1) Muzium Negara (National Museum)
Malaysia's premier museum serves as a repository for the nation's rich history and heritage. Built in 1963, its facade features a Minangkabau-styled roof and two impressive front murals. The museum has four main galleries. Among the highlights here are the collection of keris or the Malay dagger, ceramics from the Ming Dynasty and traditional musical instruments from various parts of Asia. Thematic exhibitions are held from time to time.
There are four permanent display galleries. The first gallery is known as Gallery ‘A’, which exhibits local cultural artifacts, while the second gallery known as Gallery ‘B’ displays historical artifacts, archaeological findings, traditional handicrafts, the numismatic collection, as well as Malay and Orang Asli weapons. The Central Hall is used to house temporary exhibitions.
On the second floor, Gallery ‘C’ houses the natural history collection such as mammals, reptiles, insects, birds and geology. Gallery ‘D’ displays exhibits relating to the country’s economic activities such as commercial farming, the tin mining industry, fishery and public transport.
The Museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm.
2) Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery
Intended to appeal to both young and old, the Museum and Art Gallery is designed to be an informal educational avenue for anyone who seeks greater understanding on the Malaysian economy and its economic history, the Bank’s role in the nation’s economic development and financial regulation since 1959 to the present day. It also acts as the guardian to the nation’s numismatics heritage, whilst the Art Gallery underlines the Bank’s role as a patron of Malaysian arts with its impressive collection of over 1,500 contemporary Malaysian and ASEAN artworks acquired since 1962.
The Museum which comprises six galleries namely, the Art Gallery, Economic Gallery, Islamic Finance Gallery, Numismatics Gallery, Children’s Gallery and the Bank Negara Malaysia Gallery, is committed to meaningful engagement with people from all walks of life. Through innovative exhibitions, scholarly projects and outreach activities, it seeks to elevate financial literacy and appreciation of Malaysia’s cultural distinctiveness.
The Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm and admission is free.
3) Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
Founded in 1885, Royal Selangor is the world’s foremost name in quality pewter, a brand synonymous with design and craftsmanship. In the hands of its skilled craftspeople, this versatile alloy of tin, copper and antimony is transformed into an endless variety of homeware and gifts, sold today in more than 20 countries around the world.
The Visitor Centre is located in Setapak Jaya, just 20 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur city centre. A modern glass-clad foyer set within scenic lush landscaping, greets visitors upon arrival at the Visitor Centre along with Royal Selangor's Giant Tankard. Recognised as the world’s largest by the Guinness World of Records, the giant tankard provides one of many perfect photo opportunities at the Centre.
Tin mining started in the 1820s, and is one of the oldest industries in Malaysia. The country then known as Malaya, supplied about 55% of the world’s tin and was the world's biggest tin producer by the end of the 19th century.
The Visitor Centre will take you back over a hundred years to the founding of Royal Selangor and its inextricable link to the history of Malaysia. Through complimentary guided tours, visitors will learn about the remarkable development of tin mining in the Malay Peninsula in the 1800s as well as view traditional pewtersmithing tools, antique pewter and ancient tin currency at the Centre's Pewter Museum.
4) Petronas Twin Towers (KLCC)
Towering at 451.9m above street level, this world-renowned icon is currently the world's tallest twin structure and fifth tallest skyscraper. The skybridge that links the two towers is also the world's highest two-storey bridge, doubling up as a superb viewing platform. The 88-storey building features glass and steel on the outside, and a traditionally-inspired interior, reflecting Malaysia's aspirations in moving forward while maintaining its national identity.
Majestic by day and dazzling at night, the PETRONAS Twin Towers are inspired by Tun Mahathir Mohamad's vision for Malaysia to be a global player. Together with master architect Cesar Pelli, the international icon powerfully captures the nation's ambitions and aspirations.
Visitors can go up to the 42st floor, at 175 meters height, where The Sky Bridge of nearly 60 meters length connects the two towers. Tickets can be obtained daily (except for Mondays when the attraction is closed to the public) between 8.30am and 6pm. The ticket gives you access to both the Sky Bridge and the observation deck at the 86th floor. Tickets are time slotted. You are allowed to select your preferred date and time in advance subject to the availability of the tickets.
5) KL Tower
Sitting on top of Bukit Nanas at a height of 421m, the tower is one of the city's most popular landmarks. The world's seventh tallest telecommunications tower also comes with an observation deck at 276m above ground level and a revolving restaurant where you can enjoy a 360° view of the city's skyline while enjoying a meal. The tower is located within the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, one of the oldest forest reserves in the country, making it the only tower in the world located within a forest.
Its architecture reflects the country's Islamic heritage, with the construction detailing Arabic scripts, Islamic tiles, and classic Islamic floral and abstract motifs and soothing colour combinations.
6) Petaling Street
Petaling Street, the centre of Kuala Lumpur's original Chinatown, maintains much of its traditional atmosphere, particularly at night when vendors fan out their merchandise along the street.
While you can shop for anything from gems and incense to toys and t-shirts, the true allure of this night market is in wandering about and enjoying its sights, sounds and energy. Food is plentiful with many scrumptious varieties to choose from; some of the restaurants here have been in business for generations. Locals flock to Petaling Street primarily for bargain accessories and great Chinese food.
At the end of Petaling Street, visitors can further explore the Chan See Shu Yuen Temple which dates back to 1906. The interior of this building features open courtyard pavilions, intricate carvings and paintings. On the exterior, the temple depicts elaborate glazed ceramic sculptures which grace the facade and roof ridges.
7) Central Market
Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, a few minutes away from Petaling Street, Central Market is a famous landmark for Malaysian culture and heritage. The building was built in 1888 and originally functioned as a wet market. It has since been classified as a Heritage Site.
Central Market is an award-winning bazaar which offers a wide variety of products created by local artists and craftmen. Hunt for Malay, Chinese or Indian-inspired souvenirs or find great buys that reflect the customs and traditions of the various ethnic groups in Malaysia Borneo.
Tourists flock to Central Market for its variety of handicrafts, art, kebaya, songket, batik and authentic Malaysian souvenirs. A Batik Emporium houses well-known designer labels, with the best Malaysian-made batik items ranging from clothes, shoes, bags to home furnishing.
The Central Market Outdoor Stage is where visitors can catch colourful arts and cultural events. During the country’s main festivals, the area will be lit up in theme, reflecting the multiracial diversity of Malaysians.
8) Sultan Abdul Samad Building
The iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building is located in front of Dataran Merdeka and Royal Selangor Club, along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. It was completed in 1897 by A.C. Norman. This remarkable edifice, was named after the State Ruler and served as the government administration building during the British era. Boasting a Mahometan or Neo-Saracenic style, the building is constructed entirely of brick. It was the largest building of its day and was said to be the finest in the Malay states.
Today, this historical building houses the Supreme and High Courts. The building with unique Moorish designs and clock tower is widely photographed by visitors to the city centre. On important occasions, the building is decorated with colourful lights and flags.
The historic Dataran Merdeka, where the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time on 31 August 1957, is also just across the street from the Sultan Abdul Samad building.
9) Jamek Mosque
This mosque occupies a historic location at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, the birthplace of Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1909, this is the city's oldest surviving mosque and was officially opened by the Sultan of Selangor at the time. Its design was inspired by Mogul architecture in northern India. In 1965, it was officially declared as the National Mosque.
Today, there is a new National Mosque not far away, but Jamek Mosque remains important due to its strategic location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
10) National Mosque
The main dome of the National Mosque is designed in the shape of an 18-point star to represent the 13 states of Malaysia and the five central Pillars of Islam, and has the appearance of a partly opened umbrella roof which symbolises the aspirations of an independent nation.
As one of Southeast Asia's largest mosques, its unique modern design embodies a contemporary expression of traditional Islamic art, calligraphy and ornamentation.
The National Mosque is located right next to the architecturally fabulous old railway station, and just a short walk to the sprawling Lake Gardens and National Monument.
11) National Monument
The National Monument was built to recognise and honour those who had given up their lives in the cause for peace and freedom, particularly during the nation's struggle against the threat of communism. Within the National Monument grounds is one of the world's largest free-standing bronze sculptures. It was sculpted in 1966 by Felix de Weldon, who was also the creator of the famous Iwo Jima monument in Washington DC.
There are seven bronze human figures atop an oblong base; each figure denoting one of seven qualities: courage, leadership, sacrifice, strength, suffering, unity and vigilance.
The topmost figure, at the centre, holds aloft the Malaysian flag. He is flanked on the left and right by two other soldiers, both armed; the figure on the left is armed with a machinegun, while the other carries a rifle and a bayonet.
12) Batu Caves
Comprising a cluster of three limestone caves, the legendary Batu Caves is a magnificent and renowned cave temple. A 140-feet-high golden statue of Lord Muruga looms at the foot of a flight of 272 steps leading up to Temple Cave, the biggest of the three caves. Batu Caves is the country's main venue for the colourful Thaipusam festival, where a colourful procession of Hindu devotees can be seen carrying kavadi as offerings to Lord Muruga.
Cathedral Cave – the largest and most popular cavern in Batu Caves – houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100-metre-high arched ceiling. At the foot of Batu Hill are two other cave temples – the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave – which houses numerous Hindu statues and paintings.