These past few months of travel have been exhilarating, thrilling, exhausting at times, but ultimately they’ve been absolutely magical. We recently spent a month in Malaysia and have put together this guide on the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days. Since leaving South Africa at the end of January, we have spent every month in a new country.
We spent last month in Thailand, where the Pattaya floating market was our highlight. We’re going to be exploring Southeast Asia for the next few months, and Kuala Lumpur was high on our list of cities to visit. I’m not much of a city girl – I prefer the island life – but there are definitely some cities that I connect with. Kuala Lumpur is one of them.
From the moment Peter and I arrived we knew there was something special about this city. We were surprised at how “green” everything was. We were expecting a “concrete city” filled with nothing but high rises and mammoth malls. The city itself is also a lot more developed than we expected it to be. But surprisingly, Mother Nature plays a significant role in and around Kuala Lumpur. There’s an eco-forest in the middle of the city center and plenty of day tour trips on offer. The multi-cultural capital of Malaysia has a lot to offer travellers. Read on for more about the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days that you should definitely add to your Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur airport is the main international airport in Malaysia. It’s also one of the major airports of Southeast Asia and worldwide. This means that there are frequent flights to and from Kuala Lumpur airport from all over the world. From within Southeast Asia flights are pretty cheap and not too long in duration. Depending on where you’re coming from, of course. As one of the main hubs, Kuala Lumpur airport is easy to get to from just about anywhere in the world.
Once in Kuala Lumpur, the transport system is efficient and diverse. There’s an extensive network of commuter trains, buses, and metered taxis which operate within the city center and beyond. We opted for a taxi service and used GrabTaxi. Uber isn’t allowed in most of Southeast Asia, but GrabTaxi is basically like Uber. You can download the app and earn points for each trip you make. The points can be used as part of the GrabRewards program and used towards things like an airport lounge pass, Agoda discounts, Grab food, and lots more.
While you can use the train or bus service to get from the airport, the taxis are really well-priced. It cost us 65 MYR (+/- 16 USD), and the trip to the city was a lot longer than we expected. We stayed on the outskirts of KL, and it took well over an hour to get there. We checked train prices and it actually only worked out slightly cheaper than using a taxi. So the taxi services are definitely worth it.
The best time to visit Kuala Lumpur
Since Kuala Lumpur is close to the equator, it has a tropical climate, with hot and humid conditions throughout the year. The best time to visit is said to be between May to July and December to February when the humidity is fairly low. We visited over April and May, and it was very hot and humid, but not unbearable. However, there was a lot of rain. It rained just about every afternoon. But it rains for about an hour and then clears up, and the rain actually cools it down a bit. The city receives a lot of rain over March and April. So if you don’t like the idea of wet conditions, it’s best to avoid these months.
The rain aside, Malaysia’s capital is ideal for visits all year round. Kuala Lumpur is shielded by mountainous valleys in several directions, which means that it’s relatively cooler than other parts of Malaysia. So while it is humid, you probably won’t find it as hot as many other parts of Southeast Asia.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
We stayed on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, closer towards the Batu Caves. However, if you only have two days here you will be much better off staying in the city center. There are plenty of hotels in this area or Airbnb options. But be sure to check out some tips for staying in Kuala Lumpur.
Most of the time we book our accommodation through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking, and £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
Top 6 Things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days
1. Visit Batu Caves
The Batu Caves, located just outside of the city in the suburb of Selangor, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur. This natural and man-made wonder is a holy monument that incorporates both the religious sculptures of the Hindu faith and the stunning features of Malaysia’s limestone mountains. The monument itself is beautiful. Plus, you can’t come to Kuala Lumpur and not visit the caves.
Since it’s a big tourist hotspot, it does get very busy. The cave opens at 7am, so if you want to avoid the crowds and get some great photos, try to go a bit before 7. I thought that it only opened at 10am. I read that somewhere online – but I often don’t read properly haha. So we arrived just before 10, and it was already very busy.
There are 272 steps going up to the cave itself. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that it’s quite strenuous, but we didn’t find it at all challenging. It’s really not that bad, and if you need to you can take it slowly and stop to snap a few photos on your way up. What you do need to look out for though is the monkeys. They’re so cute but very cheeky. You shouldn’t take any food or drinks in with you, because they will be stolen by our daring, furry friends. Also, keep an eye on your other valuables – you never know what they might try to snatch. They also took a liking to the long, flowy skirt that I was wearing. So you may want to pay attention to what you wear.
There are plenty of tours on offer to the caves – you can find out more here. However, it’s completely free to go explore the main cave on your own.
2. Snap a photo (or a few) of the Petronas Twin Towers
Possibly, the most popular thing to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days is to check out the Petronas Towers. Soaring to a height of 451.9 metres, the 88-storey twin structure is deemed as the crown jewel of Kuala Lumpur. As you may have guessed, the Petronas Twin Towers are twin skyscrapers. Between 1998 and 2004 they were the tallest building in the world. Then the Taipei came along. Today, they are still the tallest twin buildings in the world.
There are numerous spots in the city to snap a good photo from below. One of the most popular spots is the KLCC park. It’s a beautifully landscaped garden complete with water fountains and spacious walking paths. There are plenty of places to get a great photo of the towers from within the park. But, if you really want a top-class city view, why not have a drink at one of the rooftop bars.
There’s also the option of going up the Petronas Towers, but it’s not cheap (and in my opinion quite overrated). Watching a sunset from the rooftop bar was far more appealing for us. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the whole city and capture some amazing photos while enjoying a few drinks.
Another great option is to check the Petronas Towers out at night. It’s a truly spectacular view, and there’s often a beautiful fountain show that takes place after sunset. You can catch the fountain show just outside the back entrance of the Suria KLCC shopping center.
3. Enjoy a Hazelnut latte at Merchants lane cafe
I am a coffee addict, so one of the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days for me is a visit to Merchants Lane cafe. It’s a cute little cafe found in Petaling street. I had heard a lot about Merchants Lane – it’s on just about every “top cafes to visit in Kuala Lumpur” list. Once you visit, it’s not hard to understand the appeal of this delightful little place.
Just try to get a seat in the “main” area. We visited on the weekend so it was very busy and we were seated in the front area, by the counter. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing and can feel a little crowded. If possible try to visit during the week which is likely to be far less busy.
Thankfully I was able to get that “popular” Instagram photo though – the one on the swing. But, for some reason, the swing is right next to a table. There were two girls eating there, so it was rather awkward. I snapped a quick photo on my way past – so it’s not the best picture (you can see it below). But this is “THE” photo that many people come here for.
More importantly, I ordered a Hazelnut latte, and it was delicious! Seriously, I would go back just for that. Peter had a chocolate milkshake which wasn’t great. But the hot drinks here are so worth it. We didn’t eat at Merchant’s lane, but they do have some interesting food choices on the menu.
If you’re looking for things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days, Merchants lane is a great place to stop for a break while exploring Chinatown. It’s unique, their hot drinks are delicious, there’s a great atmosphere, and it’s affordable.
4. Find the wall murals in Chinatown
While we were looking for Merchants Lane cafe, we got rather lost and happened to stumble across the cutest little back street that was filled with beautiful and interesting wall murals. I have tried to google this place since and I can’t find anything. It doesn’t seem to be very popular which surprises me because it was a cool little detour.
We don’t typically go out of our way to find street murals. I don’t consider myself to be very “into” that kind of thing. But I was pleasantly surprised by this place. Getting lost was a blessing in disguise. Perhaps in the future, I will be making more of an effort to check out some street art. We got some great photos, and it’s definitely worth a visit. If you are interested, you can find this place in a small back street just behind Bumble Bee cafe – which is on Petaling street.
5. Thean Hou Temple
If you’re wondering what to do with 2 days in Kuala Lumpur, Thean Hou Temple is a must! First opened in 1989, Thean Hou has become a major tourist attraction over recent years. Located on Robinson Hill, this iconic temple is beautifully decorated and features highly impressive architecture. If you’ve seen those popular temple photos on Instagram from Kuala Lumpur, it’s most probably of Thean Hou.
This is one of the largest and oldest temples in Southeast Asia. It’s a Buddhist temple that is dedicated to Tian Hou, who is a goddess said to protect fisherman. Originally built by the Hainanese community in 1894, it’s set on a hill and offers incredible views of the city.
The normal opening hours are from 09:00 am to 18:00 pm. However, during major religious festivals, it may be open until later. We visited during the week and arrived just before 10:00 am. On weekends and later on in the day, it can get quite crowded here. But when we visited, it was pleasantly quiet and not as busy as I expected it to be. It did get a bit busier after 10, so just be sure not to leave it too late.
The temple itself was even more impressive than I expected it to be. It was a lot bigger, and the detail is immaculate. Thean Hou temple was also an attraction that I had seen tons of photos of on Instagram. Often I’m left disappointed when visiting a site after seeing photos on Instagram. These images have almost always been edited, and they capture only the “good” stuff. Then you visit the attraction, and it doesn’t live up to the high expectations you’ve drawn from social media. But, Thean Hou was not one of those times – it’s truly incredible.
6. Take a walk through the Forest eco park
If you’re in the city, do not miss the chance to visit the KL Forest eco-park. I was so fascinated to find that there is a forest in the middle of a “concrete” city. It’s a rainforest that features several nature trails and a forest canopy tour. The canopy walk is a lot of fun and offers wonderful aerial views of the treetops. And just a little further out is views of the city.
We did the canopy walk on our first day of exploring the city, and it was wonderful. We even came across some monkeys in the forest – which was completely unexpected. This park is the only remaining stretch of tropical rainforest within the city limits of KL which is really sad. But at the same time, it’s beautiful!
There’s currently no entrance fee to enter the park. They may possibly charge a small fee for the canopy walk in the future. But for now, it’s free.
Alternative things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days
If you have more time in Kuala Lumpur or aren’t too keen on any of the above-mentioned activities, then there are plenty of other things to do. This city is made for tourists, and you could easily spend two weeks here.
The Sultan Abdul Samad building in the city center is worth checking out. Completed in 1897 by A.C. Norman, it was originally used to house several government departments. Today, the Abdul Samad building houses the Supreme and High Courts. With unique Moorish designs and a clock tower, the building itself is stunning. Many tourists love to take photos here.
Another one of the great things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days is to visit the Jalan Alor food street in Bukit Bintang. This is one of the most famous roads in Kuala Lumpur for food. Surprisingly this is one of the more “off-the-beaten-track” locations. Because of its “hidden location” tourists rarely venture here.
Little India is also a great outing. Found in the Brickfields district, just south of KL Sentral Station, this is where to go if you want a taste of India. There’s delicious authentic food here and plenty of other traditional goodies.
Other fabulous Kuala Lumpur attractions are the central market, the national mosque, and Merdeka Square. The Central market was not half as busy as I expected it to be and there are some beautiful antiques, clothing, and souvenirs for sale here. The National Mosque is also known as Masjid Negara and is the nationwide symbol of Islam.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur
Getting around Kuala Lumpur is fairly easy. If you’re staying close to the city center, you should be able to walk to many places. But there’s also a very effective metro system that goes to most main tourist attractions.
Since we stayed on the outskirts of the city, we weren’t close enough to walk anywhere, and we also didn’t have easy access to public transport. We used the Grab taxi app throughout our stay. It’s inexpensive and efficient – it works really well. Often we just got dropped off in the city center and then walked everywhere, or used the free bus service.
Yes, there is a free bus in the city center, and it’s awesome. It’s an easily recognizable pink bus, and it’s called “Go KL City Bus.” It travels to the city’s most popular districts, shopping malls, landmarks, and train stations. You can simply hop on the bus and enjoy the ride. You can find out more about times, routes, and frequency on the Go KL City Bus website.
Why is this city worth it?
Kuala Lumpur is a fascinating city full of diverse culture, a dazzling food scene, thriving nightlife, and intriguing tourist attractions. Its multicultural nature makes this the perfect place to enjoy the many aspects of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultural heritage. There’s also an impressive expat community here which gives visitors the best of both worlds.
There is an abundance of things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 2 days. In fact, you are going to need more time here if you really want to experience everything that this city has to offer. But, if you want to make the most of your two days in Kuala Lumpur, make sure to check out the places mentioned right here!
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