I’m taking a break from my trip to Mexico to continue chronicling my epic adventures throughout Southeast Asia last summer! I picked Malaysia because the country was not even on my radar until I was invited to dive in Tioman. So it was during two stopovers of that journey that I was hit by a slew of surprises. This is why I’m introducing you to my top 5 underrated Kuala Lumpur attractions and travel tips today 😀
My Top Underrated Kuala Lumpur Attractions and Tips
1. Kuala Lumpur’s Couchsurfing community: even if you booked a hotel
I may be obsessed with Couchsurfing, but on my first stopover I just wanted to meet up and have my own space. This is why I used Traveloka.com to book my hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
I loved using the site to book hotels while living in ASEAN for two main reasons. Firstly, I was able to pay with my American debit card for no additional charge. This was great because my bank Charles Schwab has no foreign transaction fees. Secondly, Traveloka has no booking fees.
Once settled, I contacted local Couchsurfers (CSers), who encouraged me to join their wildly-popular Friday meetup.
Kuala Lumpur’s Couchsurfing (KL CS) group is a big tight family where locals, expats, and travelers passing by get together weekly. We ate deliciously-cheap Indian food, then went club hopping.
The KL CS community is huge by the way. I even got free rides from one of the locals!
So great is the vibe of KL CSers that I pulled an all-nighter hanging out with them 😀 Heck, one of the girls even explored the city the next day with me and came to visit me in Tampa, Florida earlier this year!
2. Visit the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia for unique Muslim world POV
As you know, I have lived in three different Muslim-majority countries and have a deep appreciation for their art. So imagine my reaction when I found some of the finest collections linking Egyptians, Moroccans, Indonesians, and other peoples of the Islamic world!
Opened in 1998, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) intricately weaves together centuries of Islamic culture in a variety of rotating and permanent exhibitions.
Traditional clothing, jewelry, artworks, complete room replicas and architectural models from dozens of countries are impeccably curated throughout 30,000 sq meters.
While I only spent half a day here due to another brief stopover, I would have happily spent on entire day prancing along the museum’s 12 galleries.
Easily reachable by metro and a pleasant (Google maps!) walk from the center, IAMM is on Jalan Lembah Perdana 50480. Still lost? Just ask where the National Mosque is — the Museum is right next door.
3. Learn more about Malaysian history with MUD
MUD may be popular among family travelers, yet barely on the radar of solo travelers in Kuala Lumpur.
This musical about Malaysian history follows the lives of three friends as they migrate to Kuala Lumpur seeking better lives.
Through songs and colorful costumes, the story gives the audience an entertaining introduction to the melting pot that makes up the modern nation of Malaysia. You can’t miss it!
4. Take in KLCC’s skyline: it’s free!
Got your tickets for an evening showing of MUD? Wake up early that day in order to explore other interesting parts of Kuala Lumpur’s City Centre District (KLCC).
Take in the mix of contemporary, British colonial, and Mughal designs that make the city’s skyline beautifully photogenic. Highlights include the 100-meter-high Menara KL; the (Islamic govt bldg?).
Midday, head to shady KLCC Park for a picnic–another option to save money. The 202,343-sq-meter oasis hosts a big dancing fountain at Lake Symphony; waterfalls; and approximately 1,900 trees and plants.
Can’t abandon the #fitfam? They got a 1.3-kilometer track to break a sweat at as well.
5. Dive into Aquaria
Other underrated Kuala Lumpur attractions in KLCC include Aquaria, a complex aquarium like no other.
Highlands, jungle, and coral reef ecosystems flourish here, interconnected by walk-through tunnels.
The highlight at Aquaria though is the giant tank that holds a 90-meter-long shipwreck replica. You can even explore it with a moving travelator!
To fill your belly, I recommend you go off-the-eaten-track with one of Food Tour Malaysia food crawls. I was surprised by the variety of cuisines delicious dishes Kuala Lumpur has to offer as well.
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Got other underrated Kuala Lumpur attractions & tips? Comment below!