located in Pudu on the edge of Bukit Bintang. This place is small, with an even smaller menu, but totally worth a visit for pre-exploring fuel or brunch (though go for coffees elsewhere).
- Merchant’s Lane – Hidden away in Chinatown, this place is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Go before or after your visit to Chinatown.
- Feeka – Located in the heart of the city, Feeka offers quality coffee and super tasty meals – the omelettes were my fave!
- Acme – I didn’t actually make it here, but the coffee and desserts look fab so it’s on my list for next time. Check it out if you’re close by and let me know what you think!
- VCR – Same as the one in Bangsar, noted above.
Outside of Bukit Bintang – view the cafes on the map here.
- The Red Beanbag – Part of the Publika Mall complex. Go for breakfast/brunch/lunch. All the meals look delicious, and the coffee was on point. The french toast lured me in, I was wowed by the look of the seafood pasta and ended up eating a salmon dish.
- The Good Batch – In Damansara. Go for brunch / after 11am. The Read Beanbag or here would be a good (albeit indirect) stop before heading to Be Urban or 1 Utama.
- League of Captains – A short drive from Kampung Baru or KLCC. I wouldn’t go on purpose, but if you’re staying close by, the coffee is good. The sourdough waffles, overnight oats, croissant with avo & eggs and the salmon poke also look pretty fab.
THINGS TO DO
- KL hop-on, hop-off – For about $15 Aussie dollars per adult you can be transported to 23 attractions such as the National museum, lake gardens, Chinatown/Petaling St, Little India, the Petronas towers, KL tower, Central Market, the butterfly & bird parks, plus more.
- Shopping – Bukit Bintang and KLCC offer all the shops that you could ever ask for. Pavillion and Suria were my favourite. 1 Utama out past Damansara is also an option – it’s the largest shopping centre in Malaysia.
- Batu Caves – Batu Caves is an impressive limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples. Do you research on the significance of this place, then check it out!
- KL Eco Park & Canopy Walk – A good place to visit if you want to burn some of the delicious food you’ve been eating, or have kids you want to tire out. Entrance is free.
- Reflexology on Changkat Road – Because being pampered is the best. Go after you have a meal along Jalan Alor.
- Be Urban Wellness – Voted Malaysia’s best wellness centre several years in a row. It boasts views to the city and offers a variety of wellness experiences from yoga classes and a gym, to beauty, spa and detox therapies. You can even enjoy the floatation tank, oxygen tank and kegal chair!
- Flights – Use Skyscanner to search for cheap flights via the best airports. Select ‘month view’ to see when the cheapest day / flight is for the month you want to travel – it’s the best!
- Visa – Australians currently don’t need visa for 90 days, though it’s important you check this and other regulations/warnings/vaccines recommended before you travel anywhere.
- Language – Malay is the official language but you’ll hear a mix – about 60% speak English. Check out this awesome article for how to speak the local lingo.
- Transport – Getting around is easy! Taxis are cheap and Uber is is available in abundance.
- Water – The tap water is not drinkable. Most places have a filter on the tap so it’s fine to use, but be wary if not!
I hope you’ve found this travel guide to Kuala Lumpur helpful. If you have a question or tip of your own to share, pop it in the comment section below or connect with me on Instagram – I love hearing from you.
P.S. Who do you know that’s heading to Kuala Lumpur? Share this guide with them now – they’ll thank you later!