3 days in Kuala Lumpur is the perfect amount of time to experience the mix of modernity and tradition that has established the Malaysian capital as a firm favorite on Southeast Asian travel itineraries.
KL, as the city’s name is endearingly shortened to by locals and visitors alike, is home to some of Malaysia’s most visited and iconic sights. The Petronas Twin Towers are a towering reminder of the city’s modern influence, while the streets of Chinatown and the famous Batu Caves are firm symbols of the multicultural makeup that has made the city what it is today.
The city is a foodie’s heaven too. There’s a diverse ethnic and cultural makeup, with Malay, Tamil and Chinese dishes merging with British Colonial and Western influences to produce a culinary scene that’s hard to match anywhere else in Asia.
With this 3-day Kuala Lumpur itinerary, you’ll be able to enjoy a short city break that takes in the best of Kuala Lumpur and leaves you hungry for Malaysian cuisine wherever you travel to next.
KL is a destination that can be traveled to all year round, so there’s not really a ‘best time’ to visit Kuala Lumpur. The city experiences rainfall every month, with March to May and October to November being the rainiest months of the year. These months are when the tail end of the coastal monsoons sweep over the capital. It’s hot and humid all year round in Kuala Lumpur, and although it doesn’t rain a lot, when it does, it usually falls in heavy bursts, leaving you with hours of sunshine to enjoy afterwards.
Check flights to Kuala Lumpur from the USA (starts at $393 RT) and UK (starts at £342 RT)
There is a huge range of accommodation options available in Kuala Lumpur. From cheap backpacker options to five-star luxury suites, KL has something for every budget and for every taste. It’s a sprawling city, so there are many different areas to stay in. Here are the best choices for your 3 days itinerary in Kuala Lumpur.
Budget and backpacker accommodation is found across the city, however, the highest concentration of cheap hotels tend to be in Chinatown. The accommodation here can be hit or miss though, so choose carefully. The area is very touristy, but still uniquely Chinese-Malay. The best-recommended budget option in Chinatown is Mingle Hostel. It’s just a short stroll from the nearest metro, great value and always full of travelers.
Bukit Bintang is the place to stay for street food, night markets and nightlife. Accommodation in this central area of the city is usually mid-range, although there is still something for every budget. The best mid-range option here is the Park Royal Hotel, a classic KL hotel that offers understated luxury in a great location. For more hotel options in Bukit Bintang.
KLCC – Kuala Lumpur City Centre – is the perfect area for first-time travelers to the city or for those looking to stay in the ‘nicest’ district. In KLCC you are within walking distance of the famous Twin Towers, and the city centre is full of fine dining options, shopping malls and upmarket hotels. The Face Suites are fast becoming a favorite luxury option here, with luxury apartments offering views of the towers and a rooftop swimming pool providing much-needed relief from the humidity of the city. The Traders Hotel and the Fraser Residence are also highly recommended.
There are regular bus and train connections to the large international airport, which has flights all over the world and is the hub of the low-cost airline, AirAsia. A central bus station connects KL with the rest of Malaysia, as well as Singapore and Thailand, while a rail line also runs across the country and beyond.
Public transport in the city is extensive, frequent and reliable, making it easy to experience the best of Kuala Lumpur in 3 days. There are monorail and metro lines, all of which connect with each other and to the local bus system. The lines are easy to navigate and the cost of tickets is minimal.
During your 3-day trip to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll inevitably hear languages from all over the world being spoken. It’s a diverse and multicultural city that has welcomed nationalities and communities from across the world. The predominant language of Malaysia is Malay, but Chinese, English and Tamil are also official languages. English is universally spoken and acts as the de facto language of business and commerce. All street signs and menus will be written in English too.
Overall, Kuala Lumpur is a very safe and easy city to travel to. You will find locals are friendly and approachable, however, as in any large city, there is the potential to be a victim of petty crime or the occasional minor scam. Keep your belongings close on public transport and ensure taxi drivers use their meters – or better yet, organize a Grab (an app similar to Uber) in advance to avoid any taxi-related misfortune altogether.
The streets are safe to walk, even at night, although in the heavy drinking Bukit Bintang area you may find yourself accosted late at night by employees of the many massage parlors. The majority of areas in Kuala Lumpur are hassle-free though.
Begin your Kuala Lumpur itinerary by spending day 1 in the central KLCC area. Malaysians love their acronyms, and KLCC is shorthand for Kuala Lumpur City Centre. This is one of the newer parts of KL, being a purpose-built area designed specifically to function as the modern, new face of an old city. This is where skyscrapers mix with shopping malls, and where everything upmarket can be found.
Standing tall above it all are the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest buildings in the world and still the tallest twin towers in the world. Travel up to the viewing platform between the two buildings for an expansive view of the city.
Once you are back on ground level, explore the beautiful, green gardens of KLCC park. Wait around until the sun sets for the fabulous light show which takes place every evening across the artificial lake. You’ll love seeing the Twin Towers majestically light up in the darkness. Dine out at one of the many modern fusion restaurants around KLCC, and then head to the Heli Lounge Bar, which is where you can find the best view in the city. From the converted helipad turned bar on top of a skyscraper, you’ll get a 360-degree view of all of KL.
Start the second day of your Kuala Lumpur travel itinerary by visiting Merdeka Square. This is the older part of the city, established by the British during the colonial days. Today, it’s a symbol of Malaysian freedom and a popular attraction to visit in Kuala Lumpur.
Move on to the beautiful Perdana Botanical Gardens and stroll through the Butterfly Park before ending up at the National Museum to learn more about the country’s history and culture.
When it’s time for lunch, explore the bustling Chinatown, including the busy Petaling Street, where food vendors line the streets and market stalls sell everything from fake designer clothing to cheap electronics. Next, walk on to the Central Market for even more local shopping opportunities.
In the evening, travel across the city to Bukit Bintang, where you can find the famous Jalan Alor night market. This is a Chinese-style street food market, where tables spill out onto the street, beers are cheap and the eating and socializing goes on late into the night.
Around the corner from Jalan Alor, you can find Bukit Bintang’s nightlife. Clubs and bars line the road and the party doesn’t stop until the early hours of the morning.
One of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur in 3 days is to make the journey outside of the city to the famous Batu Caves. Jump on the train at KL Sentral and be whisked away to the countryside, where the impressive and cavernous caves are found.
Climb the hundreds of steps – watching out for the mischievous monkeys – to the cave entrance and marvel at the enormous, gold statue of a Hindu deity that stands guard here. Inside the caves there are temples and shrines to Hindu gods, and the natural beauty contrasts interestingly with these cultural icons.
After exploring the Batu Caves, travel back into KL and switch trains to journey across the city to Putrajaya. Spend the afternoon walking around Kuala Lumpur’s newest construction, a planned city built entirely to cater to the federal government of Malaysia. It’s a strange, artificial place, and a place that few tourists even realize exists. The architecture is incredible, combining modern styles with traditional Islamic and Malay designs.
Spend your final evening strolling the vibrant streets of KL, and make sure to visit one of the many Nasi Kandar restaurants in the city, particularly around Bukit Bintang. This is where you can find the best local food. All around you you’ll see Malay cuisine mixed with Indian specialties as well as locals staying up late drinking tea and dining outside (when the temperatures are cool enough).