If you are looking for unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur, you have come to the right place. After visiting Malaysia’s capital numerous times and having covered all of the highlights, we went in search of some cool hidden gems in KL. In this article, we share what we found and our top 15 hidden gems in Kuala Lumpur.
When you google the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur, the same results come up every time. Visit the Batu Caves – Tick. Take snaps at the Petronas Towers – Tick. Go shopping in Bukit Bintang – Tick. You get my gist. While these attractions are part and parcel of what makes the city so wonderful, sometimes you just want something less touristic. Somewhere you can escape the crowds and discover something new.
We’ve developed quite a passion for exploring off the beaten path, and it’s often surprising what you find. Even in popular destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, hidden gems are everywhere just waiting to be found. The secret spots the locals don’t want you to know about are right in front of you. You just don’t know about them yet.
Thankfully, that’s where we come in. It’s time to break the silence on our favourite hidden gems in Kuala Lumpur.
15 Hidden Gems & Unique Things to do in Kuala Lumpur
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Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
Naturally, there is no shortage of accommodation options in Kuala Lumpur, regardless of your budget. I’ve made some suggestions below, or you click the link for a list of all hostels, guesthouses, and hotels in the city. Alternatively, if you would prefer to stay a little out of the city center check out apartments in Sentul area!
For a full list of places to stay in Kuala Lumpur, you can check the latest prices here or by using the map below:
Hostel – Mingle @Chinatown – Housed in a colonial building, Mingle is located in the heart of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur. The chic decor is a big attraction here, along with the regular group activities encouraging guests to, well, Mingle!
Budget Private – Step Inn Guesthouse – A great choice for budget travellers, Step Inn Guesthouse offers modest but affordable accomodation in central KL. And you can let your pennies stretch even further with the in-house kitchen facilities and free breakfast.
Luxury – The Face Suites – If budget permits, we highly recommend splurging on a one night stay in this luxury apartment block. Not only can you enjoy a night of divine comfort, but you will undoubtedly go crazy for the rooftop infinity pool sporting unrivalled views of the cityscape.
Or, if you’d prefer something more personal, you may wish to consider an Air BnB instead. These are particularly great if you are staying long term and we are pleased to offer a £34 discount on your first booking. Simply click the link to validate your offer.
15 Hidden Gems in Kuala Lumpur
From adventurous hikes and secret mosques, to riding around the city on e-scooters, here’s a list of 15 unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
1. Hiking in Kuala Lumpur
One of the more surprising hidden gems Kuala Lumpur is the surrounding nature and hiking opportunities. It turns out there are numerous hiking trails around the outskirts of the city. That said, they all vary in length and difficulty, so be sure to do your research before heading out. I recommend checking out this article regarding the various hiking trails in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite having a precarious reputation, we decided to climb the West Trail of Bukit Tabur. The hike itself wasn’t too difficult; however, towards the peak is where things got a little sketchy. At some points, we had to use ropes and footholds to traverse the ridge of the mountain. So I wouldn’t recommend attempting it unless you feel entirely confident in doing so.
If you conquer the hike, the breathtaking view from the top is quite the reward. On one side we had the rolling green hills and scenic reservoir, while on the other the glistening skyline of the city.
Things to note:
- Please note that the Bukit Tabur Hiking Trails are ‘officially’ closed. That doesn’t mean you can’t hike; however, you do so at your own risk.
- Do not hike Bukit Tabur alone, and be sure to let somebody know where you are going.
- Never attempt the hike when it is wet or has been raining. The trail becomes slippery and very dangerous.
- No permits are required to hike Bukit Tabur.
- There is a lot of conflicting information online regarding the hike. We aim to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge and based on our experience.
- Wear sensible shoes such as trainers or hiking boots.
- Check out our full guide to hiking Bukit Tabur before you set out
Cost: Free/Allow: Half a Day
Bukit Tabur East Starting Point
2. Explore Kuala Lumpur on an Electric Scooter
Neuron e-scooters are changing the game in a select few South-East Asian cities. And the most recent to jump on the bandwagon is Kuala Lumpur. All you have to do is download the neuron app, upload some credit, and use the app to find a scooter in the city.
Call us childish, but whizzing around the parks and streets of KL on an electric scooter was awesome! If you’re looking for unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur, this is a winner.
Cost: Free for the first 15 mins. RM0.60 per minute thereafter
3. Sample Local Street Food at Jalan Masjid India Market
Malay Cuisine is one of the most diverse and exciting cuisines in all of Asia. And eating Malaysian street food is an affordable way to sample all of the delicious flavours involved in Malay cooking.
While there are many food markets in Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Masjid India Market is our favourite hidden gem. Held once a week on a Saturday night, food stalls stretch for what seems like miles. And as there are no tourists here, you can expect to pay the local price!
Open: Saturdays Only/Allow: 1-2 Hours
JALAN MASJID INDIA MARKET MAP LOCATION
4. Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque
The awe-inspiring Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque is one of our favourite hidden gems in Kuala Lumpur. Not only the largest mosque in the country but also the second-largest in all of South East Asia after the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta.
While the location is a little tricky to get to from the city centre, the majestic design and essence of the complex are sure to make the trip worth your while. It is, in my opinion, far more impressive than the National Mosque which is the mosque that everybody goes to see.
Pay close attention to the opening times before you make the trip. Once you’re there, you’ll get a free walking tour of the complex, with a low down on what makes the mosque so significant.
Entrance: Free/Allow: 1-2 Hours/Open: 9am-12pm & 2pm-5pm daily
SULTAN SALAHUDDIN ABDUL AZIZ MOSQUE MAP LOCATION
5. Enjoy a Sunset Drink from a Helipad
OK, maybe not so much a hidden gem anymore, but certainly one of the most unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur, sunset drinks at the Heli Lounge Bar is an absolute must. Everything about this helipad turned rooftop bar is designed to inflict the wow factor. And boy, it doesn’t disappoint.
The best time to arrive is for sunset of course; however, they also have a happy hour from 5-9 pm. You’ll want to take advantage of this as the prices shoot up then after. From the view to the drinks, to the overall vibe, this is an unmissable hidden gem in KL. Booking a table in advance over the phone is recommended.
6. Take a Day Trip to Genting Highlands
A day trip to the Genting Highlands is an excellent choice for those looking for unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Located just 45-minutes outside of the city, a cable car escorts visitors to the peak of the former Hill Station. The Awana Skyway is the fastest and longest cable car ride in Southeast Asia.
You can find an abundance of things to do in the Genting Highlands, including casinos, hotels, and theme park rides. Furthermore, the surrounding countryside provides a number of hiking and nature opportunities.
To get to the Genting Highlands, you can take a bus from the city centre. Or, go as part of an organised tour which is the more convenient option as your transport and cable car costs are included. At $20 it’s not a bad deal at all so click the link below to check it out.
Book a Tour: Genting Highlands Day Trip
GENTING HIGHLANDS MAP LOCATION
7. KL Eco Forest
From sweeping jungle to concrete jungle, it’s hard to believe that Kuala Lumpur was once dominated by rainforest. Today the cities skyline is adorned with towering skyscrapers and air pollution. But while that may be the case, some effort has been made in preserving the cities routes.
The KL Eco-Forest Park is the only area of protected rainforest left in the city. The park boasts a number of walking trails, including canopy walkways amid the treetops. This is one of the more unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur and definitely worth checking out.
Entrance: Free/Allow: 1 hour
KL ECO PARK MAP LOCATION
8. Discover a Speak Easy Bar
SpeakEasy Bars are somewhat of a craze right now, and as a result, a number of them have opened their doors around the city. Some of the favourites in Kuala Lumpur include Omakaze & Appreciate, PS150, and Deceased.
For those not quite down with the kids, SpeakEasy Bars are essentially ‘hidden’ bars. The idea stems from the prohibition period when alcohol was illegal, so bars would be disguised to avoid being discovered. Today you can find them hidden behind fridge doors in convenience stores, located in office buildings, or tucked away behind inconspicuous locked doors.
9. Putra Mosque
Another of our favourite hidden gems in KL, the Putra Mosque is located in Putrajaya – about a 30-40 min drive from Kuala Lumpur city centre. It is especially unique relative to other mosques in the city, due to its unmistakable pink granite exterior.
When planning your Kuala Lumpur Itinerary, it’s rare to see the Putra Mosque being mentioned as a place to visit. It’s a pity, as it’s likely to be one of the most modern and unique mosques in the world. And sat upon the scenic Putrajaya Lake, it’s incredibly picturesque.
Entrance: Free/Allow: 1-2 hours/Open 9am-12pm & 2pm-5pm daily
PUTRA MOSQUE MAP LOCATION
10. Astaka Morocco
When we were looking for hidden gems in Kuala Lumpur, Astaka Morocco was one we were incredibly surprised to find. Boasting the intricate detail that you would expect from Moroccan architecture, the complex was built to symbolise the unity of the two countries. Located in the same district as Putra mosque, it makes sense to combine the two on a morning or afternoon out of the city.
ASTAKA MOROCCO PUTRAJAYA MAP LOCATION
11. Watch a Drag Show at Blue Boys
Without a doubt, one of the unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur. And considering the legal situation regarding LGBT in Malaysia, it is also one of the most controversial.
Nevertheless, Blue Boys is one of the best drag shows we’ve ever been to. And LGBT or not, you are sure to have a great night here. Visit on a Friday or Saturday night for the best atmosphere, but expect to pay over the odds for drinks.
BLUE BOY CLUB MAP LOCATION
12. Dinner in the Sky
Dinner in the Sky is a relatively new concept on the South East Asian hemisphere, and Kuala Lumpur is one of the first cities to host the unique dining experience.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, 24 diners are sat around what appears to be an outdoor restaurant. But once strapped in, the ‘restaurant’ is hoisted 50m above the ground.
From the sky, you get an unbeatable view of the city as you try the delicious food at this one-of-a-kind restaurant.
We were unable to get a reservation on our last visit to the city, so it is recommended to book in advance on the website here.
13. Seek out some Unique Instagram Locations
Tired of seeing the same old photography locations on Instagram, get out there and try to find some new ones. It’s always a satisfying feeling when you post a photo that nobody has seen before. Or even just getting creative, and finding a new angle at the popular spots is just as rewarding. Check out our guide to the best Instagram spots in Kuala Lumpur, or go out and find your own. The city is your canvas!
14. Firefly Boat Ride
If you are one to seek out nature amid big cities, I have a hidden gem in Kuala Lumpur that might excite you. The Firefly boat rides in KL take place on the Selangor river, where you can witness the natural phenomenon of magical fireflies.
We took part in a tour similar to this in the Philippines, and it is truly an enchanting experience to see the fireflies flashing in synchronisation. It’s one of those natural wonders that reminds you of how fortunate we are to have such beauty in the world.
If you wanted to escape the city to take part in the daily excursion, you can book through an agent such as Get your Guide. Or attempt to make your way there yourself, though I’m not overly sure how you’d go about that. If you book the tour, you get other perks included such as additional stops and an inclusive dinner. For more info, simply click the link below.
Book a Tour: Batu Caves & Firefly Watching in Kuala Selangor
15. Check out the Popular Attractions at Night
During the day the major tourist attractions can be crowded and overwhelming. However, at night, many of them are unrecognisable. Especially at the significant buildings such as the Petronas Towers, the big mosques and Merdeka square, when you’ll find them illuminated in bright lights. With just a fraction of the people, it allows you to view these landmark attractions with a whole other perspective.
Getting Around Kuala Lumpur
Public Transport – In our experience, the easiest way to explore Kuala Lumpur is by using the bus and rail networks. As well as being reliable, they are also super cheap.
The metro system in Kuala Lumpur puts the London Underground to shame with comfortable, air-conditioned carriages and boasting routes to all the must-see spots across the city. There are even ladies-only carriages for female travellers who may feel uncomfortable in the mixed.
Taxi – Grab Taxis operate in the bigger cities and are a safer, cheaper alternative to a local taxi. If you do take a local taxi, be sure they use the meter. Or agree on the fare in advance to avoid being ripped off.
Onward Travel – For onward travel within Malaysia, be sure to check out 12go Asia for the latest timetable and competitive prices.
Backpacking Malaysia? Don’t risk missing out on bus tickets by leaving them to the last minute! Book your ticket in advance with 12 Go Asia for the best prices, a guaranteed seat, and peace of mind. We booked all of our transport with 12 Go and it made our lives a hell of a lot easier. Click the link to book your tickets now.
More on Malaysia
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
- 2 WEEKS IN MALAYSIA – ITINERARY AND TRAVEL GUIDE
- 2 DAYS IN KUALA LUMPUR – ITINERARY & GUIDE
- THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO MALAYSIA – A FIRST TIMERS GUIDE
- 15 Cool & Creative Instagram Spots in Kuala Lumpur
- Bukit Tabur West & East Hiking Trails in Kuala Lumpur
- Gay In: Malaysia – A LGBT Travel Guide to Malaysia
Alternatively, select one of the activities below to view more things to do in Malaysia:
Did you enjoy our list of hidden gems & unique things to do Kuala Lumpur?
Well, that concludes 15 hidden gems & unique things to do in Kuala Lumpur. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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