A city full of tasty street food, towering buildings, and a variety of cultures. There’s so much to do here (and so many good places to eat) that Kuala Lumpur is worth spending a couple of days in. In this post, we are sharing the best free things to do in Kuala Lumpur and a few more of our favorite recommendations!
We visited Kuala Lumpur and fell in love with all this city has to offer. Whether you’re sticking to a budget or traveling without one, make sure to check out this list of things to do to fill your time in the city. Kuala Lumpur is most likely on your itinerary while traveling through Malaysia but make sure it’s more than just a quick stop before flying in or out!
An Introduction to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. It is a very diverse city both in its people and style. From unique skyscrapers like the Petronas Twin Towers to the picturesque Chinatown shops and the bustling city center to the botanical gardens, you could stroll around Kuala Lumpur and always be looking at something completely different.
With a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and a variety of other cultures, Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful blend of people, art, and cuisine. Every person that calls Kuala Lumpur home has added to the diverse culture of the city making it so unique.
How much time is needed for Kuala Lumpur?
You can see a good amount of Kuala Lumpur in 2 days. This gives you enough time to get your bearings, walk around the city, and hit some of the must-see sites.
For us, this question is so hard because we are slow travelers who enjoy a lazy morning or afternoon every once in a while. However, to get a taste of what this city has to offer, you can see a lot in just one day or two.
Exploring Kuala Lumpur on a Budget
We first visited, not expecting much as we prefer to spend our time exploring the outdoors over cities, and were excited to board our plane to Borneo. But Kuala Lumpur definitely left an imprint on us and we are excited to share about the things that made us love the city so much.
As budget backpackers through Southeast Asia, we are always trying to stay under a certain dollar amount and Malaysia was definitely more expensive than some of its neighbors like Thailand and Cambodia. However, in the capital, there are plenty of free and budget-friendly things to do to fill your time, learn something new, and enjoy.
Free Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
In this list, we’ve included a variety of different things to do for free in Kuala Lumpur. There’s so much to do for free in KL that you might need to stay a couple of days to enjoy everything on this list. From admiring cultural sites to strolling through the greenery, this list has a few things for everyone.
At the end of this post is a Google Map you can use to explore the city with everything marked from this list!
1. Marvel at the Street Art
One of our favorite free things to do in Kuala Lumpur!
After visiting Georgetown, we weren’t sure if the street art in Kuala Lumpur could live up to the competition. We were wrong. The street art in Kuala Lumpur varies so much from detailed paintings of those who live there to bright, colorful walls full of wildlife. You could truly spend hours enjoying the street art in Kuala Lumpur.
We recommend grabbing an iced coffee and taking a morning stroll down some of the many art-filled streets. Some of our favorites are tagged on the map at the bottom!
2. Stroll Through Central Market
Wander through shops of handmade goods and local souvenirs. Whether you’re a collector of antiques or looking for some elephant pants, you’ll probably find something for yourself in the Central Market. But a visit to Central Market doesn’t require spending money. You can marvel at all the items sold in the various shops, taking in all the shops have to offer.
3. Watch the Cultural Performance at MATiC
One of our top recommendations for free things to do in Kuala Lumpur!
If you have the time PLEASE visit MATiC and watch the cultural performance there. We enjoyed the 45-minute-long show and can’t recommend it enough. Currently, there are performances a few days a week at 3 pm (check the website or stop by for the current schedule).
The performance is put on by an enthusiastic group of young dancers and singers. It’s a wonderful blend of songs and dances from the different cultural groups that call Malaysia home. When asked, you can even volunteer to get on stage with the performers and learn a dance or two!
4. Climb Up to the Batu Caves Temple
A must on our list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
A very famous site near Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, is worth the visit and is budget-friendly. We love when the famous sites are still affordable, and besides transportation, a visit to Batu Caves is free. This Hindu site is located 13 km from the Chinatown area and is easy to reach by Grab Taxi or Kuala Lumpur’s Public Transit System.
The 216 rainbow-colored steps are stunning, and the cave’s temple is breathtaking. We recommend visiting between sunrise and 9 am to have most of the place to yourself.
5. Make a Stop at the Guan Di Temple
This temple is one of the most impressive Chinese temples in KL, dedicated to the warrior recognized as the “God of War”. It’s home to the 59kg copper weapon believed to have special powers and protects those who touch it. When visiting you will see locals coming to pray and pay their respects. Please be respectful when visiting the religious site.
6. Picnic in KLCC Park
Surrounded by skyscrapers, like the Twin Towers, KLCC Park is a peaceful little green area in the city. In KLCC you will find joggers, picnickers, and maybe even a couple doing some crazy yoga poses. There is a jogging path, two fountains, and a children’s playscape.
You can take a peaceful stroll under the trees, wade through the swimming pool, and take a selfie with the Twin Towers towering behind you. It’s a beautiful park located in the bustling city center of Kuala Lumpur.
7. Peruse the Petaling Street Market in Chinatown
It’s so interesting to us to see the various knockoff products sold in markets around Asia. As people who aren’t big on name-brand items, we don’t really get it. But it is interesting to see the different fake sneakers and handbags being sold and crazy low prices.
Need a Gucci Purse? Ray Bans? What about shoes? Find some great fakes, street food, and other items sold in the Petaling Market in Chinatown.
8. Visit the Perdana Botanical Garden
Escape the bustling city feel with this free thing to do in Kuala Lumpur.
In need of some green? The Perdana Botanical Garden is located on the western side of Kuala Lumpur and is FREE to visit. After seeing the shocking 40 MYR price for the Eco Forest, we were happy to see that the Perdana Botanical Gardens are more budget-friendly. Stroll through the Unique Species collection and the beautiful Heliconia collection.
9. Learn About the City at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
If you’re interested in learning about the history of Kuala Lumpur but don’t have the time for a tour, check out the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. This small museum is located near Merdeka Square and shares some of the history of the capital. Plus you can grab a picture with the iconic I Love KL statue out front.
10. Visit the Beautiful Masjid Jamek
Although Malaysia is made up of a variety of cultures and customs, the most common religion in the country is Islam. In Kuala Lumpur, there are many different unique mosques. Masjid Jamek is open to visitors during certain times. Remember when visiting the mosque to follow the dress code and act respectively. The Masjid Jamek does offer robes for women at the entrance but men must wear full-length pants.
11. Admire the Architecture
Roaming the streets of Kuala Lumpur, you will see the drastic shift from Chinatown shophouses to towering skyscrapers. In the mix of the old and new, there are also remnants of colonial times, as well as stunning Islamic architecture like the Masjid Jamek mosque mentioned above.
Spend some time exploring the streets, making stops at buildings like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the National Mosque of Malaysia.
12. Watch the City Light Up at Night
At night, the city glows and some of the unique structures in the city, become even more special. The Menara Tower lights up at night and changes color. It’s free to see from wherever you can, including your hotel window if you’re close enough! Another free light show in the city is the Symphony Lake Water Show. Right next to the Petronas Twin Towers, this fountain dances to music and puts on a light show every night in KLCC Park.
13. Ride the FREE City Bus
Okay, this may not be something that you “do,” but it is something to use while exploring Kuala Lumpur. The city offers a free bus with various lines. It’s definitely worth looking into because although most of the city is walkable, it is BIG and the weather can be HOT. Find out more about the free bus routes offered in KL here.
Map of Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
More Recommended Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
Looking for more to do on in Kuala Lumpur? Everything in the list above is something that’s free to do in the city. However, there are plenty of things that cost some money that is still worth doing. We’ve added some cheap things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
Here are a few more activities we highly recommend doing when visiting Malaysia’s Capital, Kuala Lumpur, even if you’re on a budget:
14. Sample the Street Food
You need to eat right? The street food in Malaysia is SO good, from Mee Goreng and Popiah, to Nutmeg Juice and Kuey Teow. We highly recommend trying Ray’s Power Corner in Chinatown, the fried rice and mee goreng is delicious and the owners are so kind!
15. Islamic Art Museum
This museum is full of historical and creative pieces of art related to Islam and Islamic empires. Inside you’ll find jewelry, armor, wood pieces, tiles, paintings, and more. We spent a couple of hours walking through the museum and could have easily spent a little more if we weren’t in need of lunch. We recommend eating before or bringing a snack so you can spend as much time as you need in the museum.
16. Batik Canting Workshop
Batik is a technique for dying cloth using wax to create designs. It originates in Indonesia and surrounding Malay cultures. The original technique uses wax canting but today you will often find printed Batik designs in shops.
This workshop offered by Teja Arts and Crafts at the Malaysian Tourism Centre was educational and fun! During the class, we learned about traditional batik canting and practiced it ourselves! It’s more tricky than it looks and our art would never be put in the Islamic Art Museum (haha) but it was still such a fun workshop and we will cherish the memory!
We found this activity through Airbnb Experience and highly recommend it!
Visiting Kuala Lumpur
As we mentioned before, KL definitely surprised us (in a good way). We ended up loving our time in Kuala Lumpur, especially because there was much more to do than we originally thought! Although Malaysia as a whole might be more expensive than it’s neighbors, there’s plenty of exciting free things to do in the capital.
We hope you have a wonderful time exploring the vibrant streets of Kuala Lumpur, shopping the markets, and learning more about Malay culture. Need some help planning more of your trip to Malaysia? Check out all of our guides for the country here.