It’s taken me a long time to find a decent list of fun and unusual things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It’s a city that, on the surface, is all shopping malls and glitzy big towers and discovering what to do in KL, other than go see the big shiny silver Petronas Towers can seem a bit like a mystery.
But, I’ve now visited six times and realised that if you scratch the surface, walk down some backstreets, jump on the (thankfully air-conditioned) monorail or metro for a bit, there’s a lot of unique sights and cool things to see. So check out this guide to the best quirky, fun things to do in KL.
1. Find The Painted Alleys
Just around the corner from the main shopping area of Bukit Bintang are a series of laneways that now explode with colour.
This wasn’t always the case.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
While Kuala Lumpur is generally a pretty safe place to visit, some of it’s smaller laneways and alleys had become a bit scary looking and so, the city started the Laneway project to turn things around a make them places people, including tourists, felt good to walk down.
Most famous is the cloud-filled alley above which is off Changkat Bukit Bintang (look for a set of steps on google maps opposite the Hotel Comfort Inn).
Also, visit the thin section of Jalan Rembia near Jalan Alor (search Amethyst Love Guesthouse as a locator) and you’ll find yourself in a maze of colour.
The project has been conducted with the group Think City and they are working on new laneways even now.
There’s a newly revitalised laneway in Chinatown called Kwai Chai Hong. It’s off Jalan Petalang and they hope to finish Laneway Masjid India in January 2020.
Doing it for the Gram?
Some of the laneways are (not surprisingly) included in an Instagram tour of KL that you might want to check out if you’re tight on time but big on Insta!.
It includes the laneways, the pretty Thean Hou Temple, lunch at a typical restaurant and more.
2. Get Served by a Robot Waiter
Lot 10 Houtong is like the Disneyland of street food. A food court full of stalls serving some of Kuala Lumpur’s best street food dishes in one, clean, central, location.
Since I first visited the place has become ridiculously popular and it can be tricky to get a seat at lunchtime, but, there, gliding through it all is the rather cool robot waitress from the Koong Woh Tong stall.
Koong Wog Tong sell herbal jelly drinks and they’re a bit of an acquired taste.
You might also find robot waitresses at the branch of Nam Hoeng Vintage at the Pavilion elite shopping centre.
I say might as I met these ladies in the branch on Nam Hoeng in Ipoh – and while I’ve seen a few pictures of them at the KL branch from May 2019 I haven’t sighted them with my own eyes – but, Pavilion Elite is right in the middle of everything so it would be easy to go check.
3.Walk Among the Treetops
If you’re looking for outdoor activities in KL. The KL Forest Eco Park is a sea of green at the base of the KL Tower and tucked inside it is the Canopy Walk, a 200-metre suspended walkway that takes you high into the treetops.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of heights, don’t rule this out.
I freaked out at the start of the walkway closest to the entrance (above) as you enter this from a high tower and stepping out was too much for my vertigo to handle.
However, I did discover that at the other end of the walkway, you can step out from ground – and that isn’t nearly as scary – look, see, it’s me, in the treetops, smiling!
The area around here is also home to the fun Upside Down House which is definitely one of the fun things to do in KL for kids. Step inside and everything inverts,
The KL Forest Eco Park is free to enter and easily combined with a trip up the KL Tower – the 7th tallest tower in the world at 421 metres high.
Jump The Queues at the KL Tower and Petronas Towers
If you do want to go up the KL Tower, it’s best to book tickets in advance so you can avoid the queues which can get pretty long.
If you’re a proper heights junkie you’re probably also going to want to go up the Petronas Towers – and again, you can buy a skip the line ticket that saves you time on the day.
This is delivered to your hotel so make sure you have your accommodation details handy.
4. Step Back in Time
The area of Kampung Baru is one of my favourite places to wander and one of the most interesting places in Kuala Lumpur.
It’s a residential area packed with cute houses and traditional restaurants and shops. You’ll also get some more unusual pics of the Petronas Towers from here.
Kampung Baru is also home to Pasar Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur’s main wet market which I can also wander around for ages – although it’s not the best place for vegetarians.
The city used to offer a free walking tour around Kampung Baru but I’m not totally sure it’s still running.
The map that they use though is still online and you can use it to explore on your own. You’ll find it here.
To get there take the LRT to Kampung Baru station.
5. Eat Durian
Durian is a large spiky fruit that you see sold all over Kuala Lumpur. Despite this, you will also see signs all over Kuala Lumpur hotels saying ‘no durian’ as it’s drain-like smell will permeate everywhere if you take it to your room!
Eating durian is one of the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur just to say you’ve tried it – and I tried mine in Kampung Baru.
The stall, I visited, Cendol Durian Runtuh close to the Pasar Chow Kit, combines pieces of durian with cendol – a traditional Malaysian dessert made from shaved ice, jelly pieces and coconut milk.
I figured I’d try the durian this way as if it was horrible, I would at least get a nice dessert with it.
That’s pretty much what happened. The taste of durian is described differently by whoever eats it, but to me, it was like a weird onion.
It wasn’t unpleasant, but I certainly didn’t need to eat much of it!
6. Drink on a Helipad
Yes, I know I said I didn’t like heights, but I still couldn’t resist this.
At Kuala Lumpur’s HeliLounge, you can drink wine (or beer or cocktails) on top of a working helipad!
And it has the most amazing view of the Petronas Towers – and a cracking sunset view.
If you’re looking for a romantic place in KL, this fits the bill
For full details of where to find the Helipad Bar, useful facts like dress code and drinks prices – and my secret tips on how to get a great seat up top, check out this longer post I wrote on the Helipad Bar.
I’ve been twice now and think it’s one of the best things to do in KL at night.
7. Meet a Fortune Telling Parrot
Okay, so this isn’t in Kuala Lumpur itself, but it is a short train journey away in the nearby city of Klang which makes a great day trip from KL,
Parroty here is found in the Little India section of Klang although the day I went his human handler didn’t seem to be interested in doing business and so I have no idea what predictions the feathery one would have had in store for me!
Even if he’s being antisocial when you visit too Klang is definitely a fun day out.
We had one of the most memorable meals of our trip here because of the cool people we met. It has a cute bird-themed street art scene and a museum I literally just nipped into to use the loo blew me away!
If that sounds like fun, then check out our one day guide on what to do in Klang here.
How to Get To Klang
You can get to Klang easily from KL by train – find the timetable here.
There a few stations with the word Klang in them on the route – don’t be confused, you just get off at Klang itself.
8. Eat in a Plane
Erm, so it seems there is an entire restaurant in a plane in Kuala Lumpur called Plane in the City – and despite my love of the weird, I haven’t been there.
Googling reviews, some of the opinions on the food are a bit mixed so maybe don’t plan on it for a gourmet experience, but if the idea of eating dinner in a restored 747 sounds as much fun to you as it does me, then click here to see more and buy your tickets.
Plane in the City is run by the same group that organises another fun dining experience in KL called Dinner in the Sky.
This sees you being hoisted 50 metres in the air, feet dangling in the breeze, to eat your 3-course meal.
Kuala Lumpur also has a Dining in the Dark restaurant. The USP of this is that you eat in total darkness – you also don’t know what’s on the menu until after the meal.
I tried it in London and it was a really cool, if slightly surreal experience.
Note May 2022: I’m currently checking links on this post now Malaysia has reopened, and as I type, Plane in the City and Dinner in the Sky are still closed so my apologies if those attractions aren’t available when you read this. Their website does say they will reopen though so do have a look just in case that’s happened before I check in again.
9. Find Cool Street Art
The Painted Laneways aren’t the only murals you’ll find dotted around Kuala Lumpur, there’s a small but growing street art scene.
You’ll find some of the biggest murals (like this one called Boy in a Tiger Hat) around the Muzium Telekom and some cool smaller murals in the alleys around Chinatown.
10. Meet a Cheeky Monkey
If you’ve done any reading on places to visit in Kuala Lumpur, you will have heard about the Batu Caves – an amazing set of cave temples just a short train ride from Kuala Lumpur city centre.
They’ve got even more popular since they painted the steps in rainbow colours and it is very cute to look at.
Also cute, if you like monkeys, are the troop of fluffy simians that have made the temple home.
Watch out though, they have been known to steal anything that’s not nailed down – particularly of the food variety.
I’m pretty sure that just out of shot of this picture is a crying child!
So now you know you want to go to Batu Caves you need to know how to get to Batu Caves. It’s easy, just get the KTM Kommuter train from KL Sentral station to Batu Caves. It takes just 26 minutes to get to the caves from KL Sentral and it’s about a two-minute walk to the cave complex from the station.
The trains don’t run that frequently so check the timetable before you set off.
Also, read the signs on the platform carefully – trains go in both directions from each platform. We got on the wrong one on our first attempt.
If you would prefer a nice air-conditioned bus to take you to the temples you can book a tour to the Batu Caves here
11.Visit Some Fairies
The Iron Fairies bar in KL has got to be one of the most beautiful bars I’ve ever been to in my life.
The pictures here do not do it justice. The entire ceiling of the main bar is full of tiny bottles of ‘fairy dust’ that glitter and gleam and fill you with joy, while a secret back bar is covered in tiny butterflies and you get a tray of fairies to play with while you drink.
It’s located in the TRED Entertainment Complex, which I was very excited about visiting as it seemed to have a heap of cool bars.
Unfortunately, the night we went it was hosing it down with rain – it was also about 6pm Boxing Day and the place was pretty much deserted!
The Iron Fairies more than made up for it though – and it has a pretty good Happy Hour.
TREC can be a bit of an, erm, trek to get to so it’s easiest to take a Grab (the Malaysian version of Uber) or a taxi.
Oh, and top tip – they give you free peanuts to eat while you drink at The Iron Fairies. We tidied the shells away in the ashtray like good tourists, but apparently, you’re supposed to just chuck them on the floor!
Like Bars and Pubs?
Us to! And if you want some buddies to drink with while you’re in KL, you might want to book on the pub crawl tour that’s run in Changkat.
Warning: It comes with free shots so expect to party!
12. Ride a Rollercoaster in a Mall
The Berjaya Times Square Mall near the Imbi monorail stop has an entire theme park in it – including a rollercoaster.
Can you say unique KL experience!!
In fact, it’s the largest indoor rollercoaster in the world and has three inversions – there’s a lot of screaming!
It costs 70 MYR to get it and is open seven days a week from 12-10, slightly earlier on weekends and public holidays.
Save Money Having Fun
If you want to try the rollercoaster, the KL Tower and the Telecom Museum you might want to check out the KL Pass which bundles all the entrance fees for these, and a heap of other KL attractions, together.
13. Eat Penis Soup
And here, rocketing in at position uno on the list of strange things to do in Kuala Lumpur is nomming down on a bowl of soup de penis!
Note, I suggest you can do this – I didn’t.
In my defence, I went to the stall alone and a) wasn’t quite sure what to ask for and b) it felt a bit weird being a girl sitting there on my own chowing down on bull privates and so I chickened out before ordering.
In case you do want to try it, the soup is known as sup torpedo and apparently it’s not bad!
You’ll find it at Lai Foong at 138 Jalan Tun. H.S. Lee in Chinatown (they also do normal beef soup as well).
In my notes, it says they only sell the soup on a Monday, but I have no idea where I got that from as I can’t find it again, but maybe try on a Monday just in case!
I’ve also since learned that there are a few places selling sup torpedo in Kuala Lumpur including a few round Chow Kit Market.
This where Gordon Ramsey tried it at a stall called Restoran Sup Al-Deen.
Yes, I do have a little bit of regret about not tasting it now. Think of the YouTube views!
14. Watch a River Turn Blue
The nightly River of Life show takes place outside the Masjid Jamek mosque and uses smoke and lights to bring attention to what was, frankly, a pretty ugly brown river full of junk before they cleaned it up!
It’s now one of the big Kuala Lumpur tourist attractions.
Fountain shows take place every 15 minutes from 9.15pm.
It’s a cute show – although I wouldn’t travel miles to see it. I might be alone here though as the area in which the show takes place has been named one of the World’s Top Riverfront Districts by the Independent newspaper.
It’s not quite as stunning during the day (as you can see below), but the area is home to a lot of the major Kuala Lumpur tourist spots (like the Masjid Jamak Mosque, the ornate National Textiles Museum, the I Love KL sign and the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery) – and, there’s some cool street art along other parts of the river.
15. And Do the Same With Your Rice
Blue rice is a unique thing to try in Kuala Lumpur and I was determined to sample some on my last trip.
It’s made by soaking the rice in butterfly pea tea which turns it every shade of blue from a soft turquoise to summer sky.
My first attempt was at a restaurant called Warisan in the Nu Sentral mall where they sell rice of a few different colours (including pink) with a variety of curry dishes. It tasted really good, but photographed more grey than blue – so another dish was called for.
This came from a curry chicken stall at Lot 10 Houtong – and smelt so good, I actually dug into it before I remembered I was supposed to be photographing the thing.
This is why I am not a food blogger!
16. Check out The Phone Museum
The Muzeum Telekom is one of the best places to visit in KL for tech geeks (aka Mr Differentville who spent a happy hour here while I looked at street art) and basically looks at communication through the ages.
Personally I liked the giant phone outside best!
KL For Geeky Types
If you are travelling with some of a techy/geeky persuasion, they’ll probably also love Low Yat Plaza, KL’s gadget-filled shopping mall (aka where I send Mr Differentville while I’m researching most of this blog!).
You might also want to add the National Planetarium or the Petrosains Discovery Centre (book advanced tickets for this here) and quirky cafe The Garage KL which calls itself a place of ‘unity for geeks and hobbyists’ to your list of places to visit in KL.
17. See the Tiny Petronas Towers
I briefly mentioned the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery above and, I admit, it wasn’t really on my list of top Kuala Lumpur tourist spots – let alone something worthy of ending up on an entire blog post of unusual things to do in KL, but it’s an absolute joy!
Head around the queue of people waiting for a selfie with I Love KL sign and head inside and you’ll find a fantastic tiny model of KL.
There’s also a heap of displays set up for trick photography and other temporary exhibitions.
18. Drink a Snow Beer in Ipoh
Just two hours and 20 minutes away by train, the town of Ipoh is an easy day trip, or a short side trip, from Kuala Lumpur.
It’s got amazing street art, some beautiful faded buildings and, Snow Beer.
This is basically, very cold beer, poured into a freezing cold glass which effectively gives you an alcoholic slushie.
If you fancy a day trip to Ipoh, check out our Ipoh Guide here for some ideas on what to do.
The cafe that sells snow beer doesn’t open until early evening though so you will have to come back to KL on one of the trains past 7pm.
Click here to find the train timetable. The line you need is the ETS North/South route.
I’d also suggest booking your seat in advance and trains do get booked out. We used Easybook and had no problems.
19. Explore Little India and Brickfields
These two districts close to KL Sentral station offer a swirly mass of deafening Bollywood music, hidden shrines, great food and seemingly endless shops selling saris and other traditional clothing.
I love the place.
Just get there and wander keeping your eye out for cool sights like this shrine cat, but things not to miss in Brickfields and Little India are…
The quirky elephant fountain in the middle of Jalan Rakyat
The thin strip of flower stalls that run off Jalan Sambanthan (Hotel Mjoy is a good map marker).
All the food, spice and clothing shops that line Jalan Sambanthan
The Brickfields Shivan Temple isn’t much to look at but it does have it’s own monkey which likes to swing around the trees above the temple – or sit on the roof looking faintly menacing! Signs in the temple do suggest he bites so don’t touch!
And don’t forget to eat – Brickfields is famous for its food – and is one of the main areas you visit on the Food Tour Experience I did in KL.
If you don’t fancy a tour there are small shops and restaurants all over the place.
The Selera food court was one of the stops on the food tour when I did it so that’s worth a look. It’s not listed on google but look for Selvan’s Corner on the map.
In the evening we ate in Anjappar Indian Chettinad and Dinigul Thalappakatti and they were both pretty good.
Brickfields is also pretty close to Bangsar, KL’s hippest area. I didn’t have time to get there but if you do, have a look at the cool-sounding bar Skulduggery which has a train that delivers shots.
20. Find Your Spirit Animal at Thean Hou Temple
There are some impressive temples in KL – mostly around the Chinatown area, but probably the prettiest is Thean Hou which is a bit south of Little India (I went by Grab).
Quirk lovers – which I’m guessing you are as you’re reading this post rather than one of the hundreds of others on things to do in Kuala Lumpur – should check out the kitschy models of the zodiac animals in the garden.
So there you have it. My list of the best fun and unusual things to do in Kuala Lumpur, but before you head off to start planning – if you’re still not quite sure on where you’re staying in KL yet, there’s a couple of ideas below.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
One reason I travel to KL so often is that it’s pretty cheap to stay there. You can book some amazing hotels for not much money at all. These are some of the hotels I have stayed in KL that I would definitely recommend.
PARKROYAL Serviced Suites
Located close to Jalan Alor and the bars of Changkat Bukit Bintang this is a great hotel if you want to be in the middle of some of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur at night.
It also has a great swimming pool for sun lovers (That’s it above).
I’ve stayed here twice and the rooms are also huge, clean, and despite being so central, very quiet.
The area around KL Sentral station is now home to a lot of new hotels – and we picked the Ascott Sentral which was a great choice.
Our one-bedroom premier room was a whopping 73 sqm.
The hotel is super convenient if you want to do day trips from KL as it’s a really short walk to the main station.
It’s also right in the middle of Little India and Brickfields whcih makes it great for food on your doorstep.
Pullmann KLCC and Residences
My room here wasn’t quite as modern looking as the other two, but it’s a little cheaper and in a fantastic location if you want to spend most of your time shopping till you drop on Bukit Bintang.
It also has the biggest pool area of the three city hotels I’ve stayed in – although I didn’t really get a chance to sit around it on my last trip.
If you have a late flight into Kuala Lumpur, or an early morning flight out, it could be a good idea to stay at one of the airport hotels – I’ve done this a lot when on stopovers.
The Tune Hotel in KLIA2 is a budget hotel, but is not as ‘no frills’ as the other hotels in the Tune brand. The room was large and it has a bar and restaurant.
If you’re flying out of the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Have a look at the Sama Sama attached to the airport. I once touched down at KL and was in my room here within 30 minutes which was impressive, to say the least!
It does get full so definitely book this in advance
How to Get to Kuala Lumpur
Heaps of airlines fly to Kuala Lumpur, but our airline of choice from Sydney is Air Asia.
Firstly, they are a budget airline and so the prices are far cheaper than most other airlines – but they also have a Quiet Zone which is specially made for people who like their flights quiet (us). If that sounds like you too, then check out the review of Air Asia Quiet Zone here.
Sharing is Caring
If you’ve enjoyed this guide to the less-well-known, fun things to do in Kuala Lumpur, then why not share it on social media so other people know what to do in KL too.