Visit the famous heritage sites of central Kuala Lumpur on this walking tour to all the main attractions including Merdeka Square, Central Market and Chinatown.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore
Kuala Lumpur is on the western side of Malaysia, a five- to six-hour bus ride from Singapore. We always book our tickets with 12GoAsia*, a handy website that shows you all the available buses. You can either book directly from Singapore* (most buses leave from SunCity), or you can get a much cheaper ticket by booking from Johor Bahru*. The buses go to the main bus terminal of Kuala Lumpur – Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS Terminal) – which is on the south side of Kuala Lumpur. From there you can take a Grab or light rail to the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
With a bus directly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the bus drops you at the border to complete border formalities and picks you up again on the other side. If you take a bus from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, you have to travel yourself to Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal. The 170 bus from Singapore goes directly from the Malaysian side of the border to Larkin Sentral and you can pay with your EZ-link card, so this is a convenient option.
If you are visiting more places in Malaysia, it may be more convenient to hire a car for your holiday from Kuala Lumpur, check options on Rentalcars*.
Tips for Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour
- Traffic can be bad – the light rail is a cheap and efficient way to get around. You can buy individual tickets at the machines at the stations.
- Early mornings are a good time to enjoy this walk to avoid the heat of the day – spend the hottest part of the day in a museum.
- Check out our other walking tours of Malacca or Johor Bahru, or other great hikes on our Singapore Hiking Page.
Attractions on the Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour
On this walking tour you’ll see the main sites and attractions of Kuala Lumpur:
- Jamek Mosque
- Merdeka Square
- Central Market
- Islamic Art Museum
- Perdana Botanical Garden
- National Museum
Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour Route
This walking tour starts from Masjid Jamek Light Rail Station in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. From here you will see the first stop on the walking route, Jamek Mosque, right in front of you.
1. Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque
Key Information: Free entry, open 8:30am-12:30pm and 2:30pm-4:30pm. You have to dress modestly to visit Jamek Mosque, but if not you are given a long gown.
Jamek Mosque (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a wonderfully beautiful mosque in the centre of town, near Merdeka Square. You can go in or just admire it from the outside. The mosque is set amongst palm trees by a confluence in the river, and it’s the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur, dating back to 1909.
Directions: Head around the right-hand-side of the mosque and across the river on the glass-sided Masjid Jamek Pedestrian Bridge, into Merdeka Square.
History of Kuala Lumpur
The city of Kuala Lumpur is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gomak Rivers. Initially a little township grew up here along the banks of the rivers, surrounded by very fertile land. It grew up with the tin mining boom, and is now a booming, modern city. In the centre of town, many historic buildings are well preserved, and others are beginning to crumble into ruins, in a way even more evocative of the past.
2. Merdeka Square
Key Information: Free entry, open 24/7. Lit nicely at night and pedestrianized at the weekends.
Merdeka (Independence) Square (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a large grassy square in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by historic buildings. It’s a sight not to be missed in Kuala Lumpur. Important parades are held here, where independence was gained by the Malaysians from the British. It was here in 1957 that the old Union Jack was lowered and the Malaysian flag was raised. The road along the edge of Merdeka Square is pedestrianised on certain weekends.
Directions: Head straight on, across a road, then right to reach the Count Down Clock
Count Down Clock and St Mary’s Cathedral
At the Count Down Clock monument, you can slip inside beneath the water and look out through the rain drops while simultaneously being cooled down by the damp air. Oppoiste this new buildings is the Panggung Bandaraya DBKL Theatre, a historic theatre in a lovely building.
Directions: Head left across the river, then left again to walk along the river to the front of St Mary’s Cathedral.
St Mary’s Cathedral (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is an old colonial British cathedral, a gathering place for Christians from the British colonial era. You can visit inside. It’s next to the Royal Selangor Club, a unique building from 1884, now with a mock-Tudor style. It’s always been a posh members club, so you can’t go in.
Directions: Now make a loop of Merdeka Square, passing the important monuments on the way.
Museums and historic buildings
The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a great museum about the history of Kuala Lumpur City, located in the fancy building at the far end of the Square. It’s open 9am-6pm every day apart from Tuesdays.
The gorgeous long building with the clock tower is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Tripadvisor Reviews*). From 1897, it used to be the base of the colonial British administration in Kuala Lumpur. The design is Moorish-European, with clock towers covered in burnished copper.
To the right of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is the old post office, and next to that in another lovely building, is the National Textile Museum (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open 9am-6pm daily, RM2-5). This museum is about how textiles have been important in the fashion and culture of Malaysia, with a focus on Batik.
Directions: Head towards the river, and then left to walk along the banks.
From the walkway by the river, there are great views of Jamek Mosque and the back side of the Sultan Abdul building, along with a peaceful garden and several benches.
Directions: Continue along the river, across Jamek Mosque Pedestrian Bridge and then right along the street past the light rail station where you started. Now head right down a side street immediately after the overhead bridges. Continue walking along the river until you reach the front of the Central Market.
3. Central Market
Key Information: Open 10am-6pm. Allow 30 minutes.
The Central Market of Kuala Lumpur (Tripadvisor Reviews*), founded in 1888 for the local tin mining community, used to be a bustling wet market selling fresh produce. It’s now transformed into a huge warehouse selling mainly tourist goods, antiques, clothes and craft works, along with food upstairs. The building itself is from 1888. Batik products. There are also sometimes cultural shows and eating places in the market upstairs. The current building, Art Deco style, is from the 1930s.
Directions: Head out of the far end of the market and turn right. Take a right, then quickly left and right again down Jalan Hang Kasturi. You’re now near the centre of Chinatown.
In Chinatown (TripAdvisor Reviews*) there are Chinese Buddhist temples, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, shophouses, street food and bars, with lots going on along the streets, and that shopping street. The Chinatown area feels more busy and authentic than some other more sterilized areas of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a great place to walk around.
On your left you’ll soon see the famous Taoist temple, Sze Ya Temple, a small but ornate temple that you can visit during daylight hours.
Directions: Walk down the street and cross the main road. Turn left and soon you’ll reach the entrance to pedestrianized Petaling Street.
Petaling Street Market (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is in the centre of Chinatown. It feels quite different, very busy and more authentic than some of the other neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur. The street is covered, so shady and sheltered from the rain. There are many little stalls along the street, selling fabrics, crafts and much more, at quite good prices, and haggling is excepted at most stalls. Petaling Street is also a great place to visit at nighttime when there’s a night market.
Directions: At the end of Petaling Street, continue straight on through busy Chinatown. You’ll reach a roundabout and see Chan See Shu Yuen Temple on your left.
Temples in Chinatown
Chan See Shu Yuen Temple is an old, atmospheric Chinese temple with many red lanterns in the central courtyard.
Directions: Head back a short distance, then left and right to walk along a street parallel to Petaling Street. Cross Jalan Sultan, head slightly right then left again to continue north. At the next crossroads turn left.
You’ll soon see Guan Di Temple (open 7am-7pm, free entry), another Taoist Temple, dedicated to the God of War. There are several fierce temple guardians, calming incense and wooden statues.
Directions: Just down the street on the opposite side of the road is Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple (Tripadvisor Reviews*), from 1873, is a Hindu Temple of southern Indian origins for the Tamil community and the oldest Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur. The gopuram is very colourful and wonderfully carved. On non-festival days you can visit inside, with free entry at 6am-noon and 4:30-8:30pm. Women must have covered shoulders and knees.
Crossing the Railway and the River
Directions: Just right of the temple, head towards the river. You’ll see an escalator going up to a walkway and bridge across the railway. You’ll cross the river first, then a highway, then head right to parallel the railways before the walkway turns left and into a multistory car park. Head out of the car park and right along the road to a large roundabout.
From the roundabout, you’ll see Kuala Lumpur Sentral Railway Station (Tripadvisor Reviews*), an atmospheric crumbling old colonial building. It’s very picturesque and quite an anomaly in the middle of the town. Opposite the Railway Station building is another colonial building in a slightly better state of repair.
Directions: Cross over the road (there is an underground passage, but it’s quite dark, or go back to the roundabout), and at the roundabout head left towards the Islamic Art Museum.
5. Islamic Art Museum
Key Information: Open 9:30am-6pm every day. Tickets to the Islamic Art Museum cost RM14/7 for adults/discounts. Allow 1-2 hours.
The Islamic Art Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a large museum containing thousands of Islamic objects, all housed in a beautiful gallery space. The building is also lovely from outside, with a large blue onion dome. The museum has various exhibits focusing on architecture, books, and textiles, and also displays models of important mosques from around the world. It’s well worth a visit.
You’ll pass the National Mosque (Tripadvisor Reviews*) before reaching the Islamic Art Museum. It’s less attractive than Masjid Jamek and quite a contemporary building, but it’s very large and can accommodate up to 15,000 worshippers. To visit, head to the visitor’s entrance (you’ll be provided with robes and headscarves) which is open 9am-12pm, 3-4pm and 5:30-6:30pm every day, but not Friday mornings.
Directions: Head back down the street a little way and turn right opposite the mosque up a road towards the Botanical Gardens. Follow the signs towards teh National Planetarium, up some steps into the park.
Just before the gardens you’ll pass the Royal Malaysia Police Museum (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open 9am-5pm (until 2:30pm on Fridays), closed Mondays, free admission). It’s a museum about the history of the police in Malaysia, from British colonial rule until the present.
6. Perdana Botanical Garden
Key Information: Open 7am-8pm, free entry.
The Perdana Botanical Gardens (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) are a peaceful place to relax near the centre of Kuala Lumpur, and a break from walking. There are several sections of the gardens to explore, including the Sunken Garden, the Hibiscus Garden, the Bamboo Garden, and several walks around lakes.
Bordering the gardens is the KL Bird Park (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open 9am-6pm, RM42-63). It has a very large walk-in aviary and a restaurant/cafe, a great place if you like birds. If you’re interested in birds, butterflies and Orchids, try a tour that combines them all*.
The National Planetarium (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open Tue-Sun 9am-4:30pm, RM12/8 for foreign adults/children) is also located in the Botanic Gardens. There are exhibits about space and how past great Islamic civilizations have contributed to astronomy.
Directions: Your route through the Botanical Gardens is not important, but end by heading towards the southern end of the park, at the south end of the lakes. There is a tunnel here underneath a highway, and once across you’ll see the National Museum, and the final stop on the walking tour, on your left.
7. National Museum of Malaysia
Key Information: Open 9am-5pm every day. Closed first Monday of every month. Allow roughly 2 hours. R5/2 for foreign adults/children.
The National Museum of Malaysia (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is divided into four exhibits about four different periods of Malaysia’s history, starting far back in time and ending in the current day. There are also several exhibits around the museum grounds, such as old planes and trains.
There is a useful Metro stop right by the National Museum, from which you can take a train back to the beginning of the hike, or to other attractions in Kuala Lumpur further away from the centre, as described below.
Best Museums in Central Kuala Lumpur
The best museums in Kuala Lumpur are the National Museum of Malaysia (the last stop on this walking tour) and the Islamic Arts Museum (stop 5).
- National Museum of Malaysia: Overview of the history of Malaysia, from ancient times until the present.
- Islamic Arts Museum: Beautifully displayed items from great Islamic Civilizations.
- Kuala Lumpur City Gallery: History of Kuala Lumpur City.
- National Textile Museum: Focusing on batik and the importance of textiles in the culture and history of Malaysia.
- Royal Malaysia Police Museum: History of the police force from British colonial times until the present.
- National Planetarium: Galleries about space, astronomical advances made by former great Islamic Civilizations.
Attractions in Kuala Lumpur further Afield
The Batu Caves (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open 6am to 9pm) are quite far from the centre of town, but definitely worth a look as they are one of the most unique sights in Kuala Lumpur. The spectacular limestone hills contain many caves, several of which are known as the Batu Caves, which contain a temple complex roughly 100 years old.
The main cave is free to enter, though there are several additional caves that you have to pay a small fee to enter. One cave displays the story of the Ramayana, and is worth the small entrance fee. Women must cover their knees – you are forced to buy a sarong to wrap around if your knees are not covered.
To reach the Batu Caves either take a taxi/Grab or go via train – there’s a station adjacent to Batu Caves. In rush hour, the train can be much quicker than Grab. The trains, however, are not that frequent, running roughly every hour or so.
The Petronas Towers (Tripadvisor Reivews*) are the most famous landmark building in Kuala Lumpur. They used to be the tallest towers in the world, and have come to define the city. These towers have 88 stories each, with a bridge between them roughly halfway up, called the Skybridge (check out tickets on Klook*, open 9am-9pm, closed Mondays). You can also visit several rooftop bars in the area for sky-high views.
To visit the Petronas Towers, Batu Caves and the KL Bird Park, organized for you, check out this full-day tour on Klook*.
Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower)
The KL Tower Observation Deck (Tripadvisor Reviews*, open 11am-7pm Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri and open 10am-10pm on Tue, Sat and Sun) is another tower viewing option, and is much higher than the Petronas Towers Skybridge. It has the added advantage of being already built on a hill. You can buy discount tickets on Klook*.
FAQS – Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour
The main attractions of Kuala Lumpur are Jamek Mosque, Merdeka Square, Central Market, Chinatown and Petaling Street, the Islamic Art Museum, Perdana Botanical Garden and the National Museum of Malaysia.
The best museums in Kuala Lumpur are the National Museum of Malaysia and the Islamic Arts Museum.
Drive, fly, or take a bus directly from Singapore or from Johor Bahru. The buses go to the main bus terminal of Kuala Lumpur – Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS Terminal) – which is on the south side of Kuala Lumpur. From there you can take a Grab or light rail to the centre of Kuala Lumpur.