Whether you are discovering the Golden Triangle area's best attractions with wheels or on foot, it is certainly easy to explore. Home to several of Kuala Lumpur's premiere sightseeing landmarks, it is called the colonial core of KL and we love the fact that so many iconic markers are within easy walking distance of one another, plus they all have free entry.
Where to start? We suggest a visit to Lake Gardens along Jalan Kebun Bunga, before heading south towards Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) with a stop by the Cathedral of St. Mary. Or you could just stay along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and marvel at the fairytale Moorish-style Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. In any case this diverse section of the city offers an endless list of things to see.
Just as its name suggests, there is only one way to describe KLCC: the heart of Kuala Lumpur. At once an entertainment, commercial and business hub, it is home to some of the capital’s most popular landmarks, making it a popular tourist destination. Acting as anchors for the area, are the iconic PETRONAS Twin Towers and KLCC Park, a 50-acre garden with a 10,000sqm manmade lake featuring water fountains that can shoot water up to a height of 42m.
Meanwhile Suria KLCC (one of the city’s most popular malls) has under its roof Aquaria KLCC, a 464,515sqm aquarium with over 150 species of marine creatures, and Petrosains, a 7,000sqm interactive science discovery centre. With a host of options to choose from – dining, arts, culture, recreation, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment – you won’t be stuck for ideas on what to do around here.
- Address: KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Along with the Petronas Twin Towers, Menara KL is easily Malaysia’s most recognizable and popular landmark. Constructed in 1994, the tower stands at 421 metres and effortlessly trumps the PETRONAS Twin Towers for height with a viewing deck that is, at 276 metres, at least 100 metres higher than the Twin Towers’ Skybridge. Currently the 18th-tallest freestanding structure in the world, Menara KL plays host to a revolving restaurant, Atmosphere 360.
Sitting atop the Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill) Forest Reserve – the oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country – it is primarily used as a communications infrastructure and is the fifth-tallest telecommunications building in the world. The tower’s architectural style reflects Malaysia’s vibrant Islamic heritage with Arabic scripts, Islamic tiles, and archetypal Islamic floral and abstract patterns. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 weekday; 09:30 – 22:00 weekend & public holidays
- Address: Jalan Punchak, Off Jalan P. Ramlee
- Tel: +603 208 5448
Lake Gardens is a 92-ha park comprising well-manicured lawns, gardens and hills, spread around Tasik Perdana (Perdana Lake). It is home to a number of sites, including the Butterfly House and Bird Park, Hibiscus Garden, National Monument, Orchid Garden and Parliament House, and is also known as the Taman Tasik Perdana.
Set southwest of Chinatown, with the southern entrance of the large-scale recreational park close to the National Museum, it was originally established by then British state treasurer to Malaya, Alfred Venning, in the 1890s. Over the last 20 years the park’s spectacular landscaping has become more impressive – one of its more stunning features is the majestic Carcosa Seri Negara, once the official residence of former British government representative, Frank Swettenham. Read More...
- Address: Jalan Parlimen, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2691 6011
Among Kuala Lumpur’s earliest Moorish-style buildings, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is set to the east of Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) and the Royal Selangor Club. Featuring strong gothic, western and Moorish-style influences with an imposing porch, graceful arches, curved colonnades topped with shiny copper cupolas and a domineering 41.2m-high clock tower, it was built in 1897 and was designed by AC Norman.
This distinguished landmark originally served as the secretariat for the colonial British administration. Later on it housed the superior courts of Malaysia before it moved to Putrajaya. Today it is home to the offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia. Though it no longer serves an official purpose, it is frequently the backdrop for Malaysia’s annual Independence Day parades. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Tun Perak (across from Dataran Merdeka on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin)
One of the oldest Anglican churches in Malaysia, the Cathedral of St. Mary was built in 1894 by the British colonial administration to welcome the city’s European inhabitants every Sunday. Located towards the far north side of Dataran Merdeka, when service was over churchgoers would then head to the Royal Selangor Club (which still stands next door) for lunch.
Looking every inch the typical, picturesque English country church, it is a fine example of early English gothic architecture: it started off as a simple timber building in the 19th century but quickly transformed into a beautiful whitewashed structure with stained-glass windows, tasselled tile paving and buttresses. Read More...
Malaysia’s National Mosque, Masjid Negara, is a public symbol of Islam in Malaysia. Built in 1965, it comprises a main prayer hall with 48 smaller domes around it and is spread across 13 acres, to the northwest of the old railway station. Reminiscent of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, with abstract shapes and geometric latticework incorporated into its roofing and ironworks, its 73m-high minaret is easily the mosque’s most distinguishable feature and a prominent feature on the KL skyline.
The Grand Hall is undeniably the most intricate part of the mosque with verses from the Koran decorating the walls, while the main dome is star shaped with 18 points: the points represent Malaysia’s 13 states and the five pillars of Islam. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 23:00 Saturday – Thursday; 02:45 – 18:00 Friday
- Address: Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
- Tel: +603 2693 7784
The National Planetarium is dedicated to all things related to science and astronomy. It is a fun and educational place for kids to learn about the planet and universe. Set on a hill to the east of Lake Gardens, it is topped by a blue dome easily visible from nearby roads.
It may not be as high tech as the planetariums of New York or London standards, but it still merits a visit. The main entrance is evocative of a teleportation chamber which leads into a series of halls containing two planetariums that have interactive exhibits (touch-screen interactive computers and hands-on experiments), plus a Space Theatre. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 Tuesday – Sunday
- Location: Lot 54, Jalan Perdana
- Tel: +603 2273 7277
Royal Museum (Old Istana Negara)
The former official residence of the ruling Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia, the Royal Museum (called the Old Istana Negara by locals) is a castle built in 1928, and located along Jalan Istana. It was replaced by a new, extravagant RM800 million palace near Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, in June 2011, but the old Istana Negara’s remains as a great way to have a look into how the other half lives – after all, when else might you get the chance to see a private dental clinic within a palace?
Open to the public, in a similar vein to Buckingham Palace, there are two guard posts on each side of the place’s main entrance arch, with members of the cavalry in full dress uniform, plus a guardhouse for members of the Royal Malay Regiment. Within the 28-acre compound is a beautiful garden, swimming pool, six-hole golf course, a lake, an indoor badminton court and tennis courts. We suggest you follow the free fully-guided tours to view the house, but take note that there is an RM5 entrance fee to visit this museum.
- Location: Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur
The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is an almost fairytale Moorish-style building to the southeast of the National Mosque. Located along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin (previously known as Victory Avenue), it used to be KL’s main railway hub until 2001 when Kuala Lumpur Sentral took over much of its role.
Adopting a mixture of Eastern and Western styles, it was designed by A.B. Hubbock in 1910. Opposite stands the Malaya Railway Administration Building, also designed by Hubbock in 1917. Beneath its Islamic exterior, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station resembles a typical glass and iron Victorian-era English railway building. Read More...
- Address: Bangunan Stesen Keretapi, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
Undoubtedly KL’s best known landmark, Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) is set in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (the former State Secretariat). Directly opposite is the Royal Selangor Club and to the north of St. Mary’s Church, one of Malaysia’s oldest Anglican churches.
Its location is within the colonial core of Kuala Lumpur where the remnants of the British Empire are especially evident. The centrepiece on this giant field with manicured green lawns is the tallest flagpole in the world (95m), proudly displaying the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag). Read More...
- Address: Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin