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Kuala Lumpur Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, and also its cultural and economic center. The city represents a mix of different architectural styles making it both interesting and beautiful. Kuala Lumpur has created a range of extraordinary and exclusive attractions that combine Eastern and Western elements and also showcase local handicrafts. Chief among these are Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the Jamek Mosque, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, etc. Find out the major tourist destinations listed below.
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Kuala Lumpur Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Kuala Lumpur Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Malaysia » Kuala Lumpur (See other walking tours in Kuala Lumpur)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Dataran Merdeka
  • Royal Selangor Club
  • St Mary's Cathedral
  • Jamek Mosque
  • Sultan Abdul Samad Building
  • Central Market
  • Petaling Street (Chinatown)
  • Chinatown
  • Sze Ya Temple
  • Sri Mahamariamman Temple
  • Railway Station
  • National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara)
  • Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
  • Royal Malaysian Police Museum
  • Perdana Botanical Gardens
Dataran Merdeka

1) Dataran Merdeka (must see)

Dataran Merdeka, or the Merdeka square, is a historic site that has a special place in the heart of every citizen of Malaysia. On your visit to Kuala Lumpur, you are bound to visit the Merdeka Square for it is surrounded by some very significant historic landmarks and some very prominent buildings.

Situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, at the Dataran Merdeka, one can enjoy the sight of this regal, Moorish style building. The story behind the Merdeka square goes to the time long before the independence of Malaysia.

Built as a symbol of the sovereignty of the British Empire, the Merdeka Square was used as the ground to play one of England’s most beloved games, cricket. Overseeing the square was the Selangor Club which was a British club that was exclusively for the whites during the colonial period.

Ironically, what represented the domination of the British Empire in the state went on to become the very place where the Malaysian National Flag was first raised. On the midnight of 31 August 1957, the Union Jack went down and for the first time the Malayan Flag soared in the skies of the free land. This is also why the square is called Independence Square. Every year, the Independence Day celebrations are held at the Dataran Merdeka.

What once used to be a cricket ground during the time when Malaysia was still a British colony, today is the symbol of independence for the people of the nation.
Royal Selangor Club

2) Royal Selangor Club

Another heritage venue located around the Dataran Merdeka or the Independence Square is the Royal Selangor Club (RSC). Occupying the northern fringe of the square, this social & sports club opposing the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is another monumental structure that is a reflection of the city’s opulence, culture and history.

Founded in 1884, the RSC was initially a tiny wooden building that was strictly used as a social club, where high ranked officials and the elite of the society gathered for an evening of rendezvous, drink and merry. It was in 1890 that the humble edifice of the building underwent an extreme makeover. Taking inspiration from the Tudor style of architecture, the renovated building had more space and an extra floor. The building underwent reconstruction again in 1910 under the leadership of Arthur Benison Hubback, the man behind the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

Since its inception, the RSC has been organizing sports activities and other field and track events. It is currently a 'members only' club so you have to be signed in by a member to gain access.
St Mary's Cathedral

3) St Mary's Cathedral

Standing humbly at Jalan Raja is the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin also known as the St. Mary’s Cathedral.

The initial structure was built in 1887, and the Church was made entirely of timber. The Church acted as the central point for all the Anglicans around the area to gather and offer their prayers and take part in other spiritual activities. However, with a capacity to accommodate only 95 people, the wooden church soon fell short for its growing number of its parish members. In 1893, the decision to make a bigger church was passed and the hunt for the perfect architect and design started. Although many contenders came forth with their ideas and concepts none managed to get a unanimous approval and the responsibility was soon given to the Chief Government architect A.C. Norman who proposed a simple yet classic structure inspired by traditional English Gothic architecture. A sum total of $5000 was allotted for the construction of the new building. Apart from that local philanthropists, Yap Kwan Seng and Thamboosamy Pillay, made tremendous contributions for building the Church.

The pipe organ that resides in the St. Mary’s Cathedral is also worthy of notice. Built by the famous 19th century organ maker, Henry Wills, the organ is definitely one of a kind.
Jamek Mosque

4) Jamek Mosque (must see)

Within the urban skyscrapers, tucked amidst the serene landscape of palm trees is the beautiful Masjid Jamek. Located at the point where the two rivers, Sungei Klang and the Sungei Gombak meet, the Masjid provides an ambiance of tranquility and quiet in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Thronged with worshippers on Fridays and with tourists the rest of the days, the Masjid Jamek is a sight one cannot afford to miss in Kuala Lumpur. In its white and brick red appearance with its old school architecture, the Masjid looks quite distinct in the concrete mechanized surrounding. Designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, this building too draws inspiration from the architectural blend that swept the Indian sub-continent.

Built in the early years of the 20th century, the Masjid was inaugurated by the Sultan of Selangor in 1907. For over a century now the Masjid has been the central point for city. For a long time, the Masjid Jamek was the main mosque of Kuala Lumpur. This title was later transferred to the National Mosque that came into existence in 1965. Apart from being the oldest mosque in the city, the Masjid is also the point from where the city of Kuala Lumpur came into being. The Mosque was built at the very site where the early settlers are believed to have settled.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building

5) Sultan Abdul Samad Building (must see)

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is undoubtedly one of the grandest structures in the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Standing proudly at the Jalan Raja, the building emanates authority, heritage and elegance. Strategically located opposite the Dataran Merdeka of the Independence Square, and the Royal Selangor Club, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is one of the city's most treasured landmarks.

Built during the British occupation, the structure took shape in 1897. The chief architect responsible for its regal construction was A.C Norman along with chief engineer C.E Spooner. The building was named after the fourth Sultan of Selangor under whose reign the building was constructed, and boasts an excellent blend of architecture, which is a concoction of Indo-Islamic and Neo-Gothic styles. History has it that Norman, in fact, visited India and from the visit drew inspiration for many of his designs.

One of the oldest structures in Kuala Lumpur, the Sultan Abdul Building has ever since its inception been used by the government and presently houses the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia. The structure is truly spectacular and definitely worth the visit.

Why You Should Visit:
As majestic as it is in the morning, when it is lit up at night, the building looks simply magical.
You can walk around it to take photos and also to take a break on one of the benches on the riverside.

This and the neighboring row of buildings house a couple of free small cultural spaces which are worth the few minutes/hours required to visit them. Make sure you visit this area of KL, and if it is raining use the little galleries and museums to shelter in for an introduction to various aspect of Malaysian culture.
Don't miss the recently renovated backyard of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, either. Facing the river, it forms a peaceful garden with tiled fountains and wrought iron benches to relax on. White marble, yellow tiles, and the freshly planted greenery create a harmonious background for the Abdul Samad mosque.
Central Market

6) Central Market (must see)

Founded in 1888, by the British, the Central Market is one of the best places to visit in Kuala Lumpur. Not only is it one of the prime locations to shop in the city, it is also the best place to enjoy the fruits of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment. Because Kuala Lumpur has a rich blend of diverse cultures and people hailing from different parts of the globe, each have their unique set of handicrafts along with a unique blend that is very Malaysian. The market is one of the most visited sights in the city and quite a popular destination for buying souvenirs and mementoes from your vacation.

With the addition of the cemented structure in 1937, the market got the status of a Heritage site. With constant renovations and refurbishment, the market soon had distinct stalls and zones for different races to display and promote their items. In the earlier days the Central market was nick named the “wet market” because the floors were constantly wet. The market was visited mainly by tin miners of the region and sold meat, vegetables and the catch of the day! The market is easily accessible and conveniently located close to multiple public transport facilities.
Petaling Street (Chinatown)

7) Petaling Street (Chinatown) (must see)

Right at the epicenter of the Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur is the famous Petaling Street, the buzzing street bazaar of the city. So brush up your haggling skills and put on your most comfy pair of shoes, for this is not a sight to miss!

Infamous for pirated CDs, DVDs and books, you will find that there is very little that the street cannot offer. Right from pirated clothes, bags and accessories to local brands of goodies, the street has it all. Not only are the day bazaars worth a visit, but the street is also known for its night markets. Apart from that, the street has some mouthwatering snack stalls and hawkers that make some pretty mean local cuisine.

At the Petaling Street you will find the true essence of Kuala Lumpur’s street shopping. However, it's not all just about shopping. The area has some very pretty monuments and temples that are a pure delight to experience. Amongst these are the ornate South Indian Temple of Sri Mahamariamman and the Chan See Shu Yuen Temple, which is Chinese in origin and dates back to the early 20th century.

Why You Should Visit:
Local cuisine at its glorious best, plus bargain-able products!

8) Chinatown

Located in the very heart of Kuala Lumpur city, Chinatown on Petaling Street is a buzzing with life night market. Maintaining its traditional atmosphere, it is as well one of the premier shopping areas in Kuala Lumpur. The area has dozens of restaurants and food stalls, serving local favourites such as Hokkien mee, ikan bakar (barbecued fish), asam laksa and curry noodles. Traders here are mainly Chinese but there are also Indian, Malay, and Bangladeshi traders.

The original Chinatown was centred on Market Square. Jalan Tun H.S. Lee or High Street. The High Street was popular as it was higher than the rest of the town and was therefore less prone to floods, and the wealthier population were inclined to build their shophouses here. As a result, the more ornate shop houses were built north of Jalan Cheng Lock, and closer to the High Street business centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sze Ya Temple

9) Sze Ya Temple

One of the most fascinating temples in Kuala Lumpur is the Sze Ya Temple. Located in China Town, this Taoist Temple is one of the city’s heritage sites. Cramped in the narrowest streets, the positioning and design of the Temple is in accordance to Feng Shui, giving the entire setup a bizarre architecture which is both admired and questioned.

The Sze Ya Temple is one of the few structures that commemorate one of the founding fathers of Kuala Lumpur. Built by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy in 1864, the building hasn’t changed much from the day it was constructed. With elaborate roof ridges, and ornate interiors, the temple is a reflection of the old Chinese style of architecture. The Temple pays tribute to the deity Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya, who are considered as the guardians of the immigrant Chinese miners.

It is believed that the entire burden of constructing this beautiful church was taken over by Loy and to honor that, a statue of the Kapitan still stands to the left of the main altar.

Having witnessed most of the city’s history, the Sze Ya Temple is one of the oldest Taoist Temples in the Kuala Lumpur.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple

10) Sri Mahamariamman Temple (must see)

Kuala Lumpur in itself is a culmination of brewing together different cultures and people. The resultant of this rich blend of ideas, philosophies and heritage coming from different cultures and parts of the world is what makes it a fascinating place to visit and a tourist’s paradise. Another effect of cosmopolitan culture can be seen in the architecture and heritage of the city. One such example is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple.

Built in 1873, this enchanting temple is the oldest functioning Hindu Temple in Malaysia. Founded by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, a pre-independence Tamil settler and one of the most prominent figures in the Tamil community in the country, the Temple was initially used exclusively by the Pillai family. It was not until the 1920s that they opened the doors so that it could become a place of worship for many immigrants from countries like India.

One of the most striking features of the Sri Mahamariamman is its dramatic tower filled with intricate sculptures of the various Hindu deities – a whopping 228 idols. Known as the ‘gopuram’, the tower is dedicated to the deity Mariamman, protector of all those in distant lands to preserve them from the evils of the world. This temple is especially relevant because the procession at Thaipusam (Hindu festival) during the month of February starts from here.

Entry is free, but ladies need to cover properly and shoes must be removed and stored on the side for a small tip (bring wet wipes for your feet to avoid getting socks dirty).
Friday afternoon prayer time is an exciting experience; watching the ritual, and all the music to go with it.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am–12pm / 4:30–8:30pm (Fridays until 9.30pm, Saturdays until 9pm)
Opening hours sometimes differ during special festivals
Railway Station

11) Railway Station

There's hardly any other railway station in the world as grand and spectacular as the one on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin Road in Kuala Lumpur. With an immaculate exterior and bold Indo-Mughal pillars and arches, the railway station can be easily mistaken for a palace in the city. A must visit on your architectural tour of the Malaysian capital; this railway station is one of those structures that make architectural landscape of Kuala Lumpur not only unique but also unforgettable.

Built in 1910, the present structure took place of the preceding railway station, known as the Resident Station, which stood on the same site. Designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, the architect who has many renowned buildings to his credit, the design of this magnificent structure came into being only courtesy of inspiration from the Anglo-Asian architecture. Having spent many years in India, Hubback architected many buildings throughout the country after which he moved to Malaysia.

A total sum of around RM 23,000 was expended on construction of this masterpiece of a terminus. The Indo-Saracenic connection is evidently seen in many structural monuments in the city and the railway station is one of them. Although the exterior of the station has remained unchanged, the interiors have been redone several times.
National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara)

12) National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara) (must see)

Kuala Lumpur is a rich blend of culture, heritage and modernization where each building and structure has a fascinating past and a story for everyone to hear. Such is the case with the striking Masjid Negara, which non-Muslims are welcome to visit outside of prayer time.

Engulfed in the serenity of nature stands the country’s symbol of independence and freedom from the British Empire. The Masjid Negara or the National Masjid of Malaysia is one of the most prominent buildings in the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Covering a massive area of over 13 acres, this post-independence structure has the capacity of seating almost 15,000 people, thus, making it one of the largest mosques in South East Asia.

The Mosque was one of the first few structures that were built post the Malay independence and was meant to honor the Malaysian freedom from the British rule. It was built on the sight of a previously erected Gospel Hall which was later seized by the Malay Government.

The Masjid Negara was completed in 1965 by a team of three talented architects: UK-based architect Howard Ashley, and Malaysian origin, Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim. Although the structure was religious in origin, the design and style of the building were intelligently ahead of its time. One of the most striking features of the Masjid is the umbrella roof which according to some, symbolizes protection and shelter while architecturally is a clever solution to achieving a greater coverage over a large area.

Why You Should Visit:
This strikingly modern construction manages to prove that architectural beauty can be achieved despite using mostly concrete and a 'flat' design.
The elegance of the mosque is in its towering white minaret, the use of water and the wonderful geometric patterning of its outer courtyards.

Be sure to go to the visitors' entrance if you aren't there to pray. There are robes for visitors to borrow free of charge if they don't meet the dress code.
There also are benches to wait on outside the entrance if you arrive early, and helpfully, free WiFi too (and a little shop for refreshments).
You're welcome to roam the grounds for as long as you wish, except in the main prayer room.
Great to combine a visit with the Islamic Arts Museum just around the corner.

Opening Hours (for non-Muslims):
Sat-Thu: 9am-12pm / 3-4pm / 5:30-6:30pm;
Fri: 3-4pm / 5:30-6:30pm
Free admission
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

13) Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (must see)

Officially opened in 1998, the Islamic Arts Museum is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s tourist belt amidst the lush greenery and within walking distance to the National Mosque, Birds Park and National Planetarium.

The museum has 12 main galleries which are classified according to the types of artifacts spread over level 3 and 4. Level 3 of the museum hosts the Quran and Manuscripts Gallery, the Islamic Architecture Gallery, the India Gallery, the Chinese Gallery, the Ancient Malay World Gallery as well as the amazing reconstructed Ottoman Syrian Room dating back to the 19th Century. Visitors can also proceed upstairs to Level 4 which hosts an amazing display of jewelry, textile, arms and armor, ceramics as well as ancient Islamic glassware.

Why You Should Visit:
To spend a couple of hours surrounded by exquisite Islamic art and artifacts, curated extremely well in Malay, English, and Arabic.
The beautiful domed building has lots of light and there is plenty of space to wander and look at their collection of Qur'ans, jewelry, ceramics, weapons and so on.
The architecture gallery with models of significant mosques is also very good, and the gift shop actually has useful gifts – not just mugs and posters – and MANY of them, too!

Make sure to bring cash as they do not accept credit cards; you are only free to visit the library or café or gift shop.
The National Mosque is just across the street, so it makes sense to visit these two places together.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-6pm (including Malaysian Public Holidays, except for Hari Raya Aidilfitri)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Royal Malaysian Police Museum

14) Royal Malaysian Police Museum (must see)

The Royal Malaysian Police Museum, known locally as Muzium Polis Diraja Malaysia, is one of those rare museums in the world that you can visit. Located at Jalan Perdana, this museum was established in 1961. Recently, it was renovated at a cost of over RM 8 million and inaugurated in 1999.

The current museum has three major galleries. Over 7500 artifacts have been displayed, most having been confiscated by the Malaysian Police. The exhibition starts with the history of policing in Malaysia and includes the attires of policemen from as early as the 1400s and shows the changes that came in along with the invasions of the Dutch and then the British. You can also see the ceremonial uniforms and medals received by Inspector Generals of Police (IGP).

The third gallery displaying weaponry is the one that gets the most attention. Exhibits vary from penknives to cannons and from the museum's early establishment to the post-WWII and Communist Era in the country. Outside the museum, you can also see the Mercedes used by the IGPs, the police boats, and Malaysian Air Force’s first aircraft, a Cessna single-engine plane. Since most items are confiscated you can find some rare artifacts on display such as items used for forging, gambling and handkerchiefs that were called pornographic. To explore the wonderful collection and to gain a unique experience, you must visit the Royal Malaysian Police Museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Lots to look at, lots of uniforms and military regalia and lots of info in English.
The displays are very well laid out with easy to read descriptions, plus there's AC!

Combine this with the National Mosque, the National Planetarium, Perdana Botanical Gardens and maybe the Islamic Arts Museum which are all nearby and you have SO much to do in one day!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; free admission
On Fridays, the museum is closed between 12:30–2:30pm for prayers.
Perdana Botanical Gardens

15) Perdana Botanical Gardens (must see)

Kuala Lumpur never ceases to amaze and entertain its visitors. It has tall skyscrapers for admirers of architecture, museums for art lovers and enormous shopping complexes for the shopaholic at heart. However, even amidst the urban clatter, the city gives way to a perfectly sculpted park that serves as nature’s sanctuary for the people.

Established in 1880 and initially built for British government officials to settle separately and away from the city, the Lake Garden Park was the creation of British State Treasurer, Alfred Venning. Spread across a vast artificial lake, the park – now known as Perdana Botanical Gardens or Taman Tasik Perdana in Malay – is one of Kuala Lumpur's most visited places.

Covering an area of 92 hectares, the gardens house an exotic Bird Park, the enchanting Orchid Garden, and another public favorite – the Butterfly Park. A paradise for the botanist at heart, the gardens boast some of the oldest trees as well as native shrubs and plants, which are found exclusively in Malaysia. A walk in the Deer Park is also worth the while if you have some more time to spare.

Why You Should Visit:
The most beautiful flowers, the perfect scenery, and outstanding trees make a mesmerizing place for relaxing and taking photos.

Consider going either very early or later in the afternoon (after 4pm). If you go later, make sure to bring mosquito repellent or cover up.
Try and visit on weekdays or between the big holidays to avoid the crowds (though most families don't wander further than the playgrounds).
Bring lots of water and wear comfortable walking shoes! There's a buggy car that can take you round the place, though there is a fee to use it.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-8pm
Free admission

Walking Tours in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Create Your Own Walk in Kuala Lumpur

Create Your Own Walk in Kuala Lumpur

Creating your own self-guided walk in Kuala Lumpur is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historic Architecture Tour

Historic Architecture Tour

The architecture of Kuala Lumpur is well known among tourists. A stunning mixture of the old and the new, the architecture of the metropolis is luxurious and magnificent. The city's skyline reveals an excellent combination of Asian, Malay, Islamic and modern architecture. Take the tour below and don't miss the chance to visit some of the most popular architectural sights in Kuala Lumpur.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Top Religious Sites

Top Religious Sites

Kuala Lumpur is a very religious city where people flock to their places of worship in great numbers. Also, Kuala Lumpur has many religious communities of diverse religious convictions living in it. This makes for a great variety of places of worship. Take the tour below to visit some of the most significant places of worship in Kuala Lumpur.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Museums and Galleries

Museums and Galleries

Kuala Lumpur is an impressive town famous for its museums and galleries. These museums and galleries manifest both the rich cultural heritage of the nation and its spirit of innovation. Find below a list of museums that you must visit when in Kuala Lumpur.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Lake Gardens Park Walk

Lake Gardens Park Walk

The finest thing about Kuala Lumpur is that it has preserved a balance between exhilarating urban architecture and its natural environment. Indeed, there is an abundance of greenery in Kuala Lumpur. Lake Gardens, known officially as Perdana Botanical Gardens, is Kuala Lumpur's first large-scale recreational park. It contains large manicured gardens and a host of attractions. Take this walk to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Top Shopping Places

Top Shopping Places

Kuala Lumpur is a city with a lot of famous shopping centers and street markets. For those with a moderate shopping budget, Petaling Street or Bukit Bintang is the right place to go to. KLCC is an upmarket shopping spot, famous for the Petronas Twin Towers. This is an exciting shopping center of Kuala Lumpur. Check out the top shopping places that you might like to visit on the tour below.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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